Some people think the best time to visit Copenhagen is the summer. Sure, it’s nice then, but there is never a bad time to visit Copenhagen. There are so many great things to do in Copenhagen in winter! Many of them are unavailable the rest of the year, or they’re just not the same. Unfortunately, many people overlook Copenhagen in winter because they don’t realize how much it has to offer. If you don’t know what to do in Copenhagen in the winter, then use our guide to plan your time. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed and you can take advantage of all that winter in Copenhagen has to offer.
Copenhagen in Winter
If you’re wondering what Copenhagen is like in the winter, you should start by reading our guide on The Best Time to Visit Copenhagen. That will give you an in-depth idea of what to anticipate any month of the year.
Copenhagen winter temperatures are cool, but generally 1-5°C or 35-40°F. Copenhagen is a windy city, so it can often feel colder. The days are short in Copenhagen winter. Sunset is usually between 3:30 and 4:30 pm. The crowd size in Copenhagen is much lower in the winter compared to the peak season in July and August. There tends to be more tourism around the Christmas season in November and December. Things slow down in January and February, but there is still a lot to do in Copenhagen then.
Copenhagen Christmas Markets
One of the best things to do in Copenhagen in winter is visit the Copenhagen Christmas markets. There are several to choose from, but they’re all loaded with vendors selling cute gifts and ornaments. You’ll find a lot of great shopping for souvenirs and unique Christmas gifts.
The other Copenhagen Christmas market stands will have food and drinks for sale. There will be traditional Scandinavian winter foods, German grilled meats, hot chocolate (spiked and the kid-friendly variety) and of course, gløgg. A Danish Christmas staple is a warm glass of gløgg, or mulled wine. The wine is served hot and has raisins and nuts stirred into the drink. After you finish drinking the gløgg you have a snack to eat with the spoon it’s served with.
You could spend an entire day walking from Christmas market to Christmas market all over Copenhagen. The city is also decorated with festive decorations and it makes an already gorgeous city resemble a Charles Dickens Christmas village.
Tivoli Gardens Christmas
Tivoli Gardens is one of the most charming places in all of Copenhagen. All year long it’s one of the best Copenhagen attractions, but at Christmas, it shines. The grounds are coated with a layer of artificial snows and the entire landscape is covered in lights. The Christmas decorations are truly stunning and it’s a great place to take advantage of the early darkness. Get a skip-the-line ticket for about $20 USD here.
During the winter months, Tivoli Gardens will still have the rides operating. Then you can brave the cold and enjoy the amusement park. Others will prefer to have a hot chocolate or gløgg and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
One highlight of Christmas at Tivoli is the annual production of The Crazy Christmas Cabaret. It’s an English-language original production put on each holiday season in Tivoli. To see the show you must purchase a ticket in advance. The shows sell out as you get closer to Christmas, so book online.
Danish Christmas Food
One of the coolest things about being in Denmark in the winter is getting to try the traditional Danish Christmas foods. You can try it many ways. There are Christmas baked goods for sale in grocery stores and at Christmas markets. One favorites is pebernødder, a cinnamon, nutmeg, sage flavored cookie. Æbleskiver is another seasonal favorite. It’s a baked dough with cinnamon, sugar and served with jam. It’s a delicious holiday dessert and they’re served warm in most Christmas markets.
You can also find traditional Danish restaurants that serve the Christmas meal in November and December. One excellent option is Restaurant Puk, near City Hall. Guests who want to try the meal get to sample a traditional Danish julefrokost, or Christmas lunch. It includes several kinds of fish, pork, duck and traditional sauces. You have to make a reservation, and it can be tough around Christmas because of work parties, so book early.
Celebrating New Years Eve in Copenhagen
If you celebrate New Years in Copenhagen, you’re sure to have a great time. There are a few things to note if you plan to ring in the new year in the Danish capital. First, the whole country shuts down at 6 pm to view the Queen’s annual New Years address. This tradition goes back to the 1940’s and it’s a serious matter. All businesses close and the citizens of Denmark are all watching the annual address, so be ready for it.
The main fireworks are fired at midnight from Copenhagen City Hall Square. It can look like a war zone, because they are not professional fireworks. The fireworks you see that night are shot off by intoxicated amateurs, so proceed with caution.
A safer, and more common way to spend New Years Eve in Copenhagen is with a nice meal and some drinks. There are many restaurants and cocktail bars offering New Years packages, so the best advice is to compare online. Once you book, look for a hotel in the area so you can walk home. It can be almost impossible to get a taxi on New Year’s Eve. Here are 10 Amazing Boutique Hotels to look into.
Danish "Hygge" During Winter in Copenhagen
One concept of Danish culture that’s become popular in the media is “hygge” (pronounce “who-guh”). This is the idea of being cozy, relaxed, enjoying the company of friends and keeping things simple and stress-free. There’s really no synonym in English, but it’s a feeling or a way of spending time.
It’s easy to do this in winter. It could be warming up next to a fire in comfy pajamas and drinking a glass of wine. It’s a chilled out way of life and after Christmas, that’s how Danish winter can be. You find a lot of locals staying in and keeping warm with friends at home. If you do venture out, you’ll find a lot of people enjoy playing dice or board games at pubs.
Things to do in Copenhagen in Winter After Christmas
January and February in Copenhagen is a low-key and low-stress time of year. That can be a lot of fun for tourists. Here are some things you can enjoy during the post-Christmas, “hygge” time of year in Copenhagen.
Do the Copenhagen Hop on Hop Off Bus
When the temperatures drop a little more, it’s a great time to bundle up and do the hop on hop off bus. You may not want to walk around the city in the cold, but it’s pleasant to ride around. Take in the Copenhagen sightseeing you visited Denmark for in a warm bus with a live guide.
Some tickets include a canal tour, and it’s possible throughout most of the winter. The boat is still heated and covered, so you have nothing to worry about. Book the Hop on Hop off bus tour with canal boat for $25 USD here.
Go to a Board Game Cafe
Nothing is more hygge then having some drinks around a table with friends and playing some games. You may be staying at a hotel or Airbnb and you probably won’t pack board games in your carry-on. So what do you do? Head to a board game cafe in Copenhagen.
One of the best board game cafes is Bastard Cafe. It’s a coffeehouse, pub, giant living room and super hygge place to hang out. You can order food and drinks from your phone and they have staff on call to help you pick out games. They’re located near City Hall and you can learn more about them here, on their website.
Hang out Outside
Okay, I know this sounds crazy, but people love hanging out outside all winter. Now, if it’s really cold, this won’t be possible. However, when temperatures are more moderate, it’s very common to get drinks or dinner and sit outside. This is because cafes and cocktail bars place heat lamps and blankets among their outdoor seating all winter. This keeps some of the crowd outside in the cold. Danes love a little bit of cold, and think it’s good for one’s health. Try sitting outside while you’re in Copenhagen in the winter – you might agree with the Danes.
Explore Danish Beer Culture
Denmark has a long history of good beer. They also have a fantastic modern craft beer scene. Winter in Copenhagen is the perfect time to indulge these two aspects of Danish beer culture.
One great afternoon activity is touring and doing a tasting at the Carlsberg Brewery. It’s a short train ride from Copenhagen’s Central Station and a lot of fun. You can see the marvelous history of beer production and Danish industrialization. There is even some surprise history of Carlsberg helping to win the Cold War. You’ll enjoy your time getting to know more about Danish beer.
There is also great craft beer in Copenhagen. One famous craft beer institution is Mikkeler. They have a number of locations around the city and have even partnered with some cool eateries. You can enjoy barbecue cafeterias and ramen houses at Mikeller sponsored locations.
Things to do in Copenhagen in Winter
No matter what you choose to do in winter, Copenhagen has a lot to offer. Winter travel means you may do more inside activities, but Copenhagen attractions are still a lot of fun in winter. It’s also a cheaper time of year to visit Copenhagen. So, if you find a great travel deal to Copenhagen, you’ve got a great list of things to do and see in winter.