VISITING COPENHAGEN IN WINTER – TRAVEL TIPS + ACTIVITIES
Are you planning to visit Copenhagen in the winter? 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 (or winter in general) is an amazing time to visit. You will be able to experience this special city at a special time.
So, before talking about the things to do in December in Copenhagen (though many activities can be done in the other winter months as well) here are a few winter travel tips for Copenhagen.
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR DECEMBER IN COPENHAGEN
Copenhagen in winter is gorgeous – 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.
- It is getting cold in Copenhagen in winter – and days are short (sunlight 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.
- 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 Around
- 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).
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. Find the prices for the Copenhagen Card here.
Check out my Europe travel tips if you are visiting Europe for the first time.
Where to Stay in Copenhagen
- I stayed at this hostel in Copenhagen. It was within walking distance to the main train station. The hostel itself is quite modern and nice, the rooms were absolutely okay and it offers good value for money. Check out the hostel prices here.
- This luxury accommodation might be a perfect choice if you want to stay in the heart of Copenhagen. It offers many typical facilities and amenities of a 5-star hotel. Check out rates here.
THINGS TO DO IN COPENHAGEN IN DECEMBER / WINTER
Okay, enough general tips, let us talk about the best things to do in Copenhagen in the beautiful month of December.
Visit Christmas Markets in Copenhagen
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 quite some time 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! 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 many winter sports, like skiing, in Copenhagen are no real option, you can still go ice skating. And at Frederiksberg, you’ll be surrounded by cheerful locals and fellow skaters. 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.
- The outdoor skating rink is free – you just need to pay for the skates if you don’t have any of your own.
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.
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.
You can explore many of the rooms, and see how the Danish royals lived. Visit the Throne Room, where Danish monarchs are proclaimed to the world, and the Royal Reception Rooms.
- 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 bloggers 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 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.
Tivoli gets all dressed up for Christmas, with thousands of lights and lovely festive displays. It’s great fun for all ages. Just be aware that it gets busy, and especially in the afternoon, when everything is lit up and decorations make everything prettier, it gets even busier.
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. 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.
- You have to pay an entrance fee (included in the Copenhagen Card) and then just for rides – and drinks and food – extra.
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. Maybe it is time to 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. It’s a great way to experience the beautiful and friendly city.
Or you can join a bicycle tour of Copenhagen, and explore the city’s highlights while hearing fun stories about the local culture.
Taste Copenhagen’s Christmas Treats
If you weren’t convinced that you might gain some weight in Copenhagen in winter, I should emphasize: 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.
You can even join a day tour of some of Copenhagen’s most beautiful castles.
- 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 that embrace the concept of Hygge.
CONCLUSION: BEST WINTER ACTIVITIES IN COPENHAGEN
Copenhagen in December completely took me by 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 top.
Enjoy our winter trip to Copenhagen and stay safe.
- Check out my 3-day Copenhagen itinerary
- Here are the best places to visit in Denmark