There’s nothing I love more than visiting a new place and, when I can find flights for as low as £30, there’s really no good reason not to go. I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped off the plane, but it soon became one of my favourite cities in Europe. Copenhagen is often rated one of the happiest cities in the world, and it’s easy to see why – the cobbled pavements and colourful architecture make the city incredibly charming. I soon fell in love with the cosy cafés, colourful neighbourhoods and the amazing coffee culture.
Whilst it wasn’t so kind to my wallet – Copenhagen is one expensive city – I truly felt the meaning of the Danish word ‘hygge’. I also discovered that if anyone knows how to make the most out of winter, it’s the Danish. Despite their bitingly cold weather and infamously short days, they can create a magical winter vibe filled with hygge! So if you’re looking to explore the city, here’s my list of the best things to do in Copenhagen in winter.
Want to jump ahead?
- 1 What’s the weather like in Copenhagen in winter?
- 2 What to wear in Copenhagen in winter
- 3 Things to do in Copenhagen in winter
- 3.1 Get in the holiday spirit at the Christmas markets
- 3.2 Explore Tivoli Gardens
- 3.3 Stuff your face at some ridiculously delicious food markets
- 3.4 Embrace the winter wonderland and go ice skating
- 3.5 Visit Nyhavn for picturesque wintery photos
- 3.6 Warm up with some hot drinks
- 3.7 Experience some traditional Danish gløgg (mulled wine)
- 3.8 Explore Copenhagen with a walking tour
- 3.9 Take a day trip from Copenhagen
- 3.10 Visit a museum
- 3.11 Have some hearty porridge at Grød
- 3.12 Explore the trendy area of Nørrebro
- 3.13 Go on a canal tour
What’s the weather like in Copenhagen in winter?
Oh, sorry, were you looking for more information?? Copenhagen’s winter weather sits barely (and I mean very barely) above freezing. Because they’re surrounded by water, I found it to be quite a humid cold, meaning I felt colder there than on the ski slopes in Norway. It was biting; the kind of cold that ‘chills you to the bones’. This is coupled with the fact that there’s very little temperature fluctuation between day and night, and often a lack of sunshine.
What to wear in Copenhagen in winter
I have never visited a city that I found as bitingly cold as Copenhagen. Now, admittedly, I am that person in the office who wears their coat like a pre-planned part of their outfit, but winter in Copenhagen was a different level of cold. I strongly recommend wrapping up, and bringing some winter layers to help you stave off the bitter winds.
Here’s what I recommend packing for wintery Copenhagen:
- Thermals: Thermals are an absolute lifesaver if you’re visiting Copenhagen in winter. They’re relatively inexpensive but help keep you super warm, even if you’re not wearing particularly warm layers on top. If you’re on a budget, my favourites are fur lined leggings – they’re thin enough that you can wear them under jeans and stay toasty warm. The biggest bonus is that they double as the world’s cosiest loungewear. I also pack thermal turtlenecks, which are great for layering to keep you cosy and warm, and wear well under thicker knits as well.
- Jumpers: When I visited, I wore the thickest, snuggliest jumpers that I could find from my wardrobe – I felt like a snowman and I could barely lift my arms above my head. In retrospect, I would recommend finding warm, but thin jumpers; ones that layer well.
- A warm winter jacket: I wore a fur-lined aviator jacket which was ridiculously cosy, but I was frustrated by the lack of pockets. When you’re cold, you don’t have the patience to be digging around in a backpack for your purse! I now have a go-to winter warmer jacket: a Topshop Sno ski coat. It’s plain black and belted – quite chic. Without the rest of the ski gear, it just looks like a belted puffer jacket. I’m obsessed with the number of pockets it has and I don’t think I’ll do another winter holiday without it!
- Warm socks: There’s more to preventing frozen toes than just the shoes. I recommend investing in a few pairs of soft, heat-regulating wool or cashmere socks. These are a total staple in my winter wardrobe – they’re far warmer than regular socks, but still thin enough that they don’t make your shoes feel tight.
- Warm walking shoes (trainers or boots): Copenhagen is a walking city and you’ll be on your feet all day. I recommend bringing sturdy shoes with good grip. You need them to be able to withstand all of Denmark’s winter weather elements – the cold, the rain and the ice – as well as the uneven cobblestoned streets. I have a pair of fur lined boots that I found on the high street and they remain my go-to winter boot, no matter the destination.
- Accessories – hats, gloves and scarves: Again, you’ll need them. I’m all about a chunky scarf, especially ones that can double as blankets to keep you toasty on chilly flights! For gloves, my trick is to layer two. I tend to find that touchscreen gloves aren’t quite warm enough as a sole pair, but they’re an essential if you’re planning to use your phone at all. I layer a pair of touchscreen gloves under a pair of thicker wool gloves, which keeps me warm enough for a wintery day of walking but still lets me use my touchscreen phone for Google Maps and Instagram.
Travel Packing Essentials
Things to do in Copenhagen in winter
Get in the holiday spirit at the Christmas markets
Lines of wooden huts filled with fudge, churros and mulled wine, separated by gorgeously decorated Christmas trees – there’s no better place to get in the Christmas spirit! The markets start popping up from around November so there’s plenty of choice for you to visit. We made it our personal mission to visit as many as possible (and eat as many chocolate covered waffles as we could get our hands on!)
Copenhagen’s a very walkable city, so you’ll spot a good few Christmas markets just by wandering around. My absolute favourite was Nyhavn – the buzzing atmosphere and picturesque backdrop made for a really magical market. But if you really want to get into the holiday spirit then I recommend visiting the others that made it to the top of our list: Hans Christian Anderson, Hojro Plads and – of course – the infamous Tivoli Gardens.
- Nyhavn – Location: Nyhavn, 1051 København
- Hans Christian Anderson – Location: Nyhavn 18, 1051 København
- Højro Plads – Location: Højro Pl., 1200 København
- Tivoli Gardens – Location: Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København
Explore Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens is the 2nd oldest amusement park in the world, having opened in 1843, and ranks as one of the most popular theme parks in Europe. Not only does it have great rides, but it’s a stunning natural park as well. In winter, it becomes even more incredible, filled with a fantastic atmosphere and a truly magical vibe. It becomes a snowy festive wonderland, filled with stunning lights, wooden cabins and Christmas markets.
Admission to Tivoli Gardens is included if you buy a Copenhagen Card, which also allows you to get free admission into a few other attractions around the city. Start by planning your trip before you buy the card, so you know how many things you can get included with the Card!
Also, December is Copenhagen’s busiest winter month. If you’re planning to visit at that time, then I recommend you book fast-track tickets to avoid the queues. We went in early December and saw a queue to enter Tivoli Gardens almost every time we walked past.
Top tip: If you don’t manage to get entry, or if the tickets sit a little outside your budget, you can visit the Tivoli food markets for free. By taking your food / drinks out onto the patio area, you can experience the atmosphere of the theme park (and get some cute photos!)
Location: Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V
Stuff your face at some ridiculously delicious food markets
One of the food capitals of Europe, Copenhagen is moving rapidly up the list of notable culinary cities in the world. I love food markets, because they combine two of the things that make me happiest in the world – food, and more food. So what better way to experience Danish deliciousness than at a food market?!
Below I’ve listed two of the most popular food markets in Copenhagen. We visited Torvehallerne and absolutely loved it, but the variety and quality of food available in both places is not to be sniffed at! If you can – and you have the appetite – I definitely recommend a wander around both.
Torvehallerne is a giant food market situated in Kobenhavn. Famous for being Copenhagen’s most popular marketplace, it boasts 80 different food stalls, featuring everything from fresh meats, chocolates and spices, to small restaurants serving incredible food. There’s easily enough choice for the pickiest of eaters, and everything we tried (which, admittedly, was a lot) was amazing. There’s plenty of tables, and enough space to browse leisurely and dine in a group, without feeling like you’re being pressured, rushed or squashed.
Just outside the Torvehallerne entrance is home to a massive flower and potted plant market, bringing a little dash of summer to a wintery Copenhagen! It’s a beautiful spot to stroll, enjoy the beauty (and the smell) and even get a few gorgeous photos for the gram.
If you’re looking for inspiration of what to eat, my top three picks were:
- Hallernes Smørrebrød: The classic Danish open face sandwich, this is an absolute must-try! The rye bread is fresh and made daily, and the selection of traditional sandwich toppings is incredible. Double pro: they make for a perfect food-stagram photo.
- Gorms: Whether you’re after a thin crust pizza or looking to try a pizza sandwich (yes, that’s a thing here), this is definitely a place to try.
- Ma Poule: Their award-winning (yes, really) duck confit sandwich is widely considered to be one of the best sandwiches in Copenhagen. And, honestly, it was probably one of the best things I ate all year! The stand features a wide range of sandwich fixings, and they also sell gourmet cheese, paté, and artisanal yoghurt, so there’s something for everyone.
Location: Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København
Anyone with an eco ethos will absolutely love this place. Reffen is an organic street food market where all stalls abide by the ethos to ‘Reduce and Reuse’ – we’re talking compostable cutlery, reducing food waste, and using organic and local ingredients wherever possible.
An open, industrial space, Reffen features over 50 different food stalls and live music. Again, like Torvehallerne, there are plenty of tables and enough space to browse the various markets quite leisurely. You don’t need to book and there’s never a queue but, like most food markets, it can be difficult to get a free table – particularly if you’re a large group. I always recommend avoiding peak lunch hours for a more relaxed vibe.
Location: Refshalevej 167 Unit A, 1432 København
Embrace the winter wonderland and go ice skating
Is it even winter if you don’t go ice skating? If you’re visiting Copenhagen in winter, I recommend taking a trip to experience one of their public outdoor skating rinks and basking in wintery festivities. Admission is often free and you can rent ice skates by the hour (assuming you didn’t take up valuable suitcase space by packing them yourself).
Visit Nyhavn for picturesque wintery photos
Pronounced “noo-houn”, Nyhavn is one of the most recognisable and picturesque icons of Copenhagen. If you’ve ever seen photos of the city, then I can virtually guarantee that you’ve seen it. The area is beautiful all year round, but becomes truly magical during the holiday season. The shimmering Christmas lights, decorated canal boats and huge Christmas market make it the perfect place for a stroll. We took great joy in trying as many glasses of glogg and chocolate dipped waffles as we could get our hands on. It was Christmas, after all!
Warm up with some hot drinks
Let’s be real, what’s winter if you’re not either holding a hot chocolate or a coffee?! Everyone knows that calories don’t count when it’s cold! Nordic countries do the best hot chocolate in Europe and they also have an incredible coffee culture. As the 4th largest consumer of coffee in the world, Denmark is no exception to this rule.
Copenhagen had some of the most atmospheric and quaint coffee shops I’ve ever seen. We were very happy to spend hours acclimating to the city’s coffee culture, and enjoyed spending some time doing a bit of people watching. Here are some of the cafes I recommend visiting:
If you’re looking to experience some cosy Scandi vibes over a delicious cappuccino, then this is the place for you. Considered some of the best coffee in the city, the Coffee Collective aim to provide an incredible coffee experience. They put a lot of thought and focus on the process of making the perfect coffee including looking at the sustainability of their business model. They actually cooperating with farmers to develop sustainable production methods. So, not only were their lattes incredible, but this is exactly the kind of business that I love to support!
Location: Jægersborggade 57, 2200 København
Founded in 1870, La Glace is the oldest confectionary in Denmark – and arguably one of the best. Family owned for six generations, they’re well-known for delivering traditions and quality. Entering one of their cafes feels like having one foot inside a time warp! They’ve made a name for themselves by serving delicious cakes, but their hot chocolates is also worth noting.
Location: Skoubogade 3, 1158 København
Located in the centre of Copenhagen, Democratic Coffee is the perfect place to relax, people watch, and appreciate the vibrant atmosphere of the city. Alongside their coffees, they’re most famous for their almond croissants, which are freshly baked on site twice a day. Give it a try!
Location: Krystalgade 15, 1172 København
Experience some traditional Danish gløgg (mulled wine)
Almost every European country has its own version of mulled wine, made with red wine, cloves, oranges, cinnamon and anis (and I love them all!) The Danes are particularly fond of theirs – called gløgg. You can’t pass a market, café or bar in Copenhagen in winter without being hit with the delicious and irresistible smell. It’s an essential part of the Christmas experience!
Explore Copenhagen with a walking tour
If you’re visiting Copenhagen in winter, and you’re interested in learning more about the city, its culture and its history, then I recommend joining one of their free, three-hour walking tours. Despite the winter weather, it was one of my favourite things to do in Copenhagen.
It’s a fantastic way to explore the city, enjoy the architecture and charm, and learn more about it. Our highlights of the tour included Christiansborg Palace, the old city centre, the Royal Opera and the Royal Palace of Amalienborg.
The walking tours take place every hour, starting outside City Hall. Just look for people holding neon umbrellas, and don’t forget your walking shoes!
Take a day trip from Copenhagen
Escape the cosmopolitan city centre and see what else Denmark has to offer! Luckily, Copenhagen is a well-connected city with an incredible public transport system. So, whether you’re looking to learn more about Denmark’s history, explore the landscape or see something new, there’s a number of interesting places within arm’s reach and perfect for a fun day trip.
- Freetown Christiania: A tax-free, self-governed commune which has been run completely independently from the Danish government for the last 40 years. Founded by a group of freethinkers, Christiania is a green and car-free neighbourhood, home to approximately 1,000 residents. With plenty of art galleries, restaurants, and gorgeous nature, it’s a unique place to visit.
- Frederiksborg Castle: Built in the early 1600s, the Frederiksborg Castle is situated in the castle lake in Hillerød, just a short train ride from Copenhagen. It’s often referred to as the Nordic Versailles and with its stunning beauty, lavish decor and Baroque gardens, it’s easy to see why.
- Malmö: The perfect choice if you’re looking to explore more of Europe, Malmö is a Swedish city just across the incredible Øresund Bridge that connects the two countries. Learn more about the history of the city, experience the lively atmosphere and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Visit a museum
Whether you’re trying to experience the city on a budget, looking to learn something new, or trying to escape the bitter cold of Copenhagen’s winter weather, there’s nothing better than spending some time at a museum. There are a number in Copenhagen – here are a few of my suggestions:
- The National Museum of Denmark: The country’s largest museum of cultural history, this is the place to see some incredible exhibits looking at the history of Danish culture. Location: Prince’s Mansion, Ny Vestergade 10, 1471 København K
- Thorvaldsens Museum: Free on Wednesdays, admire the work of Denmark’s most famous sculptor – Bertel Thorvaldsen – and learn how he rose to fame and eventually created artwork for the Pope. Location: Bertel Thorvaldsens Plads 2, 1213 København K
Have some hearty porridge at Grød
Let’s be honest, other than a roast dinner, there is no meal that better represents winter than porridge. And Grød does porridge so incredibly well. It’s a ridiculously trendy restaurant, on an incredibly Instagrammable street in Copenhagen, with a menu solely encompassing different types of porridge, smoothie bowls and everything açai. Give it a try, and bring your appetite and your camera!
Explore the trendy area of Nørrebro
Nørrebro is exactly where I’d live if I ever moved to Copenhagen – it reminds me of London’s Shoreditch area! It’s an incredibly trendy area, filled with cafés, bars, and delicious restaurants. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Copenhagen in winter, then it’s a definite must-visit to explore the hipster side of town.
Jægersborggade is is known as being one of the coolest streets in the city, and is also probably the most famous. In the classic tale of gentrification, one of the city’s most dangerous areas has now evolved into a beautiful and vibrant street, filled with art galleries, vintage shops, cafés, bakeries and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a cool place to take some Instagram photos, grabbing coffee, or hitting up a brunch spot, this is a brilliant place to visit to soak in some of Copenhagen’s hipster vibes.
Go on a canal tour
If walking isn’t really your vibe, then a relaxed boat tour along Copenhagen’s idyllic harbours is the perfect way to experience the city. Most of the tours leave from either Nyhavn or Gammel Strand and you’ll sail past some of the city’s best and most exciting sights. It’s a fantastic way to see The Opera House, Amalienborg Palace, Christiansborg Palace, and, of course, the Little Mermaid.
Top tip: If you’re on a budget, make sure you check out the Havnebussen (Harbour bus) boats, Copenhagen’s public transport, or Copenhagen Canal Tours, which offer free tickets for those with a Copenhagen Card!
And that’s my roundup of the best things to do in Copenhagen in winter, if you’re looking to experience a little hygge! I really did find Copenhagen a magical city – I loved the festive atmosphere and charming beauty. I hope you enjoy the city as much as I did.
Don’t forget to pin this post for later!