Best things to do in Copenhagen in Winter

While the city of Copenhagen is an absolute delight throughout the year, it becomes truly special in the winter. Despite its chilly climate and extended frosty nights, Copenhagen and Denmark in general comes alive during the winter months.

Winter in Copenhagen is all about celebrating the Christmas spirit when locals and visitors alike go full steam with holiday celebrations, Christmas markets and delicious winter food.

Cosy up with a cup of hot chocolate and let the fairy lights in the city guide you to popular events to celebrate the Danish culture in the winter.

You have plenty of things to do in Copenhagen in winter to maintain your Christmas cheer alive for longer.

Copenhagen is the capital city of a Scandinavian country, so expect some cold weather during your visit. But don’t be put off by it, as you’ll have plenty of ways to warm up with great activities during your visit.

It’s not quite as dark as you’d imagined, either. The sun rises around 7 am until around 4 pm. You’ll want to layer up quite heavily every day as the temperatures rarely go above 5 Celsius with lows of 1 and even -1 from January to February. So, we strongly recommend you gear up appropriately as most of the things to do in Copenhagen in winter will be outdoors.

Before we begin, don’t forget to get your travel insurance. Make sure to add any winter spots add-ons if you’re planning day trips from central Copenhagen to a nearby ski slope.

Copenhagen is a winter wonderland and one of the top European Cities to visit during the cold months. The trick to enjoying winter in the Danish capital is to layer up well. As long as your clothes are warm, you’ll love your time in the north.

Outdoor activities don’t grind to halt with the onset of winter. It’s quite the opposite. Copenhagen comes alive with plenty of exciting activities both indoor and outdoor, such as food tours, Disney world inspired theme parks, and a Christmas market in almost every corner of the city. For even more fun, venture on a canal ride, chill in a hot sauna and eat lots of Danish pastry.

The Danes make visiting Copenhagen worthwhile in spectacular ways, encouraging you to feel like you truly are in a winter wonderland! Even more, all year round, this fantastic city is a holiday dream come true, but especially during winter, it’s all about things that help you stave off the winter blues.

Buckle up and get ready to find out the best of Copenhagen!

Cycling outdoors is one of the best things to do in Copenhagen in winter

See The Decorations At Tivoli Gardens

Opened in 1843, the Tivoli Gardens lies in the middle of the city and is ranked the second-oldest amusement park in the world. This is one of the country’s most visited attractions, and for good reason.

Tivoli Gardens is much more than your typical amusement park. This landmark also boasts a stunning natural park packed with many tiny paths and unique greenery, perfect for a whole day out.

In the winter, Tivoli is full of bright lights, perfect for visitors of all ages who want to feel the magic of Copenhagen.

It becomes a snowy paradise with excellent rides, many fancy and must-try restaurants, and a festive atmosphere. The park’s roofs is draped in glittering decorations, the trees in twinkling Christmas lights, and, yes, you even get to visit a picturesque Christmas Village.

The Village is superbly set up with all types of traditional treats, hot drinks and much better food than you’d ever dream of.

Despite that it’s now 179 years old, Tivoli Gardens continues to be very popular for tourists and fun-seekers alike.

Copenhagen winter fact: Walt Disney loved Tivoli so much, it inspired his Disneyland theme park. In Walt Disney’s own words, the amusement park is “a spotless and brightly coloured place, where the gaiety of the music, the excellence of the food and drink, the warm courtesy of the employees—everything is combined for a pleasurable experience.”

Tip: To avoid having to queue for long times on a cold winter’s day, consider booking your tickets in advance, especially if you are planning to visit Copenhagen at Christmas time.

Tivoli is extremely popular with so many hidden gems and things to see and admire, places to sit and walk around for a few hours, which will all make time fly! To experience all that the park has to offer, go an hour before it gets dark, so you can experience Tivoli with and without the lights. It makes all the difference!

Book your 1 day pass for Tivoli Gardens.

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen in Winter

Try “medicinal” Winter Bathing

For many people in Denmark, winter bathing is a long-revered tradition.

It’s not only said to come with lots of health benefits, but even boost the quality of life. We know the idea of jumping into a frozen canal will not be pleasant initially, but this is an experience worth adding to your list of things to do in Copenhagen during winter.

There are several harbour baths around Copenhagen including Islands Brygge, Sluseholmen, and Fisketorvet where both seasoned winter-bathers and newcomers can dive into the clean but rather frigid canal waters.

For first timers, head to the beaches of Amager Strandpark for an alternative option where you can only dip your toes in the icy waters.

Winter swimming is very healthy for the body, good for the mind, and more than a little refreshing for the soul. It’s one of the most adventurous and thrilling things to do in the winter.

Arch Street Copenhagen

Have Fun Ice Skating

Winter Ice Skating in Denmark is the quintessential activity!

The city boasts some of the most awesome ice skating spots that will allow you to soak up the true spirit of winter, including numerous outdoor public ice skating rinks. While admission is 100% free, you’ll need to rent the ice skates, usually by the hour.

We love skating because this is a unique and fun activity that allows us to hold hands as we skate along, so talk of a romantic sport in winter!

Ice skating is a great way to warm up when it’s freezing cold outside. Once you’re done, head over to the nearby Christmas markets and order a hot cup of cocoa.

Ice skating in Copenhagen in winter

Embrace The “hygge” Concept

One of the most interesting things about visiting Denmark is experiencing hygge. The Danish invented Hygge and it is said to make homes nicer, people happier and lives better.

Picture this: you’re sitting by the fire on a cold and frosty winter night, wearing a woolly jumper, while drinking mulled wine or hot cocoa. You’re right next to your loved ones and stroking your dog, most probably surrounded by scented candles. That’s “hygge”!

Over time, this concept has blossomed from being a local concept to an international obsession. But what exactly is this hygge? Why should it take the centre stage during your winter trip to Copenhagen?

Roughly, hygge translates as cosiness – the special kind of warm feeling one gets when you create a pleasant atmosphere during which you enjoy quality time.

That means you hang out in coffee shops, eating delicious pastries, and snug neighbourhood restaurants.

If Copenhagen’s winter scares you, hygge should convince you that it’s not all about braving the cold. Occasionally, it’s just about warming up with a glass of Glogg (Danish mulled wine) in your comfy pyjamas next to an open fire. That’s how the Danes chill out during the winter season whilst playing board games.

Book your Copenhagen tour with hygge.

Hygge food Scandinavian cake for Copenhagen in winter

Visit The Fairytale-like Castles

Danish history is full of endless tales of Vikings, conquests, castles, Kings and Queens. Did you know that even the maestro Shakespeare himself set Hamlet, his famous play, in Elsinore, one of the nation’s most famous castles? We’re talking about Kronborg Castle, one of Denmark’s fairytale castles that looks magical and warranty a winter visit.

It’s easy to get there without a car: the train journey takes under an hour from Copenhagen Central Station, making it easy to venture out to see this historical castle even if it means taking a day trip from Copenhagen.

Another must-see castle on our list is Frederiksborg Castle – one of the most famous castles in all of Denmark, and for good reasons. It’s situated on three islands surrounded by a lake and beautiful gardens. Home to the Museum of National History, the grounds are full of rich Danish history, art, and architecture.

Christiansborg Palace is also a beautiful point, of attraction, as it houses the Danish Parliament, and it is internationally known for the popular Danish TV series Borgen. Walk through the royal reception rooms, watch the view from the tower or explore the ruins under the palace which dates back to the 1100s.

Book your grand day trip around Copenhagen.

Rosenborg Slot Copenhagen

Hang Out At Colourful Nyhavn Port

Odds are high that you’ve already seen the famed Nyhavn port in a picture or two. This colourful port happens to be the most recognizable icon of Copenhagen City, located just 20 minutes walking distance from the botanical gardens.

During November and December, the port of Nyhavn gets transformed from the typical run-of-the-mill boat-lined canal port to a colourful Christmas wonderland!

Many of the boats will be dolled up with beautiful Christmas decorations such that everything works together to facilitate spectacular photographs. The icing on the cake is that the port town also features a winter Christmas market.

Beyond taking photos, you’ll want to enjoy a canal cruise. The cruise from Nyhavn takes about one hour and takes you past great sights such as the Amalienborg Palace and the Little Mermaid statue.

If you prefer being on solid ground, take a tour of the world-famous Carlsberg Brewery in a majestic horse-drawn carriage ride here, in Nyhavn. And while still in Nyhavn, hunt for the house where Hans Christian Andersen, the legendary Danish storyteller, once lived.

Book your Copenhagen canal tour.

nyhavn port in copenhagen in winter

Tour And Shop At The Winter Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets in Copenhagen are legendary and full of cosy places for you to embrace hygge outdoors. Head over to any Christmas market in the city centre and indulge in local specialities such as Gløgg, Æbleskiver (round Danish pancakes), fudge and cured meats. Honestly, can you imagine a better winter food than steaming spherical pancakes filled with jam and dusted with icing sugar?

Let’s face it, the winter months are all about eating pastries and indulging in heart-warming food that brings us joy.

Tivoli is the best-known market, as the historic garden gets filled with glittering Christmas lights, the cutest wooden houses decorated with pine branches, and snow-covered trees to create that perfect Nordic Christmas atmosphere. And of course, Santa Claus and his reindeers will also be there to welcome everyone to the amusement park’s fun rides and activities.

There are other markets worth visiting as well, located in beautiful Nyhavn, Højbro Plads, and Freetown Christiania. Some of these markets specialize in food, while others are gift shops and handy craft stalls, holding true gems and special gifts.

Book your fun Segway Tour in Copenhagen.

winter celebration at markets in Copenhagen in winter

Celebrate A Rich Coffee Drinking Culture

You’ll want to visit Denmark not just for its great food but for its coffee too. Once again, Denmark shines bright as a top spot in the happiest countries lists in the world due to its great coffee culture.

Did you know that Denmark ranks among the top 10 coffee drinking nations, with an average Dane consuming 1.46 cups of coffee per day?

Across Copenhagen, there are plenty of cosy coffee shops that serve high-quality coffee, which celebrates the Danish respect for their brewing and roasting traditions. Visit one of the incredibly warm establishments, minimally decorated, that smell like pine and coffee. That’s the smell of Copenhagen in the winter that we all love so much.

For a great trip, stroll along the city center and in surrounding areas to explore new coffee spots, as it’s one of the most relaxing and enjoyable things to do in Copenhagen.

You love coffee and you love Danish pastry. Book a baking class to learn how to make your own pastry at home!

Dripping coffee Technique

Visit The King’s Square (Kongens Nytorv)

Head over to “Kongens Nytorv“, a landmark cobblestoned square dating to 1907. During winter, buildings such as Magasin Du Nord and Hotel D’Angleterre get covered in elaborate Christmas decorations and bright displays. It’s the best time to have your camera ready!

You might even be lucky enough to catch Kongens Nytorv coated in a lovely coat of snow. This will be a sight that will leave you awed!

The Square also hosts one of Copenhagen’s Christmas ice rinks. If you time it right, you can enjoy the astonishing sights with friends and family while ice skating for a little touch of fun.

Try The Copenhagen Museums

It doesn’t all have to be outdoors in Copenhagen. There are several museums in Copenhagen to add to your wish list. Whether you’re an art lover or history buff, you will not only entertain yourself, but also keep warm inside the city’s museums.

Visit the Museum of Copenhagen, the Danish National Gallery, the National Museum of Denmark, and the Hirschsprung Collection. Allocate a few hours for each and remember that you can save money with the Copenhagen card, which offers free entrance to 83 attractions, free public transport and numerous discounts. Get your Copenhagen card in advance.

We also recommend you spare some time and try out the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. This is a museum that is focused on showcasing the beauty and history of sculpture, a true treat for hidden treasure seekers.

Take A Leisurely Canal Tour

When visiting Copenhagen, make sure you leave some time aside for a relaxed canal tour, as they are simply outstanding. Regular tours depart from Gammel Strand or Nyhavn and take around 60 minutes.

See and admire many of the city’s sights glide by for a unique experience. Things to look out for are the Christiansborg Palace, the Amalienborg Palace, and the Opera House, among many others.

Word of caution though: dress warmly because it can be freezing cold outside during the Copenhagen winter. If you want to enjoy the sites when standing outside the tour boat’s heated canopy, wrap up warm and don’t forget your winter boots!

winter markets in Copenhagen in winter

Be Part Of New Year’s Eve Celebrations In Copenhagen

If you happen to be in Copenhagen during the New Year’s celebration, get ready to have an excellent time.

The main fireworks are blasted at midnight from the City Hall Square, and the participants are not fireworks professionals but the locals themselves, making it a very fun and enjoyable social gathering. However, whilst watching the show, always remember to make sure you proceed with caution and care. Don’t travel without travel insurance, always better to be safe than sorry!

The city has many fabulous restaurants, cafés and cocktail bars that offer various New Year’s packages. The trick is to book everything well in advance.

Copenhagen winter tip: Look for a cocktail bar near your hotel, as it’s nearly impossible to get a free taxi on New Year’s in Copenhagen. After all, even the cab drivers are also looking to have fun elsewhere, and we can’t blame them, can we?

New Year’s Eve is a big night in Copenhagen. Simply walking through the streets can feel like a party, with fireworks and champagne flowing.

People ice skating in the winter in Copenhagen

Indulge In Winter Foods

Over the years, Danish cuisine has been rising in popularity, and there is no better place to try it than Copenhagen. We definitely recommend you include eating winter foods among your things to do in Copenhagen in winter—it truly is a sensational experience. Besides, Copenhagen is home to the best restaurant in the world too. Noma is known to be a gastronomical Mecca, creating world-class dishes. But this is not the type of restaurant you can visit without a reservation.

Fancy something a bit more down to earth? If the very thought of gløgg and aebleskiver leaves your mouth watering, then you’re in for a remarkable treat during your winter trip to Copenhagen. This city has so many other winter delights that will get your taste buds tingling!

A meat lover? The salty, soft taste of Flæskesteg, a traditional Danish Christmas meal made with pork, will take you to cloud 9 as you soak up its textures and flavours. Alternatively, try a classic Smørrebrød, a Christmas pizza, an open juicy sandwich or the yummy cinnamon buns!

Visit Copenhagen’s popular marketplace, Torvehallerne Food Market. This is a must-stop place in Copenhagen, especially for foodies.

There is so much to eat and drink there that one visit won’t be enough. Why do we say that? Simply because Torvehallerne Food Market has around 80 vendors selling fresh produce, meat, seafood, exotic spices, and so many more treats – not to mention plenty of stands where you can dine in or have a drink to beat the cold winter weather.

Book a Copenhagen food tour.

Salmon Sandwich Copenhagen

Keep The Chill Away With Walks Or Bike Rides

Sometimes simple is best: a great way of exploring Copenhagen is to just walk around and soak it all in. The benefits? It is not only inexpensive but also keeps you warm in the chilly winter weather!

Get a pair of woollen socks and strong walking shoes or waterproof boots that can cope with the city’s cobblestone streets, and you’re ready to discover what Copenhagen has in store for you.

Another excellent way of discovering Copenhagen is on a bicycle. Talk of keeping fit and warm in one go! Did you know that in 2022, Copenhagen will be hosting the Tour de France Grand Départ? You will not only be able to experience the biggest of the Grand Tours in Copenhagen, but you will also be able to ride the route yourself – how exciting!

Tip: Try to avoid the bigger streets during early morning and late afternoon rush-hour, when all the locals are rushing to and from work and school. It can become a bit difficult to navigate all the bikes around.

Book a Small-Group Discovery Bike Tour in Copenhagen.

Bikes in Copenhagen Denmark

Take A Photo With The Little Mermaid

The little mermaid is an iconic Danish sculpture, now over 100 years old and a true piece of art.

It was commissioned by Carl Jacobsen and created by Edvard Erikson in 1909 after Carl fell in love with the mermaid character in a ballet performance of Hans Christian Andersons fairytale – The Little Mermaid.

The location of the sculpture is a 15-minute walk from Nyhavn. Once you arrive, get a speciality coffee, hot dog or a savoury pancake to warm you up from the chilly winter winds (it’s an unsheltered walk, so wrap up warm again).

The Little Mermaid is also accessible by bus if you prefer to take it easier and keep warm.

Get your Little Mermaid City Exploration Game.

Little Mermaid

Climb The Round Tower

The Round Tower is one of the most popular structures you will find whilst visiting Copenhagen.

Did you know that this 17th-century tower and observatory is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe? It was originally built as a platform for the university observatory, and for centuries it was the centre of Danish astronomy.

To get to the top, you need to walk up the spiral walk, and trust us – it is so worth it!

From the top of the tower, you can experience the most incredible views over the old part of Copenhagen. A picture here could easily become the ideal Copenhagen card to send to your friends and family back home.

Roof Top Copenhagen

See Some Live Music

Like any European capital, Copenhagen has a thriving music scene.

From neighbourhood jazz bars to little music dens where you can get up, close and personal with your favourite artists, there’s always something on.

Some of the most popular spots to enjoy live music are La Fontaine, DR Koncerthuset, Jazzcup, Charlie Scott’s and many others.

Spoil Yourself In A Hot Sauna

After braving all that cold, it’s time to warm up in a sauna. The Nordic sauna is the best invention of all, as you’ll relax all your muscles and enjoy many health benefits. Many saunas and spas come with hot tubs too.

Rest assured that one of the most beautiful memories after having visited Copenhagen will be taking a hot bath in a serene place while it’s freezing outside. There are many options of saunas and spas in Copenhagen, including CopenHot, Amazing Krane Spa, Villa Copenhagen, RelaxMe, and much more.

Trust us – the best way of concluding your things to do in Copenhagen in winter is to refresh and soothe those chilly muscles and bones with a classic Nordic hot bath, paired with a glass of wine and great company.

Private Sauna Ranua House

Where to stay in Copenhagen

When visiting Copenhagen, it’s always advised that you book your accommodation well in advance. If you’re thinking of seeing Copenhagen in winter, then you better book your hotel as soon as possible, especially if you want to be anywhere near Christmas markets. Here are our hand-picked hotels that offer the best amenities for the best price. We always look at price and quality ratio, so you get the best for your budget.

Hotel NH Collection Copenhagen
Luxury Hotel8.8

Set in Copenhagen, 1,000 feet from Danish Royal Library, NH Collection Copenhagen offers accommodation with a restaurant, private parking, a fitness centre and a bar. Prices for this 5 star property start from £160 per night.

Click here for prices and book Hotel NH Collection Copenhagen

Hotel Kanalhuset
Mid-range Hotel 8.8

The private double rooms are fitted with a private bathroom fitted with a shower and a hairdryer, while certain rooms come with a kitchen equipped with a dishwasher. Prices from £113 per night.

Click here for prices and book Hotel Kanalhuset

Hotel Hotel Tiffany
Mid-range Hotel 8.8

This homely hotel is 5 minutes’ walk from Copenhagen Central Station and Tivoli Gardens. Prices for a double room start from £96 per night.

Click here for prices and book Hotel Hotel Tiffany

Is Copenhagen worth visiting in winter?

Yes, Copenhagen is worth visiting in the winter. While the weather might be cold, there are plenty of attractions and activities to keep you warm and excited. If you visit off season (In January and February) you’ll also benefit from cheaper hotel rooms.

Is December a good time to visit Copenhagen?

December is an excellent time to visit Copenhagen. Just before Christmas, you’ll walk around Christmas markets, savour the local food and indulge in wintery drinks. The city is also lit up with celebratory decorations. The only downside is that around Christmas and New Years, Copenhagen is more expensive.

Is February a good time to visit Copenhagen?

Copenhagen is wonderful in February and a fantastic destination for those eager to so something special and unusual for Valentine’s Day. Get a hotel with a sauna, enjoy a couple’a day at a spa and indulge in comforting Danish food.

How cold does it get in Copenhagen in the winter?

Copenhagen is not as cold as you might expect. Temperatures range between -1°C to 5°C (30°F – 41°F). You will want to layer up and wear warm waterproofs, but it’s definitely a fun time to visit.

Are you already excited and ready to visit Copenhagen this winter? We visited Copenhagen several times, and we always get excited about going back.

We want to hear from you! Write us a comment below this blog post and let us know what are you the most excited about when planning your top things to do in Copenhagen in winter?

Share this post
Cory from You Could Travel entering Senso-ji in Tokyo, Japan

Cory Varga – Cory is a published travel writer and award-winning photographer. She travels full time with her husband and is passionate about creating in-depth travel guides. Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan. She has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries. Cory is multilingual and an alumna from The University of Manchester.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *