I most countries there's some debate about when winter really starts. Not in Denmark. Here, November and December are merely a preparation for real winter, which has a habit of arriving with gracious predictability in the new year - just as the warm glow of Christmas has started to wear off.
Winter in Copenhagen is the best of times and the worst of times. But it's only the worst if you come inadequately prepared, physically or mentally. Bring plenty of clothes and you're halfway there. Celebrate the opportunities (rather than the discomforts) that winter in Scandinavia offers, and you experience will be one of pure warmth.
Copenhagen is the perfect winter city. The narrow streets of its old town, strewn with fairytale buildings and churches, look even more beautiful under frost and snow. It has large stretches of water that not only add to the atmosphere of the city when frozen, but become giant playgrounds, too.
The Danish capital has a wealth of museums, theaters, and cinema's in which to recharge, and the food scene is the best in the Nordic region whether for warming coffees and pastries or filling Michelin-starred meals.
Most importantly of all, Copenhagen is hygge - Denmark's untranslatable word for cosines, happiness, relaxation, and companionship. Hygge encourages people to embrace winter by enjoying the contrast between the weather outside and the warmth indoors, on the principle that a properly room is cosier if you've come in from the cold.
Hygge also inspires a form of healthy hedonism in which hot, spicy wine and rich foods can be viewed as surrogates for sunlight. And a big job it has, because from November to March in Denmark, sunlight is generally in short supply.
Winter waves its ways through centuries of Nordic literature, and writers have often found as much inspiration in the coldest seasons as they have fear and foreboding. On a more immediate level, settling down with a good book in a hyggehjørne (a "hygge corner") is an essential winter activity, and there're plenty of equally and inspiring places in which to source your reading material.
The most iconic of the city's bookstores is Thiemers Magasin on Tullisgade, on the border of hipster Vesterbro and posh Frederiksberg. Thiemers describes itself as a "delicacy bookstore", and visitors will instantly discover why, whether from the atmosphere of the place or from its stock.
Have A Hot Dog At a Street Stand
Like crepes in Paris and Curry wurst in Berlin, hot dogs are a staple food in Copenhagen. Stands selling this fast food (named pølsevogn) can be seen at street corners all across the city.
The first hot dog stands appeared on the streets of the Danish capital nearly a century ago, during the early 1920s. Because bread and sausages are not expensive foods, hot dogs became very popular among blue collar workers, coming close to outselling even the classic Danish smørrebrød sandwich as a lunchtime meal.
In order to provide additional employment opportunities to the disadvantaged during the second World War, the government entrusted the management of pølsevogn to handicapped individuals. The tradition of employing people with physical disabilities to run bread and fruit stands continues to this day.
Get Inspired By Royal Copenhagen Porcelain
Royal Copenhagen, a porcelain manufacturer, was founded at the behest of Queen Juliane Marie in the late 1700's. Every year, the Royal Copenhagen Christmas Tables is one of the most popular December events in the Danish capital.
Well-known artists are invited to make their favorite table settings with the company’s porcelain and figurines at the Royal Copenhagen flagship store in Strøget, to the delight of the general public.
Go For The Magnificent Frederiksberg Park
The Frederiksberg Park in Copenhagen surround the palace of the same name. Along its pathways and in its copses you can find hidden treasures, such as the amazing Chinese Palace or the English garden. There's a lake, and there a little bridge leading to a green oasis. The vegetation and the colors change with the seasons, each time offering different landscapes.
Before or after this delightful time amidst nature, go for a radical change of atmosphere by visiting the Cisternerne Museum, opposite Frederiksberg Palace. Here you find yourself in a former water cistern built in the 19th century, beneath the lawns and flower beds of Søndermarken Park.
You'll be immediately struck by this underground world, which held up to 16 million liters of drinking water for the local population. Once you have descended the staircase, you're completely surrounded by long corridors between endless lines of arches. Everything is illuminated by a subtle combination of sunlight from natural wells and cleverly positioned electric lights.
The surprise of the first moments is followed by fascination and a sense of strangeness in this very mineral world. The extremely pared-back nature of the place makes it an exhibition hall which is unique of its kind, particularly suitable for showcasing contemporary art collections. Your stay continues under the charm of this unusual location.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Jeremy East