If you’ve not previously experienced the Copenhagen swimming scene, then you may be surprised to learn that the city is one of the best places on earth to take a summer dip. Or even a winter one, if you’re feeling as adventurous as some of the locals do when the mercury dips.
It’s not all about the best beaches near Copenhagen either. This part of Scandinavia is awash with open-air public swimming facilities. Copenhagen swimming areas to discover include a selection of harbour baths, salt water pools, canalside spots, wooden piers and decked areas, as well as natural sandy bays.
Make like the locals by getting in early to avoid the crowds, or take a lunchtime dip to see the city’s office workers diving in for an invigorating swim during their lunch break. Even when the water temperature is below 5℃, you’re bound to spy a hardy soul or two plunging in.
Copenhagen beaches and harbour pools are all part of the city’s social scene too. In summer, you’ll see plenty of smiling Danes enjoying the sunshine as they lounge, picnic or even party by the canals or harbour. The water quality at the harbour baths is often monitored by the city authorities.
To ensure you stay safe, don’t swim if there’s a red flag flying. You should also stick to designated swimming areas, and try not to stare as locals strip off completely for a dip au naturel. In some areas, you may also need to keep an eye out for boats while navigating the waters.
Read on to find the six best beaches in Copenhagen, plus 10 of the best sea water and harbour baths the Danish capital has to offer.
10 best harbour baths & swimming areas in Copenhagen
1. La Banchina
141 Refshalevej, Refshaleøen, København
With an easy to reach yet secluded location, La Banchina is uniquely placed to offer swimming in a Copenhagen harbour. There’s a sauna and eatery on site, and from the Refshaleøen docklands there are superb views over the city.
The clean, deep water can have a refreshing chill to it, so do come prepared. You’ll also need to bring a towel, and it’s best to wear your swimsuit before heading here as there are no changing rooms. The swimming area is busy in summer, though it’s actually open all year round. In winter, the sauna is the main draw.
La Banchina also has a compact restaurant right by the water. It’s a lovely place for a lazy lunch by the water, or to watch the sunset during the evening. Seafood, vegetarian fare, coffee, natural wines and local beers are specialties.
2. Krøyers Plads
Krøyers Plads, Christianshavn, København
Another popular spot for swimming in Copenhagen is Krøyers Plads. Once spring arrives in the Danish capital, this inner city spot is thronged with visitors on a daily basis until the autumn chill sets in.
Located by the canal, jumping or diving from the decking leads to shrieks of surprised delight as each swimmer hits the water. An added bonus are the incredible views over the pastel-toned buildings of Nyhavn, plus Inderhavnsbroen bridge which lifts periodically, allowing vessels to pass beneath.
Krøyers Plads is popular with the city’s young working population and is thus the ideal spot for some people-watching. Nearby food courts and restaurants also make this a locale to linger in.
3. Kastrup Sea Bath
301 Amager Strandvej, Kastrup, København
The Øresund Sound separates Denmark from Sweden, and Kastrup Sea Bath can be found here. This outdoor city sea water pool is free to enter, and is a great place for a swim in Copenhagen. There are changing rooms and showers here too.
Kastrup Sea Bath is located by the aquarium, so it’s easy to reach. There’s a small beach, plus a couple of diving towers and some wooden decking, so you can take your pick regarding how to enter the water.
Kastrup Sea Bath is often referred to locally as ‘The Snail’ due to its shape. By night, integral spotlights in the stunning wooden structure give the place a magical glow. It’s also convenient for the airport, which is just one metro stop away from the spot. Due to the position, there are great views across to Sweden and Saltholm Island from here.
4. Islands Brygge Harbour Bath
14 Islands Brygge, Brygge, København
Another option for those wondering where to swim in Copenhagen is the Islands Brygge Harbour Bath. This one is divided from the city centre by Langebro Bridge. The area close to the canal is home to one of the longest-standing Copenhagen swimming harbour spots.
There’s plenty of space for everyone to stretch out here, with a spacious grassy lawn, an impressive five metre diving platform as well as a couple of others, and no fewer than five swimming pools. Two of these are designated for children.
It’s pretty cool swimming around this cleverly designed site, with some of the city’s tallest buildings as the backdrop. There are lifeguards on duty during the summer season, and there’s also a large lawn for playing, sunbathing and socialising.
5. Sandkaj Havnebad
Sandkaj Havnebad, Nordhavn, København
The Sandkaj Havnebad bathing spot tends to be more peaceful than other Copenhagen swimming spots. This developing district was once industrial, but is gradually emerging as one of the city’s hippest neighbourhoods.
This is one of Copenhagen’s free bathing zones, and keen swimmers among the city’s office staff use it for pre or post work dips. There are decent bakeries, restaurants, cafés and ice cream shops in the area too.
Sandkaj Havnebad is open all year round, so you may spot keen locals diving in even during winter. There are no lifeguards here.
6. Sluseholmen Harbour Bath
Havnebadet Sluseholmen, København
Sluseholmen is another of the city’s free harbour pools. While it’s not very big, this area to the south of the city offers a protected lagoon-like swimming area. There are four pools in total, including those for kids, youths, lap swimming and diving.
Sluseholmen Harbour Bath is free to enter and there are lifeguard patrols here. Locally, it’s often referred to as The Coral Bath, as it was designed in 2011 to resemble a living coral reef.
Like many of Copenhagen’s harbour pools, the water quality at Sluseholmen Harbour Bath is monitored daily. There are lifeguards on duty too during the summer months.
7. Kalvebod Bølge
Kalvebod Bølge, Kalvebod Brygge, København
This name translates as Kalvebod Wave, and there is a series of curved structures here designed to bring swimmers close to the waters of Copenhagen harbour. It’s given the formerly lacklustre business district of Kalvebod Brygge a whole new lease of life.
The harbour bath here is open all the time – 24 hours a day and all year round. It connects the district to the water via a series of curving promenades.
Kayaking is every bit as popular as swimming here, and you can hire a kayak on site. There’s even a kayak slide to sample once you’ve mastered your craft.
8. Fisketorvet Harbour Bath
55 Kalvebod Brygge, Vesterbro, København
One of the best places to swim in Copenhagen can actually be found in the heart of the city. Fisketorvet Harbour Bath comprises a user-friendly collection of three pools, with one each for kids, swimmers and divers.
Fisketorvet Harbour Bath is tucked away in a relatively serene spot surprisingly close to Central Station. As such it has an urban feel, as well as a neighbourhood vibe due to the houseboats moored up here on a permanent basis.
Surrounded by city buildings, this place has an urban feel. There are three diving boards here as well as the trio of pools, with the tallest of these being three metres high. It’s free to swim here and there are lifeguards on duty.
9. Dragør Sea Baths
15 Batterivej, Dragør, København
Dragør Søbad Sea Baths are situated to the south of the city in Dragør, and are impossible to miss due to the oversized lettering on the side of the seaside structure. A picturesque wooden boardwalk allows access when the tide is high.
As well as the pool, there are delightful little inlets and a small but perfectly formed sandy bay to discover in the Dragør Søbad area. The town itself has a Dutch feel, and easily can be reached from the city, either by public bus or on two wheels.
Before or after your swim, you can wander around the pretty little fishing village of Dragør. This has charming cobbled lanes lined with yellow-painted houses. There are also good cafés here for that post-swim snack, coffee or ice cream.
10. Søndre Refshalebassin Harbour Bath
Søndre Refshalebassin, Refshaleøen, København
Open all year round, Søndre Refshalebassin Harbour Bath is the perfect place to work up an appetite for the street food available at nearby Reffen Street Food Market. It’s positioned on Refshaleøen, an island that’s something of an industrial hub.
Adjacent to Søndre Refshalebassin is a grassy area where you can dry off, enjoy a drink or snack or relax with friends. This spot is open 24 hours a day, and is popular with the city’s students who reside in the Urban Rigger housing complex nearby.
You can cycle to Søndre Refshalebassin from the city in around 15 minutes. Come with your bathing suit on, as there are no changing facilities here.
6 best beaches in Copenhagen
1. Amager Beach Park
11 Øresundsstien, Amager East, København
Amager Beach Park is the Copenhagen beach to head for when you fancy a dip. The Amager Helgoland bath house has three salt water swimming pools, and there are lifeguards on duty during peak season. Amager Helgoland also has a nudist area and a sauna.
Even in winter this place is popular, when the city’s more hardy swimmers come for a refreshing dip in colder water. The spacious deck here is over 3,000 square metres, so there’s lots of space for families or groups. It can be found at the northern end of Amager Beach.
2. Charlottenlund Beach
150 Strandvejen, Charlottenlund, København
Charlottenlund Beach can be found in the city’s northern suburbs. The green spaces and sandy beach are centred around Charlottenlund Fort, and this is one of Copenhagen’s most well-heeled neighbourhoods.
There are lots of trees here, and the fortress still retains a few naval artillery batteries from bygone days. A café at the beach provides drinks, snacks and light meals, and during less sunny weather the park is a lovely place to explore.
3. Bellevue Beach
Bellevue Beach, Klampenborg, København
Beautiful Bellevue Beach offers a 700-metre stretch of water, plus a tree-lined lawn for playing and relaxing. The area has an open, spacious feel, and lies just six miles from central Copenhagen.
During summer, locals flock here to take a dip, sunbathe, enjoy a picnic or to socialise. Klampenborg S-train station offers a convenient way to reach it, as it’s only five minutes’ walk from Bellevue.
Amenities at Bellevue include showers and lifeguard patrols. The beach is also close to Strandvejen, Tårbæk, Dyrehaven and the Bellevue Theatre.
4. Svanemølle Beach
Strandpromenaden, Østerbro, København
Literally translated into English as Swan Mill, Svanemølle Beach is located in the eastern Copenhagen district of Østerbro. There’s a pleasant 4,000 square metre stretch of sand here, plus a 130 metre pier.
The coastal zone was created in 2010, and lies between the older promenade and the new pier. Svanemølle Beach can be used all year long, and there are lifeguards on duty during peak season.
5. Hellerup Beach
Hellerup Strand, Onsgårdsvej, København
The Hellerup Beach, Strand or Strandpark is situated in Onsgårdsvej, and is scarcely any distance from the city centre. If you hanker after a proper sandy beach, this is the place to come. Unlike other Copenhagen open water spots, this one boasts a stretch of bronze sand.
There are good amenities in the area, including a range of restaurants, bakeries and cafés. It’s the ideal place for a day away from the city, as you can kayak, swim, paddle board, sail and sunbathe here.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly spot with lots to do in the area, Hellerup Beach is one of Copenhagen’s finest options. There is also a kids’ play park. Do arrive early during summer, though, as it can become crowded.
6. Dronningmølle Beach
Dronningmølle Strand, Dronningmølle Bay, København
Pretty Dronningmølle Beach is also positioned on Copenhagen’s north coast. It offers wheelchair access (at the eastern end), duty lifeguards and family-friendly amenities. The sands here are white and powdery, and are backed by a series of low sand dunes.
At Dronningmølle Beach the tide rises very slowly, creating small channels and pools for children to play in. It has Blue Flag status, so you can be assured of clean swimming water. There’s a car park and toilets in town, plus a flight of stairs leading down to the beach.
Whether you’re after a glorious sandy beach or a scenic harbour bath, you’ll be spoilt for choice with swimming spots in Copenhagen.
Planning a trip to the Danish capital? Discover the best breakfast and brunch spots in Copenhagen, and stay tuned for my ultimate Copenhagen travel guide coming soon.