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Denmark always ranks high on quality-of-life lists and is just behind Disneyland as “the happiest place on Earth”, according to Google. Is the home of Hans Christian Anderson truly a fairy tale?

Denmark is the smallest of the three Scandinavian countries. It consists of one large peninsula (Jutland) and 443 islands, the largest of which are Zealand and Funen. The southern part of Jutland borders Germany, while the rest of the country is surrounded by coastline. Its geography is extremely flat with occasional hills — one of the reasons why Danes flock to Norway and Sweden for their winter activities.

While Denmark might be small, with only five million inhabitants, it has still managed to have a large cultural influence on the rest of the world. Whether it has been H.C. Andersen’s fairy tales, Niels Bohr’s physics, Søren Kierkegaard’s philosophy or Arne Jacobsen’s Danish design, the Danes constantly demonstrate their ability to leave an impression.

As one of the most socially progressive countries, a leader in green technology and creator of the most ingenious toy ever (Lego), maybe Denmark is a dream come true.

Copenhagen

Although Copenhagen is a relatively large city, with about 1.2 million inhabitants, it still manages to maintain a unique intimacy. It lies on the eastern shore of the Danish island of Zealand and is considered one of the most liveable cities in the world.

Copenhagen rivals Amsterdam as a bicycle utopia, is home to the longest pedestrian zone in Europe (Strøget) and offers an ultra-modern underground train line, which is completely automated. You might be disappointed upon seeing the infamous ‘Little Mermaid’ (it’s quite small), but you’ll find that the countless other attractions in this pretty and magical city more than compensate. Be aware that Copenhagen is an expensive city, so don’t ruin your experience by trying to be cheap.

Getting to and from Denmark

Most international visitors will arrive in Denmark by plane, in either Copenhagen or Århus. The Copenhagen Airport is Denmark’s main international airport and is the largest airport of the Nordic countries. It offers a great connection into the city centre via the M2 Metro line, which takes only 15 minutes to get you to the centre.

To and From the Airport has the rundown on getting you from the airport to the city. Frequent Flyer Masters learn to earn their miles fast, and get free flights around the world.

Århus is the second-largest city in Denmark, located in Jutland. The Århus International Airport, however, is located 43 kilometers northeast of the city in Tirstrup and most incoming flights connect in Copenhagen first.

Traveling into Denmark by train via Germany with a rail pass allows a great combination of speed, sightseeing potential and flexibility. Train packages can be purchased online from Eurail and Rail Europe.

If you have the time, the bus is probably the least expensive way to enter Denmark, with Eurolines offering many bus routes into Denmark. Part of most bus routes is a ride on the ferry (i.e. Norwich, England to Esbjerg; or Rostock, Germany to Gedser). The ferry breaks up the trip nicely, allowing you to stretch your legs and get a bite to eat.

Copenhagen has also been nominated Europe’s leading cruise destination by the World Travel Awards four years in a row.

Denmark travel resources

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Check out our Scandinavia podcast or browse the articles below.

This page by Travis Shirk, who brings an insider’s perspective to Denmark. Having lived in Copenhagen and being married to a Dane, he knows all-too-well the importance of Danish hygge. He currently resides in Berlin, Germany where he is employed by the flight comparison site Idealo.