Copenhagen is not only very cold during winter, it also is at its most romantic. The streets are decorated with thousands of lights, ice skating rinks can be found all over town and the lovely old houses are covered in snow. And, aside from locals, there are few other tourists at the best attractions in Copenhagen during winter.

Winter in the Danish capital is the perfect time to embrace ‘hygge’, which has become an iconic concept over the past few years. The Danish term generally refers to embracing a content lifestyle and cosiness, it is all about those little things that create a warm atmosphere, enjoying the good things in life. Think being all wrapped up in soft sweaters, drinking a cup of hot chocolate and reading a good book in front of a fireplace or at a cosy coffee shop surrounded by Christmas decor!

How to do that during your trip to Copenhagen in winter? Easy! Stroll around the romantic capital, discover beautiful Christmas markets and marvel at the art on the streets during the Copenhagen Light Festival. Afterwards, reward yourself and warm up with a visit to the sauna and sip on a cup of hot Danish mulled wine.

Christmas markets

Christmas markets, locally known as Julemarkeder, have a long history in Denmark and can be found all over the city, so it is impossible to not get into the Christmas spirit during this time of year! In the heart of Indre By, the city centre, the Christmas market on Højbro Plads is considered to be one of the best in town. It follows the traditions of German Christmas markets, so you will find plenty of wooden stalls and shops here, offering typical sausages, special sweets, waffles and deliciously flavoured mulled wine that will keep you warm during the cold winter days.

During the last month of the year, the Tivoli Gardens turn into a magical winter wonderland! Stroll around snow-covered trees and the brightly lit gardens filled with decorations that bring a festive twinkle to the dark winter days, tell Santa Claus your wishes for Christmas and warm yourself up with a hot drink at the amusement park's very own Christmas market while shopping for locally made crafts as well as knitted accessorizes and leather products. After New Year's Eve, Tivoli closes for the rest of the winter months, to prepare the park for spring.

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Tivoli Gardens

Ice skating

Danes love to go ice skating – it'll keep you warm, doesn't break the bank and is fun for the whole family! You can join the locals at an indoor ice skating facility or, if the weather is cold enough, go skating on the canals and frozen lakes in the city! Most outdoor rinks allow you to either bring your own skates or rent some for a small fee.

Broens Ice Skating Rink at the harbour offers 600m2 of ice and is a popular meeting spot during the cold winter months. Here, you cannot only show off your ice skating skills but also participate in fun events, ranging from (silent) disco on ice for kids and adults, to a St. Lucia show on ice and joining a beer choir, all while enjoying a beautiful view over the harbour and accompanied by several food stalls.

Experience Copenhagen in winter

Ice swimming

Winter in Denmark is not all about hygge per se but also about challenging your inner adventurer to that extra winter thrill! Jumping into a lake full of ice cold water is a long held tradition in Denmark and is the perfect ritual in between sauna sessions or as an icy experience on its own to strengthen your immune system and feel truly reborn afterwards.

One of the most popular outdoor pools is the Islands Brygge Havnebad. This iconic spot is directly located in the city centre, you have the chance here to swim directly in the harbour with a view over Copenhagen’s skyline. The water of the five pools is checked daily.

Seek shelter in Copenhagen’s museums

If the winter weather in Copenhagen is just a little bit too cold for you to want to spend your days outside, consider staying indoors and exploring Copenhagen’s best museums! History buffs will enjoy themselves at the Nationalmuseet, the National Museum, covering the Danish history, culture and people. Art lovers will want to visit the National Gallery of Denmark with its vast collection of 260,000 historical art works and artefacts.  

For royalty watchers, a visit to Christiansborg Palace is a must. When the royal family does not need to make use of the palace, you can wander through the royal reception rooms, including the great hall which features the Queen's tapestries. You will also be able to visit the ruins of the original castle that sat on the same site, under the palace.

Copenhagen Light Festival

In the winter months the days are short which is perfect for the Copenhagen Light Festival! The annual light festival takes place over three weeks in February and presents artworks made from and with light by both Danish and international artists and designers. From temporary sculptural elements on historic buildings to multisensory experiences and dynamic films – the light art is presented in many different forms.

The impressive and expressive light art will be on display at at least 35 locations in central Copenhagen, Nørrebro, Vestre Kirkegård, Ørestaden and DR’s Koncerthus. The artworks are guaranteed to brighten up your experience of Copenhagen’s city centre and shine a light on the cold and dark winter days.   

Experience Copenhagen in winter