Are you looking for a destination that provides the perfect combination of culture and relaxation? Then why not visit Nyhavn, in Copenhagen, Denmark?
Ask yourself, “What’s special about Nyhavn?” Well, all it takes is looking at one photo and you’ll quickly see what all the fuss is about.
They bathe this iconic section of the city in vibrant beauty. It’s the most photographed area of Copenhagen. It’s a hotspot for tourism and has become known for its live jazz music and Danish cuisine.
There’s nothing like sitting outside a cafe, sipping on a cup of coffee, and taking in a relaxed view of the area. I just wish Nyhavn had more cafes!
Nyhavn’s all about the ambiance. There isn’t a ton of “things to do in Nyhavn”. It’s just a scenic spot.
A Quick History of Nyhavn
For those like me, the first question you’ll ask yourself is what is Nyhavn’s meaning? Well. it translates to “New Port”. And that sums it up pretty well. The famed King, Christian established nyhavn V in the late 1600s.
The original purpose of this canal was to act as an efficient way to get between the sea and King’s Square in the inner city. This speed up cargo transportation and helped fishers get their catch of the day to the local markets. A market that still runs today!
Because Nyhavn acted as a gateway to the inner city and sped up trade, it helped Copenhagen grow stronger.
War prisoners dug the canal from Sweden. (I guess Nyhavn is just one more thing that Sweden is famous for).
Of course, we can’t talk about Nyhavn’s history without mentioning that it was the home of Hans Christian Andersen. Here, this famous author started writing his world-renowned fairy tales like The Princess and the Pea. He lived on both sides of the canal, at no. 20 and no 67 throughout his life.
Today, Nyhavn harbor is the most famous neighborhood to visit in Copenhagen. Colorful buildings flank the side of the canal, while moored tall ships pepper the sides. Anda hotspot for travelers who come here soaks in the views and atmosphere.
Before we start deep diving into all the things to do in Nyhavn, we should first cover how to pronounce the word. To be honest, it’s a tricky word that I still mess up occasionally.
Nyhavn pronunciation: “Knee-houm” is the proper Danish pronunciation of Nyhavn.
Nyhavn Guide Things to do in Nyhavn
Nyhavn’s all about the vibe, so for “things to do,” Nyhavn doesn’t offer a lot. Nyhavn is all about wandering around, walking around the vibrant houses, hanging out at a cafe, trying out some danish delicacies, and soaking in the views.
Perhaps the most popular activity to do in Nyhavn is a canal tour. These tours – which are included in the Copenhagen card – zip in and out of some of the most canals in the city. Seeing the canal from the view gives you a different perspective and will you introduce you to some of the best things to do in Copenhagen?
Of course, Nyhavn is all about getting a photo that you’ve been there. Instagram hashtags are a good place to find the perfect spot for your photo.
Christmas on the Canal
Okay, as the title suggests, “Christmas on the Canal” is time specific. But during Christmas, Nyhavn lights up, literally. Christmas lights decorated the area where cafes and restaurants serve Danish delicacies. And markets fill the nearby stony streets.
One of the best things to do in Nyhavn is to take some time to walk around. Gaze at the colorful houses, check out the tall ships bobbing up and down in the harbor, and wander around. What Nyhavn lacks in “things to do” it makes up for in quaint beauty. Take a second to stop rushing from site to site. Enjoy a deep breath and take in all the majestic of Nyhavn.
Houses of Hans Christian Andersen.
While you can’t go into these houses, they are still important landmarks in Copenhagen. One house is now part of a hotel, so you can stay in his house if you have deep pockets. Whether or not you’re staying in the hotel, these Copenhagen attractions should are found at no. 20 and on the other side of the canal at no 67. You should at least stop for a quick photo!
Admire the Buildings
The biggest draw to Nyhavn is the brightly colored buildings and vibrant townhouses. No. 9 is The oldest, one of these buildings and has become a bit of a Copenhagen Treasure dating back to the late 1600s – 1681 to be exact.
The memorial Anchor
The memorial anchor, also referred to as the GREAT memorial anchor, sits in Kongens Nytorv at the end of Nyhavn.
This memorial is a tribute and commemoration of the 1,700 Danish Navy officers and sailors that were killed in WW II. The Anchor has been there since 1951 and is a good place to pay tribute to anyone in service to their country.
Where to Eat?
While Nyhavn has a shortage of cafes, it has no shortage of places to eat. And Nyhavn has some popular places to eat in the entire city.
Many people don’t realize that Copenhagen is a foodie’s paradise. Hailed as one of the best cities in the world for food, Copenhagen has over a dozen Michelin Star restaurants, as well as Noma which has consistently won the title of the Best Restaurant in the World. Sadly, Noma isn’t in Copenhagen.
There is a downside to eating on Nyhavn…. It was not cheap. Though savvy travelers can find good prices.
Seafood lovers will want to head to the Hummer, where they serve fresh lobster all year. They have a diverse menu and a good list of sparkling wines. It isn’t the cheapest place to eat. But Nyhavn isn’t known for its budget prices.
Easily one of the most popular places to eat is Nyhavn 17. What makes Nyhavn 17 so popular? Maybe it’s the bright red neon signs bringing everyone in. Maybe its the great outdoor seating. Possibly it’s the diverse menu that features both international favorites, like fish and chips, to danish classics like smørrebrød.
Geist isn’t the cheapest restaurant in Copenhagen. To be honest, it’s hard to find a cheap place to eat in Nyhavn.
Sitting just east of the canal, this casual restaurant is one of the best places to eat in Kongens Nytorv. One thing that sets Geist apart from other fancy restaurants in Copenhagen is that they have ditched the gourmet tasting set menu. Rather, they have small al cart dishes you can order.
Bridge Street Kitchen
For those traveling on a budget, you’ll want to head to nearby Bridge Street Kitchen, sitting between Christianshavn and Nyhavn.
Bridge Street Kitchen combines great food, with outstanding views. There is a range of options in this street food market. It’s one of my favorite places to eat in Copenhagen. Just grab a ferry across the canal.
Cap Horn’s all about seasonal, organic produce. This rustic restaurant looks like something pulled out of Denmark’s countryside. It’s relaxing and charming. They serve traditional danish cuisine with fresh ingredients. As well as other dishes that range from the entrance to croquettes to beef tenderloin. Someone decently priced dishes here at around $15 to $30.
Møller Snaps & Smørrebrød
This is another decently priced place that gives you a little taste of Danish cuisine. I recommended the open-famed open-faced sandwiches known as smørrebrød. These sandwiches often feature fish like herring. Here you can find some of the best smørrebrød in the entire city!
Where to Stay?
Many travelers fall in love with the beauty of Nyhavn. So, of course, there are a handful of hotels to choose from. And I know what you thinking, “Who could afford to stay here”.
And why the hotels aren’t cheap, it might surprise you just how affordable they are per night.
Best hostels and Hotels
Hotel Bethel’s biggest claim to fame is that some rooms are in the building where Hans Christian Andersen lived from 1871 to 1875. At the top of the canal, this hotel puts you within walking distance from many other sites in Copenhagen. Sites like the National Museum, Rosenborg Palace, and the Church of Our Savior. It’s a brilliant spot for exploring the city, then retreating to Nyhavn for a relaxing evening.
71 Nyhavn Hotel
Sitting at cross-water waters where the wide canal meets Nyhavn harbor puts you in one of the most scenic spots in Copenhagen. Many canal tours leave daily right outside the door.
Attractions nearby include the Danish Playhouse, and across the water from the Opera House. Significant sites to add to any Copenhagen Itinerary.
The hotel is known for being clean and comfortable. Imagine having breakfast while gazing out at the watery harbor and cancel. The staff is friendly, and the rooms are spacious. They also have a killer breakfast.
Because Nyhavn is prime real estate, there aren’t many hostels around the area. Luckily, you only need one. And it is one of the best hostels in Copenhagen. Bedwood Hostel focuses on making you feel right at home. It’s great for meeting new travelers or reading a book. There’s a quaint courtyard right outside, as well as a small backyard. For travelers on a budget, looking for a place to stay in Nyhavn on a budget….. This is your only option.
(Maybe Hotel Copenhagen and Grand Hotel Copenhagen)
Hotels and hostels aren’t you’re the only option. If you want sometimes more spacious, than check out Airbnb and Booking dot com. Here you can find some apartments you can rent nightly.
Where to Go After
Okay, so with this Nyhavn guide, you’ve seen everything that the area offers. Now it’s time to move on and explore the rest of Copenhagen, or even go on a day trip from Copenhagen.
Here are some great places to check out after you’re done exploring Nyhavn.
Within walking distance, Tivoli Gardens is the most popular site in the city. Tivoli Gardens is one of the first theme parks in the world. (Denmark is famous for giving the world theme parks.).
This iconic park inspired Walt Disney when you were coming up with Disneyland. Today this park still has thrilling rides, and amazing architecture, and is one of the best things to do in Copenhagen.
Fans of Shakespeare Hamlet will want to head an hour north by train to see Helsingor Castle. This is the castle from the famous play. It’s a simple train ride (and Copenhagen Central is within walking distance from Nyhavn.). The castles are beautiful in their own right. And take some extra time to walk around Helsingor. Or take the ferry across the Orsend to my adopted home, Helsingborg.
Little Mermaid Statue
Since we are in Nyhavn and paying tribute to Hans Christian Andersen, why not had to keep the momentum going and head to the Little Mermaid Statue? This statue, which was built after the author’s death, depicts a woman sitting on a rock, and longingly looking out to do.
To be honest, this is one of the most popular sites in Copenhagen. And while I think it is worth visiting, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.
My number 1 suggestion of what to do after Nyhavn (besides heading to Bridge Street Kitchen) is to visit Rosenborg Castle.
Rosenborg Castle is the most recognizable building in the city, other than maybe Christiansborg Palace. This ornate castle is oozing style and charm. It’s historical and beautiful. What more do you have after leaving Nyhavn?