** This guide has been updated with 2023 dates!**
There’s so much to love about Christmas time in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Christmas season is a magical time in Denmark where the Danish concept of “hygge” comes alive.
Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) can not be defined in a single English word translation, but Danes describe it as a cozy sense of being.
For Danes, Christmas is the most “hyggelig time of the year”. Sharing food, spending time with friends and family, sipping on hot gløgg, and decorating the Christmas tree by candlelight… all these moments blend into a wonderful concoction of coziness that makes up the feeling of hygge.
Here are some of the most unique holiday experiences you should not miss during the most “hyggelig time of the year” in Denmark’s beautiful capital Copenhagen this Christmas.
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1. Experience Tivoli’s Winter Wonderland
Tivoli Gardens is a Nordic wonderland. Tivoli’s designers decorate the 175-year-old historic amusement park with Christmas trees, thousands of colorful lights, and around 60 stalls filled with seasonal treats and gifts that are unique to Denmark.
Most of the rides at Tivoli are still open during the winter too! You’ll find plenty of people on the carousel and vintage cars, to the popular 100-year-old wooden roller coaster and the 260 foot high swings.
Tivoli can be crowded after 4 p.m. when the sun sets and the Christmas lights turn on. For fewer crowds, go at the beginning of the day. You’ll also get more daylight this way-which will be perfect for taking pictures.
2. What to Eat at the Copenhagen Christmas Markets
Denmark isn’t lacking when it comes to traditional holiday goodies! Here are my favorite sweet and savory treats you’ll find at the Danish Christmas Markets!
- Æbleskiver: fluffy doughnut balls served with jam and powdered sugar.
- Gløgg (spiced mulled wine): Danes like their gløgg a bit sweeter and always serve it with dried fruit, usually raisins and sliced almonds at the bottom of your glass. The best Gløgg in Copenhagen is #4 on this list!
- Flæskesteg sandwich (pork sandwich): This is the iconic sandwich for extending holiday leftovers in Denmark! A Flæskesteg is a crispy-skinned roast pork sandwich with a warm sesame seed bun topped with pickled cucumber and cooked red cabbage with a creamy sauce inside.
- Brændte mandler (caramelized almonds): These can easily be found (and smelled!) all throughout the markets and on the shopping streets. Look for the old-fashioned copper pot they cook them in, or just follow your nose!
- Honninghjerter (honey hearts): These sweet and spicy cakes taste like gingerbread covered in dark, rich chocolate, and filled with apricot or orange jam. They’re only sold during Christmas time and can be found in most bakeries in Denmark.
- Risengrød (rice pudding): Risengrød is made up of only four different ingredients, rice, milk, water and some salt. It’s served hot and the best part is the cinnamon sugar on top with a dab of butter that melts into the porriage. My favorite spot for risengrød is on this list! Keep reading to find out where it is.
3. Visit the Copenhagen Christmas Markets
Kongens Nytorv Christmas Market
Kongens Nytorv is in the heart of Copenhagen’s city center. This is the best market for shopping. You’ll find stalls with vendors selling Danish handicrafts, knitted scarves, mittens, handmade glass ornaments, and candles.
Its location is prime -right in front of the historic Magasin Du Nord department store and the impressive Hotel D’Angleterre. It’s best to combine this market with a visit to Magasin Du Nord for shopping, and a drink at Hotel D’Angleterre for their famous gløgg (hint: Hotel D’Angleterre is Bucket List experience #5).
Julemarked on Højbro Plads
The Julemarked on Højbro Plads is where you go to find the best food! Its location is right off the main shopping street near the city’s historic square. For the best view of Højbro Plads Christmas Market go across the street to Illum and take the elevator up to their rooftop!
If you love the old-fashioned charming markets of Germany and Austria, you’ll love the Højbro Plads Christmas Market. Many stallholders at this particular market actually come from Germany.
Try currywurst and German sausage at this market! Or, If you still haven’t tasted Danish gløgg and æbleskiver (Danish doughnuts), Højbro Plads’ Christmas Market is the place to try them!
Christmas Market at Nyhavn
If you’re looking for a traditional Christmas market in the most photographed spot in Copenhagen, go to Nyhavn. The canal captures the ideal winter-time shot of the city. With fairy lights hung from the masts of the boats and a cup of gløgg, you’re guaranteed to feel the Christmas magic.
Hans Christian Andersen Market
This unique market pays tribute to Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. You can also meet Julemanden (Santa Claus) here! Every Wednesday-Sunday between 1 and 4 p.m., Julemanden welcomes children and adults in his cottage to pose for a photo and share their Christmas wish!
4. Try the Best Gløgg in Copenhagen
If you ask any Dane where the best gløgg (mulled wine) is around Copenhagen, you’ll be pointed to the 18th-century pub Hviids Vinstue. Hviids Vinstue has a cozy atmosphere of dark wood furniture, stone floors, and dim lighting – just like any Danish pub you’ll still find candles at each table.
Their gløgg is made up of red wine, port, cognac, spices, and raisins. As the outside temperatures drop, the gløgg heats up, and this little bar goes through around 2,100 gallons of its famous gløgg over the winter season. Yes, it’s that good.
Hviids Vinstue is located across from the Kongens Nytorv Christmas market- walking distance from Nyhavn.
5. Admire the Decorations at Hotel d’Angleterre
Stop by the upscale Hotel d’Angleterre that lights up with Copenhagen’s most beautiful Christmas facade.
Past displays have been as elaborate as an Advent calendar made up of framed LCD screens on the hotel windows. This year’s decorations are a tribute to the beauty of the winter in Scandinavia – complete with northern lights.
A stay at Hotel d’Angleterre will run you around $500 USD a night. If an overnight stay isn’t in your Christmas budget – enjoying the facade of their holiday decorations is a must do when in Copenhagen! Hotel d’Angleterre is in a prime location in the center of Kongens Nytorv right across from the Kongens Nytorv Christmas Market and a short walk away from Nyhavn.
You can make your visit extra sweet and stop by their hotel bar for their famous white gløgg, æbleskiver, and marzipan snowballs by the fireplace.
6. Have a Traditional Danish “Julefrokost” or Christmas Lunch
This Danish Christmas tradition starts about six weeks before the holiday itself. It’s hygge at its best: loads of food, drinks (especially snaps!), and good company.
In Copenhagen, my recommendation for a traditional Julefrokost is at Restaurant Kronborg. Restaurant Kronborg is known for booking up long in advance and reservations are a must! They serve traditional Danish Christmas classic dishes like pan-fried pork with apples, Braised duck with pickled red cabbage, and my favorite risalamande (rice pudding).
7. Shop for Traditional Danish Christmas Decorations
Two of my “must-have” Danish Christmas decorations are an advent calendar candle and paper Christmas Hearts called Julehjerter. The best part is that neither of these decorations is expensive, and they can travel well back home.
Danish Advent calendar candles are special because you light them from December 1st to the 24th. With each passing day, you light the candle down to the corresponding date and blow it out! You can buy the candles in most supermarkets, or the Danish discount variety store Flying Tiger.
If you’re crafty you’ll love weaving together paper Christmas hearts baskets called “Julehjerter”. Similar to the advent candles, you can buy Julehjerter kits at supermarkets, or Flying Tiger. If you’re not as crafty, the Christmas Markets will have glass Julehjerter ornaments for sale you can hang on your tree.
8. Ice Skate at Frederiksberg Runddel
During winter, Frederiksberg Runddel is transformed into an ice rink. It’s free to skate, and the perfect excuse to bundle up to enjoy the cool winter air. Don’t own skates? No problem. You can rent a pair for DKK 50 an hour.
Each year, the ice rink is typically open from the last Saturday in November until the last Sunday in February.
9. Have a Drink at the Most Festive Bar in Town
Copenhagen’s oldest gay bar Centralhjørnet (Kattesundet 18) is famous for its overwhelming and over the top Christmas decorations.
If you haven’t tried the Tuborg Christmas beer, do it here. Fun fact: Tuborg’s Christmas brew is sold only for ten weeks, but comes up as the fourth best-selling beer in Denmark. It’s proof to all the drinking that goes on around the holidays!
10. See a Holiday Ballet at Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens hosts a holiday ballet each year during the Christmas season in their Tivoli Concert Hall. The productions are beautiful!
11. Visit the Copenhagen Zoo for Zoolights
Elephants, puffins, lions, pandas, and polar bears! The Copenhagen Zoo has over 250 different species and 3,000 animals! During Christmas, the Zoo is decorated with twinkling lights and stays open later on select weekend nights for Zoolights. Bundle up and enjoy the lights and the animals.
12. Try Classic Danish Hard Candy at Sømods Bolcher
During the weekdays, you can watch the candy makers pull and cut the hard candy by hand right in front of you. Sømod’s also has daily tours and best of all -samples!
13. Soak in a Hot Tub Overlooking Copenhagen
CopenHot is a fun way for Copenhagen visitors to practice a favorite Nordic tradition- sauna! CopenHot has a unique take on the classic Scandinavian sauna experience by offering both hot tubs and a sauna! It’s the best way to warm up during a chilly Denmark winter day!
CopenHot has been recently relocated to Nordhavn an up and coming area of Copenhagen. Nordhavn was once an industrial shipyard, but now has turned into a trendy spot and is one of the coolest places in the city.
When you’re booking your time at CopenHot you can reserve time in a stationary hot tub for 1,300 DKK ( $185 USD) or panoramic sauna for 1,200 DKK ($170 USD ) .The stationary hot tub and sauna is booked as a unit and the price is always the same, no mater the number of participants.
If you’re going with a group of six you can book the private Dragon Sauna. In the Dragon Sauna you’ll feel like a real Scandinavian, and control the temperature of the sauna yourself for 1,000 DKK ($140 USD).
All experiences include one towel and a private heated changing room. While you’re enjoying the hot tub or sauna, the bartender can serve you cold drinks.
For a more economical choice, book a time slot on one of their “HotDays” offered on selected days for only 300 DKK ($40 USD). During HotDay sessions, you’ll share the stationary hot tubs and saunas with others, for 90 minutes. Note: this “HotDays” option may not always be available.
14. Try a Seasonal Julebryg (Christmas Beer)
If you’re a beer lover plan your visit to Copenhagen on the first Friday of November and experience the excitement of J-Day! J-Day is when the Tuborg pilsner beer debuts their Christmas beer in all the pubs and stores.
The name J-Day is short for “Christmas Brew Day”. The word comes from Juløl which is the Danish word for Christmas beer (‘Jul’ means Christmas) and the word ‘dag’ is Danish for ‘day’.
At 8:59 p.m., all throughout Denmark the Julebryg is launched! The beer changes slightly ever year, but the blue Carlsberg Christmas logo remains the same! If you’re lucky you might be able to snag a Tuborg-blue Santa hat!
While Tuborg is the original brewers of the Christmas beer in Denmark, many other breweries in Copenhagen create their own Christmas beer. Mikkeller is one of my favorite breweries in Copenhagen. Mikkeller even had a beer trailer at the Kongens Nytorv Christmas market this year where you could try all their seasonal beers!
Taste as many of the different Christmas brews as you can. Each brewery has a unique set of flavors in their Julebryg, but all will put you in the holiday spirit!
15. Find Inspiration at Royal Copenhagen’s Christmas Tables
Pop into the flagship store of Royal Copenhagen china store off the main shopping street Strøget and head upstairs to see this year’s inspiring and iconic Christmas table displays.
The table decorations offer some quirky, elegant, and artful ideas to kick your holiday table up a notch!
Royal Copenhagen also has a limited edition Christmas dish pattern that changes each year. It’s always fun to see the Christmas plate design for the new season and look at the display case of past designs.
16. See the Tree Lighting at City Hall
A tradition dating back to 1914, every year on the first Sunday of Advent, Julemanden (Santa) parades through the city with the historic Copenhagen Fire Brigade starting at Nyhavn Canal at 3 p.m. Around 3:30 he will turn on the nearly 65 ft spruce tree, lit with 800 LED lights and 100 Christmas hearts at Copenhagen City Hall.
If you can’t make it for the tree lighting, it’s still just as fun to walk by and see the big tree decorated with Julehjerter hanging from the branches.
17. Find the Best Spot for Christmas Lights
My most favorite street to linger under the Christmas lights is Kronprinsensgade off Købmagergade – it’s so sparkly and special. This is also the same street that AC Perchs Tea Room is on if you fancy a cup of tea to warm you up!
18. Have Tea and Cake at Conditori La Glace
Danes have a tradition of making at least one seasonal stop at La Glace during December for a slice of cake and tea. La Glace has been around since 1870 and sets the gold standard for Copenhagen bakeries. Tea and a Honey Heart at La Glace
Have a slice of one of their many cakes, or a Honninghjerter during Christmas. At La Glace old-fashioned coffee, tea, and real chocolate is served in a teapot (that includes one refill!) It’s a unique experience that only exists in a few other places in Copenhagen.
Even if you don’t have time for tea and cake, La Glace decorates their windows with a festive Christmas display. It’s worth walking by to take a peak!
19. See the St. Lucia Kayak Parade
St. Lucia Night is a Christian tradition celebrated in Sweden and Denmark on December 13th. One of its messages is to bring light into the midst of December’s darkness. The traditional festivities are a beautiful sight, with processions of children singing, carrying candles, and dressed in white robes. Copenhagen has a unique twist with kayakers leading the St. Lucia procession through the canals.
At 5 p.m. on December 13th, hundreds of kayaks decorated with Christmas lights will depart from Kayak Republic and pass through Nyhavn, Christianshavn and Højbro Plads before returning to the Kayak Republic. The event ends around 6:30 p.m.
Find a spot along the banks of the canals and watch the procession of kayaks glide by, decked out in beautiful Christmas lights and candles.
20. Try the Best Rice Pudding at GRØD!
Grød translates to porridge in English, and guess what….the best place to try grød is… at GRØD! The trendy casual restaurant GRØD loves to claim that they were “the world’s first porridge bar”. Their porridge definitely doesn’t disappoint!
During the Christmas season, GRØD adds risengrød (rice pudding) to its seasonal menu. Risengrød is made up of only four different ingredients, rice, milk, water and some salt. It’s served hot, and the best part is the cinnamon sugar on top with a dab of butter that melts into the porridge.
Risengrød is a Danish Christmas staple, and it tastes like Christmas in a bowl.
21. Bonus! Experience a Royal Christmas Market at Kronborg Castle
Let the Christmas spirit embrace you when you walk through Kronborg Castle in Helsingør. Kronborg Castle is the most famous Danish castle, known worldwide from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. During the Christmas season, it’s transformed into a cozy Christmas market for the first two weeks of Advent.
The market is inside the castle and has over 100 stalls selling designer items, clothes, jewelry, toys, sweets, and decorations for the Christmas table.
The entrance fee is 95 DKK. Your ticket includes your entrance inside the Royal Apartments, Ballroom, Chapel, guided tours, and of course the Christmas Market.
Read More About Christmas Markets in Europe
- Heidelberg Christmas Market 2023 (Map + Dates)
- Christmas in Tallinn
- Best Salzburg Christmas Markets 2023
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