With so much to eat, see and do in the Danish capital during the colder months, here’s our list of the ultimate things to do in Copenhagen in winter.
Getting around Copenhagen couldn’t be simpler. There are a few options.
Another option is to of course walk.
Which is ideal for the city centre, however if you want to see some of the outskirts like Freetown Christiania or Christianhavn, it may be a bit too much.
We always choose to rent bicycles, which start at around £16 per day, and explore ourselves.
If you’re looking for somewhere to rent scooters from you can book a trusted bike rental here.
The most popular option is to use public transport, whether it be by boat or by bus, the Red Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Bus and Boat option is ideal for tourists.
For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are even tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.
From food tours, to canal rides and pub crawls, there’s plenty of things to keep you busy in the Danish capital!
Book your Copenhagen Tours: Copenhagen: Top Tours & Activities
WHAT TO PACK
DSLR Camera: Canon EOS 90D
Tripod: Zomei Z666 Tripod
Day Bag: Manfrotto Manhattan Mover-50
Sunscreen: Banana Boat Sunscreen SPF-50
Reusable Water Bottle: Hydro Flask Water Bottle
Rain Jacket: Columbia Lightweight Rain Jacket
Christianshavn is a district, east of the inner city of Copenhagen. It is an area of small islands known for it’s hip cafe culture and canal lined with colourful houseboats.
It was once a working class neighbourhood, however Christianshavn developed a bohemian reputation in the 1970s and it is now a fashionable, diverse and lively part of the city with its own distinctive personality.
Businessmen, students, artists, hippies and traditional families with children live side by side. All walks of life reside by the cool cafes, fancy restaurants and charming 19-century houses along picturesque canals.
In the early days Christianshavn was an independent city, until it was overtaken by the rapidly expanding capital, but to this day retains a unique atmosphere.
The people refer to themselves at Christianhavners first, and then as Copenhageners.
In many ways Christianshavn is still a small town in a big city.
Diversity is thriving, and the district has managed to embrace people from all walks of life, from the alcoholic sipping beer at the corner, to the marketing yuppie. It has formed its own special identity stemming from this diversity.
Christianshavn has to be one of top things to do in Copenhagen in winter.
Freetown Christiania, also known as Christiania, is an alternative community in the borough of Christianshavn.
The reason for the name ‘freetown’ is based on the fact that they operate differently. They have their own laws, their own flag and their own way of life.
Christiania isn’t simply a town, it’s a way of living. Freetown Christiania was once an abandoned military sight, then taken over by homeless people in 1971, to turn it into their home.
Since then it has evolved into an autonomous, adaptable community with almost 1000 members.
Everyone within the community has to agree to live by a certain set of rules. Some of which include fairness, equality, no taxes and having their own laws completely independent of the Danish government.
Freetown Christiania is basically it’s own country within a city. It is a vibrant, fun yet controversial area.
This unique community have worked with the local government to stake its claim on the land and be recognised as free.
It’s a counter-cultural movement that is very hippy in style and is almost a large-scale social experiment to see if it really works. So far, it does!
Tourists are very welcome to visit of course, but there are rules.
Rules of Freetown Christiania
Despite operating outside the laws of Denmark, Christiania has its own set of rules to keep the peace.
The first rule is zero violence. The community doesn’t allow guns, knives, bulletproof vests, hard drugs, biker’s or gang colours or stealing. Anything that may promote violence is not allowed.
You also cannot run. Running means there’s something to run away from, and the culture of fear is something they like to avoid.
Cars are also not allowed either, everyone travels by bike.
The big question about Christiania, is the marijuana. Although hard drugs are very much banned, smoking weed is a huge part of the lifestyle in Christiana. The hippy vibe is real. There’s a specific area to buy hash, which is called the Green Light District.
While the local government has tried to crack down on the dealings in Christiania, its never quite stuck and the Green Light District still has plenty of stalls selling weed.
Police raids are very frequent and although they may turn a blind eye to residents sampling some, they won’t allow it from tourists and you can be slapped with a fine or arrested, so be warned.
Freetown Christiania is not just one of the best things to do in Copenhagen in winter, it’s worth a visit all year round.
The Church Of Our Saviour is a baroque church in Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s super famous for it’s helix spire with an external winding staircase.
You can climb all the way to the top for the most beautiful panoramic views over Copenhagen. Each year more than 60,000 people climb the many flights of stairs to the top, 90 metres above street level.
It is also famous for it’s carillon. It’s the largest in northern Europe and plays melodies every hour from 8am to midnight.
Depending on when you visit Copenhagen, be mindful of the tower opening times. In December the tower is only open on 1st, 6th, 8th, 12th og 15th. It closes in January and February and reopens in March.
This still certainly passes as one of the top things to do in Copenhagen in winter because although it’s closed for the peak months of winter, November and March count as cold right?
Nyhavn was originally a busy commercial port where ships from all over the world would dock. The area was packed with sailors, ladies of pleasure, pubs and alehouses.
Over time, the beautiful old houses have been renovated into restaurants, so now the area is filled with people enjoying great food and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere by the canal.
Although Nyhavn is also a great thing to do in summer, it’s still the most popular tourist attraction in the city because of the colourful iconic houses that back onto the canal. So be sure to add it to your list of things to do in Copenhagen in winter.
Amongst this famous picturesque harbour is where various canal tour excursions start too.
Nyhavn is also where the very well known poet/writer H. C. Andersen lived and died. H. C. Andersen wrote his first fairy tale in the house number 20 down the harbour in 1835. He also ended his life in the house number 18. In between, he lived nineteen years in the number 67.
Book your Nyhavn Tours: Nyhavn: Top Tours & Activities
The national gallery of Denmark is located in the centre of Copenhagen.
It is Denmark’s largest art museum, featuring outstanding collections of Danish and international art since the 1300’s.
It’s especially famous for its beautiful collection of Danish Golden Age art, the country’s most comprehensive collection of Danish contemporary art.
The museum’s collections constitute almost 9,000 paintings and sculptures, approximately 240,000 works of art on paper as well as more than 2,600 plaster casts of figures from ancient times, the middle-ages and the Renaissance.
At the National Gallery of Denmark, you can experience special exhibitions, the royal collections, guided tours, performances, art talks, concerts, workshops and much more.
While it’s cold outside and maybe you’re a lover of museums, you can take a break in the warmth by adding this top things to do in Copenhagen in winter.
The beautiful Botanical Garden is located in the heart of Copenhagen, covering 10 hectares of land.
It is a living museum, and home to Denmark’s largest collection of plants from all over the world, including species that are extinct in the wild.
Their vast collection includes more than 13,000 species, all arranged into different areas. There are 600 species of Danish plants, 1100 species of perennial plants, 1100 of annual plants, rock gardens with plants from mountainous areas in Central and Southern Europe and lastly, the comfier tree hill. Not forgetting, one of the newest additions, which is a rhododendron garden.
Many people recognise the Botanical Garden for it’s historical glass housing. There are 27 in total and the most notable, is the old Palm House from 1874 that is 16 metres tall and has narrow, cast-iron spiral stairs leading to a passageway at the top.
The garden also has a special air-conditioned greenhouse that can re-create environments suitable for Arctic plants.
The Botanical Garden also has a cafe, where you can take a break and grab a bite to eat.
The garden is open to the public.
Rosenborg Castle, located in the King’s Garden in the heart of Copenhagen, was originally built as a country summerhouse in 1606.
Today, the renaissance castle is an example of Christian IV’s many architectural projects. It was built by the man himself, Christian IV, in the early 17th century. He was one of the most famous Scandinavian kings.
The interiors of Rosenborg Castle are well-preserved and are there to take you on a journey back in time. You can experience the king’s private writing cabinet, his bathroom, and see wax figures of former royal inhabitants. There are also tapestries on the walls to honour the battles between Denmark and Sweden.
There are four sets of jewellery at Rosenborg Castle and they are called the crown jewels.
The Crown Jewels may only be used by the Queen and only within the borders of Denmark. They are typically used a couple of times a year. For example, at the New Year Reception, during state visits, special family events, and similar occasions.
Magstraede is one of the oldest streets in the Old Town of Copenhagen.
It’s famously known for it’s colourful buildings, some that date back to the 18th century.
If you take a stroll down the cobble stone street of Magstraede, you will travel back in time and experience a relaxing walk away from the city noise.
With most of the touristy things to do in Copenhagen in winter being quite busy, visiting Magstraede is a great opportunity to get away from the hotspots and do something a little quieter.
However don’t expect to find stylish cafe’s and bars there. Unless you fancy pizza, there’s a cute place on the corner as you enter Magstraede street.
The Round Tower is one of Denmark’s most popular structures.
The 17th-century tower and observatory is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. It was originally built as a platform for the university observatory and for centuries it was the centre of Danish astronomy.
To get to the top, you need to walk up the spiral walk. The core is hollow and you can step inside one of the open passages and stand on a glass floor, hovering 25 meters above the ground. The glass is more than 50mm thick and can carry up to 900 kg per square meter. This is quite a new attraction.
Halfway up the tower you will find the old Library Hall. It used to contain the entire book collection of the university, but today the hall serves as a venue for exhibitions, concerts and cultural events since its reopening in 1987.
The famous Danish writer H.C. Andersen used to visit the library and he also found inspiration for his work there.
The tower platform on top has a great 360 degrees city view centred by the observatory, which is still used in the winter months.
From the top of the tower you’re able to experience the most incredible views over the old part of Copenhagen. So be sure to add this one to your top list of things to do in Copenhagen in winter!
Tivoli, also known as Tivoli Gardens, is an amusement park and pleasure garden.
It was founded in 1843 and is located directly in downtown Copenhagen, right next to the central rail station. It didn’t take long for Tivoli to become a national treasure as well as an international attraction.
Fairy tale writer H. C. Andersen visited many times, and so did Walt Disney. It’s said that Walt Disney even found the inspiration for his own Disney World at Tivoli.
Tivoli is the most-visited theme park in Scandinavia, and the fifth-most visited theme park in Europe. So if you’re into that kind of attraction you can book your tickets in advance here.
This nostalgic, magical place is even more extraordinary at christmas time so if you’re feeling the christmas spirit, Tivoli should be number one on your list of things to do in Copenhagen in winter.
There’s nothing more special than winter in Tivoli with the snow covered Gardens and glittery winter lighting as the twilight falls. You can go on a fairy-tale adventure around the candlelit ice rink, watch entertaining performances and much more.
At this amusement park, there is something for all kinds of visitors, both young and old.
The scenery is incredible, with exotic architecture, historic buildings and beautiful gardens. At night, thousands of coloured lights create a unique fairy tale atmosphere that will completely blow your mind.
Book your Tivoli Tickets: Copenhagen Tivoli Gardens Fast-Track Ticket & Optional Rides
Palads Theatre, also known as the Palads, is a cinema operated by Nordisk Film in Copenhagen.
The cinema complex offers a wide selection of films in its 17 auditoriums, more than in any other Danish cinema. In the largest movie theatre it boasts 689 seats alone.
Palads cinema is great for children too. They have children’s films playing throughout the day, up until 7pm. They are shown on the larger screens for more space and there aren’t as many commercials as your regular movie. However, you must reserve seats for these kind of shows.
In 2010, the foyer was completely renovated, reflecting modern trends in design and technology.
The venue is also used for a variety of other events such as sports functions and ballet performances.
The cinema currently offers the widest selection of films in Denmark, covering the interests of all age groups. Plus it is equipped with the latest technical equipment, including Digital 3D.
If you’re searching for more quirky things to do in Copenhagen in winter, Bastard Cafe is a godsend on rainy, cold days.
Bastard cafe is a place for board games, card games, coffee and ultimate cosiness! They also serve finger food like nachos, popcorn and cookies. In addition, they have a beer, wine, spirits and soda menu.
Bastard cafe is a social place with a real community feel. Everyone talks to everyone, and there’s not one person that isn’t having a great time!
The concept they have created at this cafe is a unique style of meeting up with friends to have a guaranteed good time. Even better, you’re likely to make new friends as well. Or if you play monopoly, you may just make enemies too.
Bastard Cafe is for everyone. You don’t have to know the rules to the hundreds and hundreds of games they have. There are friendly game guru’s floating around to help you get started if you’re stuck. However if you to prefer to figure it out yourself, there are instructions to every game.
Some people take the game life seriously and bastard cafe does have members for the more complex games. So if you’re not a member, some games do incur a small rental fee, while others are free to use. There are more than enough free games to get through without having to become a member.
You can spend hours playing old favourites or up your gaming skills by trying a new, more obscure option.
Your guaranteed to leave bastard cafe with a smile on your face, and memories for your memory bank.
Broens Ice Rink is a 600 metre squared ice rink, located on the harbour front in the heart of the city. You will find this latest addition to this city at the end of the Inner Harbour Bridge.
Locals and visitors alike can spend and hour or two on the ice putting their family or friends to the challenge of not falling over. There are special support penguins that children can use to help get their way around the ice.
From Broens Ice Rink, there is a fantastic view of the harbour as well as a selection of food stalls to grab a bite to eat and take it all in. It makes for the perfect place to create winter memories with your family and friends.
If you have your own skates, spending time on the ice rink is free. However, you can rent skates for DKK 50 per hour.
Boltens Food Court:
A cosy hotspot in the heart of Copenhagen. Inside, you will find 14 national and international food stalls, serving tasty culinary food from all over the world. Everything from Moroccan, Indian, Thai to Italian and traditional Danish.
Authentic homemade food is available from all around the world to everyone, whether you are picky, vegetarian or have specific dietary requirements. You will find anything you fancy at Boltens Food Court.
You can stop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner and should you wish to take the food home, it’s also possible to have it prepared to-go too.
It’s great to take a moment inside from the cold when your fingers are numb and you want to warm up with some delicious, hearty food. Boltens Food Court has a cosy atmosphere with a hipster edge so it’s the perfect place to refuel.
Copenhagen’s most raved about burger joint. It’s quirky, cool and very different. It used to be just a gas station but has since expanded into a burger business too, and what a move that was.
In spring 2017, Gasoline Grill made it to Bloombergs top 27 best burgers in the world as the only one in Northern Europe.
As it is super popular amongst burger lovers, don’t let the line scare you away. It’s common for there to be a queue and the experience is always worth it.
They carefully plan their production each day to make sure that they don’t prepare too much food, that it has to go to waste.
They sell out everyday and that is their guarantee for a fresh burger. You can order sides and soft drinks too!
Gasoline Grill opens everyday at 11:00 and closes when everything sells.
Danish pastry – where do we start?!
A Danish pastry, sometimes shortened to just Danish, is a multilayered, laminated sweet pastry.
With so many different shapes and names to choose from, we recommend grabbing a small selection from a local bakery! You can of course find them in the supermarket chains, but since you’re in Denmark, you should really try and get the ‘real deal’.
Some pastries have chocolate, sugar, cinnamon or icing on top. Other pastries may have different flavoured jams, marmalades or other preserves inside.
The concept originally came to Denmark because of Austrian bakers, but over time it has developed into a Danish speciality.
A danish pastry will go down a treat with a hot cup of cocoa or coffee, so be sure to add it to your list of things to do in Copenhagen in winter. We promise it will warm you up!
Luxury – Nimb Hotel – Nimb Hotel is located in Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli Gardens. This stylish boutique hotel offers on-site dining and designer rooms with flat-screen TVs and park views, not forgetting the antique furniture and four-poster beds. Each bathroom has a double sink and shower with luxury toiletries and guest robes. Guests can enjoy seasonal Scandinavian dishes and French cuisine along with seafood and steaks. Cocktails and rare whiskeys are also available at Bar ‘n’ Grill. Nimb Hotel can help arrange private limousine service to and from Copenhagen Airport, which is 5 miles away.
Mid-budget – AC Hotel by Marriott Bella Sky Copenhagen – AC Hotel is located next to Copenhagen’s Bella Center. This hotel features distinctive and modern architecture with rooms that have flat-screen TVs, tea/coffee makers and floor-to-ceiling windows. Relaxation facilities at the wellness center include hot tubs, massaging showers, saunas and steam baths. Free WiFi internet is available throughout the hotel and the 3 on-site restaurants offer various dining options. The city and Copenhagen Airport are just 15 minutes away.
Budget – Urban Camper Hostel – Urban Camper Hostel is located in the trendy Nørrebro district in Copenhagen. This property offers a unique set up of 4-person dorms in form of large, indoor tents. A few rooms are private double rooms too, along with shared bathrooms. The indoor tents include large lockers and ventilation for comfort. All rooms include a continental breakfast, bed linen, towels and high-speed WiFi. Guests can enjoy the large common area, with a bar, a football table and many other fun games. Copenhagen city center is 2 miles away and the nearest metro station is 150 yards from Urban Camper Hostel.
For more places to stay in Copenhagen you can check the latest prices here.