Embark on a festive holiday journey in Copenhagen, Denmark.
As the capital of Denmark, Copenhagen showcases top-notch attractions, museums, and restaurants. Despite the cold, it proves to be a superb winter destination with its abundance of Christmas markets and a cheerful atmosphere, notably in places like Tivoli Gardens.
Join me in exploring the highlights of our Copenhagen adventure and uncover the reasons why you should plan your visit too during the holiday season. Continue reading for more details!
The highlight of our Copenhagen trip was Tivoli Gardens, a centrally located amusement park offering games, rides, shops and restaurants, complete with a Christmas market. In the festive season, the park undergoes a magical transformation into a winter wonderland with dazzling lights and seasonal decorations. The park is a must-do and is fun for all ages!
We got the ride pass and had a blast on the roller coaster (more than once!). If rides aren't your thing, there are plenty of shops and stalls to check out and you can also just admire the decorations. I loved walking around the park with all the bright lights and Christmas trees everywhere.
Practical Tips for Your Visit:
Ticket Selections: Tailor your experience by choosing between entrance-only tickets or those that include rides. If you plan on only enjoying a select few rides, purchasing individual ride tickets may be more economical. For the ultimate Tivoli experience, consider the ride pass. Save time and avoid queues by securing your tickets online in advance.
Dining Options: While Tivoli features a bustling food hall with numerous stalls, we opted for a less crowded experience. We savored a delectable raclette sandwich and steaming hot chocolate from one of the charming Christmas Market huts. For those desiring a sit-down meal, Tivoli boasts excellent restaurants within the park.
Evening Exploration: Given Copenhagen's early nightfall, around 4 p.m., I highly recommend experiencing Tivoli Gardens at night. The park truly comes alive in the dark, showcasing its full splendor under the glow of lights.
No European holiday trip is complete without immersing yourself in the enchantment of a Christmas market, and Copenhagen delivers on this festive tradition. The city is adorned with numerous Christmas markets, creating the perfect setting to bask in the holiday spirit. Explore the stalls to discover handcrafted souvenirs, including knit hats, mittens, ornaments, gnomes, jams, honey, chocolates, and fudge.
Indulge in classic market snacks and treats such as sausages or delightful pancake balls (as pictured below). Combat the chill with a cup of hot chocolate or savor the warmth of gløgg – a sweet Danish mulled wine. Seek refuge from the weather in the snug confines of charming little huts scattered throughout the market.
Copenhagen Christmas Markets:
Kongens Nytorv Market
Nestled in the heart of the old town, this market graces the King's New Square with dozens of stalls. Don't miss the splendid holiday decor at the renowned Hotel D'Angleterre and the nearby Magasin du Nord, a department store with twinkling lights.
Hans Christian Andersen Market
Situated in the Strøget shopping district, this Christmas market pays homage to the famous Danish storyteller, Hans Christian Andersen.
Similar to the Hans Christian Andersen Market, this charming market offers a variety of food options, including crispy potato skewers, sausages, and roasted almonds. While there may be overlapping vendors between the Hans Christian Andersen Market and Højbro Plads Square, the two markets are conveniently just a 15-minute stroll apart. This proximity makes it effortless to explore both markets en route to the main market situated at King's New Square.
Nyhavn Christmas Market
Transforming the iconic Nyhavn into a winter wonderland, this market lines the canal with lights and garlands. Explore one of the prettiest streets in the city and discover cozy restaurants and bars with outdoor seating, equipped with blankets, sheepskin rugs, and fires for warmth. I suggest strolling to the street opposite the canal for a charming photo opportunity capturing the enchanting buildings and boats.
Freetown Christiania Market:
Venture a bit off the beaten path to Freetown Christiania in Christianshavn, known for its vibrant street art and unconventional atmosphere. This Christmas market, held in Grey Hall, showcases original handcrafted and unique items. Be sure to bring cash, as some sellers may only accept a specific mobile payment designed for Danish residents. Explore this free-spirited enclave that emerged from squatters taking control of an abandoned military base in the 1970s.
St. Lucia Day Kayak Parade
If you happen to be in Copenhagen on December 13th, you can witness an alternative version of the traditional Danish Santa Lucia parade. St. Lucia Day, a holiday observed by Scandinavian countries to honor one of the earliest Christian martyrs, St. Lucia, features kayaks sailing along the Nyhavn canal decorated with lights and Christmas decorations. It's a unique and festive event to experience!
Activities and Tours
Walking Tour - Happiness and Hygge
For a deeper understanding of the city and Danish culture, I highly suggest joining the "Happiness and Hygge" small-group walking tour. Denmark, renowned for its consistently high happiness rankings, embraces the concept of hygge, signifying "the absence of anything annoying." Throughout this 3.5-hour tour, you'll accompany a local guide, relish a tasty pastry, savor a warm beverage, and immerse yourself in the practice of hygge!
Embark on a canal cruise from Nyhavn, where a boat awaits to guide you through the waterways for an hour. A key suggestion is to position yourself on the right side, as the majority of landmarks highlighted in the audio tour are on that side, with only a few on the left.
Despite my concerns about the boat tour being chilly, our seats were in a covered and heated vessel. Sliding up the window for better views, the warmth inside kept me comfortable throughout the journey!
For a captivating ice skating experience in Copenhagen, look no further than Broens Ice Skating Rink, situated at the harbour-front in Christianshavn. Open daily throughout the skating season from November to February, this rink provides a welcoming atmosphere for skaters of all levels. You'll find convenient skate rentals, and when hunger strikes or you need a cozy break, nearby food stalls await with delectable treats and warming options like gløgg and hot chocolate.
Museums, Castles, and Towers:
National Museum of Denmark
A short distance from Strøget at the center of Copenhagen, the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen is Denmark's largest museum of cultural history. Exhibitions cover the Danish history spanning from the ice ages to the Middle Ages and the present day. The extensive collection of rooms dedicated to Danish history surprised me; you could easily spend a considerable amount of time delving into it all if you wished. Additionally, the museum showcases artifacts from Ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt.
Situated in close proximity to Tivoli Gardens, Glyptoteket is an art museum housing a remarkable collection of over 10,000 artworks and archaeological pieces. During our visit, we were captivated by the stunning courtyard, panoramic rooftop view, and an impressive French painting collection featuring masters like Rodin, Degas, Monet, Manet, Cézanne, and Renoir.
Nestled in Downtown Copenhagen, Rosenborg Castle is a splendid example of a Renaissance castle. Originally constructed in 1606 as a country summerhouse, it stands as one of Christian IV's renowned architectural endeavors, showcasing the talents of one of Scandinavia's most famous kings. A key highlight awaits within the castle's treasury – the crown jewels, adding to the allure of this historical gem.
Rundetaarn (The Round Tower)
The Round Tower stands as one of Denmark's most iconic structures from the 17th century, showcasing yet another of Christian IV's notable architectural achievements that you wouldn't want to overlook. What sets it apart is the distinctive equestrian staircase—a spiraling corridor that ascends to the top platform, offering panoramic views of Copenhagen.
For an unforgettable dining experience in Copenhagen, consider Høst (meaning harvest in Danish), a Michelin-starred restaurant renowned for its Nordic cuisine. Choose between a three-course or five-course tasting menu, with the option to add wine pairings.
Opting for the indulgent five-course option, we were treated to delightful surprises, making it a truly satisfying meal. Exploring the Nordic flavors and appreciating the artful presentation of dishes, all in harmony with the restaurant's harvest-themed namesake, made the experience truly special.
Torvehallerne - Food Markets
Torvehallerne boasts two adjacent market halls, making it a fantastic destination for both locals and tourists. Here, you can discover specialty goods, fresh produce, and small food bars to satiate your hunger. During our morning visit, we enjoyed breakfast at Grød, a restaurant exclusively dedicated to porridge. Opting for an acai bowl and a chia pudding bowl, it was the perfect, health-conscious start to our day.
Juno the Bakery
Renowned for their delectable cardamom buns, Juno the Bakery is a must-visit for anyone with a sweet tooth. We couldn't resist trying their Danish pastry, and it was nothing short of amazing as well. While the bakery doesn't offer indoor seating, there's a charming little patio where you can enjoy your treats.
The Danish Hotdog
In Copenhagen, hot dogs reign supreme as the street food of choice. They come topped with an array of condiments, but this specific combination is a genuine classic—a curried remoulade sauce, pickled cucumbers, and crunchy fried onions. While it may sound unusual, these condiments are staples in Danish cuisine and harmonize deliciously together.
The primary language in Denmark is Danish, but we had no trouble as practically everyone we encountered spoke English.
Where to Stay
Our choice was the Radisson Blu, strategically located near the train station and Tivoli Gardens. Its central position allowed us to explore on foot and occasionally utilize the underground trains to ease our travels.
Given the winter chill and the likelihood of spending much of your time outdoors, pack accordingly. Ensure you have a winter jacket, hat, gloves, and warm layers to stay comfortable during your trip.
Thanks for reading!
- The Maine Chick