the lakes of Copenhagen
The lakes (or "Søerne" as Copenhageners call them) are situated centrally and stretch a couple of miles from the east to the west. Especially the car free side of Søerne is a peaceful place to hang out, no matter what time of year - strolling or just sitting on a bench, looking at the water, enjoying the open space and the fresh air.
A swan family with the planetarium in the background
There are a lot of birds around Søerne. Sortedams Lake has two small islands - Fiskeøen and Fugleøen.. "The Fish Island" and "The Bird Island". They function as breeding ground for many kinds of birds that live around the lakes.
This is also where many Copenhageners do their "rounds" to stay fit. The total distance all the way around is 6,3 km= 3,8 miles. When I lived here I used to jog quite often. I must have run the "big round" hundreds of times, my legs know every corner of this route .. by heart.
And I'm not the only one by any means - there is a large number of joggers who use this beautiful area to keep in shape, coming primarily from the neighbouring bouroughs. Along with those who prefer to just have a latte at one of the many cafes - joggers too enjoy this oasis of tranquility in the heart of Copenhagen. Particularly the side of the lakes opposite town centre, is made for strolling.
There are 3 lakes divided over 5 reservoirs. Each has its own name..
• Sankt Jørgens sø consists of two reservoirs and stretches from Gl. Kongevej to Gyldenløvesgade
• Peblinge sø consists of just one pond and lies between the boulevard of Gyldenløvesgade up to Dronning Louises Bridge
• Sortedams sø - consists of two ponds and stretches from Dronning Louises Bridge all the way down to Østerbrogade
When you look at a city map of Copenhagen you will recognize "søerne" easily because they form a characteristic crescent shape and stretch from "Østerbrogade" in the east to "Vesterbrogade" in the vest.
The lakes were initially created to expand the city's defense system. Through the building of a dam the first lake Peblinge Sø was created. Later the others followed.
Their function was also to provide fresh drinking water from bigger natural lakes north of Copenhagen. The water in the reservoirs is connected to the ocean through water pipes. Due to bad water quality Peblinge Lake and Sortedams Lake were dropped as drinking water reservoir, only Sankt Jørgen's Lake was kept up til 1959.
Today "Søerne" a recreational area and it has been preserved since 1966. The water is not terribly deep - between 2-5 meters (7-15 feet) and the walking paths are surrounding on all sides. It's a highly frequented and very popular part of Copenhagen centre. But that was not always the case. When they were built this area was way outside the city walls and getting there was considered quite a trip. What a thought.
Some winters the lakes completely freeze so that you can take a walk on the ice. It's an old beloved activity that Copenhageners meet and ice skate all across the area. I actually spent a New Year's Eve out on the ice with friends. A unique experience.
A place that means something special to Copenhageners is the Tycho Brahe Planetarium at the end of the lakes, in the borough of "Vesterbro". Before it was built here, this place was one of the biggest musical venues in Copenhagen called "The Salt Warehouse". Originally it was an old warehouse from 1891 that was rebuilt for musical performances and opened in 1975. I was at some great concerts there with my friends. But in 1987 it was demolished in order to make space for the planetarium.. not a bad trade at all - in my opinion.
The Tycho Brahe Planetarium was a gift donated by Bodil og Helge Petersen to the city of Copenhagen. It presents absolutely magnificent IMAX-film shows.. anything from deep space travels, deep sea expeditions, to dinosaurs and ancient Egypt adventures. The planetarium has its own restaurant "Cassiopea" - with good food and beautiful vistas.
The cafés around the lakes
Hanging out with a latte.. where does one do that the best at the lakes? Well, here are a couple of options..
The Lake Pavillon is a restaurant and a concert venue/discoteque, but they also serve breakfast. Søpavillionen has probably the best view of the lakes because their outside terrasse is floating on the water, surrounded by water on three sides. They also offer a nice brunch in the weekends. Hours are 10am - 10pm
1369 København K
+45 33 15 12 24
has its chairs and tables right out to the Sortedams Lake. A place where Copenhageners meet after work or for a chat. The location is excellent, and they have a non-smoking section. The walls inside are decorated with art created by local painters. They are for sale .. should you want a painting by a local Copenhagen artist.
For dinner it's a good idea to order a table in advance. Opening hours every day 11am - 1am, weekends open until 2am.
Sortedam Dossering 21
2200 København N
+45 35 37 38 27
The French Cafe is located at the end of Sortedams Lake directly at the water. Besides the good coffee and food - they serve some serious smoothies! Hours 10am - 11pm.
Sortedam Dossering 101
2100 København Ø
+45 35 42 48 45
Cafe Dag H. is also located at the end of the lakes. Named after the Boulevard it's located on - it's not far from the French Cafe.
Sitting on the outside, apart from the cars - there's a lot going on. You can watch people passing by on bicycles or pedestrians shopping. The place has a reputation for very good quality espresso coffee. Also their lattes with various kinds of sirups, like caramel or cinnamon are delicious.
Dag Hammarskjölds Allé 36-40
2100 København Ø
+45 35 27 63 00
Have an enjoyable trip round the lakes.
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