Tried and True Things to Do This Summer in Copenhagen
FROM BIKING TO BOATING TO SWIMMING AT THE BEACH
Come to Copenhagen, she said. And I’ll say it again. Considering a trip during summer? It’s a dreamy time to visit. Danish summer days are long, full of that late Nordic light we locals craved over winter. At midsummer’s peak – celebrated here on the 23rd of June with the annual Sankt Hans Aften festivities – the sun shines 17.5 hours over the city.
Beginning the 1st of June, the summer season brings flowers blooming everywhere, the air lavish with lilacs and elderflowers. Trees lining streets are once more lush and verdant. Vining roses drape around doorways of those charming, colorful old houses all over town. The sun glints off the clean water and people are out everywhere soaking it up. Faces to the sun. When it’s out. Here are 10 ways to make the most out of Copenhagen in summer.
(Originally posted May 2016 – updated June 2023)
My Top 10 Danish Summer Experiences in Copenhagen
Note: All suggestions are listed on the map at the end with specific locations.
- 1 | Cruise through the canals
- 2 | See the capital from the seat of a bike
- 3 | Swim in the clean clear harbor
- 4 | Bask in the Scandinavian sun at a local beach
- 5 | Pack a picnic for al fresco dining in a city park
- 6 | Roll through Dyrehaven in a horse-drawn carriage
- 7 | Raise a glass to happy hour outside
- 8 | Paddle a swan boat around the Lakes
- 9 | Cool off with some creamy Danish ice cream
- 10 | Try the rides or stroll the scenery at Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park
1 | Cruise through the canals
Really – you must do this. Copenhagen is a harbor town. It’s in the name. København means merchant’s harbor. There is water everywhere. And it’s safe to swim in. Seize your inner Viking sailor. You must get out on the water. Especially this season. Don’t have a boat? No problem. There are so many options for all budgets to explore the canals and harbor here in Copenhagen.
Take a guided canal tour
First visit to the Danish capital? I would recommend starting with a canal tour for a great overview of the city’s major sites and layout from the water.
60-minute canal tour | Adults DKK 50, Children DKK 20
Tours in Danish, English, and German depart regularly during the day from Nyhavn near Heibergsgade and take you on a curated route to see capital icons like the Little Mermaid, the Copenhagen Opera House, and more. Check the website to see up-to-date schedules and stops, as weather and canal traffic can impact daily routes.
60-minute Classic Canal Tour | DKK 109 per person
Slightly nicer boats – and some fully electric – the Stromma Tours depart regularly from Holmens Canal (near Højbro bridge and Ved Stranden) or at the Kongens Nytorv end of Nyhavn Canal.
Hygge Boat Tour | DKK 249 per person
New this season, Stromma is offering a smaller guided tour for a maximum of 12 people on an electric boat. These 1-hour and 5-minute cruises depart from the Ved Stranden location and offer a deeper dive into lesser-known areas.
60 min tour | DKK 200/per person “The Landmarks” tour gives the highlights of the historic city.
180 min tour | DKK 400/per person the “Hidden Gems” tour shows some off-the-beaten-track spots.
Each tour includes a complimentary non-alcoholic drink – in the summer lemonade or water. Wine and Beer are available for purchase – with a maximum of two drinks for each person. Or set up a private tour for DKK 2000 (max 12 peeps.) Departures daily from Ofelia Plads and newly opened Kalvebod Brygge.
Hey Captain was founded by friends cruising the canals with the ambition of creating an intimate and ‘hyggelig‘ canal tour. We want to make you feel at home while you get a sense of the city and what life entails here.
We don’t work with a 100% fixed route as we want to give our captains the opportunity to customize the route depending on wishes of our guests on the day, specific events in the harbor, and weather.
– Hey Captain website
Captain your own electric picnic boat
Want a little more control over your tour? Or maybe, you’ve been to Copenhagen before and don’t need the speech delivered in four languages. Even better – you live here? Have you ever rented a sustainable electric picnic boat? You can! Highly recommend trying this at least once. So very fun!
1st hour | DKK 549 for up to 8 people, 2 hours | DKK 979
We adore Go Boat and their super charming little electric picnic boats. Book online and rent by the hour. It is popular when the weather is nice, so plan ahead. Pick up your boat from their cool outpost near Islands Brygge right on the canal. We love the slow, cozy Go Boats for their charm, ease, stability, and maneuverability. There is a picnic table in the middle! No time to pack a lunch? Order ahead online and they will fashion a perfect picnic for your group or you can pick up some provisions right on sight.
1st hour | DKK 549 for 8 people, 2 hours | DKK 899
Take the Inner Harbor bicycle and pedestrian bridge from Nyhavn to Christianshavn. Straight back to the right tucked at the end of the channel is the base for Friendships. A quick lesson on driving the blue and white electric boats and you’re off, laminated harbor map in hand. Cold drinks are available for purchase on-site.
Get a feel for a few hours out on the canals aboard your own Friendships here:
Catch the Copenhagen harbor bus for a budget boat option
Need a budget option? Jump on an electric harbor bus and ride it up and down the canals. For the price of a normal bus or metro ticket, you can cruise the canal and enjoy the views and sunshine on the cheap. Harbor busses travel between Orientkaj in Nordhavn and Sluseholmen in the south, with lots of stops in between. Have you rented a bike? No problem – roll it right on.
Adults DKK 24 for one trip between 2 zones valid on bus, metro and harbor for 1 hour. If you buy the 24 or 72-hour city passes, you get unlimited public transport access, including train to and from the airport.
READ MORE: EXPLORE COPENHAGEN BY BOAT
2 | See the capital from the seat of a bike
No Copenhagen summer experience list would be complete if it didn’t include hopping on two wheels. This town is made for bicycles and is regularly voted the most bike-friendly city in the world. Most of the capital is flat and there are elevated paths with their own stoplights here for bikes. Need a quick Danish bike etiquette lesson? Read here. Go with the flow of traffic and learn the hand signals. You can do it! And don’t worry, many Danes leave the city between weeks 28-30 so there will be less pressure for those visiting at that time.
Something about warm breezy weather and just biking speaks Danish summer to me. Perfection. You can rent electric bikes at many depots around the city. They can be heavy and cumbersome if you aren’t used to them. Prefer a regular bicycle, many shops rent cykler (in Danish) by the hour or the day. Check with your hotel, many offer bike rentals in-house.
Bike rental DKK 125/day. E-bikes from DKK 350. The day runs from 08.00 -17.30. Saturday and Sundays 09.00 – 15.00. Group tours are also available.
Åboulevard 3, 1635 København V
24/7 Bike Rental. DKK 100/day. Find a bike near you and unlock it with your phone. Download the app and rent by the hour or by the day. Added bonus, Donkey bikes are available all over Europe and have electric assist options available.
Take a bike with a basket. Bike to your picnic. Or to a Harbor Pool. Or to a park! Or to drinks on the water… it can ALL be done on a bike here in summer. (Or really anytime here in Copenhagen.)
READ MORE: DING! DING! BIKING ETIQUETTE IN COPENHAGEN
3 | Swim in the clean clear harbor
This is such a very Copenhagen thing to do. The city has worked diligently to ensure the water quality is healthy to enjoy and locals here do it all the time. But swimming is only legal in specific zones, to keep bathers and boaters equally safe. The best places are the public harbor baths – a floating open-air swimming pool of sorts. Many of them are lifeguarded between June and September.
Check the Copenhagen Kommune website for up-to-date lifeguard hours and opening times. Bonus for locals and visitors – swimming in these spots completely free of charge.
Islands Brygge 14, 2300 Copenhagen S
The original and most popular of the baths is located at Islands Brygge which can be quite a scene when the weather is nice. People go to see and be seen hanging out on the lawn. (Bonus – GoBoat is here, and the Harbor bus drops off nearby, so you can get your canal cruise on AND then take a swim.) Kids of all ages will LOVE jumping off the huge platform that looks like a ship right into the canal.
Ben Websters Vej 69, 2450 Copenhagen SW
A little further afield – but worth a visit – this pretty Scandi-designed spot on the south end of the Copenhagen canal is easily reachable by harbor bus or a bike around the Havneringen bicycle path. Enjoy post-swimming eats and drinks at Restaurant Vandvid aboard an old ferry right on the water. Or adorable little Cafe Slusen – a short ride or walk nearby.
Other safe swimming zones in the city
Across the main Copenhagen canal from Islands Brygge you can’t miss the cool wooden wave-like structure of Kalvebod Bølge. Here swimmers, kayakers, and sunbathers swarm the docks come summer and can jump in the main harbor within the cordoned-off safe zone. The bravest might jump from the top platforms in the back.
Refshalevej 141, 1432 København, Denmark
La Banchina – which means the quay or dock in Italian – is a little hidden oasis. Tucked in a protected little corner off the main canal out in Refshaleøen area of the city. Here you can take a dip all year round and then step in their on-site sauna (pre-booking a time slot is probably a good idea.) Delicious sustainable eats and drinks are available on-site.
Sandkaj 35, Nordhavn, 2150 Copenhagen
No lifeguard. Open all hours.
On the east side of the city? Check out the Nordhavn swimming area on Sandkaj, an easy walk from the Nordhavn (S-tog) train station. Not lifeguarded, but roped off with easy exit and entry to the cool clear water, this area is hopping come summer. Right under the Portland Towers, set up your towels on a section of the terraced wood docks here and take a dip. Bonus points for a nearby Original Coffee, Letz Sushi, Joe & The Juice, and hamburgers from Jagger.
4 | Bask in the Scandinavian sun at a local beach
Don’t think of sandy beaches when you hear the word Copenhagen? If the sun is shining – everyone in Denmark does. On a warm day, our family loves hitting the beach. The Baltic Sea waters surrounding the island Sjælland – where the capital sits – hit temperatures much warmer than expected. Partly due to large sandy shallows directly offshore and relatively low shift of tides. A Danish beach is one of my absolute favorite places to picnic come summer. So where to experience the sandy goodness like a local?
Bellevue Strand (Beach)
My favorite? By far. Bellevue Beach in Klampenborg, just north of the city. It is a gorgeous swath of sand with designer facilities – worth the effort to get to (just jump on the C-train and get off at the Klampenborg stop – go up the hill then turn right and head towards the water.) The Bellevue Strand structures here were developed by Danish design superhero Arne Jacobsen. You can’t help but be charmed by the blue and white towers plus matching kiosks and volleyball court. The water is nice here and children can splash and build sandcastles or stalk crabs on the rocks.
If Klampenborg feels too far from town for you try Amager Strandpark with views of the Øresund Bridge and across to Sweden. The iconic Kastrup Sea Bath or “Sneglen” (the snail) here is a pretty cool public swim facility right on the water. Kiosks with pølsers and popsicles on site.
Our go-to local hangout is Svanemøllen Strand – because we can cycle there in under 10 minutes and it is perfect for a dip off the boardwalk. Take an instant grill and make an evening out of it. Play a game of football in the sand. You can pick up a DKK 30 disposable grill at most grocery stores during the summer months. Light it up, throw on some “grill meats”, and enjoy the late light and smooth warm water.
Want to know if the water where you’re landed is safe to swim? Denmark has a website and app for that. Head to Badevand.dk and enter København in the drop-down for water quality and sea temperatures around the area on tap.
5 | Pack a picnic for al fresco dining in a city park
Don’t want sand in your sandwich? There is so much beautiful green space in Copenhagen – large parks and gardens where you can enjoy the outdoors and eat al fresco like a regular Dane. Remember those 20 Kroner grills? Perfect at the park too.
There are many excellent places to procure picnic provisions – but my favorite has to be Torvehallerne – the Glass Market near Nørreport Station in the middle of town. There is excellent takeaway food as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. A sunny afternoon, or early evening at a table outside at Torvehallerne is perfection. Grab a glass of Danish craft beer and the delicious Nordic charcuterie plate from Omegn. Or a duck confit sandwich from Ma Poule or tacos from Hija de Sanchez and enjoy. Delightful. Lots of great takeaway options to eat there right there or carry to one of the beautiful nearby green spaces to enjoy like…
Copenhagen Botanical Gardens – Botanisk Have
Gothersgade 130, 1353 Copenhagen
The Botanical Garden is a beautiful oasis in the middle of Copenhagen. Meander the beautiful paths, smell the flowers while little can look for toads on the lily pads in the ponds. Get inspiration from the test garden or just relax on the lawn. This is another perfect spot for a picnic in the summer while enjoying the flowers. You can bring your Torvehallerne treats here, but no grills are allowed. Food carts and outdoor cafés are available if takeaway in the grass isn’t your thing. From 15 August to 2 September, spend an evening in the park watching Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” by the Afterhours Theater Company.
Edel Sauntes Allé, 2100 København Ø
Much larger than the parks that string along the inner city, we love our nearby Fælledparken in Østerbro. So does the entire city as you will always find people here. Running along the many paths. Playing sports in the shadow of F.C. København’s home stadium Telia Parken. Just relaxing with friends. Picnicking on the grass or at the many public tables available.
There are also several great playgrounds for kids younger or older. You can take a break, set up your picnic and let them run off some steam. Little ones may enjoy the Tårnlegepladsen or “Tower playground” near the corner of Blegdamsvej and Frederik V’s Vej. The slides and climbing equipment here mimic Copenhagen’s iconic architecture. On a warm day with little ones in tow, you can take your picnic to the Splash pool (Fælledparkens Soppesø). It is a charming place to cool off, located behind the skatepark near Norre Allé and Edel Sauntes Allé.
My kids are a little older and enjoy the more physically active play area near Den Franske Plads on the Serridslevvej side. Here there are giant swings, an obstacle course, and trampolines as well as small courts for football and basketball. Even if you aren’t a kid, don’t have kids, and don’t want to be near kids – Fælledparken is huge enough that you can find a lovely corner that fulfills all your Danish summer needs.
2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
A sprawling park in the independent township of Frederiksberg. Perfect for a stroll through the meandering maze of paths. Huge swaths of lawn to spread out a picnic. Playgrounds for the littles and kiosks for coffee and ice cream. Prefer a fancier lunch? Book ahead to sit in the backyard patio of Fasangården, idyllic come summer.
Or try to nab the cute little gazebo in the Horticulture Society’s garden near the Pile Allé entrance. Ask locals where to get a sneak peek of the Copenhagen Zoo’s elephant enclosure, visible for free from Frederiksberg Garden. Or take a relaxing guided boat tour through the park’s little canals. This park is the perfect respite this season.
Pile Alle 55, 2000 Frederiksberg
Søndermarken park is not far from Frederiksberg Gardens and is home to more beautiful green space and walking paths. Take a picnic and make a plan to step into the Cisterns, an amazing underground art space.
Nørre Farimagsgade, 1364 Copenhagen K
This lovely little green oasis is in the opposite direction from Torvehallerne. Cross through the always busy and cement Israel Plads to the tree-lined paths ringing the pond that sits in the middle of the city. There is a playground and ping pong table at this end. You can rent paddles and get a coffee, drinks, ice cream and light eats at the adorable Flindt & Ørsted café whose charming terrace might tempt you to tarry after the littles have petered out on the swings. I love the flowers that line the lanes here.
6 | Roll through Dyrehaven in a horse-drawn carriage
Just north of Copenhagen in Klampenborg are the royal hunting grounds and nature preserve known as Jægersborg Dyrehaven. Take the C line on the S-togs (trains) – get off at the Klampenborg station and head right up the hill to the bridge. Here you can hire a horse-drawn carriage to take you to the oldest amusement park in the world – Bakken.
Or ask them to take you through the enormous preserve up to the Eremitage Slot, the Royal hunting lodge where you’ll often see the huge herd of royal deer. Prices vary depending on the length of your trip and how many people but expect to pay between DKK 150-400. Negotiate upfront and be clear about what you’d like to see. Tipping is not common in Denmark. Note: this is the same train stop for Bellevue Beach – you could do both – make a day of it!
7 | Raise a glass to happy hour outside
In Copenhagen, it is legal to consume alcohol in public. This means you can literally BYOB on one of the city’s iconic green benches, slice of a park, or an edge of the water. With the price of a drink out, it’s nice to have the option. Pick a bottle or two from the extensive craft beer and wine selection at Den Gamle Købmand on Sankt Annæ Plads. Throw in some snacks and you’re set for prime people-watching from nearby Ofelia Plads.
Not out and about in a boat? But still want to feel part of the canal action? Go to Reffen and the home of Copenhagen Street Food. Yummy drinks, so many good food choices and a fun, fun vibe. Or on the opposite side of the canal down near the Kastellet (not far from tourist stop the Little Mermaid) – go to Seaside Toldbolden. Drinks are a little spendier here and the stylish crowd reflects it, but the atmosphere is lovely. Nab a lounger and enjoy the people watching on and off the water. In fact, there are so many lovely places, I wrote a whole post dedicated to where to get drinks outside in the city.
8 | Paddle a swan boat around the Lakes
“The Lakes” sit at the edge of the old town, a man-made division between the historic center and the popular neighborhoods of Vesterbro, Nørrebro, and Østerbro. Cafés and bars line the Lakes’ north side and the paths here are always popular for bikers, walkers, and runners. Chill on the famous Dronning Louises Bro and watch the cyklers roll past. Or head down to Kaffesalonen on the Peblinge Sø (lake) and rent one of their swan boats. A giant swan-shaped paddle boat can be rented by the half-hour or an hour and is a delightful way to spend part of an afternoon. The swans only fit two people, but larger paddle boats can accommodate 4-6 passengers.
Kaffesalonen Paddle Boat Rental
Peblinge Dossering 6 2200 Copenhagen N
Swan Boats for 2 persons | DKK 110 per ½ hour, DKK 160 per hour.
Larger paddle boats for 4 people | DKK 160 per ½ hour, and DKK 220 for 1 hour.
“Sun Ferry” jumbo boats for 6 | DKK 220 per ½ hour, or DKK 270 per hour.
Rentals are available from 10:00-21:00 daily.
9 | Cool off with some creamy Danish ice cream
Is is Danish for ice cream and here it is decidedly delicious. Paradis is a chain that is all over town and affords an excellent scoop or two. My personal favorite shop is Østerberg Ice Cream in Østerbro. Just a small shop on Rosenvængets Allé run by Catherine Østerberg and family. Every flavor we have tried here is fantastisk, but my go-to (if it is available) is the lakrids (yes, licorice! Don’t knock it till you try it. When in Denmark I say.) Or go for the havtorn (sea buckthorn) and hyldeblomst (elderflower) – iconic Danish summer flavors.
Out and about in the colorful Nørrebro neighborhood? Try Istids – flash frozen with liquid nitrogen on the spot – it is a delicious experience to watch your treat freeze before your eyes.
Rosenvaengets Alle 7C, 2100 Copenhagen Ø
Tullinsgade 25, 1618 København V
Jægersborggade 13, 2200 Copenhagen N
READ MORE: ICE CREAM SEASON IN DENMARK
10 | Try the rides or stroll the scenery at Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park
Tivoli is the 2nd oldest amusement park in the world, in operation since August 1843. (Bakken, only 20 kilometers up the road in Klampenborg is the oldest, but my heart lies in Tivoli.) Tivoli is all sorts of charming in any season, but overflows with flowers, marching guards, live music and fireworks shows in the summer. It can also be crowded with tourists in the summer. Don’t worry. Tivoli is the perfect size and has plenty to do with or without waiting for the rides. Simply relaxing on the center lawn while the children dart in and out is truly a lovely way to spend the afternoon.
READ MORE: ALWAYS TIME FOR TIVOLI
Grab some takeaway, a glass of wine or a cold Carlsberg and if you are lucky enough to nab one of the loungers – sit back and soak up the atmosphere. Unlike other amusement parks around the world, the food offerings and restaurants are top notch.
Tivoli offers a myriad of entertainment options if the idea of rollercoasters makes you lose your delicious lunch. Try to make time for marveling at the prestigious Tivoli Youth Guard marching through the park in their red and blue regalia. You could take in a theater show, but remember they will mostly be in Danish. Need a more universal language? There are tons of musical performances – both modern and classical for your listening pleasure.
Many Fridays in the summer – there are free concerts (after you pay admission) from the main lawn stage. Known as Fredagsrock in Danish, coming this summer – Macklemore, Rick Astley, Phlake and others.
Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København
11:00-22:00 Sun-Th, 11:00-24:00 Fri-Sat
Summer Season | 31 March – 25 September 2023
NOTE: You can buy an entrance ticket for around DKK 155, (children 3-7 are DKK 70) but this will not include any rides. You can purchase an unlimited ride bracelet for DKK 169.
Copenhagen summer weather
A reminder when planning a summer holiday to Copenhagen, don’t expect perfect weather. There are few places better when it’s blue, blue skies overhead. But, be prepared for some good days and some potential grey days. Remember to bring layers. Even if you turn up during a few of the more lacking days weather-wise, you can absolutely still enjoy this beautiful city and have a great time exploring.
Anything to add? Please share it below! Cheers from Copenhagen – Erin
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