The Lakes

Copenhagen’s Inner Lakes, popularly known as just ‘the lakes’, a string of large reservoirs outside the old ramparts, are among the city’s best-loved recreational areas and stretch almost three kilometres from Østerbro to Nørrebro, Frederiksberg and Vesterbro.

Promenades and wide grassy slopes line the water’s edge. A cycling and jogging track runs for 6.35 km around the three lakes – Sortedam, Peblinge and St. Jørgen’s – which have been split into five reservoirs.

In late May, when the chestnut trees are in bloom with their clouds of white flowers, locals say that ‘the lights are on’ in the trees. You can witness this wonderful sight around most of the lakes. On the western side, small private gardens belonging to the rows of houses that border the public footpaths overlook the lakes.

In winter, when the ice is thick enough, people skate on the lakes by the Pavilion (Søpavillonen).

There are several cafés with outdoor seating along the western promenade. In summer, rowing boats and pedal boats are available for hire on Peblinge Lake, just south of Queen Louise Bridge. Weeping willows grow on the banks of St. Jørgen’s Lake and floating smartweed, or polygonum, sprawls across the water.

Photo: Scanpix/Mads Jensen

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(The Lakes)

  • Jogging and cycling
  • Long walks
  • Rowing boats and pedal boats are available for hire on Peblinge Lake at Kaffesalonen, Peblinge Dosseringen 6, Copenhagen N
  • The lakes were originally a single, long river valley, but in the Middle Ages part of the area was dammed off for milling.

  • In the 17th century, the lakes were incorporated into Copenhagen’s outer defences, and used to supply water to the city. They have been split into five reservoirs since the 1720s.

  • The city stopped using the lakes for drinking water in 1959, when tadpoles and mosquito larvae started to appear in people’s morning coffee.
  • The paths along the west side of Peblinge and Sortedam are called Dosseringen, which means a slope or a road on a slope.

  • The path along the west side of St. Jørgen’s Lake is called Svineryggen, because local people thought that the dam looked like the back of a pig.
  • The wildlife on the lakes includes swans, mallards, tufted ducks, grebes, mergansers, pochards, green-legged moorhens, coots and herons. Cormorants live on the bird island on Sortedam Lake.

  • In the water, you will spot fish such as perch, pike, tench, roach, bass and eels. Crustaceans are also found here, including water fleas and zebra mussels.

  • Chestnut trees encircle most of the lakes.  The vegetation around St. Jørgen’s Lake includes weeping willows, floating polygonum (smartweed) and a variety of reed grasses.
  • Toilet with access for disabled people on Vestre Søgade, opposite the Tycho Brahe Planetarium, Gl. Kongevej 10, Copenhagen V.
  • Most of the paved paths around the lakes are suitable for wheelchairs.
  • There are several cafés with outdoor seating on Dosseringen, along Sortedam and Peblinge lakes.
  • The Tycho Brahe Planetarium on St. Jørgen’s Lake Gl. Kongevej 10, Cph V), offers outdoor service.
1 km

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