Things to do

Can a public toilet really be a tourist sight?

Copenhagen City boasts beautiful old public restrooms and a couple of modern facilities, all staffed by attendants to ensure a clean and safe visit to them.

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By Bente D. Knudsen     Pictures: Mayra Navarrete

You probably know that situation; you feel nature’s call and would like to find a public restroom that is clean and safe to use.

In Copenhagen, there are many public toilet facilities. However, what may interest you more are the seven, which are not only free to use but where an attendant greets you as you enter and ensures that the toilets are clean and neat at all times.

They have separate facilities for women and men.

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Five of them are more than 100 years old and are beautifully kept in style and maintained with their shiny brass handles and mahogany doors and panelling. So, even if you do not actually need to go for natural reasons, they are really worth a visit.

Built at the turn of the 20th century, they replaced the many pissoirs found in Copenhagen at the time.

The French style Parisian pissoirs, or men’s urinals, with their green, ironclad steel construction were receiving a lot of criticism from the public; they were very visible to the public eye, from them emanated a distinct bad smell of urine and they were found to disturb the public peace.

The new public restrooms were therefore built underground and, in line with the new equal rights movements, equipped with facilities for both men and women.

The oldest one dates to 1902, when the Amagertorv underground public toilets were established.

At the time, of course, this was not a pedestrian street, but a square alive with all the hustle and bustle of horse drawn carriages, bicycles, pedestrians and tradesmen.

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Today, you may not even really have noticed them – they are located discreetly right next to the fountain Storkespringvandet – with two sets of stairs leading underground and a rather small and discreet brass sign for each gender.

The attendant even explains that since tourists do not expect them to be staffed, they often dare not venture down.

So, during the summer, she will at times stand above them, urging needy visitors to use the safe and clean toilets.

The remaining four old ones were established between 1903 and 1907.

The last two staffed ones are modern facilities, of which the newest is the one at Nørreport Station, opened together with the metro and general renovations of Nørreport.

The one at the town hall square – in a container, but still very neat and clean and staffed by an attendant – will go underground later in 2019, when the metro opens here.

Having safe and clean toilets is actually the main reason why the municipality of Copenhagen has decided to invest the budget needed to staff the seven toilets.

“Copenhageners and visitors alike should be able to find a convenient tidy restroom when they need it,” the municipality’s responsible manager explains.

Up until 2011, there was a fee of DKK 2 to use them.

However, during that year’s budget discussions, one of the female members voiced an opposition to the fee, claiming that women’s equal rights were violated as men could go for free to one of the seven outdoor municipal pissoirs.

The outcome of the discussion? The public restrooms should be free to use and, since then, they have been.

They are popular, as 2.7 million people use the seven restrooms staffed by an attendant annually.

Find their locations below.

Find the public toilets staffed with an attendant here:

The five from the beginning of the 20th century
• Amagertorv public toilet is open every day from 9:00 to 22:30
Location: Amagertorv 1F (underground next to fountain)
1160 København K

• Israels Plads public toilet is open every day from 8:00 to 22:00
Location: Israels Plads, Frederiksborggade 21 (stairs go down to the basement of the building)
1360 København K

• Nyhavn public toilet is open every day from 9:00 to 22:30
• Location: Nyhavn 1F (underground next to the tour boats)
1051 København K

• Trianglen public toilet open every day from 9:00 to 18:30
Location: Trianglen 1 (located inside the round building called Bien)
2100 København Ø

• Vesterbro Torv public toilet is open Monday to Friday from 10:30 to 17:30
Location: Vesterbros Torv (also underground; look for stairs leading down to them)
Vesterbrogade 47F,
1620 København V

The two modern ones

• Nørreport public toilet is open every day from 8:00 to 22:00
Location: Nørre Voldgade 15A, Nørreport station
1358 København K

• Rådhuspladsen/ Town Hall square public toilet is open every day from 9:00 to 22:30 every day.
Location: Rådhuspladsen – skurvogn/ the container (from 2019 underground)
1550 København V