Copenhagen’s Sauna Dwellers

Copenhagen’s winter bathing and sauna culture has never been more popular as the harbor waterfront sees recreational initiatives popping up to the delight of the city’s residents and visitors. It is still hard to believe that just 20 years ago, Copenhagen’s harbor was one of the most polluted in Northern Europe. The Copenhagen municipality’s modernization of the sewage system has not only radically improved the quality of the water, but quality of life and opportunities along the waterfront.

When Copenhagen opened its first public harbor bath in 2003 originally designed by PLOT Architects, it finally marked the transition from an industrial port to a developing residential and recreational area. Since then public harbor baths with sauna facilities have blossomed coupled not surprisingly with a boom in membership of Copenhagen’s winter bathers.

Copenhagen’ winter bathers and sauna dwellers may not be as innovative as our Finnish neighbors, but initiatives, such as, CopenHot, now located on Ofelia Plads, literally on the waterfront, offer a unique sauna experience. A clutter of spa and sauna units are arranged on Copenhagen’s most prestigious wharf, a village of public wellness.

As the temperatures of Copenhagen’s harbor water now nudge towards 8°C, the official winter bathing season has drawn to an end at most of the city’s winter bathing clubs, including my local, Badekompagniet Sluseholmen. The club has become a valuable meeting place for many residents living in South Harbor’s neighborhoods, bridging gaps between South Harbor’s diverse areas. Visits to the sauna, punctuated with the odd dip, have offered many exchanges of information and enjoyable conservation with complete strangers, followed by blissful moments of silence. See you again in October.

Content & Photos: Phillip Mills & CopenHot

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