It’s cold in Denmark this week – really cold. Where I sit at the Illum outside of Kongens Nytorv, the weather has barely gone above -4°C (26°F) in the middle of the day, the bright, crisp sky teasing the residents with illusions of warmth. Were it only close to true.
Astonishingly, people are still riding their bicycles around the city, perhaps because they’ve attuned to the horrific weather or maybe just because they just don’t want to pay the 24DKK (Just over $5) to ride the bus or subway around. These bikers are a testament to this city though – the cold months are hard, but Danes are a hearty, gregarious bunch, and each person that I meet handles the temperature well.
The economy is still humming along in Copenhagen this winter, which means most of the great culture and excitement that tourists come to see during the summer are stilling moving along in parallel. Whether this is via a great local meal at one of Denmark’s numerous, fine restaurants or a stroll through one of the fine boutique museums, there’s plenty to do in this Scandinavian mecca during the winter — which is why it’s a great time to visit. Here are five more reasons to make your way:
5. Wondercool. This festival highlights the arts and culture of Demark during the coldest period of the year. Scheduled activities include indoor concerts from big label bands, discounts at famous restaurants and exclusive access to people and places across the city.
4. Lower prices. High season is brief in Denmark (May-August) and visitors pay dearly for the pleasure of vising during these months. Almost everything – from dining to airplane tickets to hotel rooms is more expensive this time of the year, and in the costliest city in the Europe this means that the impact is severe. Hotel rates, for example can be 50% to 75% higher during the summer months.
3. Crowds. Don’t let the lack of tourists fool you: bars and restaurants are still packed during the winter months. But loads are a bit lighter throughout the chilly season — one can call a week in advance and have a reasonable chance of finding a reservation at many of the best restaurants in the city, while gems like Madklubben can be booked only a few days out or even on the fly. And public places? Darn near empty. On Sunday, one can walk down the center of the street in many lanes of the downtown region, while the gardens at Tivoli and the main pedestrian streets give visitors enough room to breathe.
2. Which takes us directly to Noma. Last year named the best restaurant in the world, Noma is a mecca for foodies from all corners of the planet, and in contrast to its Spanish neighbor El Bulli (which will be closing next year) it’s actually sometimes possible to get a reservation on the fly. A recent query from our colleague who runs Studiofeast produced available reservations (albeit at strange times) just one day prior to dining, an outlandish idea at many other similar caliber restaurants.
1. For the Danes. Don’t get us wrong: Danish people are some of the friendliest people in the world — and we don’t take that cliche lightly here at Gadling. But there’s something to be said about the relaxed friendly attitude of residents when they’re not burdended by the everyday mass of visitors. They open up a bit, are willing to tell you stories about their lives and will take you on their winding tumultous journeys through many a bar, cafe and restaurant if you’re lucky. And for that welcoming, warm embrace, Copenhagen will always be worth visiting.
[Editor’s note: Some of this content was researched under the supervision of Tourism Copenhagen, though their support had no effect on our experiences]