SUP boarding in Copenhagen's canals

Guide: A day on the water in Copenhagen 

Photo: Jakob Gjerluff

Copenhagen’s harbour is clean. As in jump in headfirst any day of the year clean. Whether you’re into paddling, swimming, or bobbing around the harbour in a boat, it almost ought to be mandatory to spend a day on the water while visiting the city. Even if you don’t like being on the water,

In 1999, the European Union officially declared the Copenhagen harbour water safe for bathing. From then on, life in, on, and around the water has been taking off. New activities are popping up everywhere along with new bathing zones, saunas, boat rentals and tours.

These are our favourite activities, non-activities, and everything water-related: 

Get active!

Conquer Copenhagen's canal on a SUP board - rent SUP board

Photo:Lukas Bukoven

Rent a SUP

Stand Up Paddling has become increasingly more popular in Copenhagen in the later years. In 2021 it became legal to SUP in the entire inner harbour in Copenhagen. Go and explore the narrow canals or set out on a longer trip up or down the coast from the city. 

These are spots to rent your SUP: Central and Amager Strandpark outlets include: Kayak Republic, Kayakhotellet, Frozen Palmtree, Kingfish.  

If you want to venture out of Copenhagen, you can rent SUPs here: Hornbæk Surfshop, Water Sights (Rungsted), KanoKajakCenter (Mølleåen), Ka’nalu (Ishøj/Arken), Kitekollektivet (Dragør)

Read about the best SUP tours in Copenhagen here (insert link to guide).

Conquer Copenhagen's canal on a SUP board - rent a kayak

Photo:Mark Tanggaard

Rent a kayak

Kayaking is the original self-powered way to explore the waters of Copenhagen. Just like SUP it has also gained traction in the later years with kayak-club memberships going through the roof.  

These are some spots to rent your kayak: Kayak Republic, Kayakhotellet and KanoKajakCenter (Mølleåen).

Borrow a kayak for free to help the environment:

Want to help keep the harbour clean in return for a free rental kayak? The non-profit initiative GreenKayak lets you do exactly that. With nine rental locations across Copenhagen, you can pretty much pick and choose where you want to go paddle while you do a good deed. Bookings for summer 2024 open on April 14th on their website

Do laps in a harbour bath

If swimming is your thing, there are a few decent sized harbour baths and bathing zones fit for a few laps. This is where you want to go for some strokes: 

Enclosed harbour bath with lifeguards:

Unguarded harbour baths:

Practice your high dives  - Copenhagen harbour life

Photo:Astrid Maria Rasmussen

Practice your high dives

All about tricks and high dives? Then these are the best spots for your head dives and gainers in Copenhagen:

  • Islands Brygge: the city’s most popular jumping platform and Copenhagen’s oldest harbour bath. 1m, 3m and 5m platforms  
  • Fisketorvet: 1m, 2m and 3m platforms close to Vesterbro and The Meatpacking District
  • Kastrup Søbad: also known as the ‘Snail’ it’s one of the more beautiful architectural and natural spots to swim and jump. 3m and 5m platforms

For a comprehensive list of the best places to take a dip or spots with family- and kid friendly pools, download the KBH Havn APP.

Open water swimming

and finally, if you'd rather take your first dip, wave swim, or just explore the open water element, we recommend you get in touch with the team at CopenWater for further information.

Walk or bike The Harbour Circle

Albeit not technically a water-based activity, this is just as much about life in the harbour. The Harbour Circle is a 13 km biking/walking route around the entire inner harbour. The route is one of the best ways to sample the architecture, historic sights, bathing zones, nature and tiny pockets of life that encircle the harbour. Check out the route here.

Enjoy the city views

Copenhagen city views from a GoBoat

Photo:GoBoat

Rent a boat

Rent yourself a boat and set your own pace and route through the canals at one of Copenhagen’s many boat rentals. GoBoat on Islands Brygge is the obvious choice if being your own captain does the trick for you. You see their iconic blue boats bobbing around the harbour almost everywhere you go and for good reason. It’s easy to maneuver, it’s centrally located, it fits up to eight people and you can rent it for as short as one hour. GoBoat also offers private cruises in electric luxury boats and your own captain (the boats fit up to 9 people).

Friendships is another good option located in Christianshavn where you also have the opportunity to rent a captain for the day if you don’t fancy doing the sailing yourself. HeyCaptain is the choice for those considering the canal tours but want a more personal experience with up to max 12 people in the boats. You can book the entire boat yourself or join a ‘Social Sailing’ session where the goal is to interact with strangers and possibly meet new friends while enjoying Copenhagen on the water together. 

Lounge in the sun - Copenhagen harbour life

Photo:Lukas Bukoven

Lounge in the sun

Is lounging away in the sun more your thing? No worries, the Copenhagen harbour might be good for sailing and paddling but with a 13km ‘coastline’ there are plenty of amazing spots to set up camp for a chill by the water. A few favourites include:

  • Kalvebod Bølge, very central location on architecturally cool looking wooden bridges.
  • Amager Strandpark and Helgoland, Copenhagen’s largest ‘real’ beach with sand and an iconic bathing club out on the water.
  • La Banchina, possibly the hottest sunspot in town next to/connected to a restaurant/bar.
  • Svanemøllestrand, sandy beach a little north of town.
  • Krøyers Plads, it doesn’t get more central than this. 100m from Broen’s Street Food.
  • Havnevigen, really quirky and almost secret enclosed sandy beach inside a residential area.
  • Sandkaj, the entire waterfront of the Nordhavn neighborhood turns into one big beach hang on hot days.
  • Kayak Bar offers a unique setting for brunch, lunch, dinner, concerts, a harbor dip, or just a cup of coffee.
  • Ofelia Plads on the harbour front next to The Royal Playhouse and Amalienborg Palace is popular public space to lounge in the sun, catch a cultural event  jump or jump on the harbour bus.
  • Bellevue is a 700-metre-long sandy beach in Klampenborg and one of the most popular beaches in the greater Copenhagen area. Here, the world-renowned architect Arne Jacobsen's design can be seen everywhere, including the geometric kiosks, surrounding housing, and Bellevue Strandbad.
A day on the water - Copenhagen harbour life

Photo:Daniel Rasmussen

Join a classic canal-tour

The tried-and-true version of experiencing the city from the water. Though it’s ‘a classic’, the long flat boats are a truly cozy way to spend a few hours. The vibes are almost Tivoli-like, and the guiding comes in multiple languages. The two main companies offering canal tours are Stromma and Nettobådene

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Giuseppe Liverino

Senior Manager - Press & PR

glv@woco.dk