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Three great Copenhagen open air swimming spots

On a warm day — or for the Danes, even on a cold day — a dip in Copenhagen's harbors and beaches can do just the trick. Here are three of our favourite spots for an open air swim in Denmark's capital city and advice on where not to swim.

Three great Copenhagen open air swimming spots
Go ahead, bring the stroller -- Svanemølle Beach is great for kids. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Amager Strandpark — a beach’s beach 

If you’re looking for white sand beaches and room to spread out a towel (as long as you get there early enough), Amager Strandpark is your best bet. It’s about 25 minutes by bike or via metro line 2 from downtown Copenhagen. 

Children play on popular Copenhagen beach Amager Strandpark. Photo: Claus Bech/Ritzau Scanpix

Amager Strandpark offers 4.6 km of beachfront real estate with areas for picnicking, ball games, and, of course, swimming. 

It’s also prime territory for watersports (kayaking, anyone?) and the Copenhagen Surf School offers windsurfing lessons for beginners. 

The Islands Brygge harbour bath offers fantastic views of the city. Photo: Kasper Palsnov/Ritzau Scanpix

Islands Brygge Havnebad — an urban swimming experience 

A stone’s throw from the city center, Islands Brygge is perhaps Copenhagen’s most iconic urban swimming spot. 

The Harbour bath boasts three diving platforms as well as five semi-inclosed pools, two designated for children. 

Svanemølle Beach is a hop, skip and a jump from the fashionable Østerbro neighborhood. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Svanemølle Strand 

Literally “swan mill beach” in Danish, this small beach in Østerbro is a favorite haunt for families with young children since the tide comes in very slowly. For the grown-ups, a massive 130-meter pier offers access to deep water. 

Places NOT to swim 

It’s not permitted to swim in the canals at Nyhavn or in Copenhagen’s famous lakes (though with the summer algae bloom, you probably wouldn’t want to anyway). As a rule of thumb, anywhere without a lifeguard in high season or without ladders in and out of the water should be avoided. 

The map below shows the three recommended swimming spots. Zoom in to see where they are in Copenhagen.

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Who visits Denmark in summer and where do the tourists go?

Tourism in Denmark is still rebounding after the bottom fell out in 2020. But which kind of tourists come to Denmark in the summer? Where are they from and where do they go?

Who visits Denmark in summer and where do the tourists go?

The Local scoured data from Tourism Denmark to learn who it is asking for directions in Copenhagen and hogging beach space on Danish shores. 

Overwhelmingly, it’s Danes that visit Denmark — two thirds of all overnight tourism in 2021 was from Danes spending their holidays in other parts of their own country. 

But as for foreign tourism, Denmark’s neighbours to the south take the lion’s share. Germans spent more than 13.2 million overnight visits in Denmark in 2021. 

Next up is the Netherlands, which sent more than 717,000 overnight guests to Denmark. Swedes and Norwegians spent 604,000 and 412,00 overnight stays in Denmark, respectively, while the UK and the US both contributed about 200,000 stays. 

Country of Origin  Overnight visitors to Denmark in 2021
1. Germany 13.2 million
2. The Netherlands 717,900
3. Sweden 604,000
4. Norway 412,600
5. The United Kingdom 208,900
6. United States 199,300
7. France 164,100
8. Italy 161,500
9. India 18,100
10. China 14,500

Where do they spend the night? 

Forty-two percent of all tourists, including Danes, spent their vacations in rented holiday homes, while 23 percent camped outside. Only 23 percent of all overnight stays in Denmark were in hotels — holiday centers, hostels, and marinas round out the rest. 

READ MORE: Summer houses in Denmark: What are the rules and when can you live in them?

Beaches beat the cities 

A whopping 80 percent of overnight stays were for coastal and nature tourism — that’s the summer house culture for you — while only 11 percent was tourism to big cities. Business tourism accounted for the last 9 percent. 

Favourite destinations by country 

German tourists flocked to a region called Vesterhavet (literally ‘the western sea’ in Danish), spending 5 million overnight stays there in 2021. The distant second and third favorite destinations for holiday-making Germans in Denmark were Nordvestkysten (‘the north west coast,’ which saw 2.3 million overnight stays) and Southern Jutland with 1.6 million. 

As far as the US is concerned, Denmark might as well be a city-state — 77 percent of American visitors stayed in Denmark’s capital city, while 63 percent of UK tourists and nearly half of all visits from Swedes were to Copenhagen. 

Norwegians have a broader palate for Denmark’s diverse charms, with about a third staying in Copenhagen and the other two thirds spread across the Danish islands and beaches.