Winter swimming in Copenhagen, Kalvebod Brygge

How to take on the winter swimming season like the Danes

Photo: Emily Wilson

Swimming is a year-round thing in Denmark and subzero temperatures do not keep the Danes from going for a dip. This year a new festivals, good spots and new saunas are added to the winter swimming season.

New winter swimming festival on Langeland

Winter swimming has been growing in popularity across Denmark in recent years. On the island of Langeland, the ice cold-water plunge will be celebrated 24-26 February 2023. This marks the debut of the Bagenkop Winter Swimming Festival, organized by a thriving community of volunteers, the Bagenkop Inn and the watersports organization SHORES.


Winter swimming in Copenhagen, Kalvebod Brygge

Photo:Emily Wilson

A tally from December 2022 found 182 winter swimming clubs around the country with over 68,000 members. The biggest club is The Viking Club Jomsborg in Aarhus, which has around 9,500 members, but it is of course free for everyone to simply jump in the water at one of the many good winter swimming spots. 

New certification for winter swimming spots

Bagenkop is one of the three official Winter Swimming Spots on Langeland. This is a news seal of approval given on a yearly basis by The Outdoor Council (Friluftsrådet in Danish) based on water quality, security and facilities. You can recognize a Winter Swimming Spot by the dark blue flag with light blue stripes and the text “Vinter Badepunkt”. The certification was established in 2021 as a response to the rapidly growing interest in in winter swimming. The three spots on Langeland were piloting the project, which is a sister-certificate to the existing Blue Flag program for swimming spots around the country. The projects now continues outside the first pilot locations.   

Winter swimming in Copenhagen, Kalvebod Brygge
Photo: Emily Wilson
Winter swimming in Copenhagen
Photo: Emily Wilson

Winter swimming they city way

For the Danish city-dwellers, harbor swimming is often the way to go. No matter the season. The Copenhagen, Aarhus and Odense harbor baths are open through the winter, but the one in Aalborg harbor is closed. In Copenhagen, the bathing zones are open as well and the two mobile dipping zones are also popular choices.

New Copenhagen saunas

For a more luxurious addition to the winter swimming experience, CopenHot has opened for winter 2023 in a new location in the Copenhagen neighborhood Refshaleøen with harbor front jacuzzies and a panorama sauna. Similarly, Hottub Copenhagen have opened nearby in December 2022 with saunas, hot tubs and colorful cabins for changing.

Two new mobile saunas are expected to be added to Copenhagen harbor by the Fisketorvet Harbor Bath and the Kalvebod Bølge Bathing Zone in February. These will be designed by the Maritime Architecture Studio, MAST, and will be open to members and paying guests.

Dipping zone in Copenhagen, winter swimming

Photo:Mellanie Gandø

An icy new year's tradition

If you celebrate New Year's in Denmark, you will most likely seem people climbing on to their chairs just before midnight to jump over the transition to the new year. In the town of Søndervig on the Danish west coast, they instead celebrate new year's with a jump into the cold water on  31 December. The tradition will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2023 and is usually followed by oysters and champagne as well as the Danish new year’s cake kransekage.


Four other unique winter bathing spots around the country:

  • The Sea Bath by Nr. Vorupør is located in the middle of Thy National Park and the home of a one-day winter swimming bash every year 28th December.  
  • Almindsø Lake Bath south of Aarhus lets you jump in to one of Denmark’s cleanest lakes from the two sculptural circular walkways.
  • At Lyshøj Fjordbad, the wide 85-meter pier has room for both a wintery picnic and a slide going into the Kolding Inlet.
  • The Faaborg Harbor Bath on the island of Funen has multiple wooden ramps and piers with different places to jump in, culminating with the “splash jump” furthest into the South Funen Archipelago.
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