I’m starting a new blog series called “Denmark’s Must-Do’s” which dives into all of my bucket list Danish things that I will (hopefully!) be doing with my remaining month here in Copenhagen. The idea is not only to do these things but recommend to others how to do them. Is the activity worth it? How can someone get the best experience out of the activity? As always, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.
According to the Danes, winter bathing has serious health benefits. On the long list of benefits, winter bathing boosts metabolism, improves blood circulation, boosts libido, clears and brightens skin, builds a stronger immune system and works to detox your body. Not only that, but Danes, the crazy people they are, actually find enjoyment in jumping into freezing cold water. They go “winter bathing” then warm up in a sauna and then do it again. AND they do it multiple times during the winter season.
Winter bathing had been on my list since my friends jumped into the ocean as an Outdoor LLC activity in early February. They then complained to me how they lost all feeling in their toes walking barefoot on the rocky shores of Amager Beach. They told me about sprinting into the icy waters, about the feeling of paralysis and shock, about the brisk walk back to their LLC. But I heard their horror stories and thought, “Honestly, sounds fun.” I might be as crazy as the Danes.
Skip forward to Friday night. A group of my friends signed up for “CopenHot,” which is a hot tub experience along the shores of Refshalevej. Copenhot uses the concept of New Nordic Wellness, or wilderness facilities in and urban setting. They use all natural materials — sea water hot tubs heated with firewood — to create a luxury experience (for 40 dollars a pop).
On the right: Tori, Kristen, me and Claire enjoying our hot tub with a view experience
The worker told Kristen that if we get too hot, to just walk through huts 9 and 10. “I thought, ‘Oh, maybe there’s a temperature dial to turn down the heat,’” Kristen said. “Nope, that’s just the path to the ocean …” The FREEZING ocean to be exact…
Then it’s time …
Claire and I (check out her blog) step out of the warm cocoon of the hot tub and climb down the ladder. I am suddenly aware of the icy metal from the ladder, the coolness of the breeze, the shivers and the goosebumps. We walk through huts 9 and 10 all the while trying to pump ourselves up. Claire has done this before so she knows what’s coming. She’s more hesitant to do it than I am, fearing the cold, or the “paralysis” as she describes it, she will soon be leaping into. We step to the edge of the dock and grab hands. I plug my nose — an old habit — and we count to three.
I have a moment and pause, gazing down at the water, black and thick like oil reflecting the sunset. Suddenly, we are leaping into the air and into the water. I feel the shock, the “paralysis” Claire mentioned, as if my body was submerged in icy needles. A moment in the water passes and then I break the surface. I scream loudly and mutter a few swears under my breath. My mind is only thinking of one thing — the ladder. I want OUT. I climb the ladder and step up to meet Claire, who is hopping up and down, yelling for warmth.
We go back to the hot tub to enjoy our fizzy pink champagne in plastic glasses and watch the sun set over the harbour. When we finally warm up enough we decide to do something crazy …we go winter bathing again.
Denmark Must-Do? I would 100 percent recommend. DO IT. Pay a little extra money for the luxury experience (instead of just jumping in the ocean in February on the beach) and know that you’ll have to walk home so pack some warm clothes I’d also recommend doing CopenHot and going when the sun is setting as the breathtaking view is part of the experience.