Go, Go, Go Your Boat

The husband and I are currently traveling from Copenhagen, where we started our latest adventure, to Stockholm, where we hope to explore all 24,000 of the archipelago’s islands (kidding- sort of).  In between stares out the window to enjoy the lovely scenery that is the Swedish countryside, I wanted to write my first Scandinavian post about the coolest thing we found in Copenhagen.  Copenhagen is a pretty cool city, so the bar was high, but this definitely takes the cake.

A beautiful row of homes in Christianshawn

The husband loves boats.  When he lived in Minneapolis, before we were married, he had a boat named Deb.  Now, he’d tell you she was a beautiful yacht, and the prettiest boat you’d ever seen.  In reality, Deb was an aluminum fishing boat with a few comfy fishing chairs he installed himself, and an electric motor.  He used to take her around the Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun, listening to music and drinking beers with friends (and on my very rare summer visits to MSP, me).  She did save a life once, though, when some tourists who didn’t know how to swim fell into the lake.  Deb was there to rescue them.  She’s a real star, and the husband definitely shed a tear or two (likely more) when he sold her to a friend before moving to water-less Columbus to be with me.  Anyway, I tell you this story to set the stage for how excited the husband was to find out that we could rent our own boats in Copenhagen, and take them through the canals and Copenhagen Harbour via an awesome company called Go Boat.

  So excited to be captaining his own boat

On our first full day in CPH, we took a canal tour with Copenhagen Canal Tours.  The best part of it, by far, was our discovery of Go Boat, which we never would have known about otherwise (I’m looking at you, Lonely Planet Scandinavia).  Tucked away in a quiet little area of the city called Islands Brygge is the Go Boat rental area.  Also in that area is a very nice lifeguard staffed “pool” that’s integrated into the harbour and even has a high dive (exciting for us Americans, since the lawyers have pretty much done away with everything fun related to pools (read: high dives).  The area is definitely worth checking out—I digress.

 
Boats moored at the shop, charging

Go Boats are just as the name implies- you rent a boat, and you go.  You need no experience with boats, only to be 18, and not intoxicated.  The process is so streamlined and simple that the entire thing takes less than 5 minutes.  The design of the entire operation is ingenious, and not at all surprising after witnessing how the Danish design every last detail, even of the most mundane objects.  Walking into the shop, you feel more like you are entering into a high-end design store than a place to rent a boat.

 
The Go Boat rental shop in Islands Brygge, note the solar panels on the roof

The boats are simple, and of Danish design.  They are “picnic boats” with a literal picnic table in the center, and seats surrounding.  The boat is large enough to seat eight people comfortably.  Given 36 hours notice, the shop will even arrange a picnic of your choosing for you.  They also have basic food items such as fruit and chips, beers, and various non-alcoholic drinks available for purchase in the front of the shop.  We didn’t have 36 hours notice to give, since we took them the day after we found out about them, so we shared a sandwich from the Italian pizza and sandwich place a block away from the shop.  There are plenty of places nearby to grab a picnic to go, so don’t fret if you aren’t able to have the shop make one for you.  They will even let you borrow a bottle opener if you’ve forgotten one, like we did.  Like I said, the place is the best.

 
Enjoying our delicious picnic.

One of the coolest parts of the Go Boats are their sustainability.  The boats are powered by very quiet electric motors which use rechargeable batteries.  These batteries are charged using the solar panels on the top of the shop.  To add even more to the eco-friendly vibe of the brand, they have fishing nets that they give out to children.  I asked the worker if any kids actually caught fish with those (very small) nets,  when he kindly explained that they are for the children to use to fish trash out of the harbour and canals.  If the children bring back any trash, they are then given a prize by the Go Boat operators.

 
Kids trying to fish trash out of the canal water

Renting the boat cost about $75 USD an hour.  They charge you for every 15 minutes over 1 hour that you have the boat, and there is more of a discount the longer you rent.  If you have more than 2 people renting, it’s arguably the cheapest thing to do in Copenhagen, and even with just the two of us, it was on the cheaper end of all the things we did while there, and totally worth it.


A nice relaxing afternoon in the canals of Copenhagen

They give you a map before you head out with estimated times from various points to get back to the shop. The map is well-marked, making it very easy to navigate.  I was a little nervous, at first, being in the harbour with much larger ships, but only once did the boat rock even a little, and even that was minimal.  The boats are as easy to navigate as they appear (or so the husband says- he did all the navigating).

 
Getting ready to go under one of the bridges- some of them are very low

If you find yourself in Copenhagen and want to get out onto the water, I’d skip the guidebook recommended Canal Tours and rent yourself a Go Boat instead.  You don’t learn too much on the Canal Tours, and the water is much more serene and enjoyable with just you and your friends/family than with 50 other people you don’t know.