VISITING COPENHAGEN IN WINTER – TRAVEL TIPS + ACTIVITIES
- 1 VISITING COPENHAGEN IN WINTER – TRAVEL TIPS + ACTIVITIES
- 2 TRAVEL TIPS FOR DECEMBER IN COPENHAGEN
- 3 THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN DECEMBER
- 4 CONCLUSION: WHAT TO DO IN DECEMBER IN COPENHAGEN
Visiting Copenhagen in December? I truly believe you can’t go wrong with that decision. After I spent a few days in Copenhagen in December myself, I think, that December is an amazing time to visit Copenhagen.
You will be able to experience this special city – at a special time. Visiting Copenhagen in December is just magical – and different than expected. To be honest, it was actually much better than I expected.
So, before talking about the best things to do in winter – mostly about things to do in December but most activities can be done in the other winter months as well – here are a few winter travel tips for Copenhagen.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR DECEMBER IN COPENHAGEN
Copenhagen in winter is magical – especially in December Copenhagen is one of the best cities to visit in Europe. There are so many fun winter activities, that you will surely not get bored. And there is still a festive atmosphere that you will not find in many parts of the world.
So, as already mentioned, I will talk about the what to do in Copenhagen in winter later, but here are some important things to keep in mind when traveling to Copenhagen in December.
It is getting cold in Copenhagen in winter – and days are short (sunlights lasts from around 8:30 – 9 am until 3.30 – 4 pm).
Most days are around 0°C and it can be as high as 4°C or 5°C – at night, temperatures drop below freezing. And given the short days, you should plan most outdoor activities accordingly.
Is there snow in Copenhagen in winter? If you visit in December you might experience some snow but you can’t expect a White Christmas.
So, be prepared for some coldish days and pack accordingly.
How to Get to Copenhagen
Copenhagen is well connected to other parts of Europe – either by train or airport. I arrived by train from Bremen (my home town in Germany) and left to Iceland from Copenhagen by plane. And I preferred taking the train just because the train station is right in the city center.
From there you just walk to get to your accommodation but buses and trains also run frequently which you can take.
How to Get Around in Copenhagen
In Copenhagen, you can walk to many sights – even in the winter months. Though it might be cold, if you are dressed appropriately, it is one of the best ways to get around.
Public transportation is also another good way (especially if you have the Copenhagen Card because you can use it for free).
You will not need a car – actually, it will probably be more stressful to rent a car than to rely on public transportation. BUT renting a bike is a good idea as Copenhagen is extremely bike-friendly (so even in December, you can ride your bike).
As already mentioned, the Copenhagen Card is great to use public transportation but it will also give you access to many museums and attractions – including Tivoli Gardens. The price is quite high – so should do the Math and think if it is worth the money.
Check out my Europe travel tips if you are visiting Europe for the first time.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN DECEMBER
Okay, enough general tips, let us talk about the best things to do in Copenhagen in the beautiful month of December.
Visit Copenhagen Christmas Markets
In December visiting the various Christmas markets are a must. And in Copenhagen there are more than enough to choose from, but two favorites are the markets at Højbro Plads and Kongens Nytorv.
Christmas Markets in Copenhagen are the perfect place to drink and eat – to eat and drink all the special food that you do not get so easily in the other months.
Sip on mulled wine and snack on traditional toasted nuts while you stroll through the market stalls and take in the twinkling lights. The cheerful, cozy atmosphere makes the snow-topped trees and light displays even more magical.
You can spend half your Christmas in Copenhagen strolling through the markets, and not regret a moment of it. Buy some unique gifts that catch your eye, and be sure to try all the tasty treats, even the ones you can’t pronounce.
Tip: Dress warm and while the Christmas Markets open in the late morning/noon, I suggest visiting the Christmas Markets also in the evening as it definitely gets more festive when everything is lit up.
Go Ice-Skating in Frederiksberg
Do you like to be more active? While winter sports like skiing in Copenhagen is no real option, you can still fo ice skating. And at Frederiksberg, you’ll be surrounded by cheerful locals and fellow skaters. The outdoor skating rink is free – you just need to pay for the skates if you don’t have any of your own.
Frederiksberg Gardens is always incredibly beautiful, a massive green space in Inner Copenhagen. But in winter, the garden’s main draw is the ice rink.
If you’re new to ice skating, stick to the outer edge of the ice. The center tends to be more for those capable of swirling and leaping. And note that everyone skates in one direction, for safety and ease.
Marvel at Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace was one of my favorite places to visit during Copenhagen’s winter. The ornate palace is exquisite, located on the tiny inner-city island of Slotsholmen.
You can explore many of the rooms, and see how the Danish royals lived. The palace is still used today for royal events and contains the Danish Parliament and Supreme Court. So if you’re interested in history, royalty, or politics, it’s the trifecta. And it’s just so beautiful.
Visit the Throne Room, where Danish monarchs are proclaimed to the world, and the Royal Reception Rooms. If you have the time to spend, I’d recommend staying as long as you’re able and exploring all you can.
Tip: On Mondays, museums – including palaces – are mostly closed in Copenhagen. Also, with the Copenhagen Card you have free access to the Palace.
Brace Yourself for a Nordic Bath
Do travel blogger recommend activities they haven’t experienced themselves? Well, in this case I do. I haven’t tried this one and I am not sure I really am too eager but it BUT maybe you want to do something very typical Scandinavian.
Winter-bathing, or the Nordic bath, is a long-standing and popular winter tradition in Denmark. Do as the locals do, and jump into the bracing cold of a frozen lake or canal. Sound insane? That may be, but it’ll certainly be something to write home about.
Winter-bathing is not only a beloved tradition. It is also said to have plenty of health benefits – a healthy shock to the system, so to speak.
Copenhagen has a number of harbor baths, including Vinterbad Brygge, and Sluseholmen. Find a spot near your accommodation, and grab a warming cup of cocoa after the exciting winter activity.
Explore Tivoli Gardens
If you think theme parks are relatively new to the scene, you may be surprised! Operating since 1843, Tivoli Gardens is the second-oldest theme park in the world.
Visiting Copenhagen at Christmas really is the best time to see everything at their best. Tivoli gets all dressed up for Christmas, with thousands of lights and lovely festive displays. It’s bright and busy, and great fun for all ages.
Just be aware that it gets busy, and especially in the afternoon, when everything is lit up and decorations makes everything prettier, it gets even busier.
You can get drinks and food and you can ride a lot of carousels – though I have been to many Christmas Markets, I can say, this is crazier than any I have been to before.
Tip: You have to pay an entrance fee (included in the Copenhagen Card) and then just for rides – and drinks and food – extra.
This historic park has lots of lovely attractions and exciting rides, ranging from relaxed to jaw-dropping thrills. It’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Copenhagen.
Take a Cycle Tour
While Copenhagen in winter – and especially in December – is a lot about food and a festive atmosphere, it doesn’t mean we should not be active (and maybe even burn all the extra calories we gain in the one month of December).
So, cycling is a perfect winter activity because Copenhagen is one of the best cities in the world for bicycles. They’re commonly used to get around, and bicycle lanes and bridges are purpose-built.
Copenhagen is chilly in December, but if you dress snugly and wear gloves, you’ll be more than comfortable enough. You can easily rent a bike and tour the city by yourself.
Or you can join a bicycle tour of Copenhagen, and explore the city’s highlights while hearing fun stories about the local culture.
It’s a great way to experience the beautiful and friendly city.
Taste Copenhagen’s Christmas Treats
If you weren’t convinced that you might gain some weight in Copenhagen in winter, I should emphasise: food does play a big role in December.
And Copenhagen has a lot to offer the foodie. Particularly in December, when the cold weather warrants hot drinks and steamy comfort food.
Some must-tries are gløgg, a heavily-spiced mulled wine, traditional marzipan pigs (all marzipan, no pig), and hot rice pudding. You’ll also find that many of Copenhagen’s breweries release special Christmas beers.
There are even whole food markets dedicated to all things tasty. You can also go on a culinary experience tour, to make sure you tick off all the greats.
Heat Up in a Sauna
If a Nordic Bath might not be your type of thing, heating up in a sauna might be. And like a Nordic Bath, the positive aspects for your health can be used as an argument – but you can also just do it because it is such a relaxing and peaceful activity.
All your exploring can leave your muscles sore and tired – not to mention the cold. The perfect way to soak that all up and indulge is with a sauna.
Saunas go way back in Copenhagen, and you can find proper bathhouses all over the city. Join the locals for a good steam, before hopping into a frigid plunge pool. It’ll certainly get your blood pumping and your energy up.
Visit Nearby Castles
Denmark has so many fairytale castles, it can be really difficult to decide which ones to visit. If you have only one day in Copenhagen, Christiansborg Palace is the perfect place to see.
But if you have a bit more time, be sure to visit as many as you can. There’s nothing repetitive about these gorgeous castles and palaces – they’re all really special.
One favorite is Kronborg Castle, often called Hamlet’s Castle, as it forms the setting of Shakespeare’s famous play. As well as Rosenborg Castle, and Frederiksborg Palace, where you may already be ice skating.
Tip: Whenever you plan your Copenhagen itinerary, keep in mind, that museums are closed on Mondays.
If you’ve ever been to Denmark, you’ll know about the Danish concept of ‘Hygge’. Roughly translating to ‘togetherness’ and ‘coziness’, it’s an important part of Copenhagen’s winter living.
You can experience Hygge anywhere you’re comfy and happy. But one of the best places to surround yourself with the right conditions is by strolling through Nyhavn. This pretty canal-side neighborhood is always bustling and friendly. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants, some with live jazz, and most with warming fires.
CONCLUSION: WHAT TO DO IN DECEMBER IN COPENHAGEN
Copenhagen in December completely took me surprise – in a very positive way. There are so many fun things to do and see – while it is very festive and you have that special atmosphere, you can also do tons of things that aren’t related to Christmas.
Whether you enjoy the many museums and castles or go for nice strolls – the Christmas Markets are just the cherry on the top.