If you’re looking for a festive city break then have you considered spending a few days around Christmas in Copenhagen? There are winter markets to be browsed, Tivoli Gardens to soak up and if you time it right, you may even see a once-a-year parade!
What to pack for December in Denmark
Make no mistake, it is cold! I wore leggings under jeans, with cosy boots over the top. I also wore long sleeved tops, covered with a thin jumper, covered with a thick cardigan. Plus hat, gloves, scarf and coat. You are likely to be spending alot of time outside and the city is fairly walkable so cosy comfort wins over everything.
Where to stay in Copenhagen
Where you choose to stay will greatly depend on your budget and key interests. Nyhavn is an obviously fairly popular area of the city due to its iconic waterfront, however we opted for the Vesterbro district. Although Vesterbro was the red-light district area of the city, its reputation is much cooler and less seedy these days. We stayed at the Andersen Hotel – a boutique hotel with beautiful interior decor and wine hour from 5-6pm!
I should also add that the Andersen have an environmental initiative whereby they reward their guests for declining housekeeping services. You can choose from discount on bike hire, discount drinks at the sister hotel bar or a tub of sweet treats. The hotel is also just 5 minute walk away from both Copenhagen Central train station and Tivoli Gardens.
What to see and do at Christmas time in Copenhagen
We spent 3 nights in the city and felt that was more than enough time to do what we wanted to do. However, we didn’t visit some of the big attractions such as Rosenborg Castle or The Little Mermaid statue. To be honest, I’ve heard that the statue is a bit overrated anyway.
Explore the Christmas Markets (Julemarked)
There are a few different Christmas markets (or Julemarked in Danish) dotted about the city. We didn’t actively seek them out but rather stumbled upon them. We popped by the H.C. Andersen market and the Christmas market at Nyhavn. Both were offering more or less the same things such as food, sweets and gifts. Of course, you should definitely try some gløgg (Danish mulled wine) while you’re there!
Go shopping on Strøget
Strøget is one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets and Copenhagen’s main shopping street. If you are staying one end of the city and walking to the other then heading down Strøget is a must. You’ll know you’re there by all the pretty lights overhead.
Experience the magic of Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens is perhaps Copenhagen’s most famous attraction and certainly its most festive. Founded in 1843 this amusement park was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Disneyland parks. Unlike Disney, which is quite modern, Tivoli has retained a very traditional charm.
There are different price grades for visiting the park. We opted for the basic entrance ticket for 155DK (£18GBP) that gained us access. We had considered going on a couple of rides without shelling out for a ride pass but changed our minds when we realised it would have cost us about £10 each per ride!
We chose to visit the park in the day and during the evening. Daytime in December offers you a much more quiet and relaxed experience to wander around and enjoy the decorations but after dark when all the lights are on is when it is at its most beautiful but busy. If you do choose to do this, exit through Tivoli Food Hall and be sure to get a stamp on your wrist so you can re-enter later on.
Watch the Saint Lucia Day parade
Every year on December 13th, Scandinavian countries celebrate Saint Lucia Day. Usually a candlelit procession of girls and boys dressed in white and singing songs will take place.
However, in Copenhagen they have put their own twist on the celebrations. Starting at the Kayak Bar at around 5pm, you can view local people paddling fairylight covered kayaks along the canal towards Nyhavn. There is also an accompanying boat carrying people singing carols too.
We had wanted to follow the kayaks down the canal but it was so so busy that once they had all left where we were stood at Kayak Bar, we decided to head back to our hotel.
We only scratched the surface of what’s on offer but that was our experience of Christmas in Copenhagen. If we decide to return to the city there are a few more sites we’d like to see and perhaps even take a day trip to Malmo, Sweden.
If you liked this, then you might enjoy my post about New Years at Disneyland Paris.