Some of you may know that Mihir and I travel primarily during the shoulder seasons. And to be honest, autumn and spring are simply the best times for traveling in Europe. Although I have loved the city through the seasons, in my opinion, the best month to visit Copenhagen is May. While you are still escaping the majority of the summer crowds, the weather is absolutely perfect for sightseeing. There are also plenty of events going on to keep you busy. Don’t believe us? Then check out our recommendations on what to do in Copenhagen in May below!
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Copenhagen Weather in May
In May, temperatures in Copenhagen generally hover around 16 degrees Celsius during the day and 8 degrees Celsius during the night. Although it certainly isn’t the warmest month (except for maybe 2018), the weather during May is relatively stable. For me, 16 degrees is warm enough, and in general, temperatures will climb to 20 degrees and above on several days. You will also have plenty of daylight if you are visiting in May, with about 16 hours daily. Coupled with relatively little rainfall, that means chances of good weather during most of the month.
What to Pack for Visiting Copenhagen in May
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A light cardigan, for chilly evenings or rainy days. It’s versatile and super cute!
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As the months get warmer, a reusable water bottle is perfect for saving money in Copenhagen.
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With more than 15 hours of daylight, sleeping can be difficult in Copenhagen in May. This sleeping mask is perfect for blocking out all the light and can even cool you off!
Practical Information for Visiting Copenhagen in May
Although May is one of the best months to visit Copenhagen, it also has its drawbacks. Firstly, there are several holidays in May which means shops are closed more often than usual. Also, because Danes have plenty of free days, certain places can get a bit crowded in May. On these public holidays, shops may be closed or have reduced opening hours. Public holidays in May 2019 are:
- 1 May 2019 (May Day; government offices closed)
- 17 May 2019 (Great Prayer Day)
- 30 May 2019 (Ascension Day)
Thankfully, all attractions are open during May, including Tivoli Gardens and Bakken (they are periodically closed during the winter). If you are heading to Roskilde, you can also sail on Viking ships in Roskilde fjord from the 1st of May!
Hotel prices tend to be a little more expensive due to the many events that take place in Copenhagen in May, such as the Copenhagen Marathon. It’s a good idea to book your hotel in Copenhagen well in advance.
Things to Do in Copenhagen in May
Not only is the weather perfect in May, there is also plenty to do during that time. Below we have compiled an overview of the most important events and holidays in Copenhagen during that time.
Early May: Tulips & Rapeseed Fields
One of the main reasons to visit Copenhagen during May is the blooming of tulips and rapeseed. Spring is in full swing in Copenhagen in May which means you’ll happen upon beautiful flowers wherever you go. Throughout spring you will see Copenhageners hanging out in the parks around the city. For the perfect Instagram shot, head to Kongens Have. If you would like to go all out, I recommend you head to Gavnø Slot for Denmark’s biggest tulip festival.
If you are up for exploring a bit of the Danish countryside, early May is the perfect time to do so. At this time of the year, rapeseed fields in Denmark are in full bloom and half the countryside is draped in yellow. It’s absolutely beautiful and worth one Instagram photo or another 😉
May Day / International Workers’ Day
01 May 2019 | 01 May 2020
Like most other countries, Denmark celebrates its workforce on the first of May. Although the celebrations are not as elaborate as in neighboring Sweden or Vappu in Finland, it’s an important day nonetheless. It was first celebrated in 1890 to mark the introduction of the 8-hour working day. The heart of the activities around International Workers’ Day in Copenhagen has been Fælledparken ever since its first day. If you are in Copenhagen on this day, you will come across many political gatherings as political speeches are a quintessential part of this day. You may also hear union anthems being sung, such as Når jeg ser et rødt flag smælde (When I See a Red Flag).
01 May 2019 | 06 May 2020
Howling Day isn’t really a holiday or event as such. Rather, on every first Wednesday in May, Denmark tests its howling sirens and reminds its citizens of what to do in an emergency. The sirens are tested on that day at noon (12:00) and are nothing to be concerned about. The signal consists of a sound that rises fast and then slows down gradually. This signal is sounded four times in total, lasting 45 seconds.
04-05 May 2019 | 04-05 May 2020
The 5th of May marks an important day in Danish history as Denmark was liberated after 5 years of Nazi occupation in 1945. When their liberation was announced in the evening of the 4th of May, Danes spontaneously put candles in their windows. This tradition still carries on today.
Copenhagen Salsa Festival
3-5 May 2019 | copenhagensalsafestival.dk
Do you need a little bit of salsa in your life? Every year the Copenhagen Salsa Festival offers dozens of dance workshops, shows, and performances, as well as dance parties. And these are not restricted to salsa only either! Learn how to dance the Mambo, Cha Cha, Bachata, Zouk, Boogaloo & Kizomba as well!
Copenhagen Architecture Festival
2019 TBA | cafx.dk
The Copenhagen Architecture Festival has been held annually since 2014. Its aim is to explore the relationship between humans and architecture, to look beyond brick and mortar. The program generally includes film viewings, walking tours, workshops, and lectures. Some events are free to attend, while for others you’ll need to buy tickets in advance.
Great Prayer Day
17 May 2019 | 8 May 2020
Great Prayer day technically doesn’t celebrate any particular Christian holiday. Rather it is a culmination of smaller holidays. It has been around since the 17th century and holds a firm place in the Danish holiday calendar. On this day, Danes eat plain wheat buns, often stale from the previous day, but reheated and served with a little bit of butter. That’s because commerce was initially banned on the holiday which meant Danes needed to buy their bread the previous day.
Ambassador Reception at Fredensborg Castle
The reception of a new ambassador to Denmark is a very formal event and takes place a few times a year. When the queen resides at Fredensborg Castle, namely in spring and autumn, the reception takes place in Fredensborg. Because the event is fairly expensive, several ambassadors are welcomed at once. One reception generally takes place in mid-May. We recommend that you have a look at the Queen’s calendar in order not to miss it! The reception includes several horses and hussars from the mounted regiment as well as a carriage from the Royal Stables.
19 May 2019 | copenhagenmarathon.dk
The Copenhagen Marathon has been taken place in Copenhagen for more than 30 years in mid-May. Join thousands of others on a run through the inner city as well as Frederiksberg. The entry fee is between 675 DKK and 725 DKK, depending on your time of sign-up.
I strongly recommend that you do not visit Copenhagen during the marathon unless you are participating. Not only are hotel rooms particularly expensive during that time, most of the city is also roped off during the race. It’s very difficult to navigate the city during that time for locals, which means it’s even more confusing for visitors. That being said, there is a great energy in the city during the marathon 🙂
Copenhagen Art Week
2019 TBA | artweek.nu
Copenhagen Art Week takes place annually in mid- to late May and is dedicated entirely to modern art. It gives its visitors a chance to connect with local artists, explore exhibition spaces, and more. During the week you can visit many galleries in the city for free or take part in some of the special events. These include film screenings, lectures, and workshops. Kunsthal Charlottenborg in central Copenhagen is the main address for modern art and the festival.
Copenhagen Beer Festival
23-25 May 2019 | ølfestival.dk
Every year Copenhagen hosts a 3-day beer festival, celebrating (micro)breweries from all over Denmark. In addition to your entrance tickets, you can buy tokens at the door to use on beer inside. With more than 70 exhibitors there is plenty of beer to sample! If you buy your tickets in advance online, you can save yourself some money and get early access to the festival on all of the days!
29 May – 2 June 2019 | cphdistortion.dk
With more than 100,000 daily visitors, Distortion Festival is one of the biggest annual gatherings in Europe. It starts with dozens of street parties in the districts of Nørrebro and Vesterbro on the first two days. The last two days are reserved for concerts on the island of Refshaeløen. Distortion Ø is the largest festival for new electronic music in Northern Europe and gets as many as 15,000 visitors a day. You can buy a Distortion pass for 550 DKK which will grant you access to all parties and concerts during the weekend.
If you are visiting during this particular weekend and are NOT into electronic music (like us 😉 ), just be prepared for masses of people during the late evenings, some noise, as well as crowded public transport.
Now, what do you think? What is your favorite time of the year to visit Copenhagen? What else is there to do in Copenhagen in May? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! Let’s stay in touch!