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 travel resources
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.
City focus: 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.
Copenhagen is an expensive city, so don’t ruin your experience by trying to be cheap. However, you can save some money by staying at the fresh and modern Copenhagen Hostel, located right next to the city’s largest square. The rooms in the higher levels offer great views into the Tivoli Gardens.Scandinavia travel advice
Getting to and from Denmark
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.
Getting around Denmark
You can plan your train trip within Denmark with the Danish State Rail’s (DSB) journey planner.
Between Denmark’s largest two cities, Copenhagen and Århus, the train ride takes roughly three hours.
Car and camper rental
Like many things in Denmark, car rentals are relatively expensive. If renting a car, it’s worthwhile considering renting a car in Germany and driving into Denmark.
Cycling and hiking
Denmark offers 12,000 kilometres of signposted cycle routes. The flat landscape is ideal for cyclists of all levels and bicycles can easily be taken on trains and ferries.
Find some great ideas for your cycling trip with this online guide.
Denmark is so small that flying within the country is unnecessary. However, if you enjoy waiting in airports, checking through security and inflating your carbon footprint, flights can be found with domestic airlines including SAS and Sterling Airlines.
Denmark has an extensive ferry network, which connects its 75 populated islands with Jutland. Book well in advance, especially during weekends and holidays, as they can quickly fill up.
The main domestic ferry operator is Scandlines.
Top 10 things to do in Denmark
- Find your inner child at Tivoli. The world’s second-oldest amusement park. Gardens, rides and restaurants make this upscale park ideal for all ages.
- Be inspired by Kronborg. See the castle that inspired Elsinore in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
- Stroll the Strøget. Shop along Europe’s longest shopping street.
- Celebrate midsummer on Skagen. A huge bonfire on white sandy beaches at Denmark’s beautiful northernmost tip. What could be better?
- Play at Legoland. The original Legoland in Billund is Denmark’s Disneyland.
- Experience Den Gamle By. Århus’s Old Town is a unique open-air village of 75 historic buildings from all parts of Denmark.
- Drive over Øresund Bridge. Modern engineering at its best. Part cable-stayed bridge, part artificial island, part undersea tunnel; the longest road and rail bridge in Europe connects Denmark with Sweden.
- Visit Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Picasso and Warhol headline the permanent collection. Visit in the summer to enjoy the sculpture park and panoramic view of the Øresund strait.
- Tour the historic Carlsberg Brewery. The tour should be capped off with beer tasting, especially Carlsberg’s ‘Super Premium’ Jacobsen beer.
- Sail Viking-style at the Viking Ship Museum.Learn to navigate an authentic, reconstructed Viking ship and sail along the Roskilde Fjord.
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.