- For other places with the same name, see Denmark (disambiguation).
|Currency||Danish krone (DKK)|
|Population||5,475,791 (January 2008 est.)|
|Electricity||230V/50Hz (European plug)|
Denmark (Danish: Danmark) is a country in Scandinavia. The main part of it is Jutland, a peninsula north of Germany, but also with a number of islands, including the two major ones, Zealand and Funen in the Baltic Sea between Jutland and Sweden. Separated from the other islands, Bornholm lies by itself between Sweden and Poland in the Baltic Sea. The capital is located at the most eastern side of Zealand.
Once the seat of Viking raiders and later a major north European power, Denmark has evolved into a modern, prosperous nation that is participating in the general political and economic integration of Europe. However, the country has opted out of the European Union's Maastricht Treaty, the European monetary union (EMU - the Eurozone), and issues concerning certain internal affairs.
These days, the Danish Vikings have parked their ships in the garage and put the helmets on the shelves, and along with the other Scandinavian nations, have forged a society that is often seen as a benchmark of civilization; with progressive social policies, a commitment to free speech so strong it put the country at odds with much of the world during the 2006 cartoon crisis, a liberal social-welfare system and, according to The Economist, one of the most commercially competitive. Top it off with a rich, well-preserved cultural heritage, and the Danes' legendary sense of design and architecture, and you have one intriguing holiday destination.
Dubbed in various surveys and polls throughout the years as the "happiest country in the world", it is often pictured as a romantic and safe place, likely linked to Hans Christian Andersen as a "fairy tale" on its own. Of course much more lies beneath the surface, but for the traveler, Denmark is likely to prove convenient, safe, clean, but also quite expensive to visit.
Though not immediately obvious on a map, Denmark comprises more than 400 islands, of which 72 are populated. The peninsula of Jutland and the main islands comprise the regions we use in this guide. Nearly 40% of the country's population live on the island of Zealand, though it only accounts for ⅙ of the country.
The European mainland
|Funen and Surrounding Islands
Homeland of the world famous author H.C. Andersen, and his childhood house in Odense as well as the picturesque South Funen Archipelago.
Denmark's largest island, and seat of the capital Copenhagen
Islands south of Zealand
The vacation island, also known as the "rock island", home of the fabled roundhouse churches connected to the crusades, and some excellent beaches.
Denmark has quite a few notable cities. These are just a few, that are very popular among tourists:
- Copenhagen (København) — Denmark's capital and largest city with a population of 1.2 million in its metropolitan area and a vast amount of offers for cultural experiences, shopping and inspiration of Danish design traditions.
- Aalborg — home of a historic and picturesque city center and the rowdy street Jomfru Ane Gade, which features some of country's most vibrant night life
- Aarhus — the largest city on the Jutland peninsular and Denmark's second largest city, with a population of 0.3 mio in its metropolitan area and a brilliant Open Air Museum containing historic buildings from towns and cities across Denmark, many from the 1800s.
- Esbjerg — Denmark's center for the fishing and offshore oil and gas industry, and a short 15 minute ferry ride away from the cosy island of Fanø
- Nykøbing Falster — nestled by a picturesque fjord, you can explore the old abbey, the castle, or set out to the spectacular chalk cliffs of Møn or the island's good beaches
- Odense — the main city of the island of Funen, and Denmark's third largest city, known as birthplace of H.C. Andersen, but The Funen Village open air museum of 18th Century farm buildings, and the Egeskov Castle, one of the best-preserved Renaissance castles in Europe are also good attractions
- Roskilde — half an hour from Copenhagen it's a picturesquely placed city, hosting a world heritage listed cathedral as well as a great Viking ship museum.
- Skagen — the most northern point of the mainland, this sleepy fishing town bursts into life during summer. It is the place to watch as two oceans meet at the "tip of Denmark", bike around the scenic surroundings, dine on excellent seafood. It is among the most popular summer destinations in the country, including that of the Copenhagen rich and famous.
- Sønderborg — discover Danish mentality in a city where Denmark finally conceded its superpower ambitions, and wander through the old castle or the royal palace of Gråsten
- Anholt — more than 45 km from nearest mainland and pretty much right between Sweden and Denmark, this secluded island offers the largest desert in Northern Europe and one of Scandinavia's largest seal populations.
- Ertholmene — this small group of islands, governed by the Ministry of Defense, makes up for Denmark's most eastern land and home to a large a bird reserve, as well as old defense installations.
- Femø — most famous for being one of the first bastions for the women's rights movement, it now attracts both lesbians and feminists, though priding itself of welcoming all women.
- Fanø — a 16 km long and 5 km wide island, with an unusual large mount of different natural environments on a small area: Sand, heath, meadow and pine wood.
- Hirsholm — one of six small islands 7 km to the northeast of Frederikshavn, noted for it's high population of birds, but also home to some excellent beaches and a relatively large number of bunkers, dating back to World War II.
- Kongernes Nordsjælland National Park — brand new national park covering the old hunting grounds of ancient kings.
- Læsø — get away from it all in this remote island in Denmark's "desert belt", ride through the sand dunes on horseback and see unique farmhouses with seaweed roofs.
- Samsø — probably Denmark's "greenest" island which has recently garnered international attention since the heat and energy used on the island is exclusively produced by renewable sources, as well as home to the annual music festival Samsø Festival, sporting itself as Denmark's "hyggeligste" (i.e. most cosy).
- Stevns Cliff — a 65 million year old cliff made up of lime an chalk, which stretches more than 12 km on the shoreline and up to 41 meters above sea-level.
- "My life is a lovely story, happy and full of incident." — Hans Christian Andersen
Denmark is flat! More than 60% of the landmasses are flat, arable land, making it ideal for farming. And an additional 15% or so are similarly flat forests. Thus Denmark is home to the 'lowest-highest' point in Europe; at a stunning 170.86 meters above sea level, Møllehøj, near Skanderborg, was in 2005 confirmed as the highest natural point in Denmark. More famously Ejer Baunehøj and Yding Skovhøj with 170.35 and 170.77 meters respectively has been competing for years, until in 2005 with a new technique the winning hill could be found. Either way, the 216 meter tall Søsterhøj Transmission Tower near Aarhus stretches reaches 315 meter above sea level and thus is technically the highest point in Denmark.
The almost 7,500 km coastline makes room for a large number of beaches, which along with the wind erosion, and plenty of rain, have formed the landscape, and today it is a country of small hills and valleys, minor lakes and small forests with beach and pine. The geographic position of Denmark on the tectonic plates have reduced the risk of earthquakes and volcanoes, and the worst quakes in modern times have been measured to 4.7 on the Richter scale
The mountains in Sweden and Norway shield Denmark from most of the stormy weather and freezing winter air. Combined with the mild temperature and high degree of moisture in the winds blowing in from the North Sea it makes the land well suited for agriculture as the seasons are smoothed, and seldom creates droughts or floods. Bornholm is one of the few exceptions to the overall farming friendly terrain, as the depth of the soil is reduced, and bedrock can be seen in multiple sites.
The west coast of Jutland facing the North Sea is slowly eroding, and accumulates the eroded soil due to the currents in the ocean. The result forms wide sandy beaches, whereas the east coast of Jutland in general is covered with pebble beaches.
Sports are popular in Denmark, with association football reigning supreme in popularity and counted as the national sport, followed by Gymnastics, Handball and Golf. Badminton and Water sports, however, often wins medals in international events like the Olympic Games.
Another trait of Danish culture as any tourist pamphlet will tell you, is "Hygge", translating into cosy or snug. Danes themselves will be quick to point out this is somehow a unique Danish concept, which is hardly in tune with reality, but it does probably take a more prominent place in the culture than in many other countries. It usually involves low key dinners in people's home, with long conversations over candlelight and red wine in the company of friends and family, but the word is broadly used for social interactions.
Another important aspect of Danish culture is understatement and modesty, which is not only prominent in Danish behavioral patterns but also very much an important trait in the famous Danish design, which dictates strict minimalism and functionalism over flashiness, something that transfers well to the Danish people as well.
The Danes are a fiercely patriotic bunch, but in a sneakingly low-key kind of way. They will warmly welcome visitors to show off the country, which they are rightly proud of, but any criticism - however constructive - will not be taken lightly, although most Danes will happily spend hours to prove you wrong over a Carlsberg beer, rather than becoming hostile. It won't get you far though, and if you manage to convince anyone of any other flaws than the taxes are too high, the weather is too bad or other trivialities, you should immediately return home and run for political office. For the same reasons, outsiders on long term stays are by many viewed with a certain amount of suspicion. As the homogeneous society is often thought to be the key to Denmark's successes, you will often hear resident foreigners complain about a constant pressure to become ever more Danish, and the anti-immigrant Danish Peoples Party have seen increasing popularity over the years, taking 13% of the votes at the latest election, making it Denmark's 3rd largest political party.
As a traveler it is therefore likely that Danes will be friendly and helpful towards you, but rarely engage in contact and conversations with you on their own initiative. Often the people can be seen as cold, skeptical and even a bit rude, but it is only on the surface. It can take time to truly befriend a Dane. If nothing else, hit any bar in town and you will be greeted warmly when the first few beers are put away.
Drinking alcoholic beverages is, however strange it can seem, a key component in the social life there. Especially when comparing with the other Scandinavian countries, Denmark has a very liberal attitude to alcohol consumption, both in terms of what is socially and legally acceptable. For many social gatherings alcohol is a must (during weekends) and is seen a positive driver for loosening the atmosphere. Engaging in drinking is most likely the best way to get to know a Dane.
Denmark is often praised as being the one of the greenest countries in the world, but apart from the ubiquitous bikes, the individual Danes are surprisingly nonchalant about the environment despite their reputation, and actually contribute as many greenhouse emissions as most other nationalities. As with so many other things, it is thought as a collective responsibility, and have safely been played into the hands of the government, which in turn, with great success under Social Democratic leadership, enacted a series of reforms, mainly green taxation, between 1993-2001, that made Danish society as a whole (especially in industrial production) one of the most energy efficient in the world. As it turned out it was also good business, and green technology has become of the country's largest exports, including fields like thermostats, wind turbines and home insulation. Because of this, green policies enjoys unusually broad support among the people and the entire political spectrum. 20% of energy productions comes from renewable energy, mainly wind power, a feat mainly made possible by the common Nordic energy market and the massive hydro energy resources in Norway and Sweden, which can easily be regulated up and down to balance the unreliable wind production.
At the moment, the wind production in general produces more power during the night than the Danish companies can consume, while not producing enough in daytime to cover the consumption. In recent years, the installation of solar power in domestic houses has been supported by targeted tax reductions to create a secondary renewable energy source that is active during the days hours. As a backup the old coal and oil based power plants are kept ready for production, and black or brown outs are unthinkable for the Danish population.
All these lofty green visions do actually have a few tangible implications for travelers:
- Plastic bags cost money; DKK 1-5 - non-refundable, so bring a bag for shopping groceries.
- Cans and bottles have DKK 1-3 deposit, refundable any place that sells bottled drinks.
- Many toilets have half and full flush buttons, now - you figure out when to use which.
- There is a roughly 100% (DKK 4) tax on gasoline, the total price usually hovers between DKK 9-11 per litre.
- In many counties you need to sort your waste in two separate 'biological' and 'burnable' containers.
Denmark is not only the gateway to Scandinavia in cultural terms, but certainly also geographically, and as such the country is well connected with the rest of European continent and to Scandinavia. A plethora of ferries connects Denmark with Europe and Scandinavia, and Copenhagen airport even more so serves as the main Scandinavian hub, since its southern latitude makes it a natural stopping point for flights between Scandinavia and the rest of Europe.
Denmark is a member of the Schengen Agreement.
There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty – the European Union (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. Please see article Travelling around the Schengen Area for more information on how the scheme works and what the requirements are for your nationality. Citizens of the above countries are permitted to work in Denmark without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorization for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay. However, this ability to work visa-free does not necessarily extend to other Schengen countries.
You can apply for a visa at your local Danish embassy (list), but in many countries where Denmark has no consular representation, other Nordic (Scandinavian) embassies (Sweden, Norway or Finland) are usually authorized to handle visa applications (see list). Further details are available at the Danish immigration services.
The other nations of the Danish commonwealth, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands, are not Schengen or EU members. If you can visit the Schengen area without a visa, you can visit Greenland and the Faeroe Islands under the same rules (90 days in a half year), citizens of the EU/EEA have unlimited access. If you need a visa for the Schengen Zone, you'll need a separate visa for Greenland or the Faeroe Islands - be sure to inform the Danish embassy when you apply for your Schengen visa that you're also visiting these areas.
Denmark is served by two major and several minor airports who nearly all offer international connections. Most European airlines offer routes to Copenhagen, and many also to Billund, but SAS Scandinavian Airlines remains the dominant carrier. Key players in the low-cost market include Norwegian, Easyjet, Transavia and finally Ryanair which has services only to provincial airports.
- Copenhagen Airport (IATA: CPH) is the largest airport in Scandinavia. The airport is located at the town Kastrup on the island Amager, 8 km from central Copenhagen. The airport is connected by train to Copenhagen Central Station and beyond as well as Malmö and other towns in Sweden. One way fare to Copenhagen Central station is DKK 34 and the train leaves every 10 minutes. Buses and taxis are also available.
- Billund Airport (IATA: BLL) in South-Central Jutland is Denmark's 2nd largest airport, and the main airport for the entire peninsula. It fields flights to major European hubs: Frankfurt, London and Amsterdam, many European capitals, the Faeroe Islands as well as south European holiday destinations. Located in the town Billund, 29 km from Vejle, 65 km from Esbjerg, 104 km from Odense, 100 km from Aarhus, 210 km from Aalborg, and 262 km from Copenhagen. The airport is connected by buses to major cities and towns in the region. Taxis are also available.
- Aalborg Airport (IATA: AAL) about 7 km east of the city centre, is Denmark's 3rd largest airport with flights to around 20 European destinations, including Oslo, Reykjavik and the Faroe Islands as well as major hubs like London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Istanbul. Major carriers includes Norwegian, SAS, Turkish Airlines, and Atlantic Airways. It should be noted that many routes are limited within seasons.
- Aarhus Airport (IATA: AAR) is on the Djursland peninsula 44 km north east of Aarhus, 50 km from Randers, 90 km from Silkeborg, 99 km fra Horsens, 98 km from Viborg and 138 km from Aalborg. An airport shuttlebus connects the airport to Aarhus Central Station from where you can reach the rest of Jutland by Train. Non-national carriers serving Aarhus airport are Ryanair, British Airways and Finnair.
- Malmö-Sturup Airport (IATA: MMX) is located 61 km from Copenhagen in southern Sweden and offers low-fares flights with Wizzair to Eastern Europe and Ryanair to London (Stansted), Poland and Spain. An Airport shuttle bus connects the airport with Copenhagen central station. FlyBus charges 10 pounds / 100DK for the ride.
- Rejseplanen travel planner (this service is also integrated into the public transportation route planner in google maps)
There are five direct trains per day (six from June 16) from Hamburg to Copenhagen, approximately every two hours, one of these trains extends to Berlin. These trains are loaded onto a ferry for the sea passage from Puttgarten to Rødby, and the total journey time is around 4.5 hours (6.5 hours to Berlin). There are also two trains daily to Aarhus from Hamburg (one originating in Prague) via Padborg. Other trains from Germany include trains from Flensburg to Copenhagen and trains from Niebüll to Esbjerg. If you are coming from farther away in Europe, there is a night train from Amsterdam, Basel, Berlin, and Prague, stopping in Denmark in Padborg, Kolding, Odense, Roskilde, and Copenhagen. From Sweden there are hourly direct trains from Gothenburg and up to five direct trains from Stockholm to Copenhagen. In addition to the direct trains the Øresund trains connect Copenhagen with trains terminating in Malmö every 20 minutes, taking 35 minutes to cover the distance.
Denmark is directly connected to the German Autobahn on route E45 (German route 7), which passes close to Hamburg and runs along the east coast of the Jutland peninsular, all the way to Frederikshavn in the North, passing through Denmark's second city Aarhus along the way. Many drivers going from Germany to the Danish capital opt for one of the regular car ferries, which shortens the trip by 137 km from Hamburg and 309 km from Berlin respectively, and avoids the 235 DKK bridge toll, so the price of the ferry crossing is nearly offset by extra gas needed to take the long way around.
Visitors without their own wheels coming in from Germany can try their luck with the German Mitfahrgelegenheit a ride-sharing website run in conjunction with the German Automotive organization, which fairly frequently have rides to Denmark available. It is in German only but pretty self-explanatory, if you know Denmark is called Dänemark and International is Ausland in German.
From Sweden catch route E20 from Gothenburg (312 km) or E4 from Stockholm (655 km) to Malmö and connect with the Øresund bridge (325 DKK). Many Norwegians also opt for this route when going to Copenhagen, but there are several car ferries crossing the strait between the two countries, especially to Hirtshals on the north tip of Jutland, which is connected to the Danish highway network.
If you are in one of the neighbouring countries, long distance buses offer a good economical alternative to trains. From Germany several bus companies operate routes from Hamburg and Berlin to Copenhagen and Aarhus. A trip from Berlin to Copenhagen can cost as little as 200 DKK, but normally will set you back around 300 DKK (40€) and take around 8 hours, another popular route Hamburg to Aarhus takes around 5½ hours. Try to check out the following companies; Berolina, Eurolines, and Abildskou.
For Scandinavia there are three daily connections and a night-bus from Gothenburg (4½ hours) and Oslo (8 hours), and two daily buses from Stockholm (9 hours) divided into a day and a night bus, check out GoByBus and Swebus for prices and schedules - when searching it might be useful to know Copenhagen is Köpenhamn in Swedish.
Due to the Bosnian war in the 1990s there are several bus companies serving the Bosnian diaspora, which provide a cheap and clean way of getting to the other side of the European continent. Toptourist and Autoprevoz runs from various destinations in Bosnia and Hercegovina and Serbia to Denmark, Off-season approx 1000 DKK (140€) for a return ticket.
The fastest way between Norway and the continent are through the Danish highways, this has ensured frequent ferry connections to Norway, with the busiest port being Hirtshals, from where a trip to Norway takes as little as 3½ hours. Other busy routes are the Rødby-Puttgarden ferry - the fastest route between Sweden and Copenhagen to continental Europe - which remains one of the busiest ferry crossings in the world (though a bridge is on the drawing board). Ferries are generally of a very high standard and safety regulations are strictly adhered to.
Long distance train travel is done with DSB, the Danish State Rail system. A number of long distance bus companies also operate. Each region in Denmark has its own local public transportation company. For public transportation (trains, buses and ferries) use the online travel planner Rejseplanen.
There are two ways to buy tickets. For local trips you can buy a ticket from the regional transportation company based on a zone system. This ticket is valid on all public transportation including DSB trains for one to two hours (depending on the number of zones you travel). Most public transportation companies offer a number of passes which can save you a substantial amount on transportation.
In the greater Copenhagen region, the zone system is complemented by a system of “klippekort”, punch cards. These cards come in a variety of colors where the color signifies the total number of zones one can travel through for each punch. So a two zone card punched once allows one an hour of travel throughout two zones. A two zone card punched twice in the same machine is valid for travel in four zones or from the airport at Kastrup to the main train station in Copenhagen. DSB also uses a similar system of klippekort/punch cards for travel in the Oresund region.
To use a klippekort/punch card, you insert the card, face up, into the yellow machine on the train platform. You will hear a clunk as a punch discard is removed from card. Repeat to add zones. The machine will also have a zone map and a guide to explain how many punches it takes to travel from where you are to where you want to go. Most regions have their own klippekort but they do not work between regions. Some of the long distance bus companies offer klippekort that are valid for a specific route across regions but these are probably of little use for travelers as they have to be bought on cards of 10 punches(trips).
Until recently long distance bus-service between Jutland and Copenhagen was a matter of preference rather than cost, but recently a number of low cost bus lines have begun crossing the country at much lower prices, albeit also at a much more limited schedule.
- Abildskou is the established long distance operator with up to 9 departures each day to various city's in Jutland. Most departures uses a fast ferry connection across the Kattegat sea. Prices range from 150 Kroner for a limited number of discounted tickets, to 300 Kroner for a regular ticket.
- Rød Billet Tickets range between 99-180 kroner, but departures are limited to 1-4 per day. Crosses the Great Belt bridge.
The primary Danish train company is Danish State Railways or DSB. Many feeder lines for the principal train line in eastern Jutland are now operated by British company Arriva. Other small rail lines are operated by other companies. DSB also operates the S-Tog commuter rail system around the greater Copenhagen area. Eurail passes are valid on all DSB and Arriva trains. Danish trains are very comfortable, very modern and very expensive. To ensure on-time departure, the doors of the trains are closed and locked in stages between one minute and 15 seconds before scheduled departure time. Tickets can be purchased at station ticket offices, from vending machines in the stations (valid for travel only on date of purchase and with time stamp) and via DSB's website. Most trains have 230V power outlets. Wi-Fi service is available on most trains between Copenhagen and Aalborg. Internet access is included on first class tickets and on standard class 7 hours access can be bought for 29 DKK with a credit card.
If you are not travelling on a rail pass, try asking for an Orange ticket, these are a limited number of heavily discounted tickets that are available on most departures. They are often sold out way in advance, but it never hurts to ask - and you do need to ask, in order to get the discount. Senior citizen tickets (65 billet) offer 25 or 50% discount (depending on day and time of travel) on all departures and are technically limited to residents of Denmark aged 65 and over, but again it won't hurt to ask. All trips with trains and local buses can be scheduled electronically through Rejseplanen.dk.
The express trains marked as ICL (InterCity-Lyntog, or ‘lightning train’) are the fastest, but also the most popular, so seat reservations are highly advisable. Ordinary InterCity trains are generally less crowded, and the time difference is often negligible on trips of an hour or less.
Ferries are the best way to get to Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic Sea, although it also can be reached by plane. Since the opening of the bridge to Sweden, the easiest route from Copenhagen to Bornholm is by train and then ferry from Ystad. Through tickets are available between Copenhagen and Rønne (booking is mandatory). There is also a bus that serves this route - Gråhund Bus 886 from Copenhagen to Ystad, where it links with the ferry to Bornholm.
Driving in Denmark between cities is very easy, with well-maintained roads everywhere. Danes generally drive by the rules, but may not be very helpful to other drivers in ceding right of way, etc. and stick very rigid to keep to their rights. There are no toll-roads except the two big bridges: Storebæltsbroen between Zealand and Funen (DKK 215 one way), and Øresundsbron between Copenhagen and Malmö (DKK 235 one way).
Touring Denmark by car can be a wonderful experience and highly recommended. Margueritruten (The Marguerite Route) is a 3500 km long connected route of small scenic roads passing 100 important Danish attractions. It is marked by brown signs with the white Marguerite Daisy flower and is also marked on most roadmaps.
Unless otherwise posted, speed limits are 130 km/h (80 mph) on the motorways, 80 km/h (50 mph) outside build-up areas and 50 km/h (30 mph) in build-up areas. Vehicles with caravans or trailers as well as trucks are limited to 80 km/h on motorways, 70 km/h on roads outside build-up areas and 50 km/h in build-up areas, even though other speed limits may be indicated. Speeding occurs frequently, especially on motorways, though recent years dedicated effort by the Danish police on speeding, has made more people aware of speed limits. Trucks in Denmark generally do 90-ish km/h on motorways and trucks overtaking each other on long stretches of motorway (colloquially known as elephant races) occurs frequently. Fines ranges between DKK 500 (€ 70) and 10,000 (€ 1,370) and driving ban in Denmark.
Wearing seat belts in cars and vans is compulsory (if fitted), and children under 135 cm and or under 3 years of age, must use approved safety seating devices adapted to their height and weight.
Headlights must be switched on when driving at all times (and dipped during sun hours), regardless of weather conditions or whether it is a night or day, so switch them on.
Drivers and passengers of motorcycles and mopeds must all wear full face helmets.
Though required under law, little use is made of indicators on roundabouts, so generally if the car isn't indicating it is leaving the roundabout, give way as it is invariable going round. When changing between lanes on motorways use of turn signals prior to- and during the lane change is mandatory.
On open roads, especially those with an accompanying cycle path, expect drivers turning right to come to an almost dead stop to check that they are not cutting in front of a cyclist, even if there is no way even an Olympic cyclist could appear from nowhere on an entirely cycle free horizon.
Right turn on red is not permitted.
Denmark allow drivers to have 0.05 percent alcohol in the bloodstream while driving (for most people this is equivalent to having consumed one drink or less), and Danish police is very aware of possible drunken drivers. Fine is calculated as (percent of alcohol in blood) × 10 × (your monthly salary before tax).
Watch out for the bicycles in the cities, especially when turning across bicycle lanes, the bicycles always have right of way. Special care should be taken at Roundabouts ! Cyclists in general seem suicidal to drivers from other countries, as they will not look, or slow down if turning onto the road in front of you. After sun hours, lights on bikes seem to be voluntary - especially in the bigger cities - even though it is in fact compulsory.
You must always carry your driving license, vehicle registration document, and certificate of motor insurance in the car. It is compulsory to have a Warning triangle in the car, and to use it if you experience breakdowns on highways or on regular roads where you are not able to move your car out of the way.
The road signs in Europe differ substantially to those e.g. in the Americas. The warning signs are triangular but have symbols that should be understandable. These are some European signs that could need explanation for foreign visitors.
Ease of driving inside cities is a different story. Congestion in and around the major cities, especially during rush hours can be a trial for some people. If you are in your own car, it is wise to park it in a convenient central place and walk or use public transport, bike or taxi to get around the big cities. Most parking areas requires the use of parking discs/parking clock faces (in Danish parkeringsskiver or "P-skiver" in short) which must be placed in the right side of the front window, with the clock facing out of the window and the hour hand set to the time you park (there is no minute hand). The rules state that the hour hand should be set to the next "full" quarter hour. If you for instance arrive at 1:16 PM at a parking space with 30 minutes parking you should set the parking disc to 1:30, and you will only be due back at your car at 2:00 PM.
Some places require a parking ticket from a nearby parking ticket vending machine to be placed in the car, in the lower right corner of the dash-board, readable from outside the car. Some more modern parking ticket systems allow the purchase of parking tickets using text-messages from cell-phones, though this can be a very expensive affair from foreign numbers. The majority of the parking ticket vending machines, accepts international credit and debit cards, however this is still a large quantity that only accepts Danish national credit cards or coins. Note that in some areas - especially in the Copenhagen area - have multiple vending machines with different parking coverage. In this case the coverage is indicated with a map on left or right side of the machine. Be sure to check that the machine you purchase a ticket from, actually covers the area you have parked.
Renting a car
Renting a car is a convenient, efficient and though relatively expensive way to explore Denmark, especially if you intend to visit more remote areas, where train and bus services may be less frequent. Prices starts an approx. 120€/day at the big car rental chains, but with limited mileage, typically 100 km per lease and an additional 25 km/day. It is not uncommon for the car rental chains to require the drivers to be at the age of 21 or higher and require that payment be done with an international credit card.
Be aware that Scandinavia is no exception to the widespread European scam of adding hidden charges to your car rental bill, and not including services like auto assistance. Also, unlike other goods and services, quoted car rental rates may not include the 25% V.A.T. or sales tax for purchases by private people. Carefully read the rental agreement before you accept your car.
If possible renting a car in Sweden (just across the Sound from Copenhagen and Elsinore) or Germany (just south of the border in Jutland) can be an economically sound move. Car rentals in Sweden and Germany are less than half the price of Danish rentals and mostly comes with free mileage. Remember to check if the rent allow for driving in Denmark and what auto assistance is included.
If you need auto assistance, you should generally inquire with your insurance company, as they will usually have made arrangements with a local company. If they haven't try one of the following companies, but expect to pay € 100-300 for a simple service like towing to nearest shop.
- Main article: Cycling in Denmark
Biking in Denmark is, in general, safe and easy. Drivers are used to bikes everywhere, and all major cities have dedicated, curbed bike lanes along the main streets. Denmark is quite flat, but can be windy, cold or wet on a bike. Bikes are generally allowed on trains (separate ticket sometimes needed).
Note that biking on the expressways (Da: motorvej) is prohibited, and that this also includes the Great Belt Bridge and the Øresund Bridge. Trains can be used between Nyborg and Korsør and between Copenhagen and Malmö if you need to cross the bridges.
Official marked routes across the country can be found on this page.
It is quite easy to hitchhike in Denmark. People who pick up hitchhikers usually speak English. Destination boards are recommended. For safety reasons, it is illegal to hitchhike on the expressways, so it is better to use the on ramps and service areas. When crossing by ferry, try to get into a car that already paid for the ticket.
If you hitchhike from the southern part of Denmark (direction from Hamburg or Kiel, Germany), and continue in direction to Copenhagen, make sure the driver doesn't stop in Kolding. If he does, ask him to stop at the last gas station before Kolding. On the Kolding expressway crossing there is no place to hitchhike and it is one of the worst places in Europe for hitchhikers.
Check out the Tips for hitchhiking article here on Wikivoyage if you are new to hitchhiking.
Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian operate domestic routes, both of them either from or to Copenhagen Airport. There are no domestic routes between regional airports. Since most of the country's airports were built as military airfields during the Second World War, they are often inconveniently located far from town centers, which as a general rule make train travel nearly as fast from town center to town center for destinations less than 3 hours by train from Copenhagen. For destinations further afield, trains will often get you where you want to go a lot cheaper. But competition is heavy and it is sometimes possible to find plane tickets cheaper than the train if you book well ahead of your planned departure or can travel at off-peak hours. This is especially true for the Copenhagen - Aalborg v.v. route, where competition is heaviest.
Some of the more remote islands, if there is any such thing in a country as small as Denmark, also sees regular taxi flights from Roskilde airport to their small airfields, on-board small propeller aircraft. The most trafficked route are between Roskilde and the islands of Læsø and Anholt, where there are daily flights bookable on-line or by phone. These flights tend to be fairly expensive though, with the price hovering around 1000 DKK for a one way ticket.
- See also: Danish phrasebook
Denmark's national language is Danish (Dansk), a member of the Germanic branch of the group of Indo-European languages, and within that family, part of the North Germanic, East Norse group. It is, in theory, very similar to Norwegian Bokmål and also to Swedish, and is to some extent intelligible to speakers of those languages, especially in written form. However its sound is more influenced by the guttural German language, rather than the lilting languages found to the north and understanding spoken Danish may be a trace more difficult to those who only speak Swedish or Norwegian. It is also more distantly related to Icelandic and Faroese, though spoken Danish is not mutually intelligible with these languages.
English is widely spoken in Denmark (close to 90% of the population speaks it, making Denmark one of the most English proficient countries on the planet where English is not an official language), and many Danes have near native fluency. Danish school children start their English lessons in third grade, and regular English lessons continue until students finish high school, and many Danish university courses are fully or partially taught in English. In this regard, it is worth noting that Denmark is probably one of very few countries in the world where, as a foreigner, you get no extra points for trying to speak the native language, and Danes in general have very little patience with non-fluent speakers. So except for a few words like Tak (thank you) or Undskyld (excuse me), English-speakers are much better off just speaking English than fighting their way through a phrasebook. If you do try, and the person you are talking to immediately switches to English, don't feel bad as it is not meant to condescend or belittle, but rather to display an understanding of your predicament and to show you it is quite fine to have a conversation in English rather than the notoriously difficult Danish language. Also of note, the Danish language has no equivalent to the English word "please" so at times it may seem as though Danes are rude when speaking English.
Many Danes also speak German. Denmark is one of the top countries in non-German speaking Europe when it comes to knowledge of the German language, since more than 58% of the population has a good knowledge of the language. It is widely spoken in areas that attract many tourists from Germany, i.e. mainly the Jutland West Coast, the southern part of Funen and nearby islands (e.g. Langeland and Ærø), but especially in Southern Jutland (Sønderjylland / Northern Schleswig), where it has status of a minority language. Elsewhere in the country, many people prefer to avoid speaking it, even when they do have some command of the language, and you will have a hard time convincing anyone (outside the tourist industry) otherwise: this has nothing to do with history but is merely a result of the high fluency in English, making the locals less inclined to struggle through a language they are not entirely comfortable with. In a pinch or emergency though, people will probably step up, and do their best to help. There is a native or indigenous German speaking minority along the southern border to Germany (Sønderjylland / Northern Schleswig). Vice versa, across the frontier, there is a small community of Danish speakers to be found in Germany.
French is also spoken to some degree, as all Danish students have received at least three years of lessons in either German or French, but given the Danes' limited contact with the French language, fluency tends to be lagging.
Foreign television programmes and films are almost always shown in their original language with subtitles. Only children's programmes are dubbed into Danish, contributing to the Danes' excellent English skills.
Denmark's top tourist attractions (2008)
The Danish Islands
Though not well known to casual visitors Denmark is an island nation, with 72 inhabited islands and a further 371 uninhabited ones. Apart from the well known blockbuster Bornholm, with its rich history, mystic round churches and links to the Knights Templar, many of the small islands are rarely visited by tourists, even though they make up for some of the country's most intriguing destinations. If you have the time consider visiting one of the two remote islands in the Kattegat sea - Læsø and Anholt, which locals jokingly refers to as the "Danish desert belt" since it sees much less rainfall than the rest of the country, and have large swaths of sand dunes covering much of the two islands, peculiar architecture and a laid back vibe. Also worth considering is the Island sea south of Funen, one of the country's most beautiful areas, which also includes the larger islands of Langeland and Ærø with some impossibly picturesque villages, lush green and hilly farmland and wild horses, and Samsø, geographically in the center of the country, which boasts numerous beautiful villages and a yearly festival (Samsø Festival). Finally in South Jutland, the islands of Fanø, Mandø and Rømø are located in the Wadden sea, an inter tidal zone forming a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands. It is rich in biological diversity, with seals and an amazing range of birds, but also have some spectacular beaches and cute villages.
Similar experiences of enjoying the Danish nature can be found throughout the five recently established national parks.
Much has happened since the Danes were wreaking havoc to much of Northern Europe, but the more peaceful modern version of the Danes still take immense pride in their Viking heritage. The most visual heritage is the burial mounds dotting the landscape everywhere in the country (actually, most of these are from the earlier Bronze Age period), but there are a few attractions for the inclined to visit. Easiest and perhaps most interesting are the two museums near Roskilde, easily reached on a day trip from Copenhagen - the Viking ship museum is extraordinary with some well preserved ships and the Lejre Experimental Centre, a living history museum with a recreated Viking village. Still on Zealand but a further west in Slagelse, is the remains of the once mighty Trelleborg Viking ring castle and some reconstructed long houses. In Jutland there is another ring castle ruin near Hobro, Fyrkat, and 9 reconstructed farmhouses. Further south is Jelling, home of a pair of massive carved runestones from the 10th century, one of them celebrating Denmark's conversion to Christianity - the end of the Viking age. Still in the South, but along the West coast, Ribe (the oldest city of Denmark) is home to both a Viking Museum and a Viking experimental center. The National Museum in Copenhagen, also has a good collection of Viking artifacts. The city of Frederikssund holds an annual outdoors Viking play from the summer solstice and a few weeks forward.
World Heritage Sites
Mainland Denmark has 3 world heritage sites; The Jelling rune stones date back to 900's have been called "Denmark's Birth Certificate", testamenting to Denmark's conversion the Christianity around that time, it was erected by what is considered the first official king of Denmark, Gorm The Old, whose son is buried in another of the sights, Roskilde Cathedral, the first Gothic church in Northern Europe build of brick, and the final resting place for most Danish kings and queens ever since. The third, and possibly most famous, is Kronborg castle in Elsinore, home of Shakespeare's Hamlet, prince of Denmark, but also an impressive castle in its own right, guarding the main route to the Baltic sea.
Danish Design and Architecture
Denmark is renowned for its design heritage made famous by well-known designers, architects and companies as such. It is often described as minimalistic and functionalistic in its approach and includes names such as Jørn Utzon, Arne Jakobsen, Hans Wegner, Poul Henningsen, Georg Jensen, Bang&Olufsen, Royal Copenhagen, and many more. Architecture, furniture, industrial design in general, and the people behind it can be seen and explored many places throughout the country. A good place to start is Danish Design Center, Danish Design Museum and Danish Architecture Center, all in Copenhagen. Throughout Copenhagen and its surroundings, many examples of great Nordic architecture can be experienced. Other sources to be mentioned are the Trapholt Museum in Kolding, the Struer Museum (mostly Bagn&Olufsen), the Jørn Utzon dedicated museum in Aalborg, the city hall of Aarhus. For excellent guiding and suggestions for architecture tours, see Danish Architecture Guide.
- Billetnet. Books larger concerts, theater plays, sporting events etc. You can book online or in any post office. If you book online you can have the tickets mailed to you or you can print out a confirmation and exchange it for a ticket at a BilletNet office or at the scene.
- NaturNet. Lists nature oriented events such as mushroom collection, geology tours, etc. Many of the tours are free.
With a 7400 km coastline, almost the same as Brazil's and longer than India's, you are never far from a beach in Denmark. And each summer, particularly the west coast of Jutland, is subjected a veritable invasion of more than 13 million German tourists, usually in the many vacation homes dotting the coast from north to south. And while the weather can be tricky in Denmark, the beaches are world class, with unbroken white sand for miles to an end, if you are fortunate enough to run into sunny weather.
Denmark has a long running and proud tradition in music festivals, dating back to the first Woodstock inspired Roskilde festival in 1972, they have become an all important fixture of the Danish summer, and there is one to fit almost every age and music preference going on between June and August, and with very impressive attendances considering the country's size. There are actually so many that listing each and everyone of them would be ridiculous, but some of the most important ones are:
- Roskilde Festival (June/July). One of the big four rock festivals in Europe, run by non-profit organisation. 80,000 tickets sold and more than 110,000 participants in Roskilde.
- Skanderborg Festival (August). The 2nd largest rock festival with 45,000 participants, in a unique location inside a historic forest by the lake shore near Skanderborg.
- Skive Festival (previously Skive Beach Party) attracts nearly 20,000 spectators to Skive every year, mainly features Danish bands and attracts a mostly local crowd.
- Langelands Festival (July/August). A family oriented festival on the island of Langeland, 20,000 participants.
- Copenhagen Jazz Festival. (July) - One of the worlds top Jazz Festivals, with small and big concert all over the Copenhagen, attracts over 20,000 spectators.
- Tønder Festival (August). A large folk and country music festival held in Tønder in South Jutland.
- Aarhus Festuge (August/September). 10 days of music and cultural events in the city of Aarhus, with a different theme each year.
- Grøn Koncert. (July) - A one-day festival hosting some of the biggest Danish acts. The show travels around the country, usually taking place at 8 different cities over a 2-week-period, drawing a total crowd of nearly 200,000.
- Aalborg Carnival. (May) - Although the music not being the main attraction, this carnival is the biggest in Northern Europe and creates an atmosphere that would make any music festival proud. The Main Parade has a different theme each year, with more than 25,000 people dressing up and partying in the streets.
Denmark is teeming with amusement parks, and indeed features some of the most famous in world; Copenhagen's Tivoli is one of the oldest of such parks in the world, and by Walt Disney's own admission a major source of inspiration for his own Disneyland. Also in Copenhagen, nestled among majestic beech trees Dyrehavsbakken is the worlds oldest operating amusement park, and both of these parks features some of the oldest still operating rollercoasters in the world dating back to 1914 and 1932 respectively, and both receiving the ACE Coaster Classic Award. Just as famous is Legoland in Billund, the largest and the oldest of the now global franchise, with its spectacular miniature LEGO sceneries the star attraction, and a good selection of thrill rides to entertain kids. While outshined by its world famous rivals, there are four other major amusement parks in the country: Sommerland Sjælland, Bonbonland, Fårup Sommerland, Djurs Sommerland, and a host of smaller ones.
With its large coastline, Denmark offers ample opportunity for coastal fishing - this, however requires a permit  that is available from the official web site or all post offices at a rate of DKK 40 for a day, DKK 130 for a week and DKK 185 for a year. On the accompanying slip, however, you are immediately informed of the allowed seasons and allowed sizes of the most common species encountered on the Danish coastline. Sea Trout is common, as is Cod and Plait, and save for a few inland fjords, water quality and thus fish populations are reasonable.
As for freshwater fishing, Denmark offers a diverse number of streams and brooks (no actual rivers, though), that host Salmon, Brown, Rainbow and Sea Trout (in the season), and Grayling, as well as Pike, Perch and Roach, as do a number of inland lakes which also host Zander, Bream and Tench. Freshwater fishing is a bit more complicated than coastal fishing in Denmark, however, as there is a host of local communities presiding over the rights to fish in the specific waters, usually in agreement with the land owners where the waters are situated if they aren't owned by the state, but that also means that some stretches of a specific stream or brook may be off-limits, due to the land owner's ownership. Regulations for seasons and sizes are mandated by the state, but prices and terms for permits are regulated by the communities. Local tourist offices are usually well informed and mostly allowed to sell permits, which may be daily, weekly, monthly or yearly.
Lastly, there is a significant number of "Put-and-Take" facilities that doesn't require a permit as such, but where you purchase the right to fish for a number of hours, but where the owner of the facility guarantees that there are fish present - usually Rainbow Trout - but whereas many facilities are "self-serve" in the sense that you fill out a form and dump it, and the corresponding payment, in a post box, don't be surprised if the proprietor comes by at some time to ask if you are in luck, at the same time keeping track of the number and times of the forms, hours and payments that he has collected from the box.
Hunting in Denmark is done on the basis of land owners retaining the right to hunt on their premises and then, possibly renting it out to interested parties, keeping a close check on who hunts where and when.
Thus, whereas it is relevant to note that a general hunting permit (DKK 500,-) is required, hunting is almost exclusively done with people that you know, who have the hunting rights to the land in question, so if you want to go hunting in Denmark, you would most probably need to befriend a land owner or a friend of one beforehand.
Note that Danish weapons legislation is extremely restrictive. Generally any type of weapon is illegal to own or carry anywhere! There are exceptions for hunting and weapons clubs, but this requires a special permit, and outside the shooting area (hunting grounds or club) the weapon must be concealed and not loaded. Many types of knives are also illegal. Weapon types which cannot be used for hunting or shooting contents - such as knuckles - are just outright illegal anytime and anywhere. The fine for carrying an illegal weapon, especially if it is ready to use, may be severe: A heavy fine and possibly some weeks in prison.
Denmark is a haven for cyclists, and where ever you go you will be met by people riding their bikes; young and old, thick and thin, for transport, fun or the sports of it. Denmark is one of the countries in the world where bikes are the most widely used. This also means that facilities for biking are good, making it more convenient and safe than many other places. But most importantly, the country is super flat and is perfect for biking around, being it in the city or the country side. Many Danes and tourists go on "biking holidays" to many of the popular, quiet spots around the country. So indulging in the culture is one of the best ways to connect with the Danish spirit as well as a great and easy way to explore pretty much every corner of the place. A good place to start is here.
The large coastline makes Denmark an excellent place for surfing, especially wind- and kite-surfing. The North and West coasts hosts some of the best places to do so in the world, and the town on Klitmøller (named "Cold Hawaii") even hosts a leg of the windsurfing world cup each year . In many places it is easy to take classes for all levels of experience which makes for a lot of fun, and it is not even as cold as it may sound.
In addition to the sea coasts, there are many inland rivers, creeks and lakes that make excellent opportunities for enjoying the waterways. Canoeing and Kayaking are popular activities and renting the equipment is usually a piece of cake. Along the popular rivers there are located camping spots, ranging from simple, free shelters to fully equipped, commercial sites, giving all kinds of opportunities from just a couple of hours of fun to a week of "water ways safari".\\ Some of the popular spots for canoeing are the lakes and rivers around Silkeborg, Skjern Å National Park, Ribe creek, Uggerby creek in Northern Jutland, Mølle Å (Mill Creek) near Copenhagen, Suså in Southern Zealand.\\ For sea kayaking, the Limfjorden sound is great (especially around the islands Fur and Mors), the islands south of Svendborg world class (Sydfynske Øhav, and also the channels of Copenhagen offer interesting opportunities.
The national currency is the Danish krone (DKK, plural "kroner" and abbreviated "kr"). In the more "touristy" shops in Copenhagen, and at the traditional beach resorts along the Jutland West Coast and Bornholm Island it will often be possible to pay in Euro. The Danish krone is pegged to the Euro to an accuracy of 2.25%. The Kroner comes in 50 øre (½ kroner) copper coins, 1, 2 and 5 kroner silver nickel coins with a hole in the center, and finally solid 10 and 20 kroner bronze coins. Notes comes in nominations of 50 (Purple), 100 (Orange), 200 (Green) 500 (Blue) and 1000 (Red) kroner. Note that the 1997 series of banknotes are being replaced with a new series, starting with the 50 kroner note in 2009 and ending with the 1000 kroner note in 2011, hence you can expect to see two types of bank notes circulating in the coming years, both are legal tender.
Faroese króna and the coming series of Greenlandic bank notes, while of exactly the same face value, are not legal tender in Denmark (and vice-versa), but can by law be exchanged in any bank free of charge at a 1:1 ratio.
Automatic teller machines are widely available even in small towns, but some ATM's are closed during night time out of security reasons. The Danish word is Dankortautomat, hæveautomat or kontantautomat, and might be useful to remember as the term ATM is not universally known.
Nearly all machines regardless of operator will accept the Danish Dankort, MasterCard, Maestro, Visa, Visa Electron, American Express, JCB and China UnionPay (CUP). While the majority of retailers accept International credit- and debit cards, many still only accept the local Dankort. Virtually everywhere you are required to use a PIN-code with your card, so if this is not common practice in your country, remember to request one from your bank before leaving home. Also beware that most retailers will add a 3%-4% transaction charge (often without warning) if you pay with a foreign credit card.
Note that a few machines will not accept PIN-codes longer than 4 characters, which can create problems for north-American or other European users. Ask the clerk operating the machine if it accepts 5-digit PIN-codes before attempting to operate the machine. Your card may be rejected even without entering the PIN if it is incompatible.
You should note that almost everything in Denmark is expensive. All consumer sales include a 25% sales tax (Moms) but displayed prices are legally required to include this, so they are always exact. If you are from outside the EU/Scandinavia you can have some of your sales tax refunded  when leaving the country.
The average price of Hotel accommodation was around 900 DKK according to the annual 2009 Hotels.com price index, a hostel bed hovers around 200 DKK, but can be found cheaper in Copenhagen. While a three course meal at a standard restaurant will usually set you back around 200 DKK, this can be done cheaper if you eat cafés or pizza joints, 40-70 DKK. Sundries like a 1½l bottle of Coca Cola costs 10-15 DKK, while a beer will cost you 5 DKK in a supermarket, and 40 DKK in bar. If you are a bit careful about your expenses a daily budget of around 700 DKK per day is not unrealistic.
Traditionally, the tip has not been common, but is being introduced by outside influence. Since service charges are automatically included in the bill at restaurants and hotels, and tips for taxi drivers and the like are included in the fare, tipping should be given only as a token of real appreciation for the service. Be aware that the tips will most often be split between the waiters and the kitchen. Taxi drivers do not expect tips, any extra service (such as carrying bags) will be listed on the receipt according to rate. While tipping is not expected, nor required, tipping for outstanding service is obviously greatly appreciated.
- See also: Nordic cuisine
Popular and traditional choices are:
Apart from the ubiquitous kebab shops and pizza stands, dining in Denmark can be fairly expensive, but a worthwhile cost. Traditional Danish fare includes items as pickled herring, fried plaice, and other assorted seafood items. Hearty meat dishes are also prevalent, as seen in items such as frikadeller (pork only or pork and veal meat balls topped by a brown sauce) and "stegt flæsk og persillesovs" (thick fried pork bacon slices topped by a parsley cream sauce). Many meals are also accompanied by a beer, and shots of aquavit or schnapps, though these are mainly enjoyed when guests are over. Drinking along with meals is encouraged as the foods are enhanced by the drinks, and vice versa. If looking for a quick snack to grab on the go, try the traditional Danish hot dog, served in a bun with a variety of fixings, including pickles, fried or raw onions as well as ketchup, mustard and remoulade (a Danish invention in spite of the French name, consisting of mayonnaise with the addition of chopped cabbage and turmeric for color). For dessert, try either "ris á la mande" (rice pudding with almonds and cherries, again a French name with no relation to French cuisine) or æbleskiver (ball-shaped cakes similar in texture to American pancakes, served with strawberry jam), both normally only available in November and December. For candy try a bag of "Super Piratos" (hot licorice candy with salmiakki).
In the past few years, Copenhagen has emerged as a very happening place for food enthusiasts and gastronomic travelers, the highlight being the world-renowned restaurant Noma.
Do avoid touristy places where no Danes are to be found, popularity among locals is almost always an indicator of quality.
Restaurants offering examples of international cuisine are common, mostly in major cities, especially Italian, Greek and Chinese restaurants, though Japanese, Indian and even Ethiopian restaurants can be found too. Quality is generally high, as the competition is too sharp for low-quality businesses to survive.
The traditional Danish lunch is smørrebrød, open sandwiches usually on rye bread - fish except herring, plaice and mackerel are served on white bread, and many restaurants give you a choice of breads. Smørrebrød served on special occasions, in lunch restaurants, or bought in lunch takeaway stores, are piled higher than the daily fare. The Danish rye bread (rugbrød) is dark, slightly sourish and often wholegrain. It is a must for all visitors to try.
Danes are rightly famous for their good looks, but unlike most other places, their lucky draw at the gene pool hasn't translated into the self-assertion and confidence you normally see. And the Danes have become infamous for being closed and tight lipped, bordering the outright rude. So while it is by no means impossible, you will still be hard pressed to find a Dane readily engaging in casual conversations with strangers. That is, until you hit the country's bars and nightclubs.
As any foreigner who has spent time observing the Danes will tell you, alcohol is the fabric that holds Danish society together. And when they are off their face in the dead of night, they suddenly let their guard down, loosen up, and while a bit pitiful, they somehow transmorph into one of the most likable bunch of people on Earth. Rather than the violence associated with binge drinking elsewhere, because it seems to serve a very important social purpose, the natives get very open, friendly and loving instead. It takes some time getting used to, but if you want to form bonds with the Danes, this is how you do it - God help you if you are abstinent. This also means Danes have a very high tolerance for drunk behavior, provided it takes place in the weekends. Drink a glass or two of wine for dinner during the week, and you can be mistaken for an alcoholic, but down 20 pints on a Saturday night, and puke all over the place, and everything will be in order.
There is no legal drinking age in Denmark, although a legal purchase age of 16 is in effect in shops and supermarkets when under 16,5% alcohol, and 18 in bars, discos, restaurants and shops and supermarkets when over 16,5% alcohol. The enforcement of this limitation is somewhat lax in shops and supermarkets, but quite strict in bars and discos, as fines of up to DKK 10,000 and annulment of the license can incur on the vendor. The purchaser is never punished, although some discos enforce a voluntary zero-tolerance policy on underage drinking, where you can get kicked out if caught with no ID and an alcoholic beverage in your hand. Some would claim that the famous Danish tolerance towards underage drinking is waning in light of recent health campaigns targeting the consumption of alcoholic beverages among Danes. As adult Danes do not approve of the government interfering with their own drinking habits, the blame is shifted towards adolescents instead, and proposals of increasing the legal purchase age to 18 overall have been drafted, but have yet to pass Parliament, neither is it likely too in the foreseeable future.
Drinking alcoholic beverages in public, including trains and buses, is considered socially acceptable in Denmark. Having a beer in a public square is a common warm weather activity, though local by-laws are increasingly curbing this liberty, as loitering alcoholics are regarded as bad for business. Drinking bans are usually signposted, but not universally obeyed and enforced. In any case, be sure to moderate your public drinking, especially during the daytime. Extreme loudness may in the worst case land you a few hours in jail for public rowdiness (no record will be kept, though). Most police officers will instead ask you to leave and go home, though.
Danish beer is a treat for a beer enthusiast. The largest brewery, Carlsberg (which also owns the Tuborg brand), offers a few choices, as well as a delicious "Christmas beer" in the 6 weeks leading up to the holidays. Other tasty beverages include the Aquavit (Snaps) and Gløgg - a hot wine drink popular in December. Danish beer is mostly limited to lager beer (pilsner), which are good, but not very diverse. However in the last few years Danes have become interested in a wider range of beers, and Danish microbreweries' excellent products are increasingly available. The Danish Beer Enthusiasts  maintain a list of bars and restaurants with a good selection of beers as well as a list of stores with a good selection.
For Budget accommodation, Danhostel is the national accredited Hostelling International network, and operate 95 hotels throughout the country. Only the country's two largest cities - Copenhagen and Aarhus, have a few independent youth hostels. It is worth noting that the Danish word for hostel is Vandrehjem, which also what hostels in Denmark are usually signposted as. Another option is one of the Hospitality exchange networks, which is enjoying growing popularity among the Danes, with couchsurfing reporting a doubling of available hosts every year.
Hotels are expensive in Denmark, with an average price of a double room hovering around 847 DKK in 2007, hotels are mostly off limits to shoestring travelers, although cheaper deals can most certainly be found, especially for online bookings done in good time before arriving. National budget hotel chains include Zleep and Cab-inn. Alternatives to hotels include a well developed network of Bed & Breakfasts which are bookable through the national tourism organization VisitDenmark (Click on Accommodation > Private accommodation) - or in country famous for its bacon, butter and cheese - what better way to dive into Danish culture than on a Farm Holiday? the National organization maintains an online catalogue of farms offering stays all over the country in both English and German. Another alternative to hotels are the many historic Old inn's - or Kro in Danish - dotting the towns and villages, most of them are organized though a national organization called Danske Kroer og Hoteller.
Another overnight is in one of the more than 500 caravan sites (campingpladser in Danish). Most of them are well equipped with up-to-date facilities, and even WiFi included in many cases and accepts both caravans, motor homes and tents and/or rent out cabins. The association Danish Camping Board maintains a list of 450 approved campsites on their website (danishcampsites.dk) and Eurocampings has almost 350 on their site (eurocampings.co.uk). Prices varies greatly and can be anything between 40€ and 200€/night for a family with a caravan. You prefer to sleep in closer contact with nature? The article Primitive camping in Denmark provides additional information on sleeping in tents, bivouacs, shelters and similar.
Generally: Denmark is a very safe country, with almost no risk of natural disasters or animal attacks (there is one rare poisonous snake, the European viper (Hugorm), as well as the fish called "Fjæsing", but its bite is not generally lethal. Its bite, however, is strong enough to be lethal to children and the elderly, so medical treatment is always encouraged). Compared to most other countries crime and traffic are only minor risks, and the most serious crime visitors are likely to encounter is non-violent pickpocketing.
- On foot: In cities Danes drive by the rules, and they have every expectation that pedestrians do the same. Therefore, it is important to obey Walk/Don't Walk signals and avoid jaywalking in cities, simply because cars will not slow down since you're not supposed to be there. Traffic signals are obeyed around the clock, so do not get surprised to see law-abiding Danes, in the dead of night with not a single vehicle or bicycle in sight, patiently waiting for green light. You are supposed to do the same. Also, take good notice of the dedicated bike lanes when crossing any street to avoid dangerous situations as bikers tend to ride fast and have right of way on these lanes.
- On the beach: Don't bathe alone. Don't get too far away from land. Swim along the coast rather than away from it. In some areas undertow is a danger, and kills a number of tourists every year, but will mostly be signed at the beach. On many beaches, flags inform of water quality. A blue flag means excellent water quality, green flag means good water quality, red flag means that bathing is not advised. A sign with the text "Badning forbudt" means that bathing is forbidden. Obey these signs, as it often means that the water is polluted with poisonous algae, bacteria, or chemicals, or that there is a dangerous undertow.
- In the city: A few districts in major cities are probably best avoided at night by the unwary, or by lone women - but unlike in North America, it is often the ghettos in the suburbs that are unsafe, not the downtown areas. Tourists will rarely pass through these areas by chance, but exchange students occasionally end up getting into apartments in these areas without being aware of the reputation of these neighborhoods beforehand.
In an emergency dial 112 (medical help/fire brigade/police). This is toll free, and will work even from cell phones even if they have no SIM card. For the police in not-emergencies call 114.
Health services in Denmark are of a high standard, although waiting times at emergency rooms can be quite long for non emergencies, since visitors are prioritized according to their situation. Except for surgical procedures there is no private healthcare system to speak of, all is taken care of by the public healthcare system and general practitioners. All visitors are provided with free emergency care, until you are deemed healthy enough to be transported back to your home country. Citizens from EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and certain British dependencies are all entitled to additional basic medical services during their stay, other nationalities should have a valid travel insurance for transportation home and any additional medical care needed after any emergency is dealt with, as this is not provided free of charge. As in the rest of the country, English speakers should not have any trouble communicating with staff in English.
One thing worth noting for several nationalities, is that Danish doctors don't strew out prescriptions or pills out at the rate common in North America, Japan and Southern Europe. There is a general trend of letting the body's own immune system take care of diseases, rather than using medicines. So if you show up at the local GP with minor illnesses like the common flu, expect to be send back to your bed to rest, rather than receiving any treatment, if you are otherwise of good health. Pharmacies (Danish: Apotek) are usually well stocked, but brand names may differ from those in your own country. Staff is highly trained, and major cities usually have one 24 hour pharmacy. Many drugs that are prescription-free in other countries, require prescription in Denmark, which is not trivial to get (see above), and medicines available in supermarkets and drug stores are very limited; i.e. allergy drugs and light painkillers; Paracetamol based (Panodil, Pamol & Pinex), acetylsalicylic based (Treo, Kodimagnyl & Aspirin) and Ibuprofen based (Ipren)
Dentists are only partly covered by the public healthcare system, and everyone, including Danes pay to visit their dentist. Danes and other Nordic citizens have some of the expenses covered by the public healthcare system, while non Scandinavian visitors, should generally be prepared to foot the entire bill themselves, or forward the expenses to their insurance company. Prices are notoriously high compared to the neighbouring countries, so unless it is urgent to see a dentist, it will probably be more economical to wait until you return home, or pass into Germany or Sweden.
Tap water is potable unless indicated. The regulations for tap water in Denmark even exceeds that of bottled water in general, so don't be offended if you notice a waiter filling a can of water at the sink. Restaurants and other places selling food are visited regularly by health inspectors and are awarded points on a 1-4 "smiley scale".  The ratings must be prominently displayed, so look out for the happy face when in doubt. While pollution in the major cities can be annoying it doesn't pose any risk to non-residents. Nearly all beaches are fine for bathing - even parts of the Copenhagen harbour recently opened for bathing (read the Stay safe section).
As of 15 August 2007 it is not legal to smoke in any indoor public space in Denmark. This includes government buildings with public access (hospitals, universities, etc.), all restaurants and bars larger than 40 sq m and all public transport. Also be aware that you have to be at least 18 years old to buy cigarettes in Denmark.
In a country which has no direct equivalent to please in its vernacular, where the local version of Mr. and Ms. has all but disappeared from common usage, and where the people can hardly muster a sorry if they bump into you on the streets, you could be forgiven to think they are the rudest people on earth, and you can get away with pretty much anything. You'd be wrong. Most of the behaviour many tourists consider appalling can be attributed to either the Danes' blatant - and when you get to understand it, quite sympathetic - disregard for formality, or their unfortunate shyness (see drink section), and there are rules to the madness, way too complex to get into here, but some of the most important ones can be summed up as follows:
- It is generally not considered impolite to omit verbal formalities common in other cultures, such as generic compliments or courteous bromides. Likewise, Danes almost never use Sir or Madam to address each other, as it is perceived as distancing oneself. On the contrary, addressing (even a stranger) by first name is considered a friendly gesture.
- Be punctual, few things can make the Danes more annoyed than showing up later, even by minutes, than the agreed time, save social gatherings at people's homes, where the requirement for punctuality is much more relaxed.
- If there are free seats on a bus or train, it's not customary to seat yourself next to strangers if you can avoid it. It is also a nice gesture to offer your seat for the elderly and the disabled. In many busses, the front seats are usually reserved for them.
- Be aware that there are marked "quiet zones" on each train: one in the back of the back wagon and one in the front of the front wagon. Don´t talk on the phone there. In fact, don't talk at all. These are for people who want a quiet trip, usually people who need to go far, and may want to sleep, read, or work on their laptop or other things in peace.
- Danes try to abridge differences between social classes. Modesty is a virtue - bragging, or showing off wealth, is considered rude, as is loud and passionate behaviour. Economic matters are private - don't ask Danes questions like how much they earn or what their car costs. As in Germany, Britain, and the rest of the Nordic countries, weather is a safe conversation topic.
- Greetings between people who know each other (e.g. are good friends, close relatives, etc.) are often in the form of a careful hug. It is rare to see a peck on the cheek as a form of greeting, and it might be taken as way too personal. A handshake is customary for everyone else, including people you aren't close to and people you are being introduced to.
- When invited by a Dane - to visit their home, join them at their table or engage in an activity - don't hesitate to accept the invitation. Danes generally don't strew invitations out of politeness, and only say it if they mean it. The same goes for compliments. Bring a small gift; chocolate, flowers or wine are the most common, and remember despite their disregard for formality, to practice good table manners while at restaurants or in people's homes.
- Even though 82% of the population is officially Lutheran, Denmark is by and large an agnostic country. Investigations into people's faith are largely unwelcome, and outside places of worship, displays of your faith should be kept private. Saying grace for example, is likely to be met with bewilderment and silence. Religious attire such as Muslim headscarfs, kippahs or even t-shirts with religious slogans, will - while tolerated - also make many Danes feel uncomfortable.
- If in Denmark on business, it's important to note that family nearly without exception takes priority over work. So don't be surprised if Danes excuse themselves from even the most important of meetings by 4PM to pick up kids, a burden equally shared between the sexes.
While Internet cafés are present in most larger cities, they are usually not geared for tourists and hence they can be a bit tricky to find. Hotels usually provide both wireless internet and computers with internet access, but whether this service is provided for free, varies greatly. Many cafés and bars also provide free wireless internet for paying customers, even when it is not signposted, so it is always a good idea to ask. A lot of the McDonalds restaurants in Denmark have a couple of internet terminals available for their customers. The easiest way to get online is often the public library, as there is one in almost every town. Public libraries are usually centrally located, well signposted (look for Bibliotek) and always free. There can be a bit of waiting time to get a free computer though, but there will normally also be some sort of reservation system in place.
If staying for more than a few weeks, it might be worthwhile to get a mobile broadband connection. Most of the country has excellent coverage and speeds rivaling those of a fixed connection in the major cities and plenty for surfing the web, even in many of the more remote areas. Unfortunately the Danish ISPs generally don't have up to date English versions of their websites, so getting information about coverage and store location can be tricky. To buy a subscription package it is usually needed to have a residence permit, a Danish citizen id number (CPR-nummer or person-nummer) and a local address. This means, that in practice, subscription packages are only relevant to travelers staying for more than half a year in Denmark.
It is instead possible to buy a prepaid package with the following available offers:
- TDC offers a prepaid package known as Mobilt Bredbånd Tank op
- Starter package valid for 7 days for 129 DKK (Only SIM card, no modem)
- Starter package valid for 7 days for 399 DKK (Both SIM card and modem)
- 1 day refill for 29 DKK
- 3 day refill for 69 DKK
- 7 day refill for 129 DKK
- 30 day refill for 299 DKK
- The traffic limit is 10 GB per month.
- The maximum bandwidth is 6 Mbit/s downstream
- Telia offers the following packages known as Telia Talk Data
- Starter package for 29 DKK (Only SIM card, no modem)
- 1 GB top up valid for use witin one week for 49 DKK (Only SIM card, no modem)
- 3 GB top up valid for use within one month for 99 DKK (Only SIM card, no modem)
- 10 GB top up valid for use within three months for 299 DKK (Only SIM card, no modem)
- Oister offers the following packages known as Tank Selv
- Starter package valid for 7 days for 99 DKK (Only SIM card, no modem)
- Starter package valid for 30 days for 499 DKK (Both SIM card and modem)
- 1 day refill for 29 DKK
- 7 day refill for 79 DKK
- 30 day refill for 199 DKK
The Telia and TDC packages can be bought in their stores located in the largest towns. Owners of modems, phones or tablets that support UMTS/HSPA+/LTE will most likely be able to use them, but otherwise a modem can be bought for approx. 400 DKK. The Oister packages are available at many electronics stores and at any postal office.
When traveling in both Denmark and Sweden it may be beneficial to get a prepaid package from the provider 3. 3 is present in both Denmark and Sweden, but don't sell any prepaid products from their Danish stores. On the other hand their stores in Sweden sells a prepaid package that works in both Sweden and Denmark with no added roaming charges. It might be possible to refill this product over the internet connection from Denmark with an international credit card, but the safest solution might be to stock up on refill vouchers before leaving Sweden for Denmark, since vouchers are not sold in Denmark.
The package from 3 in Sweden is known as 3Bredband kontant:
- Starter package valid for 7 days for 199 SEK (Both SIM card and modem)
- 1 day refill for 29 SEK with a traffic limit of 0.5 GB after which bandwidth is reduced
- 7 day refill for 99 SEK with a traffic limit of 5 GB after which bandwidth is reduced
- 30 day refill for 299 SEK with a traffic limit of 20 GB after which bandwidth is reduced
- The maximum bandwidth is 16 Mbit/s downstream and 4,6 Mbit/s upstream
For an easier overview of all the different providers and plans in Denmark, many price-comparison websites has arisen, example below:
- Abonnementpriser.dk - collects prices from many types of subscriptions, including TV, mobile broadband and more.
Bring your own unlocked GSM phone to make calls. Prepaid SIM cards are available at most shops and international calling can be reasonably priced. Any prepaid credit is generally only valid for calls made in Denmark, but can be purchased in small amounts to avoid waste when you leave.
International collect calls are not allowed from phone booths, which are all ran by the TDC company. You should be able to make international call with the prepaid SIM cards anyways.
Denmark's international phone country code is 45. The prefix for international dialing is "00" or '+' (on a mobile phone).
Most towns of any size have a post-office or a supermarket licensed to handle mail and parcels. Service is efficient, and you can expect mail posted in the post office, or in a mailbox before it is emptied (hours are posted on the mailbox) to arrive before 3PM the following day in Denmark and Southern Sweden. Mail to the rest of Europe, the United States and Canada needs one extra day, while delivery time to the rest of the world varies greatly, and mostly depends on the postal service in the receiving country. Most post offices in Denmark also handle Western Union money transfers, ticket sales for events, currency exchange and sell phone cards for international calls. Standard prices for postcards and standard letters are 5,50 DKK within Denmark, 8 DKK to Europe and 9 DKK for all other countries (as of 2011, the rates are higher and likely to heighten, but as any current info as of the time of writing is likely to be outdated soon, do ask at the post office).
If you need to have parcels or mail sent to you in Denmark, you can receive it as Poste Restante at most major post offices (General Delivery in the US). The post office will only hold such mail for two weeks, after which it will be returned to the sender. The address format is:
- c/o Poste restante
- <Name of post office>
- <Postal-Code> <City>
A note on the above: When picking up the mail, you will need to identify yourself with a government issued photo-ID (i.e. passport or drivers license). Make sure that your name is spelled in the same way on the package and on the ID.
Major international parcel services like UPS, Fedex and DHL while present in Denmark, do not offer any holding service. GLS have an agreement with a number of retailers, which offers a holding service for a limited time (pakke shop)
Nearly all developed nations have embassies in Copenhagen, and most other countries have embassies in either Stockholm or Copenhagen responsible for consular services to the whole Scandinavian region. EU member nations often maintain consulates in the provinces. At present, there are 71 foreign embassies in Copenhagen and more than 100 consulates in Copenhagen and larger cities, such as Aarhus, Aalborg, Odense, Vejle. If you fall victim to serious criminal injuries while in Denmark, you might be eligible to financial compensation. If you wish to file a claim you must report the incident to police within 24 hours, and file a form obtainable from the police to Erstatningsnævnet; Gyldenløvesgade 11, 1600 Copenhagen V. Tel +45 33 92 33 34, Fax: +45 39 20 45 05, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Claim processing time is a minimum of 3 months.
By most standards the Danes have a great deal to learn about customer service, and many visitors may initially be appalled by the low standards present outside upmarket establishments, used to dealing with international expectations. Many attribute this to the high equality not only being present in practice, but also mentally - "you are not worth any more than me, so why should I treat you any different". By and large it is just one of those cultural differences you have deal with while visiting another country, and throwing a hissy fit or demanding to speak to the supervisor is unlikely to get you anywhere. On the upside, tipping is neither expected nor required. When you do bump into good service, it tends to be truly genuine helpfulness, rather than an expectation for tips or employee training courses - so savour such moments, remember to tip, and forget about the rest.
On a practical level, this means that you should only expect table service in restaurants. In cafés and bars you usually order in the bar or counter and pay immediately when ordering, even if you intend for a second order. It is also common that staff doing other duties than serving customers will happily keep the customer waiting, until he or she is finished with whatever needs doing. Also don't expect any sirs or madams; verbal bromides seem awkward to most Danes, including those behind a counter.
Apart from children's shows, nothing gets dubbed in Denmark although a sizeable portion of broadcasts in Denmark are American and British productions - so even with no English channels, there will usually be something on in a comprehensible language, same goes for cinemas - so you should be safe for a lazy rainy day. Nearly all hotels will have CNN and the BBC World Service available.
If you want updated with local news, the Copenhagen Post is the country's sole English newspaper, it is published weekly and available in many bars and Cafés in Copenhagen, while much harder to find in the rest of the country.
Online you can follow Danish news in English at:
- The Copenhagen Post (neutral)
- Politiken (centrist)
- Jyllands Posten (right)
- Denmark.dk (official news)
- DR (public broadcaster)
For historical reasons, Denmark is a central hub for access to the truly fascinating North Atlantic region, with direct flights to and from several cities on Iceland, Faroe Islands and Greenland. The region is especially renown for its unique natural landscapes as well strong national and cultural heritages still being kept and protected. Hanstholm in Northwestern Jutland has weekly ferry services to Torshavn on the Faroe Islands and Seyðisfjörður on Iceland. Longyearbyen on Svalbard can be reached from several cities, once or twice weekly with a single stopover in Oslo.
Similar in culture and sharing large parts of history, Sweden is nearby not only by geography. The Southern part particular can easily be reached from Copenhagen via the bridged Öresund and is a great place to experience similar historic and natural attractions surrounding Malmö and Lund. The Southern Sweden is often, by the rest of Sweden, regarded as closely linked with Denmark especially because of a more similar dialect. It is especially famous for Viking sights and a romantic countryside setting. Going further North, Sweden is a place for enjoying the nature and can be reached from several places. From Copenhagen there are direct flights to Stockholm, from Jutland the Western Sweden can be reached by ferry through the Frederikshavn-Gothenburg or Grenaa-Varberg links.
Famous for its mountain rigged fjords and overall breathtaking natural scenery, Norway makes for a great destination easily reached from Denmark. From Copenhagen direct flights operate to Oslo, Trondheim, Bergen, Stavanger and possibly more, but all of Norway being reachable with a transfer. From Frederikshavn and Hirtshals in Northern Jutland, several destinations are reachable by ferry: Oslo, Larvik, Kristiansand. There is also a ferry connection from Copenhagen to Oslo