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One of my top recommendations for a European city break in Winter is always Copenhagen. Copenhagen in winter is magical, the colourful houses of Nyhavn are perfectly complemented by the cool crisp sky and a festive atmosphere takes over to combat the low temperatures. There is a feel of Scandinavian Hygge all throughout the year, but during wintertime, in Copenhagen, it really starts to come alive.
A complete guide for visiting Copenhagen in Winter
Why visit Copenhagen in Winter?
As I previously mentioned, a real feeling of cosiness takes over Copenhagen during winter. From fresh Danish pastries eaten alongside a warm coffee to meandering around the many Christmas Markets, this Danish city is a great option for a festive European city break.
Aside from the festive activities, flight prices to Copenhagen are also lower during the winter, meaning if you book far enough in advance you can grab yourself a real bargain. I have always found Norweigan Air to have the cheapest flights especially if you are flexible with dates, as always, it will be cheaper to fly during the week than at a weekend.
Things to do in Copenhagen in winter
Go Ice Skating
Every winter, Frederiksberg Runddel, by the entrance to Frederiksberg Garden, is transformed into a wonderful ice rink which allows you to have fun on the ice throughout the winter in Copenhagen. Entry onto the ice rink is free but you will need to hire ice skates (charged at 50 DKK).
Visit the Tivoli Gardens (depending on dates)
The Tivoli Gardens theme park is like stepping straight into the imagination of a child, the rides are set around various themes and the park comes together with a vintage classic fairground feel. Even if you are not into rides I would still recommend you visit, as there are plenty of other stalls, shops and places to eat, a few of the winding narrow streets reminded of Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter series.
The Tivoli Gardens are only technically open from April to September, however, they do reopen between 16th November – January 5th for a special Christmas in Copenhagen stint. This can often be limited admission, therefore I recommend checking the website to avoid disappointment.
Visit a winter fairytale castle
Situated in Hillerød north of Copenhagen, the impressive Renaissance Frederiksborg Castle was built in the first decades of the 17th century by the Danish King Christian lV. Wrap up warm and set off for a day of exploring the castle during the winter season. Due to its location, you will need to take public transport to reach the castle, alternatively, you can book onto a tour.
Warm-up in a hot bath
What better way to fight the cold than jumping into a Nordic-inspired hot bath. Copenhot is offering a new type of wellness in Copenhagen, the offer both stationary saunas overlooking the wintery Copenhagen skyline as well as floating hot tubs! Allowing guests to take on the waters while keeping warm in their hot tub and sharing a beer.
Nyhavn is the place you will see on all the postcards, you know, the colourful houses along the waterfront. It is the tourist centre of Copenhagen but also the prettiest part. This strip is filled with plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes, making it the perfect place to snuggle up and feel the hygge during your winter visit to Copenhagen.
Join a walking tour
Walking tours are a great way to see a new city. You will cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time as well as learn everything about the city from a local. There are tons of walking tours which take place every day in Copenhagen and I fully recommend booking in advance to ensure you book the one most suited to you. I have listed a few of the better ones below and be sure to scroll down further for some Christmas themed walking tours.
Copenhagen: untold stories: A 2.5-hour tour of the must-see sites of Copenhagen, helping you discover the amazing history behind this city. You will encounter various prominent landmarks steeped in history, learning about them from your knowledgable local guides.
Self-Guided Kødbyen Puzzle Walk: Set out on a journey and solve puzzles in Kødbyen. Uncover the stories of this peculiar area in Vesterbro, where butchers say good morning to drunks at 6 in the morning. Explore the place where the past is still present, while the future is already gone.
Copenhagen 2.5-Hour Food Tour: Take a short walk in Copenhagen and stop to sample the city’s favourite foods. Taste traditional fare and the latest foods on the culinary scene.
Things to do in Copenhagen at Christmas
Visit the Copenhagen Christmas Markets
One of the main reasons we all book European city breaks in winter is for the Christmas Markets and Copenhagen is no exception. There are 8 different Christmas Markets in Copenhagen during winter, with the majority running from mid- November until Christmas Eve, the most famous market being the Nyhavn Christmas Market. The majority of Christmas markets will open at lunchtime, however, I recommend waiting until evening when it is dark and you can really start to feel festive.
Book onto the Copenhagen Christmas Spirit Tour
Book yourself onto the Christmas Spirit Tour and really get into the festive mood. Experience the Danes’ favourite season and see how the Copenhagen is transformed into a Christmas wonderland as cosy Christmas markets and holiday decorations take over the city. This 1.5-hour tour will take you on a guided tour around the most festive parts of the Copenhagen, during the tour you will also have the opportunity to learn traditional Danish festive traditions and sayings from own Danish guide.
If you are more food orientated, then you can book a place on a Christmas food-themed walking tour. On this 2-hour walking tour, you’ll learn about Danish Christmas traditions and sample traditional holiday foods and drinks. Visit a popular covered market and enjoy special Christmas beer, rice pudding and more.
I always find walking tours a great way to see a new city. Not only does it help you find your bearings if you have a limited time you will cover a lot more ground as well as get information from a local guide.
Here are some Copenhagen Christmas Tours from Get Your Guide which all have great reviews and prices. Generally, I book all my tours in advance when I have limited time in a city this helps to ensure I get a place on the tour I want as well as paying the best price:
Copenhagen in the Rain
If it rains during your winter trip to Copenhagen do not be put off! As well as outdoor activities, there are still plenty of things you can do in the rain in Copenhagen.
Visit the museums and galleries
There are a whole host of museums and galleries which are perfect for visiting during wintertime, my personal favourite is the Natural History Museum or the Hans Cristian Anderson Museum. Many of the museums and galleries in Copenhagen used to be free, however, due to government cuts, many do now charge. Some remain free on certain days or at least have a reduced fee day, all of which can be found on this handy free museum guide.
Eat your way around the food markets
Indoor food markets are a great place to hide when it rains in Copenhagen. There are many across the city and they also make for a very affordable way to eat, especially when visiting with a large group. A full list of the street food markets in Copenhagen can be found here. I also have a post on the best places to eat in Copenhagen, which includes some pretty great burger venues.
How cold is Copenhagen during the winter?
Copenhagen in winter is cold, with an average temperature of January and February just above freezing in Copenhagen. The days are very short (in December, the sun sets at 3:00 in the afternoon), and temperature fluctuations between day and night are little. It is common for there to be snow in Copenhagen during the winter months (from as early as December) however, if you want a snow guarantee I would advise you to visit further north, such as Sweden.
What to pack for visiting Copenhagen during winter
As mentioned above, it does get cold during wintertime in Copenhagen, therefore, the best thing you can do is layer up. Pack for the cold, the last thing you want is to arrive with not enough warm clothes and then have to purchase clothes while there, Copenhagen can be expensive and you do not want to waste your money on clothing.
Base layers: I never used to wear base layers until I visited Iceland during winter and then I realised how effective they are. I love base layer tops as despite being thermal they are still thin, meaning you don’t end up feeling like the Michelin Man once all your layers are on. Essentially you keep warm while still remaining comfortable.
Warm walking boots: Ensure you pack walking boots for visiting Copenhagen in winter. Not only will they keep your feet warm they have a good grip, on the off chance it does snow, you will not need to worry. Walking boots are also the most comfortable shoes I own, I have a pair of Moutain Warehouse boots which I now take on most trips, they were relatively cheap for walking boots but they are comfortable, warm and always stay dry.
Wool socks: Invest in some warm wool socks to wear with your walking boots for extra comfort.
Touchscreen gloves: Warm hands and the ability to still take phone photos – bonus! Honestly, it is annoying having to take your gloves off in order to take a photo, touchscreen gloves are something you will always get use out of.
Pocket hand warmers: Pocket hand warmers are great little gadgets which you can pop in your pockets, once activated they heat up and stay warm for up to 10 hours. They are great gadgets which can also double up for use on muscular pain after a long day of walking.
If you are looking to buy some new carry-on luggage for your winter trip to Copenhagen then as always, I recommend the Travel Hack Pro Cabin Case. It is without a doubt the most spacious carry-on suitcase I have had and it also has brilliant compartments, making it so much easier to organise all of your belongings.
Places to stay in Copenhagen during wintertime
Accommodation will be your biggest expense in Copenhagen. We stayed at the Avenue Hotel for three nights as I was working with them while I was there. It is a beautiful boutique hotel which is centrally located, however, it is also priced at roughly £139 per night. You do get a brilliant breakfast and wine hour included in the price of your stay, but if you planning on seeing Copenhagen on a budget, I would probably not opt for here.
For affordable accommodation in Copenhagen, I would suggest either the Wake-Up Copenhagen or the Urban House Copenhagen. There are also many hostels across Copenhagen and if you are happy sharing a dorm room, you can find prices as low as £36 per night. The Copenhagen backpackers hostel gets really good reviews and it is centrally located, however, as far as I am aware they only have mixed-sex dorms, so bear this in mind if you prefer to only stay in single-sex dorm rooms.
Is Copenhagen expensive?
In a word, yes. I would compare Copenhagen prices as similar, if not slightly higher, to those of Central London. However, I do not think this should put you off, as it is such a fantastic city to visit. I have created a whole guide on how to save money in Copenhagen as well as my full thought on how expensive Copenhagen is.
Winter in Copenhagen is a magical time to visit, as with the rest of Scandinavia. There is nothing better than being snuggled up in crisp air while taking in all of the festivities and with flights to Copenhagen being very affordable from the UK, there has never been a better time to visit.