When Christmas arrives in Copenhagen, the city is transformed into a winter wonderland bursting with Nordic tradition and many Christmas markets. It’s an accessible city to walk around, and you can combine visiting the Copenhagen Christmas markets with exploring some of Copenhagen’s best landmarks.
I had already visited several top Christmas markets in Germany but had never been to one in Scandinavia, and so was looking forward to wandering around the traditional Danish Christmas markets.
Hygge, the Scandinavian feeling of being comfy and cosy, is something I was familiar with, and I knew I would find it here by the bucket load at the Copenhagen Christmas markets. I also couldn’t wait to stock up on unique Scandi Christmas presents for family and friends that weren’t from IKEA!
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Updated August 2021
Copenhagen Christmas Market Dates
A few of the smaller Christmas Markets in Copenhagen work outside of these dates, but the main ones featured in this post will be held on these dates in 2021. As there is still change around the world, it is always best to check that things are running to schedule nearer the time of your visit.
Copenhagen Christmas Markets – 12 NOV. 2021– 21 DEC. 2021
How to Get Around Copenhagen
From the airport, we bought a single-use train ticket that took us straight to Copenhagen Central Station. Purchasing a ticket was slightly confusing; however, plenty of attendants helped us navigate the system.
An easy option is to buy a Copenhagen City Card, allowing unlimited travel combined with entry into Copenhagen’s main tourist attractions.
Where to Stay in Copenhagen
There are several districts in Copenhagen, and they all offer a different experience for the traveller. We stayed in the Vesterbro area, also known as the meatpacking district, within walking distance of Copenhagen’s Central Station.
The transformation from empty warehouses to the arrival of hip and trendy restaurants and bars has given this area a new lease of life. Hotels have also moved in, offering cosy “hygge” stays in contemporary settings.
Vesterbro – the best place to stay for a trendy vibe.
Norrebro – the best place to stay for tourists.
Nyhavn – the best place to stay for families.
Indre By – the best area to stay in Copenhagen for great nightlife.
Latin Quarter – the best area to stay in Copenhagen on a budget.
We stayed at the Scandic Kodbyn, which is in the meatpacking district, and our room had an urban-industrial style with exposed concrete brickwork and minimal accessories. It also had a steak restaurant on site, a nod to the area’s previous history.
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Weather and What to Wear at the Christmas Markets
Weather in Europe at this time of year is unpredictable. We arrived in mid-December, and snow fell heavily on our last day in Copenhagen. I must say it certainly set the scene for a white Christmas.
Dress in layers as temperatures are cold in the day and dip even lower while walking around at night (let’s just say I needed a lot of glogg to warm up!).
What to expect at a Copenhagen Christmas Market
Our two-hour afternoon flight from the UK meant we arrived just before the city started to go dark, which is when the magic of Christmas comes alive in Copenhagen.
We started our weekend in Copenhagen with a glass of Glogg, a hot alcoholic drink made from red wine mixed with various spices and fruit and something to eat in a cute Copenhagen cafe. Then equipped with our numerous layers of warm clothing, we set off into the night to explore.
Exploring the Tivoli Gardens and Christmas Markets
The Tivoli Gardens are the jewel in Copenhagen’s crown and one of the city’s favourite attractions since 1843. At Christmas, they are transformed into the most magical setting you could imagine. Over 70,000 fairy lights illuminate the wooden chalets, Christmas trees and fairground rides, and we were excited to experience its charm for ourselves.
As soon as we walked through the gates, we felt like children again. Traditional wooden cabins had been transformed into brightly coloured shops filled with sweets and decorations. Twinkling lights led us down winding paths past Christmas trees, and amusement rides and music floated through the night air. A trip to Tivoli at Christmas was everything I had imagined and more, and a break to Copenhagen wouldn’t be complete without a visit there.
How to See Tivoli Gardens at Christmas
Christmas at Tivoli runs from November to January. It opens from 11 am to 11 pm Sunday – Thursday and 11 am – Midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Copenhagen has short days with nightfall descending around 4 pm. I would recommend a visit once it goes dark to experience Tivoli at its best.
Buy your Tivoli Garden skip-the-line tickets online before your visit to save a lot of time queuing to enter.
Nyhavn Christmas Market
The Nyhavn Christmas Market, situated by the picturesque Nyhavn harbour, is the perfect place to absorb the Christmas atmosphere.
Lights and festive garlands decorate the chalets and restaurants, and the scent of Christmas cooking guides you to the food stalls. Just remember that eating in Nyhavn is one of the most expensive places in Copenhagen.
Scandinavian gifts of hats, scarves and mittens along with tree decorations and candles can be bought for presents or just because you love them yourself.
From Nyhavn, you can catch a boat that will take you to cruise on the waterways for an hour. We didn’t fancy doing this ourselves as it was so cold, but you can book the cruise here if you are a bit braver than us.
Hans Christian Anderson Christmas Market
Named after the Danish author and storyteller, this is where Father Christmas wanders around taking selfies with adoring visitors. The stalls are named after Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales and decorated with hundreds of Christmas lights. Selling much the same gifts as the other markets, it was probably the smallest Christmas Market in Copenhagen that we visited.
Hojbro Plads Christmas Market
Højbro Plads Christmas market is located right in the centre of Copenhagen’s Christmas area. Shop to your heart’s content at the market and along Stroget, the main pedestrian shopping street and one of the longest streets in Europe.
The shops are dressed for the season, and it is hard not to buy all the gifts and decorations on show. I couldn’t resist buying a large ceramic Father Christmas, which proved challenging to get home in my hand luggage without breaking, but with determination, I succeeded.
When the urge to sit down and indulge in cake and coffee hits you, head to Cafe Norden. This well-loved cafe, located in cosy historical surroundings on the corner of Stroget, is expensive but a real experience.
Serving up some of the most decadent cakes I had seen in the city, Cafe Norden is the best place to warm up while you satisfy your cravings. If you are looking for lunch or dinner, there are many cool restaurants to choose from, including several vegan-friendly restaurants in Copenhagen. And of course you can’t miss the delicious Copenhagen bakeries for traditional Danish pastries to eat as you wander around the Christmas markets.
Kongens Nytorv Christmas Market
The Kongens Nytorv market, lined with charming stalls, is located in front of the famous Hotel D’Angleterre. Established in 1753, the hotel’s facade is festively decorated with gigantic baubles, tinsel and lifesize Nordic toy soldiers.
As a respite from the cold, head inside the hotel for a coffee or hot chocolate. The hotel’s interior is just as impressive as the outside facade.
Freetown Christiania Christmas Market
Freetown Christiania is in Christianshavn and is accessible by train from Copenhagen. It is a free state within the city where squatters took control of an abandoned military base in the 1970s. The open sale of cannabis on its streets is subject to continual police raids, but its community continues to grow.
This unconventional Christmas market is held in Grey Hall, the focal point of Christiania’s community. Visitors can buy original hand-crafted items like jewellery, candles, tree decorations, hats, mirrors and cards.
Christiania is worth a visit for its Christmas market and its street art and resident characters.
Wander through its maze of busy stalls, see the crafts being made and grab a bite to eat. Christiania was my favourite market as its gifts were unique, and I enjoyed talking to the stallholders about their crafts.
A word of caution, do have a wander around Christiania because it is an interesting place but be careful where and what you take photographs of, especially along “Pusher Street”, or you will be told, in no uncertain terms, to put your camera away.
My Honest Opinion of Copenhagen at Christmas
What month did I travel?
How was the weather?
It was freezing and rained and snowed at times.
Would I recommend the hotel?
Yes. Scandic Kodbyn is an excellent hotel to use as a base to explore the city. It is a close walk to the central train station, which is suitable for arriving and departing. The decor is funky, and the staff are friendly.
Would I recommend three nights in Copenhagen?
Definitely, the markets are lovely and put you in the mood for Christmas, and there are so many other incredible things to do in Copenhagen that are a delight to discover.
Tivoli Gardens was the highlight for me, even without going on any of the rides. The flight to Denmark is under two hours from the UK with Easyjet and makes a great place to visit for a weekend.