Copenhagen has always been high on my ‘must-visit’ list. After meeting a Danish couple who were in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa and hearing the stories they told us about their home country, we couldn’t wait to visit them in Copenhagen. While I’d had heard wonderful things about Copenhagen in spring or summer, we never really had an overwhelming desire to visit Copenhagen in winter.
But as timing would have it, my husband and I had planned to visit Iceland in the winter. I happened to have a few extra days and found cheap flights via Copenhagen in January. So, we decided there was no better time to visit our Danish friends and have them show us around their beautiful home city.
I was surprised to learn that winter was actually one of the best times to visit Copenhagen because there were fewer people around and the cooler weather in Copenhagen in January gave us an excuse to eat a LOT – Copenhagen has one of the best food scenes of any city I’ve ever visited! So, here is our pick of the top ‘cool’ things to do in Copenhagen in January (pun intended ?).
We recommend at least 2 days in Copenhagen (but ideally 3 days) to experience all these fun and unique things to do in Copenhagen during the winter!
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Climb the Round Tower (Rundetaarn)
This is number one on our list for a reason. Climbing this medieval construction is one of the most unique things to do in Copenhagen any time of year, not just in winter. Originally built in the 1600s by King Christian IV, it's amazing that the round tower is still in such good condition today.
After walking up the spiral ramp inside the tower, you’ll find yourself at the top. Squeeze through the tiny ladder staircase and ‘hole in the roof’ and you’ll find yourself on the tower platform, which has an amazing 360-degree view of the Copenhagen city rooftops.
Practical Information for The Round Tower:
Opening hours: The Round Tower is open every day during the winter (except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) from 10 am to 6 pm. The Observatory at the top of the Round Tower is open every Tuesday and Wednesday evening during the winter months from 6-9 pm.
Entrance fee: Entry fee is 25 DKK for adults and 5 DKK for children. This price includes access to The Observatory in the winter. Entry to the Round Tower is included in the Copenhagen Card.
The Botanical Gardens (Botanisk Have)
Visiting the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens is one of the best free (and warmest) things to do in Copenhagen in winter. There are 27 indoor glasshouses, the most impressive being the old Palm House, with its high ceiling, cast-iron spiral staircases, and canopy walkways. The glasshouse is so warm and humid, that your glasses and camera lens will fog up as soon as you walk through the doors. It’s like stepping into a tropical rainforest. I was pleasantly surprised to find this warm little gem in the heart of Copenhagen during winter!
Practical Information for the Botanical Gardens:
Location: Gothersgade 128, 1123 København, Denmark
Opening hours: During the winter months (October through March), the Botanical Gardens are open from 8:30 am to 4 pm and The Palm House is open from 10 am to 15:30 pm every day except Mondays.
Cost: The Botanical Gardens is free to visit; however, The Palm House costs 60 DKK for Adults and 40 DKK for children. Entry to the Botanical Gardens is included in the Copenhagen Card.
Rosenborg Castle (Kongernes Samling)
There are so many castles and palaces in Copenhagen, but if you had to pick just one to visit, make it the Rosenborg Castle.
The castle was built by the Danish King Christian IV in the early 17th Century but only served as the royal residence for less than 100 years before it was turned into a museum and the home of the Danish royal crown collections.
In the castle’s basement, you’ll find an amazing collection of the royal crown jewels, under heavy guard, of course. Surrounding the castle is the Kings Gardens, with beautiful trees and flowers that bloom in the spring and summertime (but not during the winter, unfortunately).
Practical Information for Rosenborg Castle:
Opening hours: The Rosenborg Castle open hours vary. Please check here for accurate visiting times.
Entrance fee: The cost to enter Rosenborg Castle is 120 DKK for adults and free for children. Entry to the Rosenborg Castle is included in the Copenhagen Card.
Wander Along Nyhavn
Nyhavn Harbour is one of the most iconic views in Copenhagen and one that you’ve probably seen a thousand times on Instagram. As you stroll down the harbour front, you’ll find some of the most beautiful, colourful buildings and boats in Copenhagen. If you only had one day in Copenhagen, then taking a wander down Nyhavn should be top of your list.
The best view of the buildings along Nyhavn is from across the other side of the canal. Wander past all the restaurants and then cross over to the other side, where there are fewer people to find the best photo spot.
Pro Tip: The cafes and restaurants that line Nyhavn are always packed with people (mostly tourists) having a drink and enjoying the vibe. While it’s a nice spot for a drink, I wouldn’t recommend eating here. It’s a classic tourist trap and given that Copenhagen is most famous for its food, there are so many better options.
Practical Information for Nyhavn:
Location: Nyhavn, København K, Denmark
Opening hours: Many of the restaurants along Nyhavn are open between 8:30 am and 10/11 pm.
Cost: It’s free to wander around Nyhavn. The restaurants and bars offer a great vibe but are quite pricey.
Christiansborg Palace (Christiansborg Slot)
Christiansborg Palace is the current home to the Danish Parliament and parts of the palace are also used by the royal family for official functions and events. There are some parts of the palace that are open to the public, other parts are closed down for obvious reasons.
The Royal Reception Rooms are well worth a visit if just to admire the lavishly decorated rooms. You even have to wear shoe coverings to avoid scuffing the parquetry floorboards.
Practical Information for Christiansborg Palace:
Opening hours: Christiansborg Palace opening hours vary for the different sections and may close at any time (without notice) for official functions. Please check here before your visit.
Entrance fee: A combination ticket, which includes access to The Royal Reception Room, The Royal Kitchen, The Ruins and The Royal Stables for one month is 160 DKK for adults, free for children. Alternatively, you can purchase separate tickets if you wish to only visit one section of the palace. The Palace Chapel and The Parliament offer free entry. Entry to the Christiansborg Palace Royal Reception Rooms is included in the Copenhagen Card.
Get Your Foodie Fix at Torvehallerne Food Market
You might be able to spell or pronounce it, but Torvehallerne is one of the best and most popular street food markets in Copenhagen. We spent 3 days in Copenhagen in January and visited Torvehallerne every day – it was that good.
The markets feature fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and meat stalls, coffee stands and 80 other food stalls. Our favourite stall was Grød, which serves porridge or oatmeal with several different flavours – the perfect warming winter breakfast!
Practical Information for Torvehallerne:
Location: Torvehallerne is situated right by Nørreport Station – Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København, Denmark
Opening hours: Torvehallerne is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, with later open hours on weekends.
Cost: If you just want to check out Torvehallerne, you can wander around and see all the fresh fruit and vegetable and flower stalls. However, I highly recommend you plan to come for lunch, coffee or afternoon wine, as there are some great food stalls and wine bars. There is indoor and outdoor seating with heaters to keep you warm in the wintertime.
Get Lost in a Winter Wonderland at the Tivoli Gardens
Tivoli Gardens is one of the oldest and most famous amusement parks in Denmark. No visit to Copenhagen would be complete without visiting the Tivoli Gardens. And especially so in the wintertime.
The Tivoli Gardens is one of the best things to do in Copenhagen in winter because it turns into an absolutely beautiful winter wonderland. With fairy-tale themed rides, ice-skating, snow machines, and magical lighting exhibits.
Honestly, I found there weren’t a lot of things to do in Copenhagen at night – other than eating great food (not bad, after all). But I thought visiting the Tivoli Gardens was one of the best things to do in Copenhagen at night, as the entire place is lit up with fairy lights and it looks absolutely magical.
I highly recommend grabbing a bite to eat at the Tivoli Food Hall and stopping for a cocktail at the Nimb Hotel – the most luxurious hotel in Copenhagen.
Practical Information for Tivoli Gardens:
Opening hours: The Tivoli Gardens operates limited opening hours in winter. If you're visiting Copenhagen in January, it's usually not open during this time of year, however it usually opens up for a few weeks in February for a winter wonderland themed spectacular. Click here to check open times before your visit.
Entrance fee: Entry prices range from 135 DKK for adults and 60 DKK for children. This doesn;t include the cost for rides. Entry to the Tivoli Gardens is included in the Copenhagen Card.
See the Little Mermaid
Inspired by the fairy tale ‘The Little Mermaid’ written by Danish writer Hans Cristian Andersen (I’m sure most of us have seen the Disney version), The Little Mermaid is one of the most famous of all the Copenhagen attractions. Much to the disgust of the Danes.
For a city that has so many beautiful castle and palaces and, quite frankly, far better things to see and do in Copenhagen, the Danes simply cannot understand how this tiny statue (yes, it’s so small if you glimpse, you’ll miss it) has become one of their most famous attractions.
I realise I’m not exactly selling it as one of the top things to do in Copenhagen, but as one of Denmark’s most well-known attractions, I couldn’t not include it on this list. To be completely honest, if you are only spending one day in Copenhagen, then this is one attraction that you could definitely skip. It was a little bit of an anticlimax.
Practical Information for the Little Mermaid:
Location: Langelinie, 2100 København Ø, Denmark
Cost: Visiting the Little Mermaid statue is one of the few free things to do in Copenhagen. The only cost is getting there – unless you decide to walk/bike along the waterfront (which I highly recommend). You can also see the Little Mermaid from a Canal Boat Cruise.
Take a Canal Boat Cruise
Seeing the city from the water is one of the more unique things to do in Copenhagen. If you pick the right cruise, many of the attractions in this list can be seen from a completely different perspective.
During this one-hour-long boat tour, you’ll see beautiful Danish style houses and buildings, Nyhavn, the Little Mermaid, Amalienborg Palace, Christiansborg Palace and several other sights not listed in this guide.
If you only have one or two days in Copenhagen, a boat cruise is a great way to see a few Copenhagen attractions in one hour. Just be aware that Copenhagen in January or February can get a little wet and the boat has an open roof – bring an umbrella, just in case!
Pro Tip: If you plan to purchase the Copenhagen Card, it includes a Canal Tour of Copenhagen.
Wander Through the Military Barracks (Kastellet)
I found this activity doesn’t usually feature on many lists of the best things to do in Copenhagen, but I really enjoyed taking a wander through the Military Barracks – and it’s completely free! The star-shaped barracks occupying an island on its own, dates back to the early 17th Century and are now a popular place for locals to take a walk or jog.
Practical Information for the Military Barracks:
Opening hours: 6 am to 10 pm daily.
If you’re looking for one of the most unique things to do in Copenhagen, you have to give Smørrebrød a try. I haven’t seen anything like this Danish specialty anywhere in Europe. My Danish friend described it as an ‘open-face sandwich’, but probably not the kind you would be used to. It’s made on Rye bread with various combinations of cheese, meats, seafood and pickled vegetables.
Smørrebrød can be found at various restaurants around Copenhagen – including Torvehallerne and Nyhavn, but my favourite place to eat Smørrebrød was Restaurant Schønnemann – a famous Danish restaurant located near the Round Tower that has been serving Smørrebrød for years.
Pro Tip: Restaurant Schønnemann is very popular so you’ll have to book online or get there early to get a table.
Practical Information for Restaurant Schønnemann:
Location: Hauser Pl. 16, 1127 København, Denmark
Opening hours: Restaurant Schønnemann is only open for lunch Monday through Saturday.
Cost: Dishes at Restaurant Schønnemann range from 80 DKK to 180 DKK, or 300 DKK for the tasting menu. You'll pay around 50 DKK for a Danish beer. I highly recommend the Curry Herring!
Visit Amalienborg Palace (Kongelige Slotte)
Amalienborg Palace serves as the current residence of the Danish royal family. As an Australian, this was one of the highlights of my visit to Copenhagen, as it’s home to an Australian girl called Mary who became a princess – Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark was originally from Tasmania and married Crown Prince Frederik – the future King of Denmark.
The palace consists of four buildings set around the Palace Square, which you can freely wander around. If you’re there early in the morning, you might be lucky enough to run into Prince Frederik out on his early morning run.
Of the four palaces, only two are open to the public, Christian VII’s Palace by guided tour and Christian VIII’s Palace Museum. The other two palaces are home to the Danish Royal Family and are not open to the public.
The changing of the Royal Guard is a highlight not to miss. This occurs every day – the guard begins his march from the barracks at 11:30 am. The changing of the guard takes place in the Palace Square at 12 noon.
Practical Information for Amalienborg Palace:
Opening hours: Open hours for the Palace Museum vary. Guided tours of Christian VII’s Palace take place on Saturdays and Sundays. Please check here for updated open times.
Entrance fee: Wandering around the palace courtyard grounds is free. A guided tour of Christian VII’s Palace costs from 105 DKK. Entry to the Palace Museum is 95 DKK for adults and free for children. Entry to the Palace Museum (Christian VIII’s Palace) is included in the Copenhagen Card.
Other Things to Do in Copenhagen in Winter
If you plan on spending more than 2 days in Copenhagen, why not also check out these other fun things to do in Copenhagen in the winter:
- Kronborg Castle
- Freetown Christiania
- The National Museum of Denmark
- Christmas Markets
- Outdoor Ice-skating at Federiksberg Runddel
- Reffen Food Market
More Information on Visiting Copenhagen
How Many Days to Plan in Copenhagen
You’ll need at least 2 days in Copenhagen, but ideally, 3 days to experience all the things featured in this guide.
However, If you are only planning to spend one day in Copenhagen, then I would highly recommend you plan to at least visit The Round Tower, Rosenborg Slot, The Botanical Gardens, Nyhavn and Amalienborg Palace. These were my absolute favourite things to do in Copenhagen and most take place indoors, so perfect for wintertime.
Weather in Copenhagen in Winter
I’m not going to sugar coat it. The weather in Copenhagen in January and February (which was when we visited) is cold, with the occasional shower or snowfall. The average daily temperature is between 0-4 degrees Celsius, but we still managed to walk and bike around the city very easily regardless of the weather. I was surprised to see so many locals commuting to/from work on their bikes (rugged up with scarves, gloves, and beanies, of course).
I’m sure many people would recommend Spring or Summer as the best time to visit Copenhagen, and I can’t refute that, as I’ve never visited during this time. I’m sure the city would come alive during this time. But if you have reservations about visiting Copenhagen in winter, don’t worry – I personally think that if you’re not a fan of crowds and you're not afraid of the cooler climate, then winter could be your best time to visit Copenhagen!
Where to Stay in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is a relatively small city and there are many great accommodation options around the city centre. Another perk to visiting Copenhagen in January or Fenruary, is the great deals you'll get on hotel accommodation! We recommend using Booking.com to find the best rate and many hotels offer free cancellation in case your plans change.
Here is our pick of the best places to stay in Copenhagen. All of these hotels are within walking or biking distance from the attractions listed in this guide:
Transport in Copenhagen
- Public Transport: Copenhagen’s metro line connects many of the city’s neighbourhoods and operates 24/7. The train journey from Copenhagen Airport to the city centre takes just 15 minutes.
- Taxi or Rideshare: Taxis can be flagged in the street around the city centre and most accept credit card. GoMore is the most popular ridesharing service in Copenhagen.
- On Foot: Copenhagen is a very walkable city and is quite a small city. Most of the things to do in Copenhagen that we’ve listed in this guide are easy walking distance from the hotels we’ve recommended above. In saying that, you will cover quite a distance on foot, so next time I would probably opt for a bike instead.
- Bike: Copenhagen is a very bike-friendly city. Most roads have their own bike lanes and I was surprised to see so many locals out riding, even in the winter. Just don’t forget to bring some gloves! You can hire a bike almost anywhere around the city and most hotels even offer bike hire.
- Scooter: There are electric scooters available to hire all over Copenhagen city centre.
The Copenhagen Card
If you plan to spend at least 2 days in Copenhagen sightseeing, it may be well worth purchasing a Copenhagen Card. The card is available for periods of 24, 48, 72 and 120 hours. It includes free public transport on city buses, trains, and the metro, and it also includes entry to a number of attractions featured in this guide, plus much more. Click here to see a list of all attractions included in the Copenhagen Card.
Best Tours in Copenhagen
Here are a few tours we recommend in Copenhagen:
- 2-Hour Copenhagen Hidden Gems Canal Cruise
- Full day tour of Copenhagen’s Castles and Palaces
- 3-Hour Copenhagen Highlights Bike Tour
- Copenhagen 2.5 Hour Food Tour
We hope this post has given you some ideas of things to do on your next visit to Copenhagen in the winter. If you have any other recommendations or questions about Copenhagen, please leave them in the comments below.
Planning a trip soon? Here is a list of the websites and resources we use for booking everything from flights, to accommodation, tours, and more:
- Skyscanner for booking the best flight deals
- Booking.com | Agoda | Hotels.com for booking the best hotel deals
- Airbnb | Stayz | VRBO for home rentals
- Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals
- Luxury Escapes for luxury package holiday deals and tours
- Get Your Guide for a great range of day tours
- Tourradar | Intrepid for multi-day experiential and adventure tours
- Priority Pass for airport lounge access in hundreds of locations around the world
- Skyroam to stay connected to WiFi everywhere I go
- iVisa for processing entry visas for many countries around the world
- Covermore for the best worldwide travel insurance coverage (Australians & New Zealanders only)
About the Author:
Amanda Twine is the founder and creator of Fly Stay Luxe – a luxury travel blog sharing informative travel guides, food guides, hotel reviews, itineraries and tips about how to make luxury travel more affordable.