The Essential Guide to Visiting Copenhagen in Winter

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by Olivia Ellis

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Visiting Copenhagen in the winter is like stepping into a fairy tale world. Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital city, typically known for its buzzing summer harbourside scene, goes under a magical transformation once the winter season arrives.

A Copenhagen winter is a time when the city’s charming streets, historic landmarks, and cosy cafes take on an enchanting atmosphere, making it one of the best times of year to visit the city.

From the crisp winter air on the outside and cosy warmth of hygge on the inside, the Danish capital is a magical winter destination deserving a spot on your winter travel itinerary.

Stroll along the quaint, cobbled streets of Nyhavn, see the Little Mermaid statue, enjoy a canal-side wander, or explore the world-famous Tivoli Gardens, where there’s an extra sense of festivity and classic winter magic.

For foodies, Copenhagen is known as one of the top food destinations in the world, and the winter is an ideal time to experience the warm, local Danish dishes.

Whether you’re seeking a romantic escape in February, a family adventure in December, or simply a weekend away in January, Copenhagen in winter promises you a magical stay.

Copenhagen Weather in Winter

Like any other winter trip preparation, a large part of deciding what to pack and how to plan will be getting a general idea of what kind of weather to expect. So, what is the weather like
in Copenhagen during the winter months?

Copenhagen, experiences a typical Northern European winter climate, with cold temperatures, overcast skies, and frequent rain. Throughout December, January, and February average temperatures are around 0°C (32°F), with temperatures known to drop below freezing in January and February.

With that being said, packing warm clothing for your winter trip to Copenhagen, such as heavy coats, gloves, scarves, and thermal layers, is essential to make the most out of your trip to the Danish capital.

Snow in the wintertime is common in Copenhagen, beautifully transforming the city into a winter wonderland.

Copenhagen in the winter also means shorter daylight hours, with the sun setting as early as 3:30 PM in December. While this can be a different kind of experience if you’re not used to winter in the Northern part of the world, it encourages the cosiness of the city and fully enhances a Scandinavian winter trip.

Snowy Copenhagen
Snowy Copenhagen

Which Month to Visit Copenhagen in Winter?

Copenhagen in December

If you’re planning on heading to Copenhagen in the winter and have your sights set on an atmosphere full of yuletide, Christmas festivities, and a buzzing holiday atmosphere, December is the best time to visit.

Copenhagen in December promises an enchanting winter wonderland filled with festive lights, Christmas markets, and a warm, inviting ambiance.

The iconic Tivoli Gardens transforms into a fairy tale wonderland, and the city is full of festive holiday markets, with scents of mulled wine and traditional sweets filling the cool Danish, winter air.

On the downside, many other people are traveling to Copenhagen in December in search of Christmas & holiday joy, making it one of the busiest times of the year to visit outside of the spring and summer season.

For some, this only enhances the festive season, but if you’re someone who prefers a low-key atmosphere, maybe travel to Copenhagen during a different month.

Christmas stalls in Copenhagen
Christmas stalls in Copenhagen

Copenhagen in January

Copenhagen in January can be a cosy and enjoyable time of year to visit the Danish capital city and experience Copenhagen as a local. Despite the winter chill, the city manages to exude warmth and cosy charm, making it a fantastic winter destination.

For those keen to ring in the new year in a different part of the world, celebrate New Year’s Eve in Copenhagen, a city known for its New Year’s festivities. Join in the main New Year’s attraction in the City Hall Square of Copenhagen or witness stunning fireworks over the Nyhavn harbor.

The city is known to be full of excitement during New Year’s, with champagne flowing in the streets, and an all-around festive and joyous atmosphere. Many restaurants also have special New Year’s menus, making it a great time to enjoy the buzzing restaurant scene in the city.

Copenhagen in February

February, the coldest month of the year in Copenhagen, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, if you’re able to embrace the rain and cold that takes over the city for the majority of the month.

If you’re seeking a quiet and cosy atmosphere in one of Europe’s most enchanting capitals without the usual crowds, then February is likely the ideal time of year for your visit to Copenhagen.

Due to the long nights and short days of sun in February, the locals embrace the Danish concept of “hygge”, essentially a cosiness that’s synonymous with warm drinks and foods and comforting surroundings.

Additionally, February is an excellent time to enjoy the city’s culinary scene and museum scene, indulging in hearty Danish cuisine in hygge restaurants and cafes in the city as well as taking in the culture and history of Copenhagen and Denmark.

The city’s museums and restaurants, usually bustling with tourists, offer a more intimate experience making visiting Copenhagen in February an ideal time of year to enjoy the heart of the city without the usual hustle and bustle. It can be a great time to visit Christiansborg Palace or stroll and shop along Strøget without hordes of people.

Rosenborg Castle during winter
Rosenborg Castle during winter

Things to do in Copenhagen in Winter

Channel Your Inner Hygge

In Copenhagen, winter is synonymous with hygge, an untranslatable Danish concept that is best described with cosiness, contentment, and connection.

Embracing hygge in the city’s winter wonderland is spending time sipping coffee and hot chocolate with cakes in candlelit cafes, savouring hearty meals, and wandering through Christmas markets decorated with twinkling lights.

Hygge transforms the Danish capital into a haven of comfort, making winter in Copenhagen an enchanting and unforgettable experience.

One of my favourite spots for coffee or a delicious breakfast/lunch, is at Parterre in the Christianshavn neighborhood.

Parterre is a small basement cafe and coffee shop and the perfect spot in the city, especially in the winter to have enjoy a, warm drink, maybe read a book, and relish in its cosy atmosphere and exceptional coffee by candelight.

For drinks in a very hygge atmosphere, the Vesterbro neighborhood of Copenhagen offers an array of cosy bars in a hip environment, perfect for experiencing life as a local in the Danish capital. You can also take a walking tour to learn more about hygge from a local!

Tivoli Gardens

Built in 1843, Tivoli Gardens is the world’s second oldest amusement park, as well as an unsurprising bet for one of the best things to do in Copenhagen in winter – that is, if you’re visiting in December.

When the city is covered in snow during winter, Tivoli becomes a magical paradise, full of classic amusement park excitement as well as childlike wonder. Keep in mind that Tivoli Gardens does close from January to March so it’s only open for the Christmas season.

While the rides themselves offer an exciting adrenaline rush, Tivoli at Christmas is more so about the atmosphere and ambience. From the lights twinkling throughout the park to the magical views from the top of the ferris wheel, Tivoli is without a doubt both a step back in time in Copenhagen in winter, as well as one of the most loved things to do in the city today.

For those keen to ice skate in the city while spending winter in Copenhagen, Tivoli Gardens is also known to have one of the most stunning ice rinks in the city, especially at night with the backdrop of Tivoli’s holiday lights. The ice rink is free with entry to Tivoli, but skate rental is limited, so keep this in mind if you’re hoping to ice skate at Tivoli during the winter months.

Tivoli also hosts plenty of events in December, perfect both adults and children, with a mix of both performances and cultural events.

Tickets to Tivoli Gardens can be purchased online in advance, with discounts for children and seniors. Due to the popularity of Tivoli in the wintertime, it’s recommended to book tickets in advance to avoid long queues at the ticket counter.

Christmas at Tivoli
Christmas at Tivoli

Copenhagen’s Christmas Markets

Easily one of the biggest draws and exciting parts of coming to the Danish capital during winter, is the cities festive Christmas and holiday markets. Open from mid-November until late December, these markets are scattered across the city, with the most famous ones being at Nyhavn Harbour and Tivoli Gardens.

The Christmas markets are full of stalls with traditional Danish (and international) specialties, with the most amazing festive scents filling the air.

Warm up with a cup of gløgg, the Danish version of mulled wine, and enjoy æbleskiver, delightful pancake-like treats sprinkled with powdered sugar. Remember to dress warmly as Copenhagen winters are quite bitter, so layers, scarves, and gloves will make sure that you enjoy the markets without needing to rush into the heat.

Beyond the local delicacies, you’ll also find stalls full of classic Danish goods, from handcrafted ornaments and unique souvenirs to local gifts to take home for yourself and for others.

The markets are exciting in both the day and night, with a different atmosphere depending on when you go, in the day it’s more of a mellow environment, and at night, things pick up a bit, light up and become almost like a festive winter party.

Museums and Culture in the Danish Capital

If you prefer to stick to indoor activities away from the wintry cold air and are looking for things to do in Copenhagen in winter, this time of year offers the perfect opportunity to explore the city’s museums and art galleries, providing both warmth and rich cultural experiences.

The National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst) is home to exquisite Danish and international artworks, perfect if you’re looking to spend the day in Denmark’s largest museum.

For those keen on history, the National Museum (Nationalmuseet) is a true delight and treasure chest of various artifacts and important parts of Danish history, offering a full view of Danish history.

If you prefer to pass on history-based museums, Copenhagen is one of the leading cities today in contemporary and modern art, with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art being an iconic spot for contemporary art in both Denmark and internationally.

Alternatively, if you’re travelling with kids consider visiting the Hans Christian Andersen Experience to see read about his fairytales and see them in action.

To make the most of your museum visits, the Copenhagen Card is a great option, giving you access to several museums and free public transport, saving you time and money.

National Museum of Denmark
National Museum of Denmark

Day Trip to Malmo & Lund, Sweden

One of the best things to do in Copenhagen if you’re visiting over the course of multiple days and are curious to see other places, is to embark on a winter day trip from Copenhagen to Malmö and Lund.

These are two historic Swedish cities just a short train ride away from Copenhagen Central Station via the Øresund Bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden, with picturesque and iconic views along the way.

Malmö, the first stop in Sweden after crossing the Øresund Bridge, is the 3rd largest city in Sweden, with an industrial vibe and lots of history to explore.

When in Malmö, explore the cosy old town, Gamla Staden, lined with cobblestone streets and colorful houses. The Malmöhus Castle is also a must-visit, where history comes to life at Scandinavia’s oldest surviving Renaissance castle.

Just a few more stops away from Malmö, you’ll arrive in Lund, one of Sweden’s oldest towns, renowned for its historical significance and academic history. When in Lund, make sure to Visit the Lund Cathedral, a masterpiece of medieval architecture, as well as have a wander through Lund’s old town, a charming colourful and cobblestoned centre, dating back to the 1600s.

Luckily, Lund’s compact size makes it perfect for exploration by foot, allowing you to explore the town has part of a day trip from Copenhagen in junction with time spent in Malmö.

Trains leave from Copenhagen to Malmö and return from Lund to Copenhagen very frequently with just a 40 minute – 1 hour ride journey as well affordable ticket costs for Scandinavia depending on the train that you take. You can also take an organised guided tour to both Malmö & Lund in one day which includes transfers.

St. Peters Church in Malmo
St. Peters Church in Malmö

Where to Stay in Copenhagen

The Square – This cool, central hotel is a fantastic place to stay in the Danish capital. They have a great location close to the top attractions in Copenhagen and have a range of lovely, modern rooms to choose from.

Ascot Hotel – Situated in a beautiful, historic building, this hotel is a fantastic choice for those looking for a plush stay and aren’t concerned about their trip cost in Copenhagen. They have an excellent, central location within easy walking distance of the top sites in the city along with an array of comfortable rooms and swank amenities.

Copenhagen Downtown Hostel – If you’re looking for an affordable and social hostel in the Danish capital, this is a great option. Well-located for exploring Copenhagen, they offer both private rooms and dorms on offer along with a great bar on site!

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Copenhagen hotels!

Visiting Copenhagen in winter is truly an enchanting journey into a fairy tale world. From the cosy warmth of its cafes, festive Christmas markets, and magical Tivoli Gardens to the rich flavors of Danish cuisine, the city transforms into a winter paradise.

Whether you’re just visiting for a weekend away with little knowledge of the city, or your sights have been set on a winter escape to the Danish capital, you’ll surely be glad you came during its darkest, yet cosiest hour.

Are you planning a winter visit to Copenhagen? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Olivia is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Michigan, USA, she is currently living in Athens, Greece exploring Europe and filmmaking. When she’s not travelling or writing, Olivia can be found cooking delicious new recipes from around the world, reading, and spending time outdoors.

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