The Stunning Waterfront Canal In Copenhagen That Inspired Actual Fairytales

Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is a coastal metropolis with a lot to explore. One of the city's popular attractions is Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park with nature at the forefront. More than 4 million people visit the park every year to ride roller coasters, enjoy boat rides, and bask in the beautiful architecture that inspired Walt Disney to create his own park. Danish author of fairytales, Hans Christian Andersen, was also reportedly inspired by Tivoli Gardens.

Another big attraction in Copenhagen is Amalienborg Palace, where members of the Danish royal family live. Here you can visit the Amalienborg Museum and time-travel back to the year 1900 with the completely preserved study of the late King of Denmark, Christian X. You can also visit the remarkable Fabergé Chamber and the magnificent Gala Hall. 

But just a seven-minute walk from Amalienborg Palace is another stunning, must-visit site in Copenhagen. Called Nyhavn, this picturesque waterfront canal with its many colorful buildings appears to be straight out of a fairytale. As it turns out, there's a reason for that.

The history of Nyhavn

Famously, the aforementioned Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen used to live in three different places in Nyhavn. It's in Nyhavn 20, aka the Boel House, where he wrote the fairytales "The Tinderbox," "Little Claus and Big Claus," and "The Princess and the Pea." After living there, the author moved to Nyhavn 67, where he penned "The Little Mermaid" and "The Snow Queen." He also lived in Nyhavn 18. Walking around the area with its brightly-colored buildings, it's easy to see how Hans Christian Andersen was inspired to write his memorable and iconic fables that endure to this day.

But in the words of Visit Copenhagen, "Nyhavn's buildings aren't the only colourful thing about the area — its history is colourful too. Originally it was a commercial port where ships from all over the world would dock, and it was packed with sailors visiting its pubs, alehouses and ladies of pleasure."

How to see Nyhavn

Today, Nyhavn is filled with restaurants, cafés, and vibrant live music. In winter, an annual Christmas market descends on the streets for an especially festive environment. But truthfully, Nyhavn is the perfect place to explore on foot any time of year.

Once you're finished walking around the canal, it's time to hop on a boat. There are many operators and different types of boat tours in the vicinity, some with extended narrated tours. One is Stromma, which takes you past many attractions, including the famous Little Mermaid statue: a tribute to the town's celebrated writer.

If you'd rather be captain of your own vessel, however, GoBoat offers boats for rent. FriendShips is another company offering eco-friendly, electric-powered boats for you to maneuver. If you're boating on your own and want to properly take in the sights, you may want to do a bit of research beforehand. Or simply improvise and enjoy the views around you. Meanwhile, other operators have kayak tours, but perhaps the most truly unique option comes from CopenHot, which has floating hot tubs. That's right, one big floating hot tub — a perfect time on the canals.