Of all the cities I have visited so far, visiting Copenhagen was a very special trip. This may have been because it was during the festive season. Copenhagen in December is just adorable. Either way, if you’re considering a trip to Denmark over Winter, don’t let the cold put you off. The wind blew hard and the rain regularly drizzled, but it didn’t dampen our Christmas spirits. This city is just wonderful.
I visited Copenhagen last December, and with Christmas rolling around again out of nowhere, I really just wanted to reminisce. This city deserves some praise, and hopefully, this post will give you some tips if you’re planning on visiting anytime soon. Everywhere mentioned is in the city centre, or just outside of it. So let’s talk about visiting Copenhagen.
What To See
If you’re visiting Copenhagen over the festive season, your first port-of-call should be Tivoli Gardens. It was cold and drizzly on our walk to Tivoli, but as soon as you reach that entrance and get through the gates, all dampness will lift. Tivoli is the second oldest theme park in operation in the world (I know right?), and its old-world charm shines right through. It’s decorated in thousands of Christmas baubles and lights, and small coal pits are scattered around the grounds to warm you up when you need it. There are shops, restaurants and coffee shops nestled in between the rides and amusements – everything you need to spend the most Christmassy afternoon you’ve ever had.
There are Christmas light shows on every afternoon/evening among other festivities. And the cutest little shops to pick up the perfect Christmas gifts. I could go on and on about how special and Christmassy it is, but I just think if you’re searching for some festive spirit, you’ll definitely find it here. It’d be a great place to take the kids, too.
Arguably the most popular tourist spot in the entire city, Nyhavn is the famous waterfront in Copenhagen. The canal is lined with the iconic coloured townhouses, and really is a sight worth seeing. I read online somewhere this area is not the best in terms of dining, so I limited my visits to snap-taking. For that reason alone, though, Nyhavn should definitely be on your to-see list. It’s a much longer stretch of houses than I expected, and every bit as beautiful as you can imagine. It’s definitely worth seeing the houses twinkling under the Christmas lights.
The Round Tower is located bang in the city centre, very close to the main shopping area of Copenhagen. We fully intended to visit the tower but stumbled upon it accidentally on our way back home. Giving in to fate, we paid the small fee and made our way up the spiral walkway – the unique aspect of the Tower. Rundertaarn was built for astronomy research, and houses Europe’s oldest working observatory. The Round Tower is now open to the public, and although the city is not hugely built up, but it’s a lovely and unique journey to the top. The view is pleasant, and it doesn’t take long to walk up. And getting to the top allows you to spot all the key Copenhagen buildings from a height.
A peculiar and interesting sculpture that sits along the harbor, down from the Little Mermaid. We came across this while walking down the harbourfront – make sure you’re on the lookout or you might miss him. It’s a really interesting piece of artwork made from scrap metal. I believe it’s based on Rodin’s “Thinking Man”, if you happen to know it. Great spot for a snap, and a lovely and unique piece of art.
An honourable mention goes to the Little Mermaid. I imagine visiting Den Lille Havfrue is high on many visitors lists to the city. But this, in turn, means she is commonly surrounded by the keen tourist. My tip is to start at the Kastellet (fortress and ramparts) and work your way down the harbourfront. This way, you can visit the Star-Shaped Island, pop over to the Little Mermaid, visit Zinkglobal, the Gefion Fountain, the Opera House, Amalienborg Palace, Nyhavn and beyond. You could even wrap up your walk with a trip to the Copenhagen Street Food Market. I never managed to make it to this market, but it’s on my list for when I return.
Copenhagen is for the most part flat, and I would highly recommend walking as a way to explore the city centre if you are able to.
Where To Eat
I posted about Bankeraat here – a bizarre brunch spot in the West of the city. We had brunch here on our first day, and I would recommend it if you’re after a spot of food with a difference. The interior is a bit quirky (think human body, with animal head, dressed in leather) and probably not up everyone’s street, but the food and atmosphere were both great. Very cosy on a winter’s afternoon, and the prices are really reasonable for Copenhagen’s standards. The area around the cafe is also very quiet and picturesque – perfect for walking off your lunch.
Tight is one half of two sister restaurant/cafes, the other being Banksia. We headed here on our first night, and were lucky enough to squeeze into an available table on a busy Friday night. The menu is small yet varied. Their website really articulates the vibes inside, “Enter as a stranger, leave as a friend.” We were made to feel right at home (which might have something to do with the fact everyone speaks great English…). Channel the Hygge.
We went for the potato croquettes to share, which they split and presented beautifully as if two separate dishes. SUCH a nice touch. For mains, we went for the Tight Burger and the Pork Schnitzel. The prices were on the higher end of things but the quality of the food probably justifies this. Food was grand, service was great, and if you fancy visiting Tight – don’t be like us. Book a table.
This is a chain cafe/bakery throughout the whole of Denmark I believe. There’s even one in the airport (which by the way, is maybe the best airport I have ever been in). We stopped here for breakfast on our last day after walking past the jaw-dropping pastry selection in the window the day before. And it was so great, we got some more food to takeaway. Lovely coffee, and incredible pastries. Maybe some of the best I’ve ever had. I don’t know what a local’s view of this chain is or would be, but I’m sold. As I write this, I am actually mourning the fact I can’t visit here for my Friday pastry every week. So yeah, if you walk by a Lagkagehuset, just go in. I read some reviews and their bread is apparently just as good as the pastry. Winner winner.
Mother is situated in the Meatpacking District. We didn’t spend much time here, but I guess it’s a bit of a hub when it comes to restaurants and bars in the city. It was within easy walking distance of Tivoli, where we’d just gotten drunk on Christmas cheer. We rocked up with no reservation, as usual, but managed to get seated immediately. The place was super busy though so I would always recommend making a booking. Mother has popped up in some travel guides so is probably even more popular as a result.
Onto the food – it’s all about the pizza here. We went for the Proscuitto and the Porcella, both of which were stunning, stone-baked sourdough pizzas. A lovely addition to the experience was the fresh basil on the table. Service in the restaurant was casual and not overbearing. And I must say, a very cosy and warm atmosphere on this drizzly December evening. You can check out the Mother menu here.
And that’s all folks. I might write up some recommendations for places to shop, and perhaps some places to stay and other tips while for while you’re in the city. Let me know if you have recommendations for visiting Copenhagen and leave them below. I will definitely go back to this city one day. Thanks for reading!