Visit the Colourful Buildings of Nyhavn, Copenhagen

One of the first things that comes to mind when I say ‘Copenhagen’ is the colourful buildings and architecture. One of the most iconic spots in Copenhagen, known for this very reason is Nyhavn. The waterfront cafes and bars are bustling as canal boats float by. The waterfront starts at Kongens Nytorv to the harbour in front of the Royal Playhouse, and is lined with historic colourful buildings, and home to many beautiful boats.

Copenhagen is filled with so many things to do and places to see. Check out my weekend guide to Copenhagen here!

Colourful buildings at Nyhavn Copenhagen

Why is Nyhavn famous?

Nyhavn has become known for it’s colourful building front – images of the area are plastered across countless postcards, and even Ryanair had its image on my booking! This picturesque area is a must see when you visit Copenhagen!

The area is well known for its restaurants and cafes that now fill the colourful old houses, and spill out onto the street. Fairy lights are strung up and boats are docked along the canal.

Enjoy city guides? Get to know the city of Durham with its famous Cathedral!

Hans Christian Andersen and Nyhavn

If you’re a fan of fairytales, you’ll have certainly heard of Hans Christian Andersen. The famous writer actually lived in Copenhagen, and you’ll find references to him throughout the city. He actually used to live at Nyhavn, in three buildings! In house number 20 is where he wrote ‘The Tinderbox’, ‘Little Claus and Big Claus’, and ‘The Princess and the Pea’. He lived for twenty years at number 67, and two more at 18. When you visit, you’ll be able to imagine him in these buildings writing his fairytales, or walking along the same cobbles as you!

Check out the Writers Museum in Edinburgh for more famous writers!

What Neighbourhood is Nyhavn in?

Nyhavn is in Indre By (the Inner City) of Copenhagen. This area is the historic part of the city – the real heart of the city. Around this area, you’ll find large squares (often filled with markets), and streets packed around the canals and harbour. Many of the historic sites of Copenhagen are here, including Amalienborg Palace, Christiansborg Palace and the Royal Danish Theatre. You can visit many of the famous attractions of Copenhagen, including the Little Mermaid statue, the Botanical Gardens, and find many of the incredible museums here.

The History of Nyhavn Canal?

Nyhavn is a canal from the 17th century, first constructed by King Christian V. It was actually dug by Swedish Prisoners of War from the Dano-Swedish War in 1658 – 1660.

The canal links the inner city to the sea, and gave way for boats to bring cargo and trade into the city. The area became known for its sailors and prostitution.

With the development of ocean-going shipping, Nyhavn became a port for smaller vessel freight traffic, and eventually, after WWII, land transport left the canals mostly empty of ships.

Colourful buildings at Nyhavn Copenhagen

Many of the buildings on the northern side of the canal date back to 1681 – the oldest house is number 9!

The waterfront was pedestrianised in 1980 and the area revitalised, which is why its now become so popular with tourist.

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Colourful buildings at Nyhavn Copenhagen

How to Visit Nyhavn

The closest metro station to Nyhavn is Kongens Nytorv. From here, its easy to hop across the road where you’ll find the start of the canal (less than a 5 minute walk!).

Once there, its an easy (although sometimes busy) walk along the waterfront. You can easily pop into the bars and restaurants, although these are (expectedly) a little bit on the expensive side.

Have you ever been to Nyhavn? Would it be on your list to visit in Copenhagen?

Make sure you check out my ‘Guide To Copenhagen’ filled with lots of things to do and see in Copenhagen!


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Published by Emily Johnston

Archaeologist and Heritage Tourist Blogger at

3 thoughts on “Visit the Colourful Buildings of Nyhavn, Copenhagen

  1. What a cool place to visit–I can’t believe there are houses still standing from 1681!! Thanks for sharing, great post.


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