If you’re visiting Copenhagen and looking for attractions off the beaten path, Sydhavnen is the district for you to explore. Sydhavnen is also known as Kongens Enghave district, translating to ‘King’s meadow’ and lies in the southern part of the capital city. As this district of Copenhagen isn’t fully gentrified yet, it is the ideal place to discover the true essence of the capital and one of its hidden gems.
Sydhavnen was originally a pre-World War II Working Class district and the southern harbour of the city but many of the industrial buildings in the harbour area have been modernized. Because of that, today the upcoming neighbourhood is a vibrant mix of unique architecture, authentic Copenhagener houses and nature on the edge of the Danish capital.
The most popular area of Copenhagen's Sydhavn is the harbour-front area of Sluseholmen, located on artificial islands and also known as the Lock Island. Once the city’s industrial heart with many factories, shipping and loading bays and processing plants, modern façades designed by more than 20 different architectural firms dominate the area’s appearance.
Sluseholmen is split up between into eight islands that are connected by bridges. This concept might look somewhat familiar if you've travelled around Europe. The architects were actually heavily inspired by Amsterdam, determined to give it the characteristic charm of the Dutch capital. This resulted in blocks of houses highly diverse in appearance and contributes to Sydhavnen’s colourful mix of styles.
One of the most historic parts of the neighbourhood is the Fiskerihavnen. The old fishing port radiates the raw essence of old Copenhagen. Today, other than the name suggests, you can also find regular sailboats and houseboats here.
The area forms a stark contrast with the shiny facades on Sluseholmen as many people in this alternative community live in houses constructed out of old containers and quirky boats in the Klondike community. This may not be the shiniest area of Copenhagen but it certainly is an experience and gives you the full picture of Sydhavnen's diversity.
As mentioned before, Sydhavnen is a vibrant mix of modern architecture and nature. Sydhavns Tippen, the harbour’s southern tip, is a lush green area and the perfect location to escape the busy city centre of the capital for a few hours.
The show-stoppers of the area are free-roaming sheep and alpacas. They act as natural protectors of the vegetation: as vegetation has formed on top of residual soil and building waste, the animals counteract the overgrowth of the wilderness and keep invasive plant species at bay. This way, they help conserve to the Tippen’s impressive biological diversity.
Sydhavnen’s diversity and contrasts also reflect in the local eateries that are an important part of the local community and often focus on sustainability. Vandvid, for example, is a restaurant inside a floating houseboat that serves delicious food made with organic and fresh ingredients. During summer, it is especially nice to have dinner outside on the deck amongst the beets with fresh herbs and vegetables and jump into the water afterwards.
Another green oasis here is BaneGaarden. Set in nine old wooden barns, it feels like you’re stepping into a different world, surrounded by wild nature and leaving the busy capital behind. Yet being right in the middle of it, surrounded by two wild gardens with wild blackberry shrubs, bees and chickens.
The community has its own restaurant called Lade 609 as well as street food stalls. The food is mostly green and organic and brings nature’s wild pantry right to your plate with unique ingredients such as edible flowers, nettles and spruce shoots.
Did you know that the water in Copenhagen’s canals is clean enough to swim in it? That’s why harbour baths are popular among locals and tourists alike and Sydhavnen is no exception, hence it is home to one of the capital’s most beautifully designed harbour baths, the Sluseholmen harbour bath.
The shape of the iconic spot is inspired by corals and the bath consist of a protective lagoon like area with four different pools. This activity is also perfect for families as two of the pools are for children and youth. The water quality is carefully monitored on a daily basis.