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The 5 Best Canal Tours In Copenhagen – [2020 Reviews]

Copenhagen sits on two islands and is served by an extensive canal network. This means that a canal tour is a great way of seeing most of the main attractions around the city.

Also, many of the iconic buildings are designed to be viewed from the water, making a canal tour the best way to see these impressive structures.

There are many canal cruises in Copenhagen, but I’ve selected out 5 top-rated tours I think you’ll love. Think about what you want to see and do in this fascinating city and then decide which of these 5 feature-packed tours would be best for you.

Best Copenhagen Canal Tours

 Copenhagen: 2-Hour “Hidden Gems” Canal TourCopenhagen Panorama Sightseeing & Canal TourCopenhagen: City Highlights & Canal Cruise Private Tour
editors choice
 Copenhagen: 2-hour “Hidden Gems” Canal Tour Copenhagen Panorama Sightseeing and Canal TourCopenhagen: City Highlights and Canal Cruise Private Tour
Departure Point:Kvæsthusbroen 1, CopenhagenRegnbuepladsen, near City Hall SquareCity Hall Square
Departure Time:12:50 PM10:45 AM10:00 AM
Duration:2 hours3½ hours4 hours
Includes:Tour guide, 2-hour canal cruise, and a complimentary drinkTour guide, 2½-hour bus tour, and 1-hour canal cruiseTour guide, 3-hour guided walking tour, 1-hour canal cruise, and a complimentary drink

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Rated Canal Tours In Copenhagen

  1. 2-Hour “Hidden Gems” Copenhagen Canal Tour
  2. Copenhagen Panorama Sightseeing & Canal Tour
  3. Copenhagen City Highlights & Canal Cruise Private Tour
  4. Copenhagen Canal Tour & Skip-The-Line Tivoli Ticket
  5. 1-Hour Copenhagen Canal Cruise From Ved Stranden or Nyhaven

We have reviewed the top rated Copenhagen canal cruises providing overviews and highlighting the details of each.

Copenhagen Canal Tour Reviews

#1. Copenhagen: 2-Hour “Hidden Gems” Canal Tour

 Copenhagen: 2-hour “Hidden Gems” Canal Tour

Tour Highlights At A Glance:

  • Departure Point: Kvæsthusbroen 1, Copenhagen
  • Departure Time: 12:50 PM
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Includes: Experienced tour guide, 2-hour canal cruise, and a complimentary drink

Are you an inquisitive person who likes to explore the hidden corners of your holiday destination and discover how the local people live away from the airbrushed tourist areas?

This voyage of discovery explores some of Copenhagen’s less-visited locations.

Enjoy your complimentary drink and chat with your neighbors on this intimate canal tour. The boat will transport you away from the city center and into the North or South Harbor.

Sailing past developing areas, your knowledgeable guide will explain the rich history of the city and how ecological and economic concerns are shaping the buildings of the future.

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See how former industrial buildings are being transformed into modern homes and offices.

Don’t worry if it rains. This little, cozy boat has a rain hood that can be pulled up to protect you from the elements.

And if it’s sunny, the hood is tucked away so that you can enjoy uninterrupted, panoramic views.

This is a great opportunity to see the real Copenhagen. Don’t miss the opportunity to ask your guide all the questions you want about everyday life in modern Denmark.

 

For tour prices, transportation, and availability:


#2. Copenhagen Panorama Sightseeing & Canal Tour

 Copenhagen Panorama Sightseeing and Canal Tour

Tour Highlights At A Glance:

  • Departure Point: Regnbuepladsen, near City Hall Square
  • Departure Time: 10:45 AM
  • Duration: 3½ hours
  • Includes: Experienced tour guide, 2½-hour bus tour, and 1-hour canal cruise

If you want a comprehensive tour that enables you to view all the main attractions of Copenhagen from land and water, you’ll love this one.

First, you’ll be driven around the city for 2½ hours in a modern, air-conditioned bus specially designed to provide you with a panoramic view. The tour is timed so that you arrive at the palace in time to see the Changing of the Royal Guards.

During the bus tour, you’ll also see the Tivoli Gardens, Amalienborg Palace, Christiansborg Palace, the Copenhagen Opera House, and, most importantly, The Little Mermaid statue.

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There will be two planned stops to take photographs at key locations: The Little Mermaid, and The Copenhagen Opera House.

Then you’ll transfer into a luxury boat for a 1-hour canal cruise. During the cruise, you’ll see some of the same attractions from a different perspective.

It’s fascinating how the Danish architects designed many of their iconic buildings to present a specific image when viewed from the water.

 

For tour prices, transportation, and availability:


#3. Copenhagen: City Highlights & Canal Cruise Private Tour

Copenhagen: City Highlights and Canal Cruise Private Tour

Tour Highlights At A Glance:

  • Departure Point: City Hall Square
  • Departure Time: 10:00 AM
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Includes: Experienced guide, 3-hour guided walking tour, 1-hour canal cruise, and a complimentary drink

To truly understand the character of a city, it’s best to walk its streets yourself. If you want to benefit from in-depth cultural and historical commentary, this combined walking tour and cruise is best for you.

After meeting your guide in City Hall Square, you’ll set out to explore the city by foot. Because most of the attractions are so close together, you won’t find this comprehensive walking tour too demanding.

Your guide will guide you to many cultural and historical attractions, such as Christiansborg Castle, the Amalienborg Palace, and the square of Kongens Nytov.

On foot, you’ll be so close to the history that you can touch it as your knowledgeable guide brings it to life with facts, figures, and stories.

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After admiring the colorful buildings of Nyhavn, you’ll transfer into an open-top boat for a 1-hour canal cruise. Now you’ll view the city from a fresh perspective.

One highlight is the new Circle Bridge, a unique structure completed in 2015 and designed to resemble a series of yachts floating across the canal.

The Royal Theater looks wonderful from the water. As you’re passing The Little Mermaid, enjoy your complimentary drink.

Once you’ve completed this tour, you’ll be an expert on the history of the world’s oldest royal family. Take along a good camera, because you’ll see many interesting structures that you’ll want to share with friends back home.

 

For tour prices, transportation, and availability:


#4. Copenhagen Canal Tour & Skip-The-Line Tivoli Ticket

 Copenhagen Canal Tour & Skip-the-Line Tivoli Ticket

Tour Highlights At A Glance:

  • Departure Point: Nyhavn or Ved Stranden
  • Departure Times: 9:30 AM – 3 PM
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Includes: Experienced guide, 1-hour cruise, and skip-the-line entrance ticket to Tivoli Gardens

If you’re planning to visit Tivoli Gardens while visiting Copenhagen, you’ll love this deal. Not only do you get a guided cruise around the harbor, but you also get a skip-the-line entrance ticket to Tivoli Gardens.

The boat passes many of Copenhagen’s tourist hotspots, such as the Copenhagen Opera House.

Live commentary is provided by the knowledgeable guide, who will teach you about the beautiful houses, castles, and other important public buildings visible from the harbor and canals.

Once you’ve completed your 1-hour tour around the capital, you’re free to skip the queue to enter Tivoli Gardens for an enjoyable afternoon of fun.

For tour prices, transportation, and availability:


#5. Copenhagen: 1-Hour Canal Cruise From Ved Stranden or Nyhaven

 Copenhagen: 1-Hour Canal Cruise from Ved Stranden or Nyhavn

Tour Highlights At A Glance:

  • Departure Point: Nyhavn or Ved Stranden
  • Departure Times: 9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Includes: Expert guide, 1-hour cruise, route map, and use of poncho in the event of rain

This is a great tour if you just want to see the main sights visible from the water. The cruise takes you around the main harbor and adjoining canals.

You’ll want to keep your camera ready as you cruise past Nyhavn waterfront.  The colorful houses you’ll recognize from postcards will put a smile on your face.

You’ll love the Amalienborg Palace, home to the royal family, and Christiansborg Palace, where the Danish parliament meets.

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You may recognize the neighboring Børsen building—the former stock exchange which is admired by visitors for its distinctive dragon-tail spire.

However, the true highlight of the tour must be The Little Mermaid statue you’ll see in Langelinie.

Don’t worry if it rains because a poncho will be provided to protect you from the elements. You’ll be handed a handy map to help you keep track during the tour and to take away as a souvenir.

 

For tour prices, transportation, and availability:


 

Copenhagen Travel Guide

Best Copenhagen Canal Tours

There are many reasons why Copenhagen was ranked 1st among Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities to visit in 2019. It’s a city filled with historic and cultural attractions as well as gastronomic delights. You can visit the home of the Danish royal family, spend a day in one of the world’s best-loved amusement parks, or take part in one of their popular organized festivals.

What you decide to do in this fascinating city is entirely your choice. However, because I want you to have a wonderful time, I’ve put together this brief travel guide to help you prepare for your visit.

Airports & Entry

Traveling to Copenhagen is simple because Denmark has a well-developed transport infrastructure. You can take a train from cities in Central Europe and Sweden or a ferry from Oslo. But most visitors arrive by airplane. Copenhagen Kastrup Airport is the largest airport in Scandinavia, handling 30 million passengers a year.

Copenhagen Kastrup has 2 terminals: Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. The 2 terminals share a single airside passenger concourse. Note that most of the many stores and food outlets inside the airport are located airside. If you must spend some time in the airport, there are 4 first-class lounges airside and 1 landside, which you may pay to use. If you want to be really pampered, there’s even a spa at the Hilton Hotel, connected to Terminal 3.

You’ll find all the usual facilities at Copenhagen Kastrup, including multiple fast food outlets, duty frees stores, ATMs, currency exchange, mobile charging, and free Wi-Fi throughout the airport. The information desk is near the Transfer Center in the center hall. The food outlets open long hours, with Burger King landside and Mikkeller airside both open 24 hours.

If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll be pleased to discover Copenhagen Kastrup is child-friendly. Stroller rentals can be found in the International Departures Hall. There’s a Children’s Play Area for children up to 10-years-old in Terminal 2 airside. And the restrooms in the same area provide baby care facilities, like a changing table and microwave for heating Baby’s bottle.

As I said, Denmark has a fantastic transport infrastructure, so getting into the city from the airport is simple. The railway station in Terminal 3 runs services to the city center every 10 minutes. Just outside level 2 of the same terminal, the Metro runs services every 4-6 minutes. Taxis are found at ranks outside the Arrivals area of both terminals.

If you prefer your independence, you’ll find 6 car rental companies in Terminal 3. But, given the great public transport system within the capital, I’d recommend you make use of the city’s buses and Metro.

Planning Tips

Although Copenhagen is relatively small for a capital city, there’s lots to see and do. To ensure you have a great time, here are 5 tips to help you plan your visit.

Tip #1: Think about what you want to see and do in Copenhagen before deciding when to visit

The best time to visit Copenhagen depends upon what you want to do when you get there. If you love music festivals and street carnivals, you’ll find lots to do between June and August. However, the rain is heavier in the summer, too. If you prefer fewer crowds and more affordable hotel rooms, then March through May is a great time to visit. October through February, except for December, you’ll find the city extremely quiet.

Tip #2: Get yourself a Copenhagen Card

A great budget choice is the Copenhagen Card. This card not only provides free and unlimited use of the bus, Metro, and S-tog services, but it also grants free entry to 73 city attractions as well as significant discounts on others. Copenhagen Cards come in 24, 48, 72, and 120-hour varieties.

Tip #3: Take your time to enjoy all the attractions of Copenhagen

You may be planning to visit Copenhagen specifically to see the historical sites or admire the architecture, but there are many more interesting things to do and see in this beautiful city. Check out the information provided below for ideas.

Tip #4: Book in advance

Copenhagen is an increasingly popular tourist destination, so hotel rooms and tours can get fully booked early. You’ll find most things fully-booked from June through August and during the month of December. Many tours offer free refunds within a reasonable time frame, so you’re not taking a risk when you book.

Tip #5: Take comfortable walking shoes

Don’t be tempted to buy new, smart shoes for your visit to Copenhagen. The chances are you’ll do a lot of walking because it’s the easiest way to get around the city center and main attractions. You can’t drive around Tivoli Gardens! What you need are comfortable walking shoes, preferably ones you’ve worn-in and that won’t chafe your feet.

Restaurants & Eating Out

Copenhagen has more restaurants per capita than most other cities in the world, so eating out won’t prove a problem. Not only does this city host many prestigious restaurants that boast Michelin Stars, but the rich ethnic diversity has led to a wealth of international food outlets.

In Copenhagen, you can eat any kind of food you want, from Italian pizza to Indian cuisine. But if you want a taste of traditional Danish food, there are several local dishes you should watch for.

Since Denmark has a vast coastline and a rich maritime history, of course, seafood is on the menu. Pickled and marinated herring have served as the Danes’ most popular meal since the Vikings. Often served with rye bread, you can find pickled herring in many traditional restaurants. But if you prefer fish that isn’t pickled, fiskefrikadeller are fish balls made from mixed white fish and onion.

If you want something that isn’t seafood-based, then frikadeller are meatballs fried in butter and served with boiled potatoes. And around the holiday season, Flæskesteg is Danish roast pork prepared with cloves, bay leaves, and spices that’s especially popular during Christmas dinner.

For food on the go, the Danes have their own version of the sandwich using a single slice of rye bread with toppings. Smørrebrød are found everywhere, with toppings like smoked salmon and boiled eggs. Restaurant Schønnemann has offered 110 different varieties of smørrebrød since 1877, including 21 with herring!

If you prefer the white variety of bread more popular outside of Scandinavia, you can always buy a hotdog. Hotdogs made using rød pølse (local recipe red sausages) are especially popular.

If you hunger for dessert, try hindbærsnitte. They look like a Pop-Tart—flat, short-crust pastries with a jam center—but taste so much better. And most bakeries sell this delicious treat freshly baked. And if you’re a dedicated foodie, you might like to know the last week in August every year features the Copenhagen Cooking & Food Festival.

Nightlife & Entertainment

With so much of the wealth and culture in Copenhagen associated with the brewing industry, it’s little surprise to discover Danes love to drink. These modern-day Vikings know how to party, and the nightlife is lively. You’ll find that many bars stay open until 6 am or later.

You’ll find nightclubs all around the city, especially in Vesterbro, Nørrebro, Frederiksberg, and Indre By. Well-known clubs include Chateau Motel, At Delores, and ARCH. But for lively streets with live music venues, chilled out bars, and a buzzing atmosphere, check out Blågårdsgade, a street in the Nørrebro district.

Something Danes excel at is community festivals. Copenhagen hosts many popular festivals during the summer, including the Copenhagen Carnival, Copenhagen Distortion, Copenhell, and Copenhagen Pride.

The carnival takes place around the beginning of June and draws crowds of over 100,000. Copenhagen Distortion is similarly popular and celebrates dance music while Copenhall focuses on heavy metal music. Copenhagen Pride celebrates the LGBT community and human rights in August.

Getting Around

Copenhagen is not a huge city, and most of the popular attractions are within walking distance of one another. For that reason, it’s easy to walk wherever you want to go. But plan your sightseeing routes carefully so you go from place to place in a logical order, minimizing the overall distance walked.

In my opinion, the best way to get around Copenhagen is by bicycle. It is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world, with 250 miles of exclusive cycle paths. In fact, 36% of residents opt to cycle to work or school rather than use other forms of transportation.

If you’re comfortable cycling, you’ll love to hear there’s an affordable citywide bicycle sharing program called Bycyklen. This scheme provides access to over 2,000 bikes with built-in GPS systems for around $5 per hour. There are Bycyklen docking stations near all the attractions, main public buildings, and transport hubs.

Do note there are very strict laws that apply to cyclists within the capital, and fines will be issued for unsafe cycling. Most of the rules are common sense, like signaling when you turn, and include things like not cycling on pavements, not going through a red light, and not cycling the wrong way along a one-way street.

If you prefer to be driven around, Copenhagen has a great public transport system. There are comprehensive bus routes and two rapid transit systems—the S-tog and the Metro.

You can, of course, hire a car. However, I would strongly recommend that you don’t unless you plan to spend a lot of time exploring the countryside or visiting other cities. It is difficult to use a car within the main tourist areas of Copenhagen because many areas are pedestrianized, it’s difficult to park, and there are so many bicycles sharing the road. You’ll find public transport much more convenient.

The most expensive option is to take a taxi. They may get caught up in the city congestion, and be unable to enter pedestrianized areas, but at least they deliver you to the door.

And finally, the city is built on two islands riddled with canals. That means a great way to see the city is to take a canal cruise. This not only provides you with a different perspective on all the stunning buildings around Copenhagen but also allows you to look around without hurting your feet so much.

Accommodations

Over the past decade, Copenhagen has seen a huge increase in tourism. This means you’ll find a wide range of hotels and hostels that meet every budget, but you’ll have to book early to ensure a room.

Generally speaking, it doesn’t matter where in the city you base yourself because the transportation system is efficient and the attractions close together. However, each district of the city has its own flavor, which may influence where you prefer to stay.

The heart of Copenhagen is Indre By. Most of the historical attractions and the old city are found here, like Christiansborg Palace, Rosenborg Castle, and The Little Mermaid. If you want to step out of your hotel and be surrounded by history, this is where you need to be.

Indre By also boasts the main shopping street, the central railway station, and many of the top nightclubs. However, if you want to stay close to the center of everything, you must pay for the privilege.

If you prefer somewhere a little quieter and away from the city center, Nørrebro is a great place to stay. You’ll find high-end restaurants, antique stores, and theatres. And if you’re looking for the picture-postcard location, Nyhavn is the neighborhood with all those pastel-colored houses along a waterfront you see in many tourist brochures. Nyhaven has a reputation for being very family-friendly.

Vesterbro is historically Copenhagen’s meatpacking and red-light district. Strangely, it’s now more like the Village in Manhattan—a magnet for creative people, like photographers, filmmakers, artists, and designers. Here you’ll find the avant-garde restaurants and bars such a Bohemian crowd attracts.

If you’re counting your pennies, you’ll find affordable accommodation in the Latin Quarter. This is the original university area, so there are plenty of affordable options for students and budget travelers. You’ll also find the trendy bars and food outlets you’d expect where young people congregate.

Weather

Copenhagen experiences a considerable difference in day length from summer to winter, with a whole 17½ hours of daylight on midsummer’s day but a short 7 hours during the winter solstice. This is reflected in the temperature range, from an average daily high of 380F and low of 30½0F in January to a high of 720F and low of 57½0F in July.

Thankfully, due to its Oceanic climate, Copenhagen doesn’t experience especially extreme high and low temperatures. The city also benefits from moderate rainfall, though it receives markedly higher rainfall during the warmer months of July through September.

The sunniest month is June, which may be why so many of the major citywide festivals fall around that month. Conversely, February sees the least sunshine, but at least it’s also the driest month.

Whenever you go to Copenhagen, pack some warm clothes to protect you from the cold winds that occasionally sweep across from the Baltic. In winter, you’ll need a thick coat, hat, and gloves. In spite of the relatively mild temperatures compared to some countries, you’re still in Scandinavia. And in summer, bring an umbrella!

Attractions

Copenhagen boasts a rich history dating back to 1043, and there are many fascinating attractions around the city. You’ll be happy to know that most of these are within walking distance of one another.

The most visited, photographed, and loved attraction is The Little Mermaid. Edvard Eriksen’s 4-feet high bronze statue is displayed upon a granite boulder beside the water at Langelinje Pier. You can’t visit Copenhagen and not see this iconic statue.

Once visitors have paid their respects to the mermaid, there’s somewhere else most go to let their hair down. Ever wonder where Walt Disney found the inspiration to build Disney World? He visited Tivoli Gardens, the amusement park in the heart of Copenhagen.

Tivoli Gardens was founded in 1843, but it hasn’t fallen behind the times. In fact, it’s modern adrenaline seeker’s ride The Vertigo was voted Europe’s Best Ride in 2014. The park boasts an eclectic mix of entertainments, from one of the world’s oldest rollercoasters, built in 1914, to the Tik Tak, a high-gravity spinner ride built in 2018.

But Tivoli Gardens isn’t only about high adrenaline rides. There are children’s rides and activities, theaters, cultural events, and beautiful gardens. Within the gardens, you’ll find lots of interesting buildings, like the Chinese Tower and the Glass Hall Theater. And when the sun goes down, thousands of fairy lights transform the gardens into a magical realm.

If history ticks your boxes, then you’ll love Copenhagen’s two palaces. Amalienborg Palace is the current royal residence in Copenhagen. Not only is this historical building easy on the eyes, but outside you can watch a Changing the Guards ceremony.

Christiansborg Palace is the older royal residence and currently houses the Danish parliament. The present building is relatively new due to repeated fires at this location that burned down the previous structures. History lovers can visit the excavated ruins of the older palaces beneath Christiansborg, dating back to Absalon’s Castle built in 1167.

If you’re a huge fan of literature, you must take the time to travel 30 miles north to Kronborg Castle. Not only is Kronborg a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the reputation of being one of Europe’s best Renaissance castles, but it is also the setting for Shakespeare’s longest play, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

If you visit Copenhagen in June, July, and August, you can Hamlet performed live in the castle. Every August, a Shakespeare Festival is held inside the castle.

Sites Seen
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Value

The 2-hour “Hidden Gems” is our Editor's Choice for the best Copenhagen canal tour with its sites seen, tour guide and value.

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