Christmas Copenhagen: Why a trip to the Danish capital is worthwhile even in winter

As I walk up the stairs of the Kongens Nytorv metro station with my friend, only a few meters separate me from the Christmas wonderland on the new King's Market in the middle of Copenhagen's Old Town.

Christmas Copenhagen: Why a trip to the Danish capital is worthwhile even in winter

As I walk up the stairs of the Kongens Nytorv metro station with my friend, only a few meters separate me from the Christmas wonderland on the new King's Market in the middle of Copenhagen's Old Town. Numerous lights shine on the large Christmas tree. There is a festive glow all around me as I look at the small stalls. English caramels line up alongside wool sweaters, jewelry and Gløgg. This is a type of mulled wine, but it tastes sweeter and there are small pieces of almonds and raisins in the cup. Here it is served in a plastic cup instead of in deposit cups.

The many colorful lights and the beautifully decorated houses around the Christmas market awaken a cozy and Christmassy mood in me. Visitors line up in front of a large, bright bear to take a photo with the huge figure. Anyway, I don't really know where to look because everything is covered in a beautiful glow of lights. It's simply hygge.

The term hygge has its origins in the Norwegian language, but the Danes also know what wellbeing is all about. Anyone who has ever been on holiday in Denmark will be able to confirm this welcoming, warm atmosphere. People are simply a little more relaxed and incorporate small, beautiful things into their everyday lives - like the warm light of the candle. For me, the whole city radiates the hygge way of life during Advent, so many decorated trees, houses, windows and squares.

Just a few steps further, Copenhagen's former trading port is illuminated in a sea of ​​lights. Colorful old houses and almost every one has a pub or restaurant. Many artists used to live in the houses. Hans Christian Andersen lived, among other things, in house number 20 and wrote fairy tales there such as "The Girl with the Matchsticks". During Advent, the Christmas market huts are located directly on the quay wall. You can also buy warm gloves, hats, glasses or one or two treats here.

In addition to the Christmas markets, my friend and I also wanted to explore Nørrebro in wintery Copenhagen. In 2021, the district ended up on Timeout magazine's list of the 40 coolest neighborhoods. We take a bus from the city center into the district via the Dronning Louises Bro. The bridge connects the district with Copenhagen city center. The city's defense system once ran here. Today people walk or jog along the side of the lakes that the bridge crosses. Nørrebrogade runs like a vein through Nørrebro. On the way to our breakfast spot we discover many small shops, including many vintage and second hand stores. If you want to go on a long shopping spree, it's better not to go too late - many of the smaller shops close between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

When we arrive at Café Kaf, we make ourselves comfortable to try one of the famous pastries. Delicate puff pastry, with nuts and an almond cream on top - heavenly. Unfortunately, my stomach is now full, even though there are so many snack bars and restaurants in Copenhagen's multicultural district that we could try. We stroll to the urban park Superkilen, where small swings, a boxing ring, fountains, hills and a drawn floor await us. Admittedly, it's worth a visit, probably in summer, to sit in the sun with a cold beer. Given the drizzle and temperatures around freezing point, we end the evening in a bar. At Mikkeller we have a huge selection of craft beers and try our way through the Christmas varieties.

Another trendy district is directly west of the main train station, where the red light district is. Via Istedgade you can quickly reach the part of Vesterbro where there are numerous cafes, shops and bars. Some of them are not that easy to find. Bar 1656 is located on a side street. But instead of a billboard or neon sign, there is just a green door under a red lamp. The windows are covered with curtains. But anyone who dares to enter the bar despite its inconspicuous exterior will be rewarded with a good cocktail menu. Instead of the typical classics, there are only our own creations - even a drinkable cheese platter. Guests sip their drinks in cozy niches on high chairs or on soft stools. Golden peacocks on a black background hang on the walls.

If you don't want to explore Copenhagen by bike or on foot, you can rely on public transport. The metro runs very regularly - even if you have to get used to the fact that it runs automatically. So without a train driver. Where there is no metro, buses usually make good progress. The right connection can be easily found on Rejseplanen.

There are several options for purchasing tickets:

Purchasing single and day tickets from machines or via app.

If you want to explore many sights, museums or go on excursions such as a boat trip in addition to public transport, you can calculate whether a Copenhagen Card is worth it. Here travelers pay a flat rate for, for example, 48 hours. Included are admission to many museums and public transport in the city. This can be purchased via the app.

Another option is the Rejsekort. This is a plastic card that you load money onto and check yourself in and out of every trip. It can be used throughout Denmark. The price of the route traveled is deducted - outside rush hour a discounted price applies. You can buy them, for example, at “Seven Eleven” at the main train station. Travelers must purchase an anonymous travel card. This costs 80 Danish kroner and has a minimum top-up amount of 100 Danish kroner. That's the equivalent of a little more than 24 euros.

The opening times of the Christmas markets may seem a bit strange to some German city dwellers - but the Julemarked closes at 6 or 7 p.m. except for Friday and Saturday. At Nytrov Square, also located in the heart of the Danish capital, you will have the opportunity to take a photo with the famous Danish poet Hans Christian Andersen - this Christmas market is named after him. However, we didn't meet him - but we did meet Santa Claus. He even has his own hut where children can knock and tell him what they want. Of course, taking photos is also allowed. Admittedly, since we visit this market on Sunday morning, the beautiful lights that transform the Christmas markets into small, cozy wonderlands in the evening are missing. Stalls with gemstones, wines named after Norse deities, hats, gloves can be found here alongside churros, bratwursts and a Gløgg stall. Incidentally, the first to also offer an alcohol-free version of the Danish classic.

We only have to walk a few minutes to go to the next Christmas market. At Højbro Plads we can also find Italian pastries, English caramel, the obligatory bratwurst, potato spirals and raclette in small huts. A stand is full of punched rolling pins that can give your own Christmas cookies a very special touch. Finally, I stand in the sleigh with Santa Claus for a photo. We actually wanted to visit the Christmas market in the Tivoli amusement park - but there wasn't enough time for that! The amusement park is just a few minutes' walk from the main train station and is transformed into a winter wonderland during Advent - which we'll probably have to check out next year.

The Christmas markets in Copenhagen open in early/mid November and are open until December 21st. Only the Christmas market in Tivoli is open until December 31st. Travelers don't have to pay an entrance fee for the Christmas markets - but the prices at the stalls are typically high in Copenhagen. However, if you want to visit the Tivoli Christmas amusement park, you have to pay the park entrance fee. It is almost 21 euros for adults.

Hans Christian Andersen Christmas Market, Nytorv, 1450 Copenhagen K

Christmas market at Kongens Nytorv, 1200 Copenhagen, Denmark

Christmas market at Højbro Plads, 1200 Copenhagen K

Christmas market in Tivoli, Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 Copenhagen V