Lao Tzu once said that, "nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it" and I am here to tell you that the beauty of the water in Copenhagen is an irresistible site in itself that you must see. It is a site from which you can also see all the major and most incredible sites whilst sitting back and enjoying a boat tour.
Having travelled to Copenhagen on a number of occasions, I would have to recommend taking a boat tour by one of the Stromma Brands including by Canal Tours Copenhagen. Canal Tours Copenhagen offer various tours such as a 1-hour Grand Tour on an open-top-boat with a multi-lingual guide for 80 DKK (12 USD) per person. Children between the ages of 0-5 travel for free and those that are aged 6-15 are only charged 40 DKK (6 USD) per ticket. The open-top-boats are made from environmentally friendly material and show you some of the most beautiful must-see sites of Copenhagen that I have shared with you in this article.
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Recommended departure from postcard perfect Nyhavn
The 1-hour Grand Tour offered by Canal Tours Copenhagen departs from either Gammel Strand or Nyhavn. I would suggest that you depart from Nyhavn, as it is Copenhagen's most picturesque location.
Nyhavn was established by King Christian in 1670–1673 as an entry to the city from the sea and was considered the commercial and trading port as well as the sailors' quarters. In addition to this rich history, it was also once the home of the famous fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen. He loved it so much that he lived at number 18, 20 and 67.
Today, the beautiful old houses have been renovated into restaurants, cafes and cosy eating places that dominate the old port and overlook the glistening canal. The houses are brightly painted in different colours and a picture with the boats is postcard perfect.
The canal is still home to a number of bobbing wooden boats and old ships that are moored along the canal side. Locals and tourists both spend time in Nyhavn because there is a real relaxing and copacetic feel to the place and it is known as the longest outdoor bar in Scandinavia! As your open-topped-boat passes, you will hear musicians on the street playing jazz whilst the happy Danish bid you a farewell on your journey of their city.
En route to the unique Paper Island, a foodie's dream
Once you're on the move, one of the first sites you will see is the prominent Paper Island. The reason that it is named Paper Island is because it has previously served as a paper storage area for the Procurement Association of the Danish Press. At the time, there was also no public access to this cute little island.
Afterwards, Paper Island then became home to Experimentalism, which is an interactive science museum for adults and children. This unique museum is unfortunately not operating from this location at the moment due to a fire incident and therefore, at present it is unknown as to whether it will return.
However, fear not as the Copenhagen Street Food Group is still located on Paper Island. It consists of colourful and tasty food trucks from every part of the world. This means that if you're feeling like some Italian and Mexican food whilst in this Danish city, then your culinary desires can be easily satisfied. However, whilst you're on the boat, you will only get to use your senses of sight and smell to enjoy what is being offered at this little base.
Just as Nyhavn is full of jazz music on the street, Paper Island is a hotspot for creative souls, so artists and musicians frequently hang-out there and and often hold events or activities between munching food from the Copenhagen Street Food Group. After your boat tour, it’s a wonderful place to visit as there are deck chairs that you can sit on and relax whilst on the pier and looking out at one of the city's best views.
Best view of world renowned Royal National Opera House
Following on from Paper Island, you will get to see a number of iconic sites including a few simultaneously due to their proximity and how they have been constructed. One such site is Denmark's national opera house, which is known as The Royal National Opera House.
The Royal National Opera House took over 3 years to build and opened in January, 2005. It has 14 floors, 6 main stages and is a total of 41,000 square metres (441,320 square feet). It can seat between 1490 and 1700 guests depending on the stage set-up and size of the orchestra. It cost over 500 million USD to build. It is known as one of the most modern and best equipped opera houses in the entire world.
The beauty about seeing this stunning building from the outside is that if you glance across the water and directly opposite, you can see the Royal residential home, Amalienborg Castle at the shore and behind it you can see The Marble Church. The Royal National Opera House was built in total alignment with the Castle and the Church. The views of all of these sites are most spectacular from the water.
A wonderful view of the fairytale icon The Little Mermaid
Another iconic gem that you will get to experience on the Grand Tour will be when you slowly pass by Langelinie Pier and see the famous sculpture of The Little Mermaid who is over 100 years old. The sculpture really reflects its name in that it is certainly little; it is 1.25 metres (4.1 feet) tall and weighs 175 kilograms (385 pounds).
Can you see her in the photograph amongst all the people crowding around her? She is sitting on the stone and her side is facing the boat. The Little Mermaid is the most photographed statue in all of Denmark and has more than 5 million photographs taken of her, so no wonder it's hard to see her clearly in this photo with so many people crowding around! The captain of the boat, however, will try and get as close as possible to allow you to get some brilliant snaps.
The Little Mermaid character was created by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be united with a young, handsome prince on land. This story was translated into a ballet called The Little Mermaid that was run at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen. Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg, watched the ballet performance and was so enchanted with The Little Mermaid that he commissioned the creation of her sculpture.
The sculpture is called Edvard Eriksen and he unveiled The Little Mermaid in August 1913. She is made out of bronze and granite and was a gift to the Danish people from Carl Jacobsen. She is a beautiful statue with a little bit of a mystical charm and so much so that there are 14 copies of her on display in cities across the world.
See how the Danish really live in Christianshavn
Moving on from Langelinie Pier, you will travel towards the Christianshavn Canal which is surrounded by the lively and residential Christianshavn neighborhood. The architecture in this neighborhood is inspired by the Dutch as the canal is wider and is surrounded by warehouses and wealthy merchant houses, similarly to some of the the canals in Amsterdam.
In this neighborhood you will also see the famous Church of Our Savior and its famous serpentine spire, which was inaugurated in 1752. The Church is in a Dutch baroque style and includes an external staircase offering exquisite views over central Copenhagen. Each year, more than 60,000 people climb up to the top which is 90 metres (295 feet) above the street level so that they can enjoy these views. The onboard live guide will give you a heads-up on the best moment in which to take a photograph of it!
Today, these buildings are now home to architects and art schools; the canals are now filled with yachts and houseboats. In places where boats are not moored, the beautiful colour of the houses that line the canal are reflected in the clear and clean Danish water and it’s a really wonderful site to see. There is a real high-end and hippy-like vibe to the neighborhood and as a tourist, it is wonderful to see how the Danish really live.
Historical bridges and former stock exchange
Throughout the Grand Tour you will find yourself cruising under at least 14 distinctive bridges and there is one especially low bridge just before Copenhagen's Old Stock Exchange. This bridge is so low that if you raise your hand up in the air you would be able to touch it, so do be careful. The on-board live guide will warn you in advance of such bridges to make sure that everyone is seated and huddled together to prevent any accidents occurring.
One of my favourite sites to see is the Old Stock Exchange, which dates back to 1625. It is an architectural masterpiece that is most known for its distinctive spire that is shaped as the tail of four dragons intertwined together. At the top is three crowns that represent the union between the Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The height of the spire is 60 metres (197 feet). The Old Stock Exchange is now the headquarters for the Danish Chamber of Commerce and it is not possible for the public to visit it unless they are renting a room privately. The view from the outside, nevertheless, is a great site to see.
Picturesque sites and a relaxing feel
In addition to the sites that I have mentioned, there are other magical jewels in Copenhagen that you will see during the Grand Tour. Such other sites include the Royal Danish Playhouse and the shinny Black Diamond. In addition, you will see a number of locals sailing along in private boats and having a picnic and enjoying themselves. Copenhagen has such serene beauty and a real soothing atmosphere and experiencing it on the water is an absolute must. Sailing down the narrow canals and alongside part of the open waters is a magnificent and tranquil experience in which to enjoy this European city.
I have enjoyed boat tours in Copenhagen (Go Boat) on a number of occasions and have to recommend that you do the 1 hour tour (at the very least) with Canal Tours Copenhagen. The captain sailing you through the experience as well as the live guide are so courteous, friendly and informative. Whether you're traveling in the warmer or cooler seasons, Copenhagen will consistently look picturesque. The blue and pink shades of the sky, the bright sun and the turquoise water will make you feel relaxed and heavenly. If you're showered with rain during your guided adventure, don't worry as Canal Tours Copenhagen will have waterproof ponchos readily available for your journey and as a keepsake.
No wonder the Danish are so happy….
With all the treasures dotted around the city, it’s no wonder that the Danes are the happiest people in the world. The United Nations World Happiness Report, shows that Denmark is often the happiest country in the world and I can tell you that Copenhagen has some of the friendliest people that I have ever encountered. Visiting Copenhagen is a must because of the energy of the warm and welcoming locals including those that work for and bring you the Grand Tour. All members of staff, such as those behind the kiosk that are selling tickets, are so happy that people want to enjoy their beautiful city and are ready to give you an easy-going, peaceful and joyful experience on their open-topped-boat.