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Make no bones about it: I love to travel. Sometimes I’ll just be searching for deals on Google Flights (as one does multiple times per week), and will stumble upon a gem of a flight. I was searching for flights to Europe in November and noticed a sweet fare from Boston to Copenhagen on Iceland Air. I knew there are an endless list of amazing sights to see and things to do in Copenhagen in winter, so I didn’t hesitate to find a travel partner and book our flights.
Luckily my sister was also able to find a great deal to Copenhagen from New York, so we clicked “purchase” on our flights and started planning our trip to Copenhagen in December!
My flight from Boston was about $375 USD round trip and her flight direct from NYC to Copenhagen was just $320 USD round trip. Mine had a short layover in Iceland (learn about long Iceland layovers here) and hers was direct from New York to Copenhagen (jealous).
Of course, we both researched the hell out of things to do in Copenhagen in winter, but in reality, we were excited to be a little flexible and not take the trip too seriously. My sister had one requirement: go to as many Viking museums as possible. And my requirement was: visit as many Christmas Markets as possible. Did we accomplish our goals? YOU BET.
By all means this list is not exhaustive. It includes our favorite things we did and saw. I hope you can get some inspiration from this list!
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I’ve been dreaming of European Christmas Markets for years, so when the chance came up to visit not one, but many, Christmas Markets in Copenhagen, I was sold.
After we landed at the Copenhagen Airport and found our way to our AirBnb in the trendy neighborhood of Vesterbro…I took a nap. OK, but THEN we set out to find our first Christmas Market.
Our first stop on the Copenhagen Christmas Market tour was to Tivoli Gardens (Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V, Denmark). If you took Christmas cheer and Disney World and rolled them in a ball, it would be Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market. Built in the mid 1840’s, Tivoli is an amusement park and garden that turns into a magical winter wonderland at Christmas. Walt Disney allegedly took inspiration from the site when he was devising his own amusement park.
Tivoli’s Christmas Market is filled with dozens of vendors selling handmade goods like gloves, slippers, hats, mulled glogg wine, and delicious eats. There are also rides and games in the park. You could really spend a whole day here and never get bored! The entrance fee is 120 DKK ($19 USD) for adults and 50 DKK ($8 USD) for kids. We ended up visiting Tivoli’s Christmas Market twice to soak in all of the holiday cheer and happy faces.
During December in Copenhagen, the Nyhavn Harbor is host to the Nyhavn Christmas Market (Nyhavn, 1051 Copenhagen K). We found that this charming Christmas market featured more food and handmade goods like felt Christmas ornaments more than other things. We tried more glogg, chocolate covered marshmallow treats, and checked out all of the handmade goods.
Kongens Nytorv Christmas Market (1050 Kongens Nytorv, Copenhagen K) was my second favorite market next to Tivoli Gardens. Why? Because I bought so…much…wool! Wool boot liners, mittens, socks, and booties enticed me with their warmth and coziness. We also sampled more sweet treats before snapping pics of the Reindeer and the full-building Advent calendar adorning the Hotel D’Angleterre (the #2 hotel on TripAdvisor!).
The at Christmas Market Højbro Plads (Højbro Plads, 1200 Copenhagen K) was a charming market right in the city center. They also sold many handmade goods, and we saw some interesting furs and jewelry here. This is the most German of the markets, with the stalls bring imported from Tyrol in the Alps. We also stopped to sample a traditional German sausage!
If you’re looking for things to do in Copenhagen, you really can’t go wrong with a stop at one of these Christmas markets! They’re the perfect spot to pick up gifts for loved ones.
If you’re staying in Copenhagen for just a day or two, picking up a Copenhagen Card can definitely save you money on things to do in Copenhagen in winter. This Copenhagen city pass can get you into 73 museums and attractions, allows you to ride the train, busses, and subway unlimited, and take advantage of select discounts.
You can purchase the Copenhagen Card in 24, 48, 72, or 120 hour increments, depending on how long you think you’ll use it. Prices start at $62 USD for a 24 hour card and go up to $140 for the 120 hour card.
We ended up buying the pass for just 24 hours so we could ride the commuter train out to Roskilde to explore the Viking Ship Museum. We started our pass in the afternoon so we could essentially use it over two calendar days.
The Copenhagen City Card also allows you to get into some of the top museums and attractions like Tivoli Gardens and the Danish National Museum. If you love museums and also want to plan a trip out to Roskilde, I’d say at least buy a 24 hour pass. Otherwise, it didn’t make much sense for us financially since we could walk to most places in town.
If you’re looking for more things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark, the city is a walker’s paradise. I’ll outline some of the best places to visit in Copenhagen during your trip.
We visited four different Copenhagen museums during our stay. Each was different and special in its own way. Copenhagen museums are plentiful and you can check out a full list of museums on the Visit Copenhagen website.
The National Museum of Denmark (Prinsens Palais, Copenhagen 1220, Denmark) was my favorite museum that we visited on our trip. They had an outstanding Viking exhibit with artifacts like the famous Golden Horns, mummified bodies, fabrics, and jewelry from Viking times. The cafe was a great place to take a coffee break, and their gift shop housed a treasure of candies, books, paper goods, and excellent souvenirs.
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Glyptoteket) Museum (Dantes Plads 7, 1556 København, Denmark) is famous for its collections of ancient Egyptian and Greek sculptures. Take a few hours to wander its halls and roam through the lush and green interior courtyard.
A short trip from downtown Copenhagen will bring you to Roskilde, a hub city to Copenhagen, and the 10th largest city in Demark. Here, you’ll find the Viking Ship Museum (Vindeboder 12, Roskilde 4000, Denmark). The Viking Ship Museum is host to five ancient Viking ships that were painstakingly restored by ship building experts. You can learn more about Viking history and even watch the expert ship builders build replica ships in their workshop!
The Royal Danish Arsenal Museum (Tojhusgade 3, Copenhagen 1220, Denmark) was not a natural choice for me to want to visit. However, I am glad I went to see the gigantic display of cannons and war machines. It really brought into light the fact that humans make and operate machines like this to kill other humans. It was an enlightening visit and was included with the purchase of the Copenhagen Card.
If museums aren’t your thing, don’t fear! There are tons of other things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark. Here are a few of the other best places to visit in Copenhagen that we just loved.
We booked a 90 minute spa and sauna experience for CopenHot through Airbnb (Refshalevej 325, 1432 København, Denmark). You arrive at the Copenhagen piers (it is a little sketchy at night, TBH). Once you arrive you change into your swimsuit. You are supposed to dip into the cold-ass harbor first, but there was about a 0% we were going to do that as it was freezing outside. Then, you can go back and forth between the salt-water hot tubs and the sauna for 90 minutes. It was a great way to get really super warm and very cool experience!
Another spa I looked at was the RelaxMe spa (Struenseegade 13, 2200 København, Denmark). They also have hot tubs, massage, and steam rooms. We just simply ran out of time to go there!
Pop by Somods Bolcher (Nørregade 36, 1165 København, Denmark) to experience the same candy the Danish Royal Family enjoys! Their tiny shop houses dozens of flavors of their sweet hand spun candy. Try the licorice varieties, as they are very traditional to Copenhagen.
Freetown Christiania is to the southeast of downtown Copenhagen, and it’s worth an afternoon visit. Christiania was founded as a commune by the squatters of former military barracks. You can read about its full history on Wikipedia. It’s now a place for free culture, and alternative lifestyle. Although drugs are illegal in Denmark, the authorities pretty much let Christiania operate on its own. You can buy weed from any number of vendors in the Christiania main square with no problem. Just be careful smoking it after you leave the area. And no photos allowed in Christiania!
The Round Tower in Copenhagen is smack dab in the middle of downtown (Købmagergade 52A, 1150 København, Denmark). Trek up the 17th century observatory tower for panoramic views of Copenhagen.
I found Copenhagen to be a shoppers paradise. You can find big department stores as well as mom-and-pop type stores. As I mentioned above, I was mainly into wool on this trip, and I also found some other special stores that I just loved for their adorable clothes, gifts, and home goods. Plus, indoor shopping is one of the best things to do in Copenhagen in winter!
Magasin du Nord (Kongens Nytorv 13, 1095 København, Denmark) is a huge department store located just across from the Kongens Nytorv Christmas market. You can buy home goods, furnishings, makeup, shoes accessories, and much more here. There’s also a food hall on the lower level if you need a place to warm up (and use the bathroom).
Illums Bolighus (Amagertorv 10, 1160 København, Denmark) was another amazing department store, and this is where I bought my Glerups wool slippers. I thought it was just the cutest store for souvenirs and getting a nice warm Christmas feeling in the cold of winter.
Stroll along Strøget, Copenhagen’s main shopping street. It’s also the longest pedestrian street in the world. Blågårdsgade is a pedestrian street just off the lakes in Noerrebro. Get your steps in!
Well, this could be a thesis. There are so many hotels in Copenhagen across a variety of price points. Copenhagen accommodation can range from bare bones and inexpensive to lavish. Boutique hotels in Copenhagen compete with budget digs. I’ll just touch one one or two options in each price point here. All of these hotels are close to the best things to do in Copenhagen in winter.
Nimb Hotel (Bernstorffsgade 5, Copenhagen 1577 Denmark) is the #1 ranked hotel in Copenhagen on TripAdvisor. That’s lots of high praise for this luxurious hotel set next to Tivoli Gardens.
Hotel d’Angleterre (Kongens Nytorv 34, Copenhagen 1050 Denmark) is a 5-star and a historic landmark in Copenhagen. Hotel d’Angleterre blends Victorian architecture and the simplicity of Nordic design.
Radisson Collection Royal Hotel, Copenhagen (Hammerichsgade 1, Copenhagen 1611 Denmark) is also located next to Tivoli Gardens and is well-loved for its attention to detail, caring staff, and central location.
Copenhagen Marriott Hotel (Kalvebod Brygge 5, Copenhagen 1560 Denmark) is TripAdvisor’s choice for 2018. Guests love the views of the harbor, easy access to the airport, and the on-site gym.
Absalon Hotel (Helgolandsgade 15 Copenhagen V, Copenhagen 1653 Denmark) is a family owned Copenhagen hotel in the Vesterbro neighborhood near the Central Station.
Hotel Alexandra (8 H. C. Andersens Boulevard, Copenhagen 1553 Denmark) is a small boutique hotel in downtown Copenhagen with high reviews and interesting Danish mid-century vintage furniture.
CPHLIVING Floating Hotel (Langebrogade 1 A, Copenhagen 1411 Denmark) is just that: a floating hotel in Christiana Freetown. Guests love the unique vibe and views this floating hotel offers.
Best Western Plus Hotel City Copenhagen (Peder Skrams Gade 24, Copenhagen 1054 Denmark) gets high marks for its central location, free breakfast, and proximity to Copenhagen attractions.
There are lots of solid options in the under $100 per night budget accommodations in Copenhagen. Some are cheap hotels and others are hostels. But if you’re seeking some savings on accommodations, here are some options based on TripAdvisor reviews:
Hotel Sct. Thomas (Frederiksberg Alle 7, Copenhagen 1621 Denmark) is a hotel close to the city center with solid praise for its breakfast and quiet location.
Cabinn City Hotel (Mitchellsgade 14, Copenhagen 1568 Denmark) was marked as a walker’s delight, and close to nearby attractions like the Glyptotek Museum. The rooms are small, but who stays in anyway?
Sleep In Heaven hostel is located a short walk from the Copenhagen city center in Noerrebro, but budget travelers will love the vibrant neighborhood, comfy beds, and cool design.
We visited Copenhagen in early December and it was cold. I mean, you obv already knew that. So did I, I thought. Especially as someone who lives in Boston, I thought, “I got this.” But I did not…at all. The thing I forgot is that we weren’t going to be walking outside for a short time then going inside for hours. We literally walked all over, all day. So we were outside for like 8 hours per day. I was also like “I’m gonna look so cute and pack nice clothes for photos.” NO. Pack more cozy clothes!
I didn’t wrap my head around that before we left, so looking back, I wish I packed warmer and layerable items. Thank goodness for the wool vendors, because I was literally frozen. I was jealous of the Danish kids who were bundled up in full snow suits. You will definitely need to layer up when looking for things to do in Copenhagen in winter.
Here’s a brief packing list of things I brought, and some things I wish I packed:
By far, one of my favorite brands for warm layering is Uniqlo, so you’re going to see a lot of their pieces on this list. Their HeatTech line is literally a godsend for cold weather. I own about four of their super soft Ultra Warm HeatTech long sleeve shirts in various colors.
I am also a huge fan of the classic Uniqlo HeatTech leggings and their thicker HeatTech Ultra Warm leggings. The thinner leggings can either be worn alone or under other pants while the Ultra Warm leggings are thick and warm enough to stand alone.
I also love the Uniqlo HeatTech leggings pants which are more like jeans leggings. They stretch great and are pretty good at blocking wind, too. I have them in black and maroon.
My next coat will probably be one of these Eddie Bauer Lodge Down Parkas. I love the faux fur hood and mid-thigh length. They also make tall lengths, which are great for my long arms. For our trip to Copenhagen I wore the Eddie Bauer Women’s Cirruslite Down Parka in purple. It was great for layering and was windproof.
I think you can get by with boots you already own as long as you wear some warm socks. You’ll be walking around all day, so try these merino wool blend Smartwool socks. They wick sweat so your feet will stay dry all day.
Finding delicious places to eat in Copenhagen is going to be easy. The city is a gastronomy paradise, and the Danes take great pride in the quality and presentation of their food. Eating should definitely be listed as one of the best things to do in Copenhagen in winter!
I will probably write a fuller post about our experience finding places to eat in Copenhagen. But you’ll want to try the many delicious cafes located everywhere around the city. The name “Danishes” didn’t come from just anywhere (actually, it came from Vienna), and Danish pastries like onsdagssnegle, croissants, morning buns, or Chokoladebolle (chocolate pastry).
Copenhagen is also home to the famous smørrebrød, open face sandwiches made with hearty Danish rye topped with butter, pickled veggies, and meat or fish.
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