We loved Copenhagen the first time around, but last month, we got to experience one of our favorite cities in a completely different way – an adults-only winter getaway! Copenhagen at Christmas was beautiful and even though it was chilly and dark, there was lots to do!
We didn’t have a lot of time (we were only there for a long weekend!) but we packed our days and nights full of fun stuff. As usual, we picked a few major activities to anchor our schedule and then we just kind of wandered around in between. Check out our itinerary below!
We stayed at Ibsen’s Hotel, right in the heart of the city. Ibsen’s is just over half a mile from Stroeget and is also walking distance to Nyhavn, Round Tower, University of Copenhagen, Rosenborg Castle, and other sites. The hotel offers a buffet breakfast and has three restaurants, but it is also just a few blocks away from Torvehallerne, a food market made up of 40 or 50 different shops and stalls plus an outdoor produce and flower market.
We arrived Thursday afternoon and caught the subway from the airport. Once at the hotel, we hurriedly unpacked and freshened up before heading back out. We had plans for the Copenhagen Urban Adventures Taste of Danish Christmas walking tour later in the afternoon, but wanted to make sure that we had a little something in our bellies, so we set off for Torvehallerne.
Because we were already familiar with the market, we knew there would be lots to choose from. We wandered around, trying to make up our minds, and finally took a seat at the counter at Brioche Doree. After we had some sandwiches, we decided to check out Noorbohandelen, a wet goods vendor who recently won an award for the best glogg in Copenhagen. We decided to give it a try. It was strong, but it was good, and when we finished, we each had another cup!
After that, we went outside to meet up with Christian, our tour guide. Soon our group of ten was assembled and we set off on our tour… which meant turning around and heading back into the market for… more glogg. We didn’t mind!
We then walked through the city, learning about Danish Christmas traditions and stopping along the way to sample some popular Danish Christmas treats like gingerbread hearts and aebelskiver. We finished our evening in a private room at Huks Fluks where we drank julebryg, Danish Christmas beer, and played a game of pakke-spil – kind of like a white elephant gift exchange!
We liked the beer (Tuborg Julbryg) so much that when the tour ended and everyone went their separate ways, we got seats at the bar and had a couple more. After that, we decided to get something to eat. We went back to the Christmas market and shared an order of bacon with potatoes and onions and bacon with apples. And more glogg, of course!
Friday – St. Lucia Day
I was really excited about Friday because that evening was the St. Lucia Day Kayak Parade on the canals. I couldn’t wait to see it.
We went straight to Torvehallerne for breakfast because we both wanted Grod. They make a tasty oatmeal with apples, almonds, and caramel. We sat at the counter and filled up. A great breakfast to start the day! We even bought their cookbook.
Then we took the subway to Frederiksberg, which is where we stayed in 2017. It is amazing how even though it had been two and a half years since our visit, we still knew our way around, immediately climbing the subway station steps and turning right at the top. As we strolled through “our old neighborhood” we marveled at what had stayed the same and what was new.
We returned to Torvehallerne for a light lunch – the rosemary fries at Un Mercato. We curled up in blankets under the portable heaters – very hyggely, despite the fact that it was gray and drizzly outside.
Ibsen’s hotel offers a hygge happy hour, so we returned to the hotel to rest a bit and then check that out. We cuddled on a comfy couch in the hotel bar, enjoyed some wine, and browsed the books and record collection for a while before setting off, once again, to Torvehallerne.
Yes, I know. Copenhagen is full of amazing cuisine, but you like what you like, right? And we also like being able to grab a quick bite and head off to our next activity!
So we grabbed empanadas at La Boca, and they were AMAZING!
We once again wandered through the Christmas market, picked up a beer (Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast) and then headed to Nyhavn where the crowds had already begun lining the canals to get ready for the St. Lucia Kayak Parade. We walked down the canal a long way, trying to find a place where we could both see. We ended up stopping near a bridge where I got a boost from Tommy and sat perched up high on the wall with my beer. I had a great view.
The kayak parade was really something. Hundreds of kayaks, all festooned with Christmas lights and even miniature Christmas trees came sailing down the canal, the kayakers calling out “God Jul!” to those of us watching and waving on land. It was a beautiful, festive sight and it definitely had me feeling the Christmas spirit.
Speaking of Christmas spirits, as the crowds began to depart the canals, we made our way to the bar at The Standard for another round of glogg. On the way back to the hotel, we meandered through the Christmas markets and down Stroeget once again, this time in search of a sausage wagon. We finally found one and got traditional Danish hot dogs – with remoulade, ketchup, mustard, fresh onions, fried onions, and pickles!
You’ll never guess where we ended up for breakfast on Saturday morning. We grabbed coffee and pastries at Laura’s Bakery in Torvehallerne before doing some souvenir shopping.
Then that afternoon, we had a hot tub reservation at Copenhot. We took a taxi to make sure we got there in time. We had a private hot tub right on the harbor with a view of the Little Mermaid statue across the way. The hot tubs are filled with sea water and heated by a wood fire underneath. We were toasty warm even as the wind and a little drizzle blew around us. We drank a couple Tuborg Julebrygs, relaxed, and enjoyed the view.
Afterwards, since we were in that neck of the woods, we decided to check out Copenhill. We took the elevator to the top and watched a few people ski and snowboard down. I am not a skier so I was happy to head back down to the bottom of the slope and cozy up to the bar in the little ski lodge. A band was warming up for the evening, so we sat with our Tuborg Julebrygs and listened to them play covers of Van Halen, Beastie Boys, Rage Against the Machine, and the White Stripes.
Since it was our last night in town, we decided that, even though we’d been once, we had to check out Tivoli Gardens at Christmas time. It was beautiful – Christmas lights everywhere! We were hungry so we went into the food hall and found seats at the counter at La Baracca. We watched them cooking and hand-cranking all kinds of different pastas as we sipped a glass of wine. The amatriciana was delizioso!
After our dinner, we strolled through Tivoli, amazed that the rides and roller coasters were running in such chilly and windy weather. And, since they were running, I had to ride! I realized that Tommy and I had never ridden a roller coaster together, so after we rode the old-fashioned roller coaster, I made him go on The Demon with me, too!
We returned to the hotel to pack for our trip home. Thanks to my love for shopping at Flying Tiger and our decision to bring back souvenirs for our own round of pakke-spil with our family on Christmas Day, our suitcases were stuffed.
It was a short trip, but it was so lovely to get away. We got to catch up on sleep, eat and drink whatever we wanted, and spend time some relaxing alone time together. And then we came home full of holiday spirit, all ready for Christmas!
Now… We need to start planning our summer vacation!