I’ve written before about living in the Sluseholmen area, and how much I’m a fan of it. When people ask where I live, I always say Sluseholmen, rather than Sydhavn, due to the latter’s rather dubious reputation. When people don’t know where Sluseholmen is, I start by saying “south of Islands Brygge” before admitting that it’s actually, technically, part of the Sydhavn area (often followed by “but it’s the nice part of Sydhavn!”). I don’t actually spend much time in the real “ghetto” part of Sydhavn (except for going to the doctor or picking up yet another Zalando package at the post office). And unless you live here, that’s probably the same for you! My prediction is that Sydhavn is going to become much more trendy over the next couple of years. Do you want to be among the first ones to check out this potentially up-and-coming area? Not to worry, I’m here to give you the lowdown of what to do, where to go, and what to avoid in Sluseholmen and Sydhavn!
Some facts first:
- Sluseholmen is technically part of the Sydhavn area (the brown part on the map), bordering on Vesterbro and Kongens Enghave to the North (light blue), Valby to the West (purple), and Vestamager to the East (dark red).
- Within Sydhavn, Sluseholmen covers the area closest to the water, and down to the highway towards Sjællandsbroen (as I have expertly highlighted in yellow below)
- The zip code (2450 København SV) has generally been one of the poorest in the greater Copenhagen area. Sydhavn is a classic working class quarter and is traditionally heavy with “red voters”, i.e. towards the left end of the political spectrum.
- Sluseholmen, on the other hand, is completely in the hand of young families, with the occasional student shared apartments thrown into the mix. The first wave of buildings is from around 2006/ 2007, but since I’ve lived here, there has been construction going on somewhere at all times. Apartments are currently crazy expensive (around pre-crisis levels or even higher!) and sell like hot cakes, some within a matter of hours!
- Most roads in the Sluseholmen area are named after famous jazz musicians that have played in Copenhagen (Ernie Wilkins, Thad Jones, Ben Webster, Kenny Drew, Oscar Pettiford). That’s cute, but means I always have to spell out my address to people!
- Finally, not a fact, but a personal prediction: After Vesterbro and even the previously shady Istedgade have been fully taken over by the hipster and student crowd, I am fully expecting the gentrification to sweep over Enghave and into Sydhavn within the next couple of years.
- Sydhavn station is serviced by S-train lines A and E. Other stations include Sjælør (A, E) and Ny Ellebjerg (A, E, F, and regional trains).
- Of course there are buses, too: 3A, 4A, 10, 14, and 30 go on different routes through Sydhavn and connect the area to the Central Station and Nørreport.
- As part of the metro expansion, there will be a new metro line called “Sydhavnslinjen” with five new stops between Fisketorvet and Ny Ellebjerg - unfortunately, the line isn’t expected to be done until 2023.
- And finally, you can always hop onto the harbor bus at Teglholmen, one of its end stops, and sail all the way up the Copenhagen harbor to Islands Brygge, Nyhavn, or even all the way up to Kastellet.
Better to avoid
- Mozarts Plads: Not generally a bad area, but this central square in the middle of Sydhavn is normally frequented by homeless people and alcoholics. Occasional fights occur, although it usually stays quiet. Still not one of the places I’d recommend to hang out at.
- Sjælør Station: Especially after dark, this is not a place you want to be. Not super dangerous, but definitely a bit iffy, so I’d recommend to avoid it.
Food & drink
There aren’t a lot of sit-down restaurants in either Sydhavn or Sluseholmen - and those that there might be, I would not necessarily recommend. It’s generally more of a take-away environment, but there are some options. When I moved here in 2012, there was literally nothing - an Irma and a corner kiosk, which has since been replaced by a real estate agency. Irma is still there and going strong, but the empty storefronts are slowly filling up as well, bringing some much-needed life to the area.
- Sukuri Sushi: Located on Sluseholmen (the street by that same name), this tiny sushi shop makes really great makis, nigiris, sashimi, and other delicacies. Not cheap, but sushi in Copenhagen never is. Their quality is well worth it. Try their rice paper rolls with chili mayo!
- Calories: Sandwiches, burgers, fresh juices, and protein shakes - the “healthy fast food” store on Sluseholmen has got it all. Whether you’re in the mood for a huge sandwich, made with fresh wholegrain bread, or you need a 1,000 kcal protein-pumped shake after hittin’ the irons (am I using gym slang right?), Calories has got you covered. My favorite is the “MacGyver” veggie sandwich with hummus and beetroot salad or coleslaw, and the apple, elderflower, and mint juice.
- Hansens Is: As recent as this spring, yet another storefront on Sluseholmen has been filled, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Delicious Hansens ice cream, flødeboller, and other delicacies, in a quite stylish new setting - just what we needed for the summer! I already gave it a try and it was quite yum! I personally prefer their sorbets over the cream-based varieties, but if you want to go all in on the classic Danish “isvaffel”, they even make their own “guf” (marshmallow-like cream topping). Great for summer, not so much for my bikini body!
- Ricco’s: The coffee shop was one of the first residents in the Sluseholmen area, but it recently moved from its teeny-tiny shop into much bigger and fancier digs. They now actually have some seating available, serve breakfast, cake, and other snacks, and even sell books and art. Definitely a much-needed upgrade, and a real cozy hangout for the Sluseholmen crowd! When I have some time before the bus in the morning, I like to grab a large cappuccino from to go.
- Wolfie: My only recommendation straight from the “ghetto”! Smack dab in the middle of Mozarts Plads (which I’ve just told you to avoid), there’s a little, baby blue hut, which has recently reopened its doors in the form of an unbelievably hipster little café. The place is cute and the food is quite nice. If you’re in the mood, try their breakfast plate with a perfectly soft-boiled egg and freshly baked bread from Brødflov. Note that there’s no bathroom inside the tiny cafe, and that Mozarts Plads is a popular hangout for the local drunks.
What to do and see
Sluseholmen and Sydhavn don’t exactly have loads of tourist attractions, but they’re not just residential areas, either! There are actually quite a few things to do and see around here, if you know where to look.
- The Watergate: Sluseholmen gets its name from the watergate. It’s actually functional, and sometimes you can see boats crossing through. Beside it is a super cute old, yellow building, which has a very nice garden as well. Behind the watergate, there’s a boat dock, where people can get their boats repaired or work on them themselves.
- Valbyparken: On the border between Valby and Sydhavn lies one of Copenhagen’s biggest green areas. Valbyparken is not only a massive green oasis in the city, it also directly borders on the ocean and has some special features, such as the beautiful rose gardens and built-in barbecue stations, which make it an ideal destination for an afternoon or weekend trip in spring or summer. There are also concerts being held there, and each summer, there’s a medieval fair with jousting and duels.
- Haveforeningen: Across the bridge, so technically part of Vestamager rather than Sydhavn, lies Haveforeningen Sønderbro. The concept here is that people who live in the city and often in apartments without direct access to a garden can rent or buy some garden space, often with a small house on it. These “haveforeninger” or “kolonihaver” are often very cute and colorful, and people really put a lot of effort into their little gardens and houses. Perfect for a Sunday stroll!
- Amager Fælled: Yet another massive green area, but this one is very popular with runners as well, as it has kilometers of running tracks and paths. If you’re not into running, you can always hop on your bike for a little tour. There’s also a motocross track and a speedboat racing facility, for the more adventurous among us.
- Havnebadet: The harbor bath in Teglholmen is open year-round, but obviously most popular in the summer (although I have seen some hardcore bathers hop in the ice cold water in the middle of winter!). It’s basically a wooden structure separated into different “pools” where you can swim in the sea water or just lie in the sun. In the summer, there are life guards on duty, too. There are other harbor baths around Copenhagen harbor, most notably at Islands Brygge. Entrance to the baths is free.
- Valby Boat Club: In contrast to the modern apartment buildings, there’s a row of small, wooden, red houses that look straight out of a “Visit Scandinavia” catalog. They belong to Valby Boat Club and were originally supposed to be torn down when the Sluseholmen district was first sketched out on the drawing board. Luckily, they were ultimately kept there, which I think is brilliant, as they create a very maritime atmosphere and vacation-like feeling, and give a nice, traditional contrast to the clean, new buildings around them.
There you go - a quick guide to Sydhavn and Sluseholmen! Admittedly, the focus is on Sluseholmen, as that’s where I live and know my way around. What are your favorite spots in the area? Anything I’ve forgotten on the list? Share in the comments below!