Choose Denmark as your next destination for a truly magical winter break!
The perfect winter destination
Feeling those winter blues? Denmark might be able to help! From its magical Christmas markets and spectacular New Year's fireworks displays, to days spent on the slopes or exploring fairytale Danish castles, here are 10 reasons why Denmark would be the perfect destination for your next winter break.
It's hygge season!
As winter rolls around and the days grow shorter, hygge is at its best in Denmark. Even harder to explain than it is to properly pronounce, Danish hygge can literally be translated as 'cosiness'. Yet the word means so much more than just a warm and cosy aesthetic. Whether it's snuggling down with a steaming mug of hot chocolate in front of the fireplace, or braving the cold with your family and friends armed with oversized scarves and blankets, hygge at its heart is about making the most out of life, even the small things, whilst surrounded by loved ones. Get your hygge on in Denmark's capital by sipping on a cup of coffee and tucking into a fastelavnsboller - a deliciously doughy bun topped with chocolate and filled with thick custard eaten during Denmark's carnival season - at Conditori La Glace, the oldest (and arguably the best) confectionary in the whole of Denmark.
Shelter from the cold at Denmark's amazing museums and art galleries
Art lovers and frequent museum-goers will feel right at home in Denmark. In the capital, pay a visit to the The National Gallery of Denmark and learn more about Danish history and culture or head to the city of Aarhus on the Jutland peninsula's east coast and discover the multistory ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, known for its fun rainbow art installation that wraps itself around the building fittingly named 'Your rainbow panorama'.
What's more, only a short 40 minute train ride from the centre of Copenhagen is the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, one of the world's leading international art museums. Considered an architectural gem, the museum boasts over 3500 individual works of art from multiple Danish and international artists. Even though it's chillier in the winter months, it's well worth taking the time to explore the museum's Sculpture Park as among the sculptures, visitors can catch glimpses of the Sweden coast.
Experience a winter wonderland at Copenhagen's Tivoli
Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen is transformed into a magical winter wonderland in the lead up to Christmas. The famous amusement park has sat in the heart of the capital since 1843, making it the second oldest park of its type in the whole world. Hop onto one of their 27 rides (the Ferris wheel and roller coaster in particular are real crowd-pleasers) and whizz past the park's trees and buildings draped in twinkling Christmas lights. More than half a million lights in total are strung up throughout the park every year for a truly magical Christmas light show. There's even a quaint Christmas Village that's set up every year with wooden shacks selling everything from handmade gifts to delicious winter drinks and snacks.
Explore Denmark's fairytale castles
A visit to Denmark wouldn't be complete without exploring its many castles that look like they have stepped right out of the pages of a fairytale. Better-known as Hamlet's castle, Kronborg castle in Helsingor, only an hour out from Copenhagen, is a must visit, and is believed to be the inspiration behind Shakespeare's Elsinore. This Renaissance fortress was built in the 1400s but it has been burnt to the ground and rebuilt since. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the first two weekends of December sees the castle's courtyard and rooms transformed into a Christmas market with small stands selling traditional Christmas treats and gifts. Inside the grand ballroom there is a towering Christmas tree under which children can meet Santa Claus himself!
Another gorgeous Danish castle is Frederiksborg Castle. Situated across three small islets in the Castle Lake in Hillerod, the Renaissance palatial complex of Frederiksborg has been repurposed as Denmark's Museum of National History. Brave the chill and stroll through its perfectly manicured gardens or learn more about Danish history inside thanks to the museum's large collection of portraits, history paintings, furniture and applied art.
Celebrate Christmas in Denmark
Denmark is the perfect destination to celebrate Christmas. From November onwards, the whole of Denmark is gearing itself up for the big day. Stroll down Kronprinsensgade, a picturesque pedestrian-only street in Copenhagen, and admire all of the Christmas lights strung up between the buildings. Copenhagen's district of Nyhavn and its iconic rainbow coloured houses is also beautiful at this time of year. Walk along the waterfront here whilst sipping on glogg - a sweet mulled Danish wine with raisins and almonds that you can add rum to for an extra kick - bought from a nearby Christmas market stall by the canal. Couple your Christmas drink with delicious aebleskiver, small rounded pancakes dusted with powdered sugar and filled with jam that are a tradition here in Denmark. Odense, the hometown of Hans Christian Anderson, also holds its Hans Christian Andersen Christmas Market every year and is a must visit for those wanting an old-fashioned market experience. You can really sense the city's long, medieval history here as soon as you set foot on its cobbled streets - paired with Christmas time, it's a match made in heaven!
Ring in the New Year
Celebrate the New Year in style in Denmark! Walking down the capital's streets on New Year's Eve, it's not uncommon to see fireworks whizzing past. Yet if you want to see a proper fireworks show at midnight, head to Tivoli's to see its fabulous display that lights up the night sky in multicolour. When the clock strikes 12, crowds also start to gather at Town Hall Square at the heart of the city to hear the clock tower chime in the New Year. Others head to Queen Louise's Bridge, the bridge connecting inner Copenhagen to Norrebro. Many restaurants remain open serving glasses of champagne and slices of traditional kransekage, a delicious Danish cake made from marzipan and baked into rings, to those out celebrating in the city. Yet as the countdown to the New Year begins, make sure you find somewhere to jump off of, as Danes like to literally jump into the New Year! This tradition has evolved from an old superstition and is said to bring good fortune and luck to the jumper in the year to come.
Fancy a dip?
Would you be brave enough to join the Viking-like Isbryderne (Icebreakers) in going for a winter swim? Every year, during the Skagen Winter Swimming Festival, a handful of Danes pluck up the courage to go for a ice-cold dip in the waves. The triumphant winter swimmers are all rewarded with a steaming hot drink and mug of soup from the nearby Jacob's Café afterwards.
Around Copenhagen, there are also several harbor public baths including Islands Brygge, Fisketorvet, and Sluseholmen where both seasoned winter-bathers and baby-faced newcomers can dive head-first into the clean, albeit freezing canal waters. It's meant to have amazing health benefits and increase life expectancy but we think we might need some more convincing first!
Let it snow!
Come winter, snow arrives in Denmark! One of the most popular activities to do in Denmark when it snows is outdoor ice skating. Every winter, Frederiksberg Runddel, by the entrance to Frederiksberg Garden, is transformed into a wonderfully festive outdoor ice skating rink. Entrance is free so you can have fun on the ice all winter long! Skates are available to hire for a small fee or you can bring your own. You can also go ice skating in C.W. Obels Square, located in the heart of the city of Aalborg, surrounded by some of the best cafes in the area so you can warm up and enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate after you've had your time on the rink. Just don't forget to wrap up warm!
For an indoor snow adventure, you can hit the slopes at Copenhagen's Amager Bakke, the city's first indoor artificial ski slope and recreational hiking area. As well as hiking and skiing, you can also try your hand at tobogganing!
Relax in a steaming hot sauna
There's nothing more Nordic than relaxing in a steaming hot sauna after a long day spent out in the snow. CopenHot, open seasonally, is a popular spot with both Danes and tourists for a hot soak. Offering a spa experience like none other, you can cruise along Copenhagen's canals in a dedicated spa boat or unwind in a fire heated barrel spa at the harbour. Indoors, there is a sauna with a panoramic glass wall so you can relax and admire the fabulous views of the waterfront at the same time. Open year round, La Banchina is one of Copenhagen's hidden gems where Danes come to indulge in delicious, home-cooked Italian food, wine and coffee before warming up in wood-fired sauna. For only 50 kroner per person, working out roughly to 4 pounds each, it's a no brainer! What more could you want after a day exploring Denmark's fascinating capital?
Kick back and listen to some tunes
Denmark's reputation precedes itself when it comes to its music shows and festivals. The Frost Festival in particular pushes the boundaries when it comes to music, creating out of this world spectacles by experimenting with sound, light and space every February. With both free and ticketed events across Copenhagen, the festival and its pairing of music and light is sure to chase away the chill of Denmark's dark evenings. Since its first edition in 2011, concerts have been held in a number of museums and churches, in Copenhagen's botanical gardens and even at the bottom of empty swimming pools and in abandoned aquariums!
Copenhagen has also been named the European capital of Jazz. Let your winter blues be whisked away at the winter edition of Copenhagen's much-loved summertime jazz festival: Vinterjazz. Beginning on the first Friday of February and running for three whole weeks, events are held all across the city and feature both top Scandivanian artists and unknown talent. Yet since 2001 when the event first began, Vinterjazz has gone nationwide and now hosts over 600 concerts across the country during the three weeks in big cities like Aarhus, Aalborg and Odense and even in the lesser known towns of Silkeborg, Lemvig and Sonderborg.