The Harbour Bath

A green dream came true when the first locals were able to take a dip in the heart of the Port of Copenhagen, which had once been terribly polluted. In 2001 the water was declared clean enough for swimming, and the following year the first temporary harbour bath opened at Islands Brygge.

It was such a huge success, and so effective at cooling down the centre of town on hot summer days, that the bath was quickly made permanent, while the temporary facility was moved to Fisketorvet on the other side of the harbour.

Since then, more harbour baths have been added, including the ‘Coral Bath’ at Sluseholmen. The Islands Brygge Harbour Bath is still by far the most popular, and has become a symbol of the new, green Copenhagen.

Tourists gawp with a mixture of scepticism and envious amazement when they first see water-loving locals diving into the harbour, which just a few decades ago would have been an extremely unhealthy thing to do.

The Harbour Bath has its own lifeguard during the season, as do all the other baths open during the summer months. There are children’s pools, a diving pool and tower, and a proper exercise pool, where regulars swim lengths before going to work or getting down to their studies.

The baths are also used in winter, and members of the local winter bathing club have access all year round. The club holds regular open events and would like to see the bath expanded, making it even more suitable for all-year-round use.

Photo: Scanpix/ Linda Kastrup

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  • Swimming
  • Diving
  • Water games
  • Relaxation
  • Sunbathing
  • Rendezvous point
  • There were baths in parts of the Copenhagen harbour area in the early 19th century. In 1902, another was opened at Gasværkshavnen in Vesterbro, where local children learned to swim.

  • The Harbour Bath at Islands Brygge is on the site of the old Rysensteen baths, which opened in 1825 but had to close in 1954 because of health issues – the water in the harbour had become increasingly polluted after the Second World War. The last bath was abandoned in 1960.

  • Until 1995, the harbour was more or less a sewer. Almost 100 pipes pumped sewage into the harbour and coastal areas – on top of pollution from shipping and industry. Massive investment in rainwater tanks and sewage pipes turned the situation around, and in 2001, the water in the harbour was again declared fit to bathe in. Since then, the harbour has been clear of sewage, except during torrential rain, which can lead to overflows. When that happens, the Harbour Bath is closed until the water is completely clean again.
  • Islands Brygge is by far the busiest of the harbour baths in Copenhagen. In 2013, it had 72,000 visitors. By comparison, the new Coral Bath had 8,000 and Fisketorvet approximately 12,000.
  • The water is clean, and if you will often see fish – big and small – as well as jellyfish.
  • Access to the jetties, but no ramp for wheelchair bathing.
  • Disabled toilet.
  • Bathing ramps for wheelchair users are planned, both here and at the Coral Bath.
  • Plenty of places to eat along the waterfront.
  • Tables and benches for picnics and disposable barbecues.
1 km

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