Summer has arrived in Copenhagen and it is glorious! It may lack the scorching heat or consistent sunshine of more southern climates, but it brings with it a fragile northern beauty only made possibly by its contrast with Denmark’s long dark winters. Where other regions throughout the world take summer for granted, the Danes relish it and throw themselves into the country’s long summer days with near reckless abandon. Work grinds to a halt, the parks overflow with people, and the city’s open spaces are overwhelmed by a tidal wave of sun-burned, partially-clad Danes often found with a disposable BBQ, six pack of cold Carlsberg, and a beaming smile. This sight is usually set to the soundtrack of local Danish artists blasted from modified Christiania bikes with full speakers and sound systems (sometimes even a DJ turntable) jury-rigged precariously atop three standard bike wheels.
For those new to Copenhagen who are eager to find their way to one of the city’s beaches but unsure where to go, I’ve penned this guide with several of the most popular and convenient options. Each has its own personality and special flavor but all are an excellent option for enjoying Denmark’s long days and warm summer weather.
This is Copenhagen’s largest and most popular beach. The sand is a bit coarse, but there is ample beach space on even the most crowded of days. The beach is an artificial barrier beach with nearly 3 miles of beachfront and can be reached over one of several bridges. The beach can be accessed via the metro by the Øresund station (north), Amager Strand station (middle and my personal favorite), and Femøren (south) stations. During summer months you’ll find the bathing areas are open including bathing docks, restrooms, and in some cases reasonably priced ice cream stalls. It is a great beach for BBQ-ing and is typically quite clean with minimal wave action. The visitors to the beach are usually a blend of Danes and tourists alike.
Charlottenlund Beach Park
While one of the smallest on this list, this beach is also one of my favorites because of its setting. Situated in Copenhagen’s suburbs immediately next to the Charlottenlund Park, this beach sits beside an historic military fortress. The park located behind the beach is full of old trees, a beautiful hunting lodge, and several small ponds. The fortress itself was built in the late 1800s as a coastal battery and still retains the massive guns which were installed in the early 1900s. It now serves as home to a restaurant with a gorgeous view of the strait between Denmark and Sweden. In addition to the small beach, you’ll also find a nearby campground, ice cream stand and bathrooms. It can be reached by way of the Charlottenlund S-train stop or the Bus 1A. This beach has a widely-mixed clientele due to the nearby campground but is most common with Danes.
Of the beaches on this list Bellevue Beach has (in my opinion) the best sand but lacks a certain charm. The beach is fairly large and situated within a 5- minute walk from Dyrrehavn, the “Deer Park”, and Bakken, the world’s oldest amusement park. The beach has a lot of facilities including several breakwaters and swimming docks. There are also a series of large green lawns which separate the park from the road and are used for BBQ-ing and sunbathing in summer. The beach is a brief walk from the Klampenborg S-train station and is typically extremely popular with the Muslim and Asian Danish communities. This also tends to discourage the topless sunbathing which you’ll find on most other Danish beaches.
Another small beach, this one tends to draw a lot of local Danes and has relatively few tourists. Beach space is at a premium and the view is a bit more industrial than the other beaches. However, there is a lovely ice cream stand immediately next to the beach, the sand is great, there is a long pier to walk on, and the atmosphere is very relaxed. However, more conservative readers that struggle with nudity should be forewarned that this beach is also the most-prone to topless sunbathing.
Islands Brygge (Honorable Mention)
I’ve included Islands Brygge because while technically not what I consider a beach (it lacks sand) it is a very popular “beach” destination. The beach park is situated in what was once an old rail yard and consists of a long paved walkway that divides the water from a series of large grass areas. Restrooms, ice cream, and several small cafes are scattered through the park. There is also a large floating swimming platform which includes a diving platform with an impressive drop. You will also find several small floating courts for water-based sports. The beach can be readily accessed via the bus 5A or the Islands Brygge metro-station.
What To Bring
During summer Danes absolutely love to BBQ. Single use disposable BBQs can be purchased at almost any of the local supermarkets and usually cost around $5 USD. These are good for cooking hot dogs (a Danish favorite), thin meats, or other similar edibles. They are allowed in most parks and beaches (though increasingly they are being banned due to their tendency to leave burned-out marks on grassy areas. Just make sure you respect the area you’re using and dispose of the grill and your rubbish afterwards.
Drinking beer and wine in public is also legal and a widely accepted practice. For many, a trip to the beach isn’t complete without at least a six pack of Carlsberg, Tuborg, or a bottle of Wine. Want something a bit more local? Try an Ale 16.
Don’t forget your blanket, Frisbee, and sun-tan lotion. Despite Denmark’s northern climate and relatively cool summer days, it is very easy to get burned.