When you see tourist brochures from Copenhagen they very often feature a picture from Nyhavn with its colourful houses down at the edge of the water with the old ships in front of them.
When you go to Nyhavn you might think it is smack in the center of Copenhagen – and in fact today it is but it didn’t use to be this way. The area was actually part of the first major development of Copenhagen where you moved the old walls around the city to make room to increase the size of the city which had outgrown its original space. When you walk around Copenhagen you will notice there is a clear difference between the city in this area and just across the square called Kongens Nytorv.
In the area where Nyhavn is located you can see the streets are straight – there is simply a planned city. On the other side of the square you see the old town. Inside the old town you will notice the streets are very twisty – there is hardly a street which is straight from one end to the other.
Nyhavn is combined by two Danish words – ny which mean new and havn which means harbor. So basically the name is new harbor which might be natural since it is located in the new part of town. Well new is always a relative thing since the harbor in Nyhavn was dug out by Swedish prisoners of war 350 years ago.
When the harbor was built it was the main harbor of Copenhagen with a lot of different activities when the sailors arrived to the harbor from far away. There were different pubs, tattoo shops and places for the sailors to spend the night. But all this activity has long disappeared and been replaced by a new stream of visitors – tourist. Tourist congregate at Nyhavn to see the many pretty houses or have a drink in one of the many restaurants which are located along the harbor – they all do outdoor serving which is very popular particularly during the summer.
When you go to Nyhavn you might see the tourist having their drinks at the restaurants while the students sits across on the pier where they drink the beers they have bought in the shops nearby and discuss what happens in life and make fun of the tourist who spend too much at the restaurants when they could just sit at the pier and have a beer.
If you visit during the winter you will be able to see the Christmas market which is set up along the pier. They will sell different items and sell the traditional Danish mulled wine called gløgg and a special Danish treat called æbleskive – which can best be described as a round pancake it taste a bit the same since the dove is the same as you find in a crepe.