Reasons to Visit Copenhagen in Winter

WHEN IT SNOWS IN COPENHAGEN

Did you see it? Yesterday? The first snow of the new year? Copenhagen woke to a powdered sugar coating of the white stuff. Winter in the capital. Personally, I adore it.

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 clung 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 Scandinavian sky lets the sun shine bright and the sky burn blue blue blue blue. Soak it up. People. Turn your faces to the sun. The Danes surely do.

VIKING BIKING

And winter is a delightful time to visit Denmark. Don’t let the short days and dark nights dissuade you. The Danes do it right when it comes to winter. I had heard rumors that a few flurries and flakes here and the city is forced shut. But that is not the Copenhagen that I have come to know. And while they aren’t exactly Norwegians who ski up mountains with children on their back, the descended-from-Vikings-Danes are fairly hardy themselves, I have found.

Reasons to Come to Copenhagen in the Winter | Oregon Girl Around the World
Are you brave enough to bike in the snow?

Case in point, snow on the ground in Copenhagen doesn’t stop the bikers. The city is proud of their statistic that more than 50% of Copenhageners commute to work and to school by bike. There are physically more bikes in this city than people. To the casual observer, it doesn’t seem like winter puts much of a damper on travel by bicycle. It feels just as crowded during rush hour on the bike lanes in spite of the snow. Bundle up and roll on you Viking bikers. We have tried it and it definitely takes some skill and concentration!

Copenhagen

  • The cyclists of Copenhagen cycle 1,240,000 km every day.
  • 56% of Copenhageners who work or study in the city, commute by bike every day.
  • Copenhagen has a total of 454 km cycle lanes.
  • You have to bike 2.800 years to be involved in a serious accident, statistically.
    Source: Facts About Cycling in Denmark.
    Retrieved from Cycling Embassy Denmark
HIT THE “SLOPES” ON A SLED

Not exactly known for its deviations in elevation (one of the reasons that it is so easy to commute by bicycle) look hard enough and you can find a hill or two around Copenhagen. On a weekend in winter, cargo bikes chock full of snow-suited littles clutching their sleds, make their way to one of those few hills around town. If you are inclined, you can carve out a slice of space on the slope. Join in the crazy and watch out below! You are sure to encounter as many modes of sledging devices as there are bikes in Copenhagen.

SLEDDING HILLS AROUND COPENHAGEN:

Statens Museum for Kunst/Østre Anlæg Park
Corner of Sølvgade and Stockholmsgade, 2100 København Østerbro

Amager Strandpark
Near Amager Strandvej and Hedegaardsvej, 2300 København S
Nearby: Femøren Metro Stop

Frederiksberg Slot Gardens
Frederiksberg Runddel, 2000 Frederiksberg

Bernstorff Slot Garden
Jægersborg Alle 93, 2820 Gentofte

For more ideas and where you to rent a sled if visiting (or a sledge if you’re British)  – click here.

DRESS THE PART

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.

OR DARE TO BE BARE – GO WINTER BATHING

Even the Scandinavian sentiment – “there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate dress” flies out the window as Danes do like to disrobe for winter dips in the sea. You can go for it – really anywhere there is water – but having a warm sauna nearby makes it reasonably worth a try. Danes swear by the circulation-rejuvenating benefits and really don’t stay in very long. In and out and into the sauna. Maybe a double dip is doable if duly persuaded. Do it, you’ll see. You’ll feel glad i låget. Happy in the lid.

Try the Vinterbad at Islands Brygge on the Copenhagen Canal. Aren’t a member? Don’t know anyone who is? Don’t worry – they have guest days open to all.
The first Sunday of every month between the hours. 13:00 and 16:00.

Everyone is welcome and you do not need to be accompanied by a member. It is a free event and you do not need to register in advance. It is possible to bring people under 18 between the hours. 13:00 and 16:00. For guest bathing it will be possible to get an idea of what it means to be a winter swimmer.

You are allowed to: Go swimming in the Harbour Baths and try to sit in the sauna.

What must you do to participate to gæstebadedag:

You must arrive at the Harbour Bath between the hours. 13:00 and 16:00.
You must bring your bathing suit and towel. It may be a good idea to bring two towels. One you can sit in the sauna, and one you can dry you afterward.”

ICESKATING

Some years, the temps dip low enough to freeze the local bodies of water and you can step out onto the ice for a spin. The city keeps tabs on the thickness and safety of doing so and posts signs letting you know if the ice is safe or not. Keep an eye for the blue signs stating “Færdsel på isen tilladt” which means that traffic on the ice allowed – but must take place within the barricaded area. But stay away if the signs state “isen er usikker.” The ice is decidedly not safe.

Check this website for up to date information before heading out:

Københavns Kommune – Er isen sikker? Is the ice safe?

Prefer not to mess around with potential break throughs and unsafe conditions, the skating rink at the Frederiksberg Runddel is open every Saturday and Sunday from last weekend in November through the last weekend in February and will always be safe. Bring your own skates or rent right there.

Skøjtebanen Frederiksberg Runddel

WHERE TO WARM UP WITH CANDLES AND HYGGE

So get out and enjoy or visit in winter! And once you are frozen or red-cheeked and tuckered, Copenhagen offers a million and one places to brush off the cold and defrost, if the sauna wasn’t enough. 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 Sortedams Dossering, Nordre Frihavnsgade or atop the department store Illum. Try Ipsen & Co. on Gammel Kongevej, Rist on Værnedamsvej or Mirabelle on Guldbergsgade. All ever so cosy with well-executed espressos, yummy baked goods and dare I say are all rigtigt hyggeligt*.

Enjoy! Skål! Cheers from Denmark.

(*Really nice.)

Planning a winter trip? Know someone who might be? Pin it! Or share! Tak for det! Thanks for that!

Reasons to Come to Copenhagen in the Winter | Oregon Girl Around the World

 

Suitcases and Sandcastles
Mini Travellers

79 thoughts on “Reasons to Visit Copenhagen in Winter

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Plenty of places to procure fur here! Saw my first protest this week which was surprising to me. As surprising how common fur was to me when I first moved here. I will admit – I have mixed feelings about it. I have a fur trimmed wool coat that I bought from a vintage shop, which I have justified that no new animal was killed and I am reduce, reusing and recycling. Without or without fur, with or without snow, Copenhagen is cozy any time of year. Cheers from here, Erin

  1. I really love a city that loves bikes and takes pride in that they bike ride more than drive around cars. I really do love the snow and how magical it makes a place. I’ve been living in Thailand, so I haven’t seen snow for over a year and half now, but now I’m back in Colorado in the U.S. and let’s just say that I’m about to tie a blinking light to the top of my head, so people will be able to find me in all this snow! We were doing back flips off our 2 story balcony yesterday and landing into a pillow cloud of fresh powder.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      I am so insanely jealous. All my peeps in Portland are under a foot of snow – which is rare and I’m still dealing with grey sleet and snain!! Come on! I live in Scandinavia!! Cheers Dan – thanks for the comment – hope to see another post linked up from you tomorrow for #FarawayFiles!

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      What time of year did you visit? It really has something to offer in every season! Cheers from Denmark, Erin

  2. I find it absolutely crazy that Europeans bike in the snow! Come October, my bike is packed away until at least March/April! It’s just too damn cold for me and my eyes water like crazy. And to hear that Norwegians ski UP hill is just absurd! haha #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      When you don’t have a car, the bike sometimes is your best bet despite the weather here. They salt the bike lanes so that helps, but the snow (usually rain) in your face can be a giant bummer. I prefer the snow in my face to the rain to be honest. When it rains, I usually take the train I will admit – but here you can put your bike on the train and do half/half. The Norwegians are next level in many things – especially things that are done OUTSIDE. Cheers! Erin

  3. Yaaay you had your first snow 😀 I definitely wouldn’t be brave enough to cycle in it that’s for sure, and as for the Danish swearing by the circulation-rejuvenating benefits of sea-dipping but I would be swearing by it in a different way lol. The ice skating looks wonderful though, now that I would try 😀 #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      HAHAHA! Oh thank you for making me laugh. The first time I dipped in the sea naked I may or may not have spewed a little profanity myself – ask my friends! 😉 Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

  4. You make winter in Denmark sound so enchanting. I must admit, I’m not a winter person. We’ve had enough cold winters in Chicago to make me want to move to the Caribbean or Fiji every time it snows, haha. I think I will stick to visiting Denmark in the warmer weather… #farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Haha – yes – I would NEVER have sought out a wintery vacation when I was living in Michigan for four years. I have visited Chicago in January and while the snow and windchill and ice made it easy to explore art museums and breweries, it was FREEZING. It does NOT get that cold here. Stay warm and come to Copenhagen in summer when it is equally amazing. Cheers, Erin

  5. aandj8804

    I always enjoy reading your posts, and this is definitely a good one. Where I live we might get snow a few days a year, so I love visiting places that DO get snow. Copenhagen looks lovely in the snow. And I love all of the winter activities. While my husband has biked in the snow (freak ice day), I don’t think I could ever be brave enough to do it. Thanks for sharing the great post! #farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Thank you kindly! Yes – it’s the same here – only a few days a year (at least the last three winters since I’ve been here) but when it comes, it is magical! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

  6. Clare Thomson

    It looks wonderful in the snow! Bring it on – although cycling in the snow? I’m unsafe enough on the roads… Snow is forecast for us this evening. #FarawayFiles

  7. I can hardly walk in the snow without slipping and sliding around. I’m still having flashbacks to winter 2009 in London. Or was it 2010? In any case, the thought of riding a bike in snow scares the bejeesus out of me. The Danes have gone up about seven notches in my book now. #farawayfiles

  8. Pingback: Faraway Files #13 - oregon girl around the world

  9. Copenhagen is high on my list (I’ve already purchased my lonely planet guide), and my kids have rarely seen snow, so I know they’d love to visit in the winter, but there is NO way you’d find my taking a dip in the winter water! #farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      California has conditioned you Hilary! I bet you would if you were presented with the opportunity! When are you thinking of coming to Copenhagen?

      1. Ha! I do like a challenge though I’m a wimp when it comes to cold water! Was considering the summer as part of a Sweden Norway trip… will definitely keep you posted!

  10. I absolutely love the snow too and Copenhagen looks simply fabulous! Sledding looks like so much fun, as dues ice skating on a real lake. Although I have previously cycled in the snow I can’t say I really enjoyed it so will definitely be giving this and winter swimming the miss! #farawayflies

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Oh come on – not just once? Dip and sauna? It is a very Scandinavian experience! But – I get you. I think it is conditioning, especially when the society touts it’s health benefits, it is much less “scary.” Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      It’s all perspective isn’t it! I think the fact that we don’t have standing snow here in Copenhagen all winter makes it all the more special. I used to live in Michigan where average winter temps were -10C and there was standing snow most of the winter and snowfalls into April. I was definitely sick of it by spring when I lived there. Right now I’m sick of the constant grey. A little white would be very welcome! Cheers from Denmark, Erin

  11. Seems like Danes like yo have fun (and a good time) no matter what. I think my husband has some Viking genes because he loves cold weather. He keeps insisting we should go to Europe in winter (because of the the prices). I went to New York in December and it wasn’t that bad. Looks like Europe is the next step. #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Yes – Europe is magic in the winter – like a fairy tale with snow covered hills and castles and cobblestones. I highly recommend it! (PS – I’m not Danish, I just play one on the internet. Just kidding, I’m American living here for the past two years!)

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Haha! Ok. Fair enough Ahila. Everyone knows their own ways to enjoy the hygge here! It is still beautiful to enjoy from the comfort of a cozy café! Cheers, Erin

  12. Oh what’s the temperature like when it snows, minus 10 degrees Celsius?? It’s amazing that the Danes can still cycle in the snow. I’d thought the roads would be too slippery for bicycles. May you enjoy your snowy weekend! 🙂 #farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      The temperature actually warms up typically when it snows, although it hasn’t been cold enough to get the white stuff to stick this year yet. And as for bikers, they usually put salt down on the bike paths which helps. Cheers from Denmark Kat!

  13. I wish I had the courage to jump in the water but not sure I could – maybe with a few shots first! But I love the sound of the circulating benefits with the warm sauna after. #farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      I think the circulatory benefits require the dip first – all your blood rushes to the skin to try to keep you warm – the sauna lets it all calm down again I think! And don’t worry – Danes can definitely help with the akvavit! Skål!

  14. So pretty in the snow. Maybe even prettier than in summer! I always think it is important to embrace your weather conditions and I know you certainly do Erin. I would be giving the frosty skinny dipping a miss although I understand it does wonders for your circulation.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      It’s a toss up Katy – Copenhagen in summer versus winter, and then there are so many beautiful reasons to come in Autumn. Really no bad season here. You can be charmed by the capital any time of year! But you know that! Cheers, Erin

  15. YAAAAAAHHHHHH loved this as we will be in Copenhagen next month…I am SOOOOO excited!! It is a long time since i was last in Denmark and this is my first visit to Copenhagen. I hope it snows!! We love February in Europe – last year we visited Berlin and Prague! Lots of layers and my fur lined boots, hat and scarf and the promise of hot chocolate and I am Copenhagen’s – ready to love it!!

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      I hope it snows for you too Tracy – fingers crossed! Looking forward to hearing your first impressions of this city that I love – let me know if you need any tips on planning! Cheers, Erin

  16. This is lovely. 🙂 Your pictures are wonderful and while I’m quite cozy reading while drinking my coffee can imagine this would be a nice escape from the norm in Ireland. Thanks for sharing!

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Don’t worry – the Danes (and me) aren’t out in the elements ALL the time. Just makes that cozy down time all the more worth it! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

  17. Really, really nice article!! I’m currently wishing I lived in Copenhagen so I could try out your sledging runs (and yes, I’m definitely a “sledge” sort of guy 😉 ) #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      I will admit that my attempts at “Viking Biking” last winter were on a hybrid mountain bike/street bike – so the tires did have more tread than my cute Copenhagen cruiser I have now. The bike lanes are cleared and salted, so many people use their same bike all year.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Thanks Kate! Have you been to Copenhagen other times of the year? It really is lovely any time of year – cheers, Erin

  18. pigeonpairandme

    Now you’re making me wish our little flurry of snow last week lasted longer! Snowy countryside is beautfiul, but snowy cities are so much fun. Love the sledding pics.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      We haven’t had enough to stick this year – I keep crossing my fingers and wishing hopefully for a little more here! Cheers from Copenhagen!

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Glad to have given you reason to put Copenhagen on your travel list! It is really a very cool town! Thanks for reading along, cheers from Denmark – Erin

  19. Copenhagen looks magical in the winter! I love all things snow and winter and would love to make it over. Currently Australia is having a heat wave (It’s horrible).
    Thanks for sharing. It has definitely sparked some holiday inspiration.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Haha! I would take a little heatwave right now! Thanks for the comment – cheers from chilly Copenhagen!

  20. Wow that looks like so much fun! I LOVE snow and have missed it so much since moving to LA a few years ago! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this weekend! xo

  21. Aww I love Copenhagen!! Such a gorgeous city! We went in the summer two years ago and loved it so I can only imagine how magical it must look in the winter with snow on the ground!! Snow makes everything magical!

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Copenhagen is great anytime of year – but I think most people think of it as a summer destination – equally charming in winter – in different ways!

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Copenhagen is much milder than Stockholm or Northern Norway… I think it’s actually a lovely place if you have a nice coat and places to be cozy – and Copenhagen has MANY of them! Cheers, Erin

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