Last week we spent 5 days in Copenhagen, Denmark. October is, for me, the best time to visit. It’s colder and there are more chances for rain but the number of tourists is drastically lower. I did not feel suffocated by them at all. Nyhavn harbor was almost empty every day. I love traveling in the shoulder season.

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Colorful harbor

The multicolored buildings of Nyhavn are one of the most popular images of Copenhagen, familiar from countless postcards. The area is home to many bars, and as soon as it is warm enough to be outside, crowds of people fill the harborside, enjoying a Carlsberg or Tuborg. Just off Nyhavn are two streets well worth exploring. Store Strandstræde is a charming little street with elegant galleries and fashionable restaurants, while Bredgade is one of the best places to browse and buy mid-century modern Danish design.

canal side fun

This stunning locale is among the best known spots in Copenhagen. Lots of cafes and bars along the street and just in case you want to get a tattoo, Tattoo Bob’s is just around the corner. As an alternative to some “ink”, there is a canal boat tour that leaves from the end of the Nyhavn Canal that takes you around the city on the water and goes through Christiania (a hippie squatters town established back in the day that still exists despite court rulings etc.) And if you like loft hotels there is one at the quiet end of the canal -closest to the water called 71 Nyhavn that is a repurposed warehouse where atmosphere abounds in comfortable brick walled and wood beamed rooms.

Nyhavn Haven

The heart of Denmark is surely Copenhagen, a cultural mecca boasting everything from top-ranked chefs to scientific advances for the ages, all while being known as having one of the best quality of life ratings of any major city. But within Copenhagen, there is yet another heart that beats, and that is Nyhavn, the 17th-century canal and modern entertainment district of the city. With its distinctive colorful rows of buildings lining the canal, Nyhavn teems with life as the cosmopolitan-set inhabitants frequent their favorite shops, eateries and watering holes. One particular section, located between the Nyhavn Bridge and Kongens Nytorv, is complimented further by large, ancient wooden ships that are docked along the waterway. And as you explore such a whimsical place, don’t forget, you are also in the hood that the author Hans Christian Andersen called home for many years.

Museum Ships Along Nyhavn

As you visit Nyhavn you might notice that it is lined by old sailing vessles. The harbor is, in fact, limited (outside of tour boats) to traditional sailing craft. One of the cool things that has really helped developed Nyhavn’s charm is that it also doubles as a floating museum. Many of the ships along Nyhavn either belong to the Danish National Museum or a private society dedicated to preserving historic sailing vessels. Among these, my absolute favorite is the lighthouse boat. Distinctly identifiable due to the large lighthouse in place of its crows nest, the Danes would pull these ships out and anchor them off one of Denmark’s 400 islands. Should a threat arise, in place of having to abandon a lighthouse they’d just move the ships and leave the invading fleet to fend for itself. For the perfect experience visit Nyhavn on a clear summer day just as the golden hues of sunset hit the buildings. It’ll bring out the colors of the buildings while casting a golden blanket over the ships.

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