Chart-topping contentment and quality of life, blockbuster dining and design, and a cheerful emphasis on hygge – explore is what makes Denmark tick.
Denmark doesn’t have the stop-you-in-your-tracks natural grandeur of its neighbors, but its landscapes are understated – pure and simple, often infused with an ethereal Nordic light. Such landscapes are reflected in the Danish design philosophy towards fashion, food, architecture, furniture, and art. The simplicity of form and function come first but not at the expense of beauty. And so you’ll find moments of quintessential Danish loveliness on a long sandy beach, beside a lake, admiring a Renaissance castle, on the bike lanes of Bornholm or in a candlelit cafe that has perfected the art of hygge.
Culture & History
The world first took notice of Denmark more than a millennium ago, when Danish Vikings took to the seas and ravaged vast tracts of Europe. How things have changed. These days Denmark captures global imagination as the epitome of a civilized society, and it punches above its weight on many fronts: progressive politics, urban planning, sustainability, work-life balance, design, and architecture. Recent global crushes, freshly exported from Copenhagen, include a city cycling culture, the New Nordic culinary movement, and brilliantly addictive TV drama series.
While many countries are noticeable for the ever-increasing gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, Denmark seems to be populated by the ‘have enough’, and the obviously rich and obviously poor are few and far between. This egalitarian spirit allows the best of the arts, architecture, eating, and entertainment to be within easy reach of everyone. Indeed, the best catchword for Denmark might be ‘inclusive’ – everyone is welcome and everyone is catered to, be they young, old, gay, straight, and whether they travel with kids, pets, or bikes in tow. Cities are compact and user-friendly, infrastructure is modern, and travel is a breeze.
It’s heart-warming to know there’s still a country where the term ‘fairy tale’ can be used freely – from its most enduring literary legacy to its textbook castles. In a nutshell, Denmark gets it right: old-fashioned charm embraces the most avowedly forward-looking design and social developments. The country wins a regular place on lists of both the most liveable and the happiest nations on earth. You won’t have to search hard to find much-prized hygge, a uniquely Danish trait that has a profound influence on the locals’ inestimable happiness. Hygge is social nirvana in Denmark: a sense of coziness, camaraderie, and contentment.
Critics might have looked at Danish food with disdain 30 years ago, but now, thanks to the New Nordic culinary movement, the country’s food scene is seen as one of the best in the world.
Danish food culture and culinary heritage has been cultivated and improved for many generations and is mainly originated from the old Danish country kitchen, with roots way back to the Viking Era, leaving loads of ancient food recipes from all over the Danish Kingdom created first and foremost as a shield to protect the Danes against the cold weather conditions in Denmark. That’s why the Danes for centuries have eaten a lot of meat, especially loads of pork and beef together with plenty of potatoes and vegetables.
Poultry and fish products are the Danes second choice. The cold and often wet climate in Denmark requires a lot of food with high nutritional values that contains many vitamins, minerals, and proteins to mobilise a great potion of energy; which is a vital source needed for work, learning, sports, and other forms of daily activities.
The Danish luncheon and dinner habits and traditions vary from region to region. In the rural areas luncheon often is a hot meal and cold cuts with rye bread "Smørrebrød" in the evening, while eating customs in the metropolitan and city areas are opposite.
The nightclubs and bars stay open until 5 or 6 in the morning, some even longer. Denmark has a very liberal alcohol culture and a strong tradition for beer breweries, although binge drinking is frowned upon and the Danish Police take driving under the influence very seriously. Inner-city areas such as Istedgade and EnghavePlads in Vesterbro, Sankt Hans Torv in Nørrebro and certain places in Frederiksberg are especially noted for their nightlife. Copenhagen has one of the highest numbers of restaurants and bars per capita in the world.
The Danish capital is known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, with bicycles outnumbering its inhabitants. In 2012 some 36% of all working or studying city-dwellers cycled to work, school, or university. With 1.27 million Km covered every working day by Copenhagen’s cyclists (including both residents and commuters), and 75% of Copenhageners cycling throughout the year. The city’s bicycle paths are extensive and well used, boasting 400 kilometers (250 miles) of cycle lanes not shared with cars or pedestrians, and sometimes have their signal systems – giving the cyclists a lead of a couple of seconds to accelerate.
Futuristic in its visage, the Copenhagen Opera House is a true icon of the Danish capital and somewhere that should be visited by anyone who loves opera and theatre in general. The Opera House’s main stage is able to accommodate up to 1,400 people, and together with its second stage, the Opera House hosts an always impressive variety of top-rated performances. In addition to the excellent shows you can catch at the Opera House, the Restaurant Kost& Mask, which sits at the top of the Opera House’s 14 stories, serves up an ever-changing selection of mouthwatering dishes, with the fare equally focused on vitality as on taste.
Outdoors & Adventure
Denmark has some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. With over 7,400km of coastline, choosing the best of Denmark's fine white sand, family friendly and crowd-free beaches is tough!
In late summer and autumn, visitors to Jaegerborg Dyrehave can witness the ferocious strutting and bellowing of stags as they compete for mates and territory. You don't have to go far from an urban center to enjoy fresh air and a chance to spot wildlife--Copenhagen Zoo offers plenty of both. Outdoor Denmark is also an ideal playground for a number of vigorous activities, including kayaking, biking, and rock climbing.
If official campsites are not your thing and you crave the serenity of a night camping in the wild, Denmark is the country for you. With over 1,000 areas for wild camping, there are a multitude of natural camping experiences waiting for you. No caravans or motorised vehicles are allowed in these places. They are pure, unspoiled spots where you must leave nothing but your own footprints behind.
Wild camping sites are often equipped with running water and toilets and around a third have shelters you can sleep in. You may only sleep a maximum of one night at each location. Be sure to read the Danish Nature Agency’s guidelines for wild camping prior to your trip.
Take a look at all the amazing destinations we have selected for you and your group, read our experiences and advice in our blog, and check what’s people saying about us too!