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Christmas Shopping: Shopping in Copenhagen

Christmas Shopping: Shopping in Copenhagen

From the middle of November, Copenhagen’s stores and streets get into gear for the holiday season, with displays of striped, knitted elves or ‘nisser’ in the storefront windows and the small, ginger nut ‘pebernodder’ cookies in bowls at the counters. Christmas shopping here is a delight: Staff are friendly despite the extra crowds, and still happy to provide good service and free gift wrapping in most places.

Get in the Christmas mood and learn what Danes mean when they use the word ‘hygge’ as you cosy up in a Christmas market with burnt sugar almonds, mulled wine and traditional æbleskiver dough balls. In downtown Copenhagen, Christmas markets continue until the last weekend before Christmas at Nyhavn and Tivoli. Support local artists and artisans and get unusual gift ideas on alternative street Jægersborggade or Christiania’s traditional bazaar, held every December in Den Grå Hal: perfect for economy-priced stocking fillers.

Alternatively, splurge at the flagship stores of Danish design icons Georg Jensen and Royal Copenhagen, where the annual Christmas Tables display is a Copenhagen holiday tradition. Get everything you need all under one roof at the elegant department stores Illum and Magasin: And don’t forget you can may be able to claim tax back on gifts if living outside the EU.

Stuck for ideas? Try Christmas shopping with a difference in the museums. Museum shops are a great place to find unusual presents, like the one at Designmuseum Danmark or the Nationalmuseet.


Photo courtesy of Ty Stange

For an alternative, less commercial slant on Christmas shopping, head north into the raw-edged Nørrebro district to browse the independent stores, cafes and small galleries of one of Copenhagen’s most idiosyncratic streets, Jægersborggade. With a cooperative spirit and a focus on the organic, fair trade, and sustainable, Jægersborggade offers plenty of eating and drinking options as well as gift shopping ranging from original art, hand-knitted sweaters and hand-crafted jewelry to ceramics and glassware in the small, basement stores along what appears at first glance to be a fairly ordinary street. You can even pick up a Christmas tree here.

Georg Jensen

Photo courtesy of Cees van Roeden

The Georg Jensen brand has been synonymous with expensive Scandinavian design and quality craftsmanship for more than a century. What started as a small store to showcase the designs of a talented silversmith is today a brand of exclusive lifestyle products that includes ornaments for the home, jewelry and watches. Along the same drag as another world-famous Danish brand, Royal Copenhagen, Georg Jensen’s flagship store may be a little out of your budget, but worth taking a peek as an example of Danish design at its best and most luxurious.

Den Grå Hal, Christiania

For a very different kind of Christmas shopping than you would experience anywhere else in Copenhagen if not all of Scandinavia, head on over to the freetown of Christiania, where the atmosphere is laid back and distinctly free from commercial pressure, and even the tightest holiday budget will find something completely unique. More reminiscent of a North African bazaar than a Scandinavian Christmas store, the large military hall at the edge of Christiania is filled with the smells of incense and cinnamon and the pleasant buzzing of conversation in many different languages. A great place to buy unusual jewelry and handmade handicrafts. Open 6-20 December only.

Christmas in Tivoli

Photo courtesy of Tivoli

Tivoli’s Christmas market is open during the pleasure gardens’ entire Christmas season, which always runs from mid-November until the end of December. Of course, you have to pay the admission fee to Tivoli first, but for many, Christmas-time is Tivoli’s best season, when the magical winter wonderland (currently a Russian and Scandinavian holiday-themed combo), really does thrive under the skilled hands of Tivoli’s scene-setters and technicians. The Christmas booths, which are located in the middle of the Gardens, sell everything from hot coco and mulled wine to cinnamon biscuits and a whole range of holiday gift ideas, many of them truly Scandinavian in style. There’s something to suit all budgets, too – from cheap trinkets to costly Georg Jensen treasures.

Royal Copenhagen

The flagship store of the world-famous Danish kitchenware design house is worth a visit even if you’re merely window shopping, and includes a small museum floor following some of the most influential of the royal blue porcelain designs. Considered by many to be the most famous porcelain in the world, Royal Copenhagen still hand paint their trademark blue fluted cups, plates and bowls much like when the firm started back in 1775. The most expensive line, Flora Danica, is – literally – fit for a queen and will set you back at least DKK 5,000, but with at least 135 more lines, you might just find something in your price range. In the run-up to Christmas, the store is decked out with the traditional tables set creatively by local artists and designers.


Photo courtesy of Susan Liebe

An extremely cute, very Nordic homewares boutique crammed with original-looking homewares, things for the children’s room, bags and jewelry. From quirky butter dishes, cups and other porcelain items to the craziest-looking knitted animals, Liebe is full of things you didn’t even know you needed, all in a wonderfully Scandinavian pastel shade of pink, blue or grey. Found in a basement on great shopping street Kompagnistraede (between Strøget and the Gammel Strand canal), this little store run by Susan Liebe is a great place to pick up small, unusual souvenirs and gifts at reasonable prices.

Designmuseum Danmark, shop

Photo courtesy of Designmuseum Danmark

The store of Designmuseum Danmark, located in a beautiful old former hospital building on Bredgade, is a great place to find small-scale design objects and rather more original gifts to take home than can be found in the more tacky downtown souvenir stores. Free to browse, the store is open every day except Monday and offers a wide range of ceramics, glass, textiles, jewelry and kitchen design objects, some of them miniature copies of design classics. In addition, there is a great assortment of books on crafts and design as well as postcards and small prints. The museum also has a cafe.

Nyhavn Julemarked

Photo courtesy of Morten Jerichau

Christmas starts early in Copenhagen: The middle of November, to be exact, and the old harbor of Nyhavn is abruptly transformed, its cobbled quayside filled with no less than 19 festive, wooden booths linked by fir tree garlands and fairy chains. In a line along the waterfront, the shopping possibilities on offer range from holiday gingersnaps, traditional ‘æbleskiver’ and mulled wine to festive handicrafts, knitwear and leather goods. The market is open daily until 22 December, and occasional entertainment is provided in the form of live jazz and Christmas elves.


Photo courtesy of Bernard Goldbach

Located centrally on pedestrianized Østergade, Illum is a classic department store that – with Magasin du Nord – a Copenhagen landmark that dates from the end of the 19th-century. Everything here is wonderfully arranged and can be packed just as impeccably for you upon request (without rushing, even in December). Illum’s many floors contain stylish Scandinavian brand names in menswear and women’s clothing as well as designer outfits for kids, a ground floor cafe and bakery, Denmark’s only branch of London toy shop Hamley’s on the fourth floor and, right at the top, stylish cafe-restaurant Spisebaren.

Magasin Du Nord

Photo courtesy of Jimg

This historic department store is the oldest (and largest) in Scandinavia and sits grandly on Kongens Nytorv square. Established in 1890, Magasin du Nord was previously Hotel du Nord – writer H.C. Andersen once rented a couple of tiny attic rooms. You can find everything in here, from Danish brand names in womenswear, menswear and even kidswear, to a lavish perfume and cosmetics area and a vast array of stylish Danish design and souvenirs. The basement level food and wine department rivals Harrods of London for its range and quality, and Magasin’s own brand of chocolate is handmade at the store’s own factory. If you’re feeling like a refreshments break, there are several options: Organic meals to go or eat in from Meyers Deli and Meyers Bakery in the basement (there’s also an entrance from Kongens Nytorv Metro station) or the casual, canteen style seating of the top floor restaurant – plenty of room for strollers makes this popular with families.

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