Our brilliant Copenhagen boat tour with Hey Captain

If you’ve wandered or cycled around Copenhagen you will have noticed there’s plenty of water around. Bridges and canals litter the Danish capital and from my own experience I can highly recommend taking the time to actually get out on the water and experience Copenhagen from a boat tour.

Taking a canal tour in Copenhagen was something several people recommended to me before we arrived but nobody had a hot tip on who to travel with – so I hit the internet and soon discovered that a small company named Hey Captain sounded very definitely like “my kind of people”. The whole basis for their trips is to feel like a bunch of friends going out on the water together – their guides know heaps about the city but they talk to the guests each tour and tell them what really interests them, no standard spiel. You can get a good feel for them from this video from the founders, Joel and Casper.

We ended up saving our boat tour of Copenhagen for our very last full day in the city. I’m glad we did – it’s the kind of thing that’s either great to start off your trip to get an overview of the city, or to finish it with when you can float past places you’ve already explored.

The Hidden Gems tour with Hey Captain

Hey Captain offer several different tour options but as soon as I saw their two-hour tour was called “hidden gems” I was on board (haha, actually no pun intended!). I’m all for discovering the places that other people don’t know about, though I have to say the ethos of Hey Captain makes me feel like whichever cruise option you take, you’ll learn about some hidden gems. They certainly fulfilled my desire to be particularly thoughtful during our Copenhagen stay.

In our case we boarded with captain Viktor and one other (extended) family – parents and three kids who had recently moved to Copenhagen from the United States and two of their grandparents who were visiting. There should have been one more couple but their plane had been delayed (they’d picked the “do it first thing” option, obviously) but either way, the groups are always small. Ours was delightful and we quickly introduced ourselves, swapped life stories and shared wine together (the parents, obviously, not the kids!).

One of the Hey Captain boats at Ofelia Plads in Copenhagen

Viktor was a brilliant captain and tour guide, and it was really like it said on the box: he treated us like new friends and told us stories about his life in Copenhagen and about various little-known stories and rumours that really made us feel like we were experiencing this city in a special way.

One of my favourite stories was one Viktor told as we passed by the Little Mermaid. I’d seen this ultra-famous Copenhagen attraction when I was there as a nine-year-old and I’d actually told my son that after our boat trip, since we were relatively close, we should keep cycling and at least lay eyes on the mermaid, because when we returned home I knew people would ask him if he’d seen it. But unbeknownst to me, we got to pass it on our boat trip and it was kind of hilarious to see the (small) size of the mermaid and the backdrop of a huge group of tourists taking photos of it – and us, in their background!

The (very) Little Mermaid, harbour view!

But the story Viktor told was from his childhood, when he grew up a building right nearby the Little Mermaid. He said that one day he’d been walking his dog there and some tourists had come up to him to ask him directions to the mermaid – a common occurrence, he said – but this particular tourist wanted to know where he could buy tickets for it, because he wanted to go right to the top to get a view over Copenhagen! This poor tourist was envisaging the Little Mermaid as something more in the ilk of the Statue of Liberty – boy, were they going to be disappointed when they saw it! We had a good giggle about this.

Since there were a bunch of tweens and teens on this trip, Viktor decided to make a stop at a special spot – the kind of place that’s not normally on the typical sightseeing agenda but should be. It was a multi-storey carpark … with a playground on top! The area of Nordhavn has seen all sorts of amazing development in recent years and so we hopped off the boat and climbed the steps to the top of a building called Park’n’Play and let the kids run wild for a bit, while we had incredible views across the water and back to Copenhagen.

We also motored in to an old fortress in the harbour just outside Copenhagen which can only be reached by boat and is only open during the summer months. The rest of the year it has an alarm to prevent trespassers – Viktor said only a month earlier he’d driven in and had the alarm go off as someone had forgotten to turn the alarm off as promised!

After two hours of touring Copenhagen by boat, Viktor tied the boat back up at Ofelia Plads and we were left to enjoy the rest of a pleasantly sunny Copenhagen day on our own. If your holiday package lands you in Copenhagen with a day at leisure then hop on a Hey Captain boat trip, I promise you won’t regret it! Oh, and I read they have lanterns, blankets, covers around the boat and mulled wine in cooler weather so it’s a year-round recommendation.

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