Impressions from Copenhagen: Sports in the Public Space

I spent the last weekend in Copenhagen, a city that some consider to be the most livable in the world. Since I’ve already been to the Danish capital quite some times, this weekend I wasn’t looking for the tourist attractions. Instead I had the time to check public spaces that the locals visit.

My kind host offered me a bike tour to some of the open sports facilities in the city. These facilities have the potential to create lively and active public space, foster community integration, and help losing some belly fat. Unfortunately, for many decades planners pushed sports facilities to the outskirts of cities, building big complexes that people could only reach by car. And as you probably know, one of the most difficult things about doing sports, is to actually bring yourself to the gym or the pool. Locating sports to our streets can lower the barrier and motivate more people to participate.

Back to Copenhagen. It was raining and chilly, so not many people were out that day. Nevertheless, rain won’t stop real Danish vikings to play ball, and I was impressed by the job the city has done in bringing sports to the people. It generally isn’t hard for someone to find a free, public place to get in shape. Here are some examples.

Basketball Courts

Denmark is not known for their Basketball players, to say the least, and there is currently not even one Danish player in the NBA (Come on Denmark, there is even an Israeli player there!). However, I’ve seen many of these free to use courts in the streets of Copenhagen, and if the city keeps putting them out there, SISU Copenhagen might have a bright future.

Basketball court on Sønder Boulevard, a street that was renovated a few years ago and accommodates great playgrounds and sport facilities.

Football Fields

There are just tons of football fields in Copenhagen, and many of them are of top quality. Two fields are situated by ‘Nørrebroparken’ park, and they were full with girls and boys, children and adults. What’s interesting about these fields, and apparently many others in the city, is that their size is deliberately not standard. It sounds like a weird decision, but when the sizes of the fields are not standard, they become useless for teams playing in official matches. As a result, the courts are more accessible to the public, while organized teams have their own fields.

Outdoor Gyms

Cycling along Den Grønne Sti (The Green Path), a commuting and recreation route in Frederiksberg, I came across several outdoor gyms. One of them, located along the less lively part of the route, is my favorite. What caught my eye was its simplicity: unlike many other outdoor gyms popping up all over the place, trying to imitate real gyms, this one consists only of non-moving parts. It might seem less attractive, but it’s much cheaper to build, not mentioning the wear and tear. Nevertheless, this gym is more than enough for a basic workout, and this is what most people need when stopping their cycling or jogging for few minutes.

Outdoor gym in Copenhagen: simple, cheap and effective.


Copenhagen didn’t let me down. They are definitely doing something right over there, not neglecting public free sports, which is part of what’s making this city so livable.


Written by Lior Steinberg. Follow him on Twitter and .