Area guide: Copenhagen Harbour

Don your marinière: we’re going to the marina. Denmark is the world’s fifth largest shipping nation, tangible in even its most urban and artistic ridges.
Monday, May 8, 2017

The Black Diamond
The Royal Library is, well, quite a diamond. Resting on the edge of Copenhagen Harbour, its architecture flows like the water it confronts. Walking down transversal corridors along wave-like walls, readers and other visitors encounter a compelling convergence between old and new as the new building leads into its 1906 counterpart. The Diamond’s glass atrium reflects the water – through it, you can see the harbour and Olafur Eliasson’s Circle Bridge, a structure that keeps up the naval theme by resembling ship masts. From June onwards, the notorious performance artist Marina Abramović reinterprets the library’s permanent exhibition of treasures in a free and interactive installation. (

Architecture for sustainability
Stroll further down the waterfront and keep an eye out for an orange roof. Danish Architecture Centre (DAC) resides in Gammel Dok, a 19th-century warehouse. Though keeping up an impressive exhibition track record, DAC is worth a visit for its view of the waterfront alone, especially in spring and summer when avid Copenhageners can be seen swimming and kayaking in the clean harbour water. Why not join them? DAC perceives the city as its biggest exhibition and offers guided city tours that delve deep into how architecture can help change the world, not only aesthetically, but also socially and climatically. 

A cosmic room
North Atlantic House is a cultural centre facing the 17th-century waterfront of Nyhavn, world-famous for its colourful, Amsterdam-inspired townhouses. Faroese painter, sculptor, glass artist and adventurer Tróndur Patursson has created the installation Cosmic Room. It is an igloo-shaped glass-and-mirror room located on the harbour front. As day becomes night, the igloo turns into a blue, illuminated lighthouse that plays with the idea of infinite space. Until November 2017.

International street food and a cruise
No day spent at the harbour front is complete without a round of street food. Copenhagen Street food in Christiansholm, colloquially known as Papirøen (“Paper Island”), is a culinary cruise through the world. Try something you’ve never tasted before from the 39 Turkish, South Korean, French, Moroccan, Danish, Chinese, British, Italian, and Mexican stalls. Best enjoyed in the sun! Nearby neighbours include the designer Henrik Vibskov, René Redzepi’s two-Michelin-star restaurant Noma (now closed), and Copenhagen Contemporary, an exhibition hall for modern art. From the deck you can see the neo-futuristic Opera House by architect Henning Larsen. For the price of a regular bus ticket, the yellow harbour bus carries you by water to the Royal Playhouse – a cheap alternative to the touristy canal tours. 

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Article by

Denise Rose Hansen