The Ørestad Canals

Kayaking, cooling off in summer, ice-skating in winter – the canals are the lifeblood of Ørestad. The blue thread that runs through Copenhagen’s new district on Amager isn’t just there for show. Visitors can go boating on the canals or relax by their banks and enjoy the reflection of modern buildings and blue skies in the water.

Ørestad rises like a miniature Manhattan over Amager Common and West Amager. Where once were flat ground, landfill and military training facilities, there are now exclusive and innovative homes, right next door to Amager Common and West Amager – and everything is linked together by the canals, which wend their way from north to south. These waterways have their own ecosystem, and are home to ducks, herons and fish.

In summer, kayaks and small boats throng the canals, which are made for sailing. Boats and kayaks can be borrowed by over-15s at a number of locations, including the 8-Tallet café in Ørestad South by West Amager and Kong Kaffe in the University area.

The canals are not just there to look pretty; they serve an important practical purpose as part of Ørestad’s flood defences. Excess storm water is discharged into the canals, which lead out into the harbour mouth. And should there ever be more water than the canals are able to siphon off, the lakes and wetlands on Amager Common and West Amager are easily capable of taking up the slack.

All of this is controlled by the Ørestad Water Guild, which also monitors the thickness of the ice on the canals in winter. If the ice is thick enough, the canals are swept for skating.

Photo: Scanpix/Christian Lindgren

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  • Sailing
  • Skating in winter
  • Bike tours
  • Walking tours
  • In the centre of Ørestad, out towards the Common, there is a 1.4-km ‘health trail’, where those who are so inclined can test their fitness and get in some outdoors exercise. There is also a 4 km ‘heart path’ that is particularly suitable for a brisk walk or Nordic-style walking.
  • The ecosystem here is still fragile, so swimming and fishing are not permitted in the canals in Ørestad. However,  West Amager and Amager Common offer several good fishing spots.
  • Most of West Amager is below sea level. The area was reclaimed during the Second World War as part of a job-creation scheme designed to avoid Danish men being sent to do forced labour in Germany. After that, it was used for military training until 1984.

  • The plans for the area are inextricably linked with the Copenhagen Metro, which was partly financed by selling land for development, including in Ørestad. The first residents moved in here in 2004. Today there are close to 9,000 people in the Ørestad neighbourhoods, which are linked to the inner city by the Metro.
  • Please do not feed the ducks and fish in the canals. One kilogram of dry bread contains about the same amount of nourishment as 500 litres of sewage and is capable of destroying the ecological balance in the water.
  • Aquatic plants have begun to thrive in the canals, including pondweed, horned pondweed and water crowfoot.

  • Fish include goldfish, roach, eel and perch, and the bird life includes herons, ducks, greylag geese and coots.
  • The paths in the area are suitable for wheelchairs. The Metro has elevators.
  • A few cafés, especially in the University district and in central Ørestad, where the Fields shopping centre is located.
1 km

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