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Often overlooked by travellers, the Kingdom of Denmark is small yet prosperous. This thriving country in northern Europe enjoys some of the highest standards of living in the world, and contains a host of interesting attractions and experiences for visitors.
The capital of Copenhagen is lively, occupying the biggest of the offshore islands. Denmark is almost totally surrounded by ocean and its terrain is made up of the Jutland Peninsula and some 406 islands. It has excellent road and railway systems, in addition to numerous ferry connections to the myriad offshore islands.
With all this water, it's not surprising that Denmark is extremely reliant on shipping and fishing. The country also has an important agricultural sector and is famed in particular for its dairy products, with lovers of butter and cheese sure to be in culinary heaven.
The countryside is both charming and majestic, with small green farms, blue lakes and white coastal beaches. Thatched cottages, castles and windmills are sprinkled throughout rural areas across gentle landscapes perfect for cycling.
The cities are modern and bustling, while still retaining a medieval feel preserved in old districts of colourful buildings and cobblestone streets. The most important of the country's 300 museums are found in Copenhagen, while the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde is devoted to honouring Denmark's bold mariners of the past.
Other notable attractions include the annual summer music festival in Roskilde, which is one of the largest in Europe; the Tivoli Gardens amusement park, which has entertained crowds in Copenhagen since 1843; and one of the world's longest bridges, spanning 10 miles (16km) and joining Denmark to Sweden.
Denmark is a land of epic natural beauty and gorgeous sightseeing opportunities. The coastline is diverse, consisting of unspoilt beaches, ancient fjords and small coves, with a countryside of lake districts, rolling hills and gentle valleys dotted with windmills.
Most people are unaware of Denmark's amazing beaches, with some 200 Blue Flag shorelines providing excellent bases from which to fish, kayak, kitesurf and windsurf beneath the surprisingly warm Danish summer sun.
Visitors should jump aboard a ferry to explore more than 400 islands and marvel at the awesome bridges, such as the 10 mile (16km) Oresund link to Sweden. They can also take a week to cycle through beech woods, spend a day out in the Tivoli Gardens amusement park in Copenhagen or explore sleepy medieval villages.
For the more culturally-inclined, there are many old castles, quaint traditional architecture and picturesque cobblestone villages and towns. Additionally, a visit to the Viking Ship Museum is devoted to honouring Denmark's bold ancient mariners.
With such a huge coastline and emphasis on fishing, sampling some of the fresh seafood in the country is an absolute must. The Danish food scene has exploded and is now considered the culinary capital of Scandinavia and a gastronomic destination of note.
Denmark is small and boasts excellent roads, railway systems and numerous ferry connections to the myriad offshore islands. Indeed, the charming and hospitable kingdom of Denmark offers visitors a varied, exciting and unforgettable experience.
The world-renowned Tivoli Gardens in the heart of Copenhagen is one of the world's most thrilling entertainment complexes, drawing about three million visitors during its five-month summer open season each year. Tivoli dates back to 1843 when Copenhagen was still a fortified city surrounded by tall ramparts and a deep moat. Today, the Tivoli Lake is all that remains of the moat, which now reflects the incredible trademark fireworks displays that light the sky over the gardens twice a week. Tivoli is split in two, one section housing the beautiful miniature gardens where more than 100,000 flowers bloom, and the other has the theme park, with arcades and thrill rides. Tivoli also boasts a concert hall and open-air stages where dozens of concerts, pantomimes and circus shows come to life.
From the Viking Age through to World War II resistance, the rich history of Denmark is encapsulated in fascinating collections of artefacts housed in a series of museums in Copenhagen. The Prince's Palace houses the National Museum, covering Danish history and international antiquities. A few miles north, the open air museum makes for a fascinating excursion. Spread over 86 acres, its 100 or so historic buildings are built to illustrate and represent regions and periods across Denmark. Visitors can get up to date on the history of the city itself at the Museum of Copenhagen.
The picturesque and historic Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen dates from 1673 when it was built to connect the inner city to the sea. Today, it's jokingly referred to as the longest bar in Scandinavia because of the numerous restaurants, pubs and cafes fronting the pretty pastel-painted townhouses. The canal itself is crammed with old wooden sailing ships which only add to the atmosphere. The area is strongly associated with fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen, who occupied three houses in the district throughout his life. Visitors can take one of the many boat trips on offer to explore the canal and familiarise themselves with the area.
The attractive Dutch Renaissance-style Rosenborg Castle was designed by King Christian IV and served as his home until he died in 1648. Today, the castle is an important cultural institution and acts as a public museum detailing the history of Denmark's royal family. It also acts as a repository for the Danish Crown Jewels and royal regalia, which are kept in the castle cellars and can be viewed by the public. Although opulent, the castle also feels surprisingly personal and intimate for a royal residence, with the magnificent gardens a welcome retreat from the city's hustle and bustle.
The Little Mermaid, so synonymous with writer Hans Christian Andersen, sits on a rock at the Langelinie Harbour and is one of Copenhagen's biggest tourist attractions. The sculpture was built in 1913 and enchants over a million visitors every year. At only about four feet (1.25m) high, she is small and seems to be in her true element when the waves crash against her rock. The sculptor Edvard Eriksen modelled the head after ballerina Ellen Price. It's beautifully executed and fits so well into its natural surroundings that it may take a moment to notice it.
When sightseeing in Denmark, architecture enthusiasts and history buffs fall in love with the Christiansborg Palace. A winter snowfall adds to its romantic fairytale appearance, its appeal further enhanced by the presence of ruins dating as far back as 1167 AD, when it existed as Absalon's Castle. The complex consists of several different buildings, centred round a Baroque Revival core and home to important institutions such as the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office and the Supreme Court. The royal family uses the palace church, the Royal Reception Rooms and the Riding Ground Complex.
The oldest amusement park in the world and one of Denmark's favourites, Bakken Amusement Park has delighted countless visitors since it first opened in 1583. Despite its age, the park and its amenities are modern and safe, featuring 34 thrilling rides. There are also lots of games, activities and gambling facilities. Bakken has about 40 restaurants and bars where families can relax and refuel. Just outside the amusement park gates is the beautiful woodland area of Dyrehaven, which offsets the artificial glories of the park with natural charm. The woods are a lovely place to stroll and are home to thousands of free-roaming deer.
The Denmark Aquarium boasts more than 300 species of marine life from across the globe. It's not large compared to other huge aquariums in Europe, but it's well maintained and a wonderful attraction for the whole family. Kids adore this magical underwater world, making for a good break from traditional sightseeing in Copenhagen. They will love the themed interactive exhibits and touch pool, while other facilities include a cafe where visitors can take a break and enjoy lovely views with tasty meals, treats or hot drinks.
Also known as the Land of Legends, the Lejre Research Centre is one of the most popular attractions in Roskilde. The centre is a 106 acre (43 hectare) archaeological open-air museum situated just outside the city. It consists of amazingly lifelike reconstructions of an Iron Age village and sacrificial bog (200 BC to 200 AD), a Viking marketplace (900 AD), a Stone Age campsite (5,000 BC) and 19th century farm cottages. The Lejre Research Centre is high on the list of things to see and do with kids in Roskilde as there are so many fun and educational activities.
Founded in 1859, the Copenhagen Zoo is one of the oldest in Europe and features an amazing selection of animals from all over the world. Some of the zoo's most popular features include the Elephant House, designed by renowned architect Norman Foster; Tasmanian Devils, very rarely found in any zoo outside of Australia; the polar bear enclosure; and the lion den. Notable animals in the 27 acre (11 hectare) park include tigers, red pandas, hippos, yaks and camels. The animals are well looked after and the habitat designs are impressive. The staff are famous for their care for their animals and are usually willing to chat to visitors about them.
Featuring almost 300 interactive exhibitions for children of all ages, the Experimentarium is a hands-on science museum that aims to encourage youngsters to take an interest in science in fun ways. There are various exhibits, including ones on energy, the human body and mathematics, as well as other interactive areas. With permanent and temporary exhibitions, visitors can be sure that there is always something new, fun and exciting for children to enjoy. The bubble section tends to be a big favourite, while the museum also features a cafe and restaurant, workshop facilities and a gift shop with exciting scientific toys and games. This is a great activity for the whole family and is the perfect kid-orientated break from traditional sightseeing.
The Roskilde Cathedral was the first Gothic cathedral built out of brick during the 12th and 13th centuries, and has been the burial site for Danish monarchs since the 15th century. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral's twin spires dominate the Roskilde skyline, and the ornately gilded interior gives visitors a sense of the royal history of Denmark. Visitors are asked to be respectful of the fact that the cathedral is an active church, meaning it will sometimes be closed to tourists during ceremonies and services. There is a Cathedral Museum in the Great Hall of the Chapel of the Magi, containing illustrations and artefacts detailing the history of the cathedral from the early Middle Ages to the present day.
The Viking Ship Museum is home to five Viking ships dating back to the 11th century. Deliberately sunk in the channel to prevent an attack on the city around 1070, they were excavated in 1962. The ships range from cargo vessels to war raiders, and are displayed in the museum overlooking Roskilde Fjord replete with weapons and other artefacts. Visitors can also watch shipwrights at work and see examples of traditional Nordic wooden boats. There are lots of reconstructed Viking boats in the museum harbour and you can take a ride in some of them with a guide. According to tourist votes, the museum is generally the top rated attraction in Roskilde.
Despite being situated in northern Europe, the weather in Denmark isn't extreme. However, its maritime location and influence of the Gulf Air Stream can make the climate unstable. Winter weather is usually cold and overcast, with potential snowfall between January and March.
Summers (June to August) are relatively warm and sunny. Average temperatures in Copenhagen range from 27°F (-3°C) in midwinter to 72°F (22°C) in midsummer. Rainy days are common all year round but the wettest months in Denmark are August, September, and October. It is worth noting that it can be wet and windy at any time of year.
There is not a great variation in temperatures between night and day in Denmark. But winter days get far fewer daylight hours than long summer days. Early summer is the best time to visit Denmark. The month of June is particularly lovely because that is when the days are longest and the weather at its most pleasant.
Ida Davidsen is the queen of the smorgasbord in Copenhagen, specialising in Denmark's undisputed gourmet speciality. Known as smørrebrød, smorgasbord refers to a range of open sandwiches served for lunch and usually made up of a variety of fish and seafood. The owner of the eponymous restaurant is the fifth in her family to serve this unique cuisine and offers the longest smorgasbord menu in Denmark, measuring six feet (2m) long. A favourite is the Preben Elkjær, a mix of plaice fillets, asparagus, and smoked salmon on rye bread. Open Monday to Friday, 10.30am to 5pm. Reservations recommended.
Situated in a busy bookshop and art gallery popular with Copenhagen's student population, this cosy restaurant is a great place to relax whether you want a small cup of coffee or a huge plate of lasagne. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the cafe offers local beer on tap and is the perfect place to simply watch people go about their daily lives. There is a good selection for vegetarians too. It's open the whole week, usually closing at 10pm except on Fridays and Saturdays when it closes at 11pm.
For a traditional meal bound to bring a smile, follow the locals to the popular lunch spot of Cafe Sorgenfri. The simple 19th-century basement restaurant in the heart of the city's pedestrian precinct was originally a sailors' tavern and is still a very lively drinking hole once the kitchen closes. The décor reflects old Copenhagen with its gilt-framed pictures, wrought-iron chandeliers and leather-panelled walls. At lunch time it serves excellent classic smorrebrods (open sandwiches), ideally washed down with a local brew. Open daily from 11am to 9pm, with Sundays closing at 6pm. Reservations recommended.
Known as the oldest restaurant in Copenhagen, Det Lille Apotek is a gorgeous trip back in time. Its four low-ceilinged rooms were frequented by such famous artists and writers like Hans Christian Andersen, with leaded window panes and woodland motifs of forest gods and nymphs resplendent in the glow of petroleum lamps. Translated as 'The Little Pharmacy', it aims to offer a genuine Danish culinary experience with selections of smorgasbords, lunch and dinner menus, and a delightful choice of desserts, coffees, and cheeses. Det Lille Apotek is open every day of the week.
In Copenhagen's famous Tivoli Gardens, the bustling Restaurant Promenaden is a great place for the whole family. On offer are staples like its steaks, pastas, or its famous barbeque ribs, along with affordable snacks at the sausage bar and beef sandwich deli. It enjoys live music performances on weekends, with a vibrant atmosphere and international menu catering towards locals and tourists alike. The restaurant functions during the summer season only when Tivoli itself is open from 12pm to midnight.
Known as one of the classiest establishments in Copenhagen, Restaurant Godt is an exclusive restaurant catering to a maximum of 20 guests at a time. The setup makes for a personalised and intimate dining experiences. This refined approach is extended to the polished Danish menu, offering a selection of the finest veal, seafood, and vegetables, all prepared with fresh local herbs. Open Tuesday to Saturday for dinner and reservations are essential.
Set in an 18th century waterfront warehouse, Noma exudes Nordic charm in its functional simplicity. The décor combines oak, stone, and leather with glass and metal in a light and spacious dining area. Its menus are split into three seasons, each with a distinct flavour: vegetable season, seafood season, and game and forest season. Vegetables are foraged from local woodlands, meadows, and streams, while some crops are grown on its very own farm. During the meat season, offerings cover leg of moose, wild duck, and reindeer tongue. Open for lunch Tuesday to Saturday, and dinner Monday to Saturday. Reservations recommended.
Set in Boltens Gård, Khun Juk is a stylish Thai restaurant celebrated for its authentic cuisine. Favourites from the menu include spicy Thai beef salad or steamed mussels with horapa (Thai sweet basil) and lemongrass. The dining room has classic décor and a warm atmosphere, while the outdoor area has lovely café umbrellas and potted plants. Open Monday to Saturday for dinner, reservations recommended.
Restaurant Peder Oxe is set in an historic 19th-century building on Gråbrødretorv, one of the oldest squares in Copenhagen. Visitors will sit in lovely light-filled rooms with classic décor and high ceilings. The kitchen focuses mainly on high quality steaks and a mix of French and Nordic influences. Menus vary with the changing seasons, including everything from classic lamb and beef dishes to fresh seafood and game. For something lighter, there are selections of cheeses, desserts, and Danish . Open daily for lunch and dinner, reservations recommended.
Danish currency is the Krone (DKK), made up of 100 ore. ATMs are easily found throughout the country, and all major credit cards are widely accepted, especially Visa. Most banks are not open on weekends but Copenhagen has several bureaux de change which stay open late at night, seven days a week.
Danish is the official language, but English is understood and widely used.
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round European-style, two-pin plugs are standard.
US nationals: United States citizens must have a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days within a six month period, extension of stay is possible.
UK nationals: British passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, only need to be valid for period of intended stay in Denmark. All other endorsements require at least three months validity beyond the period of intended stay in Denmark.
UK nationals: A visa is not required for passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar and an Identity Card issued by Gibraltar. They are exempt from visas for stays of up to 90 days in a half-year period for holders of British passports with any other endorsement.
CA nationals: Canadian citizens must have a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days in a six-month period.
AU nationals: Australian citizens must have a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days in a six-month period.
ZA nationals: South African citizens must hold a passport, not a temporary passport, valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay. A Schengen visa is required.
IR nationals: Irish nationals must have a passport valid for the duration of their stay. No visa is required.
NZ nationals: New Zealand citizens must have a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days in a six-month period.
The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all the aforementioned countries. Additionally, travellers to Denmark must hold proof of the following: (i) return or onward tickets, with confirmed reservations; (ii) the required documentation for the next destination; (iii) visible means of support (at least USD 60 or DKK 350) per day of stay in Denmark. It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. No documents issued more than 10 years priot to date of travel will be accepted. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
There are no specific health risks in Denmark and medical facilities are first class. No vaccinations are required; free emergency treatment is available to all foreign visitors at public hospitals. After Brexit, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for UK citizens. The GHIC allows UK citizens access to state healthcare during visits to the EU. The GHIC is not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, nor is it an alternative to travel insurance.
Those working in Denmark's service industry generally receive good wages. Service charges are usually included in bills so tipping isn't common. However, small tips are appreciated by bellhops, valets, maids, porters, or taxi drivers if one feels the service has been good. Usually rounding up to the nearest kroner is acceptable.
Most visits to Denmark are trouble free and crime levels are low. But during the tourist season, there are opportunistic muggers, pickpockets and bag snatchers, especially in crowded areas, train stations and bus stops. Visitors should take precautions to keep personal belongings safe.
Denmark is an egalitarian society. Women and men are treated equally.
Business in Denmark tends to be conducted in a straightforward manner, though somewhat less formally than in some other parts of Europe. Greetings are made with a handshake, introductions are usually made using one's first name and it's normal to greet women first.
Punctuality is vital and if running even five minutes late be sure to call and apologise. Danes tend to be open-minded and friendly, and one can expect some small talk at the start of a meeting on a range of topics. Business cards are exchanged before or after the meeting.
Dress should be smart and neat, without being ostentatious. English is widely spoken and understood. Business hours are usually 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. In the summer months (June to August), some Danes are on vacation so check before arranging a business trip.
The international country code for Denmark is +45.
Travellers arriving from an EU country with duty-paid goods purchased in an EU country are allowed 800 cigarettes or 400 cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1 kilogram of tobacco, and 10 litres of spirits. Residents of non-EU countries entering from outside the EU are allowed 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco, as well as 1 litre of spirits, 4 litres of wine and 16 litres of beer. They can also bring in other goods up to the value of KRR 3,250 for air travellers and KRR 2,250 for other travellers.
Danish Visitor Service, Copenhagen: +45 70 22 24 42 or www.visitdenmark.com
Royal Danish Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 234 4300.
Royal Danish Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7333 0200.
Royal Danish Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 562 1811.
Royal Danish Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 6270 5333.
Royal Danish Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 430 9340.
Royal Danish Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 475 6404.
Royal Danish Consulate General, Auckland, New Zealand: +64 22 047 3500.
United States Embassy, Copenhagen: +45 3341 7100.
British Embassy, Copenhagen: +45 3544 5200.
Canadian Embassy, Copenhagen: +45 3348 3200.
Australian Embassy, Copenhagen: +45 7026 3676.
South African Embassy, Copenhagen: +45 3918 0155.
Irish Embassy, Copenhagen: +45 35 47 3200.
New Zealand Consulate General, The Hague (also responsible for Denmark): +31 70 346 9324.
60 miles (96km) west of Copenhagen and located on the island of Funen, Odense is Denmark's third largest city and a vibrant centre of commerce and nightlife. In this busy harbour city, the quaint streets of the Old Town offer interesting shops, cafes and restaurants all buzzing with activity. Odense has a long history going back thousands of years, with archaeological finds dating to the Viking era. Birthplace of famed storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, there's a strong affinity between the city and the writer, with a number of shops and restaurants dedicated to him. The town also has several beautiful castles, cathedrals and museums, while the music and nightlife is among the best in Denmark, with symphonies, theatre and non-stop outdoor festivities in the idyllic summer months.
Sometimes referred to as the Pearl of the Baltic, Bornholm is wildly popular as a holiday destination for people from Sweden, Poland and Germany. Often overlooked by visitors from the US and UK, tourists enjoy the island's sunny beaches and natural beauty. It's loved for activities such as sailing, fishing, camping and hiking. The Almindingen Forest is among the largest in Denmark, while Dueodde boasts some of the best sandy beaches in the Baltic. A number of small towns have their own attractions, including Gudhjem's sunrises and charming winding streets, the jazz festival at Allinge and the bustling markets and local beers of Svaneke. The biggest town on Bornholm is Rønne, where most ferries disembark, and it features pretty 19th-century architecture and a collection of museums, shops and restaurants.
The original Legoland is a holiday must for children visiting Denmark. Opened in 1968, it welcomes visitors from all over the world and is conveniently situated next to the original Lego factory. The theme park is divided into different worlds with different themes, often based on the latest Lego ranges. With a legendary selection of rides, shops and eateries, Legoland Billund has something to offer everyone and is a must-do for families on holiday in Copenhagen. The admission costs vary because there are so many different ticket options, including season passes, family tickets, multiple pre-booked online ticket options, as well as ordinary gate prices. So it's best to double check the website.
Esbjerg is a popular holiday town, loved for its gorgeous beaches, art scene and thriving cafe culture. Most of Esbjerg's tourist attractions are nautical by nature, including the Sealarium at the Fisheries and Maritime Museum. A boat trip round the harbour is a must, while there's plenty of golf and watersports to indulge in. Being a city with a large youthful population, there's always a fair amount of dancing and music in its bars and clubs. But the best thing about Esbjerg is its proximity to the scenic Jutland Peninsula, with wide windswept sand dunes and popular family attractions such as Legoland at Billund, as well as the picturesque medieval town of Ribe, and offshore resort islands such as Romo and Fano.
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