Experiencing Copenhagen in winter is a truly magical affair as it immerses you in the enchanting Christmas festivities. The best way to soak up the festive atmosphere is to visit one or more of its delightful Christmas markets. The most famous markets are along Strøget, Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping street. Although some Christmas markets are situated further away from the city centre, they are all worth visiting to experience the authentic Danish Christmas spirit.
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Christmas markets in the centre of Copenhagen
There are four main Christmas markets in Copenhagen, all located in the city centre, along the pedestrian street of Strøget. Each market has a unique soul and characteristics, and I recommend visiting all of them.
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The Strøget pedestrian area starts from the town hall square Rådhuspladsen and arrives at Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s iconic harbour with its colourful houses. A walk along the Strøget allows you to explore the city centre and visit the Christmas markets.
During my visit to Copenhagen, I went through all the Christmas markets. I recommend walking along the Strøget in the late afternoon when all the stalls are open. Most stalls open late in the morning or afternoon.
The Christmas market in Kongens Nytorv
Kongens Nytorv is a historical square and hosts many stalls with traditional Christmas decorations. The stalls are all housed in wooden houses inspired by the old Danish half-timbered houses. Kongens Nytorv market houses reindeer sleighs, Christmas elves, and international food and gift stalls.
The Højbro Plads Christmas Market
Højbro Plads is a square located in the heart of Copenhagen. Its Christmas market, lit with over 80,000 lights, offers a traditional Christmas experience with elves, reindeer, Santa’s sleigh, and Christmas trees. Additionally, visitors can meet Father Christmas at designated times and take pictures with him for free.
Compared to other markets, the Højbro Plads market is slightly larger and showcases the typical Nordic Christmas ambiance. The wooden huts that house the stalls are imported directly from Tyrol, contributing to the Germanic feel of the market. You’ll find many stalls selling German sausages and beer, as well as hot chocolate and apple punch.
The Hans Christian Andersen Christmas market
Nytorv, on the other hand, hosts the Christmas market dedicated to Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark’s most famous writer. (If you’re a fan of Andersen, have dinner at Det Lille Apotek, his favourite restaurant). At the Nytorv Christmas market, you can enjoy the atmosphere of Christmas and send your letter to Santa. If you are lucky, you can also meet Santa and Hans Christian Andersen.
The Nyhavn Christmas Market
The fourth market in the centre of Copenhagen is located in Nyhavn, the picturesque harbour famous for its colourful little houses. Here, wooden stalls and Santa’s sleigh wind their way along the entire promenade, making the canal even more cosy and magical. The little restaurants and stalls along the canal are really super touristy. However, it is so beautiful that you still want to stop, at least for a hot chocolate or a glass of gløgg, the Danish mulled wine.
Copenhagen’s other Christmas markets
I have visited many cities, but none of them are as Christmassy as Copenhagen. Even though I usually focus on exploring the food and culture of a place, Copenhagen’s magic of Christmas is hard to resist. The city is filled with Christmas markets, and you will feel the excitement of Christmas everywhere you go.
The Christmas market at Tivoli Gardens
One place where I felt like I was inside a Christmas movie was at Tivoli Gardens. It was full of Christmas spirit with beautiful decorations and scenery. The Tivoli Gardens Christmas market is an essential part of the park experience, and you will find yourself humming Christmas carols as you look at the stalls.
The entire Tivoli Gardens are full of Christmas decorations, like glittering lights, pine branches, and snow-covered trees surrounding the little wooden houses to create the perfect Nordic Christmas atmosphere.
To give you an idea of the grandeur of the Christmas decorations, every year, Tivoli Gardens are adorned with over 70,000 Christmas balls and more than 1,000 Christmas trees entirely covered in lights. At the 60 stalls of the Christmas market, you can find decorations, knitwear, leather goods, handicrafts, and any food you desire.
There is even a Father Christmas station, although my son chose to go on the rides instead. Even the amusement park rides are themed to match the Christmas spirit. To visit the Tivoli Christmas market, you must pay the park entrance fee. Therefore, I recommend combining it with a visit to the amusement park, as you can read in my post on Tivoli Gardens.
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The Christmas market at the Copenhagen Zoo
The fascinating Christmas market inside the Copenhagen Zoo features food stalls and festive decorations. With its twinkling Christmas lights, the market transforms a regular zoo visit into a magical experience, perfect for a family holiday.
At the zoo market, you can meet Santa in his house, ride the Christmas train, and witness the Christmas atmosphere with trees everywhere. You might even spot some reindeer and horses strolling through the park, competing with the Christmas magic of the Tivoli Gardens.
The Christmas market at the Bakken amusement park
Bakken, founded in 1583, is the world’s oldest amusement park. It is located in the woods of Dyrehaven, just a 10-minute drive north of Copenhagen. During the Christmas period, the park is open and decorated with lights, shows, and its own Christmas market. If you have time for a trip out of town, visiting Bakken is a must-see destination.
This unique amusement park offers a combination of historical and nostalgic places, as well as modern and thrilling rides. Admission to the park is free, and you can find a wide variety of games, rides, restaurants, fast food, and ice cream stalls. There is plenty of entertainment for both children and adults, and you can enjoy a typical Danish Christmas lunch in one of the park’s restaurants.
Because of its unique historical value and location, big brands are not allowed to set up stands in Bakken, and neon signs are prohibited. Instead, you will find many colourful wooden structures owned by small, independent shop owners.
Why visit Copenhagen over Christmas
I recommend considering a visit to Copenhagen during the winter period, despite the cold weather, as the Christmas season is truly magical here. Even those who are less invested in the atmosphere of decorations, lights, and themed songs, such as the Grinch, can’t help but get caught up in the Christmas spirit in Copenhagen.
Where to stay in Copenhagen
There are plenty of options for a Scandinavian-style stay in Copenhagen, including boutique hotels and designer flats. I stayed at Hotel Danmark by Brøchner Hotels, offering city views from its rooftop terrace. The 25hours Hotel Indre By is another recommended stylish hotel with a restaurant, bar, and sauna. If you’re on a budget, consider staying at Generator Copenhagen, a hostel with private rooms and dormitories, a late-night bar, and free Wi-Fi.
Feel free to comment if you have visited Copenhagen during the Christmas market or would like to have this experience. In my opinion, it is an absolute must experience, especially if you are travelling with children.