With Christmas markets, glogg stands, museums, and the magical Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen is one of the best European cities to visit in the winter. We spent 5 days in the city, which was plenty of time to enjoy the sights and relax. Whether you are visiting for a week or just a few days, here is a list of things to do for your winter stay in Copenhagen:
Get lost in Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens is a winter wonderland in December. When you enter the park, you feel like you’re walking inside a snow globe. Every pine tree is decorated with ornaments, fairy lights line the walkways, there is fake snow sprinkled across the ground and in the trees, and nonstop Christmas music plays from the speakers. They even serve Nordic street food… which is reindeer meat served in a pita (run, run Rudolph!).
Visiting the amusement park is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. They have a few rollercoasters, but don’t expect anything too extreme like those you’ll find at Six Flags in the US. You can get a pass for unlimited rides, or you can simply pay to enter and then pay individually for each ride. I’m not a huge fan of rollercoasters or anything that spins, so my boyfriend, Dewey, and I bought entrance tickets. We meandered around the park taking in all of the glorious Christmas decorations, window shopped at the little log cabins selling goodies, and picked up yummy snacks along the way. Yes, we tried the reindeer meat, and we loved it! We also had a lot of laughs playing carnival games and winning silly prizes.
Overall, I recommend going just for the scenery alone, especially in December. It’s right in the city center, so you can enjoy the park and then continue exploring after.
Wander Strøget Street
Strøget is Copenhagen’s pedestrian-only cobblestone street that winds through the center of the city and leads to the popular waterfront area, Nyhavn. String lights and garland decorate the street in the winter and it’s filled with restaurants and shops. It’s a busy area with squares where street performers play classic Christmas jingles. We enjoyed strolling down the street while munching on Danish hot dogs and people-watching.
Take it all in at the Nyhavn District
Nyhavn is Copenhagen’s well-known canal and waterfront district. It is worth visiting just to see the vibrant colored houses and the house where the famous Danish writer, Hans Christian Anderson, lived. It’s lined with restaurants, but you don’t need to spend money here— unless you enjoy an overcharged meal! Simply take a walk and enjoy the scenic atmosphere.
Browse the Christmas markets
In December, Strøget street and the Nyhavn area are filled with Christmas markets. Decorated stalls sell everything from intricate Christmas ornaments to different kinds of savory cheeses and meat. Of course, you must sip on some Glogg (mulled wine) to keep you warm as you browse the stalls! Dewey and I have been to lots of Christmas markets on this adventure so far, and we can confidently say the mulled wine in Copenhagen was our favorite because it’s served with shaved almonds and juicy cranberries. For an extra kick, ask for a shot of whiskey with it!
Relax with Danish beer and a movie
Sometimes, it’s nice to take a break from all the sightseeing and just relax. When I’m traveling, I like spending a day doing things that aren’t typical tourist activities, like seeing a movie with Danish subtitles! On our walk into the city center, we passed a large pink building that was odd-looking and made me curious. Turns out, it was a movie theater. We went to see a movie and it ended up being a unique experience because it was the premiere of the new Spider-Man movie, which was apparently a big deal in Copenhagen. The lobby of the theater was blasting music and had fog machines and laser lights made to look like a spider web. It was packed full of movie-goers and had a red carpet with people posing next to cardboard cut-outs of Spider-Man.
Afterwards, we headed to Taphouse for a beer. They have over 60 taps serving both local and international beer. It’s a cool place and great for trying different Danish beers. Go at happy hour for even better deals!
Stroll through Christiania
Christiania is a hippy commune that developed in a squatted military area in 1971. It’s a Freetown that has its own rules independent from the Danish government, though its legal status is controversial. It’s a peaceful place where yoga and meditation are practiced and important to its citizens. I originally thought it wasn’t going to be very impressive, but the commune is much more modernized than I expected. It has a concert venue, food stands, small bars and restaurants, and even a large market inside an old warehouse.
We strolled down the main drag known as Pusher Street, where hash used to be sold openly out of stalls (it is still sold, but the stalls are gone and it’s definitely not as open as it used to be). We enjoyed listening to a jazz band and ate traditional Danish open-face sandwiches purchased in the market. It was truly a unique place that you should go to just to see and get a sense of the hippy culture that is so strikingly different from the rest of the city.
If you go, be sure not to take any photographs! The town does not allow tourists to take pictures.
Visit the National Museum of Denmark
A trip to a foreign place is not complete without learning a bit about its history. Plus, museums are a great activity for escaping the cold. The National Museum of Denmark covers 14,000 years of Danish history and it’s easy to spend hours there! The “Stories of Denmark” exhibit was a highlight for me because it does a great job of showing you what life was like for the Danish throughout different periods in history all the way up until the present. Learn about Vikings, gaze at the Sun Chariot from the Bronze Age, and stroll through a room filled with intricately made dollhouses (one of my favorite rooms). You can even see an old hash stall from Christiania before Danish authorities banned cannabis trade in the commune. All in all, it’s a unique museum and should definitely be added to your list! They don’t offer student discounts, but it’s worth the $15 ticket.