The Nyboder District – Copenhagen’s little yellow houses, all in a row

In the heart of Copenhagen’s city centre sits one of its most charming little areas to stroll and explore. Recognisable from just about every stock image or post card of the city, and from the beautiful film The Danish Girl, the Nyboder District of rich orangey yellow houses, set in rows along cobbled streets, is as appealing to children as to their parents. This is because, in a city of (albeit low rise) apartment buildings, these tiny dollhouses are something a little special.

Compact and bijoux, Nyboder’s green painted window frames capture small snapshots of Danish living, with tiny kitchens full of vintage enamel pots and utensils, and dining rooms of classic Danish pendant lamps visible over family dining tables. Outside the houses’ scrubby rendered walls, bikes are picturesquely parked and doorsteps and pavements host potted geraniums and rickety garden furniture. In winter, there are candles on windowsills, fairy lights and handmade paper decorations around Christmas.

Our favourite things about this area is that quite a few of its streets are named after animals. As we speak Danish, it’s easier for us to spot, but there are Tigergade and Krokodillegade as the more obvious ones, and Delphingade (Dolphin Street) and Svanegade (Swan Street) as the less so. The street names are beautifully hand painted in black script on white rectangles rendered straight on to the houses, and the challenge of spotting and working out the animal names can be a good way to keep kids going.

Additionally there’s a bakery, Det Rene Brød, very nearby on the corner of Kronprincessegade and Fredericiagade. It makes a perfect stop for coffee, cartons of Mathilde kakao (chocolate milk), boller (bread rolls – ask if you’d like them buttered), pizza breads, muffins or the very Danish drømmekage (dream cake), which is like a vanilla-y sponge topped with a flapjack-like caramelised coconut layer. Look out for the bakery’s red neon pretzel – illuminated on dark winter mornings and afternoons – to spot it, but note there is very little seating inside.

Another way to incentivise – or break up – a mooch around these streets, is its tiny, easy-to-miss playground, Legepladsen Gammelvagt. Find it at Gammelvagt 5, within a tiny block between Sankt Pauls Gade, Olfert Fischers Gade and Kronprincessegade. It’s just around the corner from Det Rene Brød, and – useful to know – there’s a toilet here. Kongens Have is just a couple of minutes’ walk from Nyboder too, for a more open, ornamental and grassier leg stretch, and Herkules Pavilionen is there for treats and drinks.

The history of Nyboder
The area’s name means ‘new stalls’ and its deeply appealing ochre-coloured cottages were built as barracks by Christian IV to house the men of the Royal Danish Navy and their families. The only original street still standing as built is the extremely low level row at Sankt Pauls Gade – all the others were built in 1757.

The original settlement’s colours were red and white, but the yellow it’s clothed in today has been adopted for the façades of buildings across Copenhagen and wider Denmark, including regular apartment buildings in the city, and many of the houses sitting on the beach in the stunning seaside artists town of Skagen, way up on the northermost tip of Jutland. It’s so synonymous with this area, however, that it’s commonly called ‘Nyboder yellow’.

Finding Nyboder

Mapping Nyboder is very easy – head away from Kongens Have along Kronprincessegade towards Kastellet and the houses suddenly spring up to your left and right. If you turn right along any of the streets, you’ll come to the Sankt Pauls Gade part of the area.

If you’re exploring the harbour front from Nyhavn through Amalienborg Palace and along to Kastellet and the Little Mermaid, the yellow houses can be stumbled upon by heading west over Bredgade. The block begins on Fredericiagade and sits within a triangle whose other two sides are Øster Voldgade and Store Kongensgade.


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