Winter in Denmark can feel long, dark and damp. When the little white lights of a perfect Dansk Jul are boxed up and put away ‘til next… October, the limited daylight of January and into February here can be challenging. But if you are lucky and like manna from heaven, the city becomes blanketed in fluffy white flaked goodness – watch out – Copenhagen’s charm shifts into overdrive. Snow. Snow. Snow! Sne in Danish.
Like a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, old buildings and bridges and spires seem to gleam in the white. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Head down the lakes in the middle of Copenhagen and the paths overflow with people. Families pushing prams. Packs of teens on the prowl. Lovers cling together on benches. Runners scoot past and weave around the flow. Dogs and their walkers stroll casually, taking it all in. From the young to the old – you are sure to find throngs of people out enjoying. Especially when the snowfall abates and the Nordic sky lets the sun shine bright and the sky burn blue blue blue blue. Soak it up. Faces to the sun. The Danes surely do.
I’ve heard rumors that a few flakes here and the city shuts down. Not the Copenhagen that I have come to know. And while they aren’t Norwegians who ski up mountains with children on their back, the ex-Viking Danes are fairly hardy themselves I have found. Case in point, snow on the ground in Copenhagen doesn’t stop the bikers. The city is proud of their statistic that 50% of Copenhageners commute to work and to school by bike. I wonder how great a dip those counters post in winter? From the casual observer, it doesn’t seem like much. It feels just as crowded during rush hour on the bike lanes despite the snow. Bundle up and roll on you Viking bikers. We have tried it and it definitely takes some skill and concentration!
On a weekend in winter cargo bikes chock full of snow-suited littles clutching their sleds, make their way to one of the few hills around town. If you can carve out a slice of space on the slope – join the crazy and watch out below! You are sure to encounter as many modes of sliding devices as there are bikes in Copenhagen.
When Danes do bundle – they bundle well and with style. Children under 11 are zipped into colorful one-piece snowsuits we call “onesies” and are darling capped off in their pointy gnome-looking hats. Onesies and snow are not mutually inclusive – as you will hear those suits swish swish swish swishing all season long. For women, you’ll find that here fur is fine. And women don’t relegate their full-length fox fur to Opera outings or the Ballet or Christmas parties or special events alone. It is perfectly acceptable to be worn to the shops, on the bus OR your bike. Not-fake OR faux, Danish fur takes on all shapes – from hats to boots to fringes on mittens. When the temps dip into negative C’s – I will admit that I can see the appeal of swaddling one’s self head to toe in animal pelt.
So get out and enjoy or visit in winter! And once you are frozen and red cheeked and worn out, Copenhagen offers a million and one places to brush off the cold and defrost. Candles and kaffe or varme chokolade shared with family or friends after a perfect day in the snow. This is truly what “hygge” means. A few of our favorite places are Original Coffee on Bredgade or Nordre Frihavnsgade, Kaffestuen on Østerbrogade, Rist on Værnedamsvej or Mirabelle on Guldbergsgade. All ever so cosy with well-executed espressos, yummy baked goods and dare I say are rigtigt hyggeligt*. Enjoy! Skål! Cheers from Denmark.
I’m linking up with the Ersatz Expat #TravelatHome – when you can’t get away – remember to explore your own corner of the world!