All ashore for A Boater’s Rendezvous with Copenhagen and The Royal Danish Yacht Club – Part 1

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes – ABR* – Water. Isn’t it just a siren call for the senses? The comforting rhythm of its waves, the allure of its mood swings, and the morning sun gleaming off its surface like it’s showing off its stash of liquid gold! As a mariner who cruises for pleasure, I’m head over keel for these aquatic charms. If you’re a dry-footed reader, beware – you just might end up with a severe case of sea fever!

My day starts with a simple sip of water in the cozy confines of our boat. Soon, I find myself adrift in a sea of thoughts. Picture this—in an age where land-based commute is an unpoetic ballet of beeps, screeches, police or ambulance sirens, and bumper-kissing traffic. A standard 45-minute drive now takes 2 hours (looking at you, major US cities!) with traffic cameras eagerly waiting to snap your car’s portrait just so they can serve up a speeding ticket, especially in those oh-so-many 25 mph zones that used to be 35-40 mph. Let’s not even get started on the never-ending stop signs, bouts of road rage, and more. Now, contrast this with us boaters who have the whole watery expanse to roam and roam. How can you not fall head over heels for this lifestyle?

For us, traffic jams are merely seagulls swirling over a fat catch, and road rage is an outmoded notion that couldn’t keep up with our wake. And the community—the boating brotherhood is dotted with the most fascinating bunch of folks. Always there to lend a hand, and share stories over the waves. Then, of course, there’s Jim (we’re convinced there’s a Jim in every marina!) and his epic fish tales, the one about wrestling a giant marlin that suspiciously grows by a foot each time he recounts it.

As our devoted readers are aware, we’re destination boaters. We select a spot or two, navigate there with our floating hotel room, “Life’s AOK,” a cabin cruiser, and soak up the local vibe and tales. That includes our trips relating to the Slow Boat to Florida series.

What about voyages to far-flung locations that we wouldn’t dare go to with our boat? Remember, we are fair-weather boaters and must-see land at all times. So the answer is simple. We fly in, rent a boat (with or without a skipper), and enjoy the local waters and camaraderie. And so begins our new series, “A Boater’s Rendezvous*” (ABR*) As for our “Slow Boat to Florida” (SBFL) series? Fear not, it will bob along!

This summer, we found ourselves having a rendezvous not with Caribbean catamarans, but with the enchanting city of Copenhagen, Denmark. We just packed our bags and flew there.

In a country flaunting over 4,500 miles of coastline and 406 islands, boating was a no-brainer for us, and we suspect even the most stubborn land-dweller would agree. We discovered Denmark, a delightful country obsessed with bicycling, to be a haven for sailors of all ages and budgets.

Denmark is often ranked among the world’s happiest countries (check out the World Happiness Report for some enlightening data). However, it’s vital to remember that happiness is a multifaceted and subjective concept.

Rendezvous with Copenhagen 

Welcome to Copenhagen, a city teeming with maritime history and nautical wonders.

From its scenic canals to its bustling harbors, Copenhagen is a captivating blend of historic charm and contemporary panache. As you sail through its waters and discover this coastal jewel, brace yourself for indulgent hotels, culinary delights, and three must-see spots that will leave you breathless. So, climb aboard with us on this virtual sea voyage through Copenhagen, the home of “The Little Mermaid.”

A seafaring history and maritime heritage

Copenhagen, a maritime city with Viking roots, has been a crucial maritime hub for centuries, standing proudly along the Oresund Strait connecting the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. With a seafaring legacy stretching from the Viking Age to the present day, it’s home to one of the world’s biggest shipping companies, A.P. Moller-Maersk, founded in 1904.

During the Viking Age, Copenhagen, then known as Havn (meaning “harbor” in Danish), was already a significant trading port and a center for seafaring activities. The Vikings, known for their prowess as sailors and explorers, used the city as a base for their expeditions and trading ventures. As time passed, Copenhagen continued to grow as a maritime city, attracting merchants, sailors, and adventurers from around the world.

Tracing its roots back to the 10th century, the Kingdom of Denmark was established when Harald Bluetooth unified the regions of Denmark into a single kingdom. Known for introducing Christianity to Denmark, Harald Bluetooth turned Denmark into a formidable kingdom with a well-organized central authority. Today, the Kingdom of Denmark includes Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands, with Queen Margrethe II as its reigning monarch. The country remains a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. 

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Copenhagen’s importance as a maritime power increased with the establishment of the Danish Navy. King Christian IV of Denmark played a pivotal role in developing Copenhagen’s naval prowess, expanding the city’s harbor and fortifications to protect its maritime interests. The naval base at Nyholm, established in the 17th century, remains a significant maritime site in Copenhagen to this day.

Copenhagen’s seafaring history further flourished during the Age of Exploration and the colonial era, with Danish ships voyaging to far-off lands, establishing trade routes, and forming colonies in the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

In the modern era, Copenhagen’s maritime influence continued to thrive. The city became a hub for shipbuilding, shipping, and maritime industries. Today, it remains a key port in Northern Europe, accommodating cargo ships, cruise liners, and pleasure boats.

It’s time to become a nautical tourist

Prepare to embark on an epic voyage through the enchanting waters of Copenhagen, where the canals beckon and adventure awaits! Get ready to chart a course for fun, as we navigate this coastal gem from a pleasure boater’s perspective.

Copenhagen on the Nyhavn Canal

Ah, the sun-kissed canals of Nyhavn! A kaleidoscope of colors and a bustling hub of activity, this picturesque canal district is a boater’s dream come true. As you steer your boat along the cobblestone-lined waterways, you’ll be greeted by charming historic buildings, lively cafes, and street musicians serenading you with merry tunes. 

But wait, there’s more to this nautical wonderland! Drop anchor at the Copenhagen Marriott Hotel, a delightful harborfront retreat fit for the most intrepid sailors. Relax in your cozy quarters with stunning views of the water, or pamper yourself at the spa to ease those sore sea legs. This hotel is the perfect sanctuary after a day of high-sea adventures.

Ready to discover culinary delights that’ll make your taste buds dance a jig? Feast your eyes and your palate at The Standard, a fine establishment nestled in a beautifully renovated warehouse along the harbor. Savor delectable Nordic cuisine. And if you’re a seafood enthusiast, Fiskebaren in the Meatpacking District is a treasure trove of maritime goodness. From plump shrimp to succulent scallops, this place is a seafood lover’s paradise.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit more casual, head over to Kodbyens Mad & Marked, the bustling street food market that’s a mecca for hungry sailors. With tantalizing smells wafting through the air, it’s a treasure trove of global flavors. Whether you crave a juicy burger or spicy Thai, this market has it all!

Now, it’s time to set sail for adventure! First stop, the iconic Little Mermaid statue, perched on a rock like a true sea nymph. You may think she’s petite, but her spirit and charm are larger than life! It’s a must-see sight for every sailor venturing into these waters. She has been attacked several times, with her head and one arm cut off and stolen and then replaced over the years. She endures, still sitting there just like any graceful celebrity. Interestingly, a smaller version of the statue keeps an eye on the trophies of the Royal Yacht Club in their clubhouse. It, too, has had its share of problems (more on that in Part 2).

But don’t be marooned on land for too long! Make your way to Christianshavn, a delightful neighborhood with winding canals and historic buildings. Glide through the waterways like a captain on a grand expedition, and don’t forget to raise a toast at the charming cafes along the shores. And if you’re up for an offbeat adventure, venture into Christiania, a free town known for its unique spirit and bohemian culture. It’s a world of its own, where creativity knows no bounds!

As the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky with a mesmerizing palette of colors, take a moment to savor the magic of Copenhagen from a pleasure boater’s perspective. The canals, the charming neighborhoods, and the vibrant energy of the city create a captivating tapestry that’ll stay with you long after you set sail for new horizons. It certainly has been staying with us.

Bicycles, bicycles, and more bicycles everywhere

If you are on land, at the same spots where you could have been on the waterside and all around the town, one single vehicle will overwhelm you—bicycles.

Bicycles are vehicles. Bicyclists are authorized users of roadways. However, bicyclists have rights-of-way and the same duty to obey all traffic signals as motorists. But bicycles are less visible, quieter, and don’t have a protective barrier around them. That problem is very much solved in Copenhagen. Just like a school of fish, there are hordes of bicycles either going from one place to another or parked. Dare not to give them the right of way.

Most everyone is peddling. From ladies with floor-length evening gowns wearing stilettos, to anybody and everybody wearing any type of clothes and carrying almost everything you can think of, including musical instruments like cellos. Bicycles have baby or adult carriages carrying extra passengers, and even FedEx bicycles do deliveries. 

What else is in Copenhagen?

Well, there is a lot for sure and this is a very walkable city. So plan at least a week to check it out. Central Copenhagen is chock full of places to see. If you want to do more dry-footed touristy things, here are more attractions for you. Would you like to see more? Try these.  Since we are mostly focusing on the nautical side of our experiences, I am going to leave the rest of the city information to the regular tourist resources that you can easily find. But while you’re at it, just don’t miss that Denmark is the home of Lego!

If you prefer to stay inside of the city rather than on the shores, we recommend Ibsens Hotel or Hotel Kong Arthur. (In full transparency, we have not been compensated for this endorsement.) They are conveniently co-located in a less touristy part of town, have a good strategic location, friendly staff, and serve a very good breakfast. One of our favorite locations is nearby. You can walk down to TorvehallerneKBH, an urban fresh food market. You can shop and eat where the locals do. It is also near a major metro and train station that gives you access to pretty much everywhere. 

As the sun sets on your maritime adventure in Copenhagen, you’ll leave with a treasure trove of unforgettable memories.

So, set your compass for Copenhagen, and let the winds of excitement carry you to this seafaring paradise! Copenhagen’s nautical wonders await your discovery. Whether you’re cruising along Nyhavn, feasting on delectable seafood, or venturing into charming Christiania, this maritime adventure is one you’ll treasure for a lifetime. 

Well, that’s it for now. Stay well. I hope to say hello to you if you spot my boat, Life’s AOK, in one of the locations that I’m hoping to visit in 2023.

I bid you Fair Winds and Following Seas.

Cover photo: The Little Mermaid (statue), Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Kazaz/

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License CC BY-NC-ND

6 things I learned

If you have not arrived in Copenhagen with your own boat, you can still have a boat there. That is no problem at all. Try one of these solutions:

  •  A platform that connects boat owners with renters. They offer a variety of boats, including powerboats and sailboats.
  • Nettobadene: Offers small motorboat rentals for exploring the Copenhagen canals and waterways.
  • GoBoat Copenhagen:  Offers self-drive motorboat rentals for cruising around Copenhagen’s harbors and canals. Offers self-driving electric boats suitable for group outings.
  • Canal Tours Copenhagen: Provides guided boat tours, but they might also have options for private boat rentals.

  • Sail & Bike Tours
    • Atlantis
    • Three-masted sailing ship with max. 32 passengers, 16 cabins
    • Guided cycling tours, an international group
    • Visit Copenhagen and Malmö, among others
    • Helsingborg and Landskrona, the islands of Ven and Møn
    • Individually controlled air conditioning
    • Cocktail bar/outdoor bar
    • Sail surface 742 m2
    • Covered sundeck
    • For more information

  • Coboat: Offers sailboat charters for exploring the waters around Copenhagen.
  • Click&Boat: An online platform that connects boat owners and renters, providing various boat rental options. It is for private yacht charters and peer-to-peer boat rentals.

Best Hotels for Pleasure Boaters:

  • Hotel d’Angleterre: Located along the Nyhavn Canal, Hotel d’Angleterre exudes luxury and elegance, making it the ideal choice for discerning pleasure boaters. This historic five-star hotel offers stunning views of the waterfront and easy access to the city’s main attractions. After a day on the water, relax in the opulent rooms and pamper yourself with top-notch amenities. The hotel’s exquisite dining options and attentive staff ensure a truly memorable stay.
  • Copenhagen Marriott Hotel: Nestled on the picturesque harbor waterfront, the Copenhagen Marriott Hotel offers comfort and convenience for pleasure boaters. The spacious rooms boast spectacular views of the harbor and beyond, creating a serene retreat after a day of sailing. Take advantage of the hotel’s fitness center and spa facilities to unwind and rejuvenate. With its prime location, you’ll find yourself within walking distance of many of Copenhagen’s iconic spots.
  • Adina Apartment Hotel Copenhagen: For those seeking a home away from home, Adina Apartment Hotel provides a delightful option. Located near the harbor and city center, the hotel offers well-equipped apartments with kitchenettes, allowing you to prepare your favorite meals with ease. The modern and stylish interiors provide a comfortable haven to recharge for the next boating adventure.

Best Restaurants for Pleasure Boaters:

  • The Standard: Nestled in a beautifully renovated warehouse on the harbor, The Standard offers a delectable culinary experience with a stunning waterfront view. Indulge in innovative Nordic cuisine created with locally-sourced ingredients. The restaurant’s sleek design and buzzing atmosphere make it a popular choice for boaters looking to savor modern Danish gastronomy.
  • Fiskebaren: Located in the heart of the Meatpacking District, Fiskebaren is a seafood lover’s paradise. This trendy eatery offers a variety of fresh and sustainable seafood dishes, artfully prepared to tantalize your taste buds. Enjoy a relaxing meal on the outdoor terrace, soaking in the vibrant atmosphere of this former industrial area.
  • Kødbyens Mad & Marked: For a more casual and bohemian dining experience, head to Kødbyens Mad & Marked (Meatpacking Food & Market). This lively street food market is a melting pot of culinary delights, featuring an array of food trucks and stalls offering international cuisines. Whether you’re craving Asian, Middle Eastern, or classic Danish dishes, this market has something for every palate.

Three Must-See Spots for Pleasure Boaters:

  • Nyhavn: No trip to Copenhagen is complete without a visit to Nyhavn, the iconic canal district that graces countless postcards. Cruise your pleasure boat along the colorful waterfront, lined with historic buildings, charming cafes, and lively street performers. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, and don’t forget to capture the perfect Instagram-worthy shot of your boat with the stunning backdrop.
  • The Little Mermaid: A short sail from Nyhavn will take you to one of Copenhagen’s most famous landmarks – The Little Mermaid statue. Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, this iconic sculpture sitting on a rock along the waterfront is a must-see attraction. While the statue itself may be petite, its significance and charm leave a lasting impression.


Discover the enchanting neighborhood of Christianshavn, known for its quaint canals, historic buildings, and alternative community of Christiania. Cruise along the idyllic canals, passing traditional houseboats and charming cafes.

1 thing I recommend

Go there and enjoy yourself.

How easy?

Marinas where you can stay overnight or longer

  • Tuborg Havn (Tuborg Harbour): Home of the Royal Danish Yacht Club, located in Hellerup, a suburb of Copenhagen, Tuborg Havn is a modern marina with berths for both large and small boats. It is only 15 minutes by taxi from Copenhagen.
    It offers various amenities, including restaurants, shops, and facilities for sailors.  
  • Skovshoved Havn (Skovshoved Harbour): Situated in Skovshoved, a short distance north of Copenhagen, this marina provides a picturesque setting with a scenic view of the sea. It offers berthing facilities, boat services, and a restaurant.
  • Dragør Lystbådehavn (Dragør Marina): Located in the charming coastal town of Dragør, south of Copenhagen, this marina offers a peaceful atmosphere and a historic backdrop. It has berths for visiting boats and provides access to the charming town with its traditional Danish architecture.
  • Lynetten Havn (Lynetten Marina): Situated on the island of Refshaleøen, Lynetten Havn is a small marina with basic facilities. It’s a great spot for those looking to explore the Refshaleøen area, which has become a hub for cultural events and activities.
  • Svanemøllehavnen (Svanemølle Marina): Located in the northern part of Copenhagen, Svanemøllehavnen is a modern marina with excellent facilities and easy access to the city center. It offers berths for boats of various sizes and is close to public transportation.
  • Nordhavn (North Harbour): Nordhavn is a newly developed harbor area in Copenhagen, offering modern marina facilities for both small boats and superyachts. It’s a vibrant part of the city with restaurants, cafes, and residential areas.
  • Amager Strandpark Bådehavn (Amager Strandpark Marina): Found on the island of Amager, this marina is part of the Amager Strandpark, a popular beach area. The marina provides easy access to the water and beach facilities.
  • Christianshavn Kanal (Christianshavn Canal): Located in the heart of Copenhagen, Christianshavn Canal offers short-term moorings for visiting boats. It’s an excellent location for exploring the city’s attractions, including the famous free town of Christiania.

Please remember to check with each marina regarding availability, facilities, and services, as well as any specific regulations they may have for visitors or temporary berthing.

*ABR stands for our new series, “A Boater’s Rendezvous.” This series focuses on our voyages to far-flung locations that we wouldn’t dare go to with our boat. Being fair-weather boaters who must see land at all times, we don’t dare to go anywhere and everywhere with our boat, Life’s AOK. So we fly in, rent a boat (with or without a skipper), and enjoy the local waters and camaraderie.

Join us on our journey of discovery of other lands where we fly in and explore the joys of boating. We’re taking you with us, through our blog, “Trips of Discovery.” In this series, we’ll take you to some of the most historic and charming cities of the world and their waters suitable for pleasure boaters like ourselves. Who knows, you might even be inspired to plan your own adventure!

My wife and I hope you’ll be able to join us on the journey, either by boat or by a combination of flying and car. Don’t hesitate to reach out and share your own insights or experiences about the locations we visit. We’d love to hear from you and keep the conversation going! And if not, don’t worry, you can still follow along as armchair travelers! So sit back, relax, and let’s embark on our Trips of Discovery of other waters.

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