Denmark Holiday Planning Guide
Known for its old-fashioned charm, Denmark is often referred to as a fairy-tale setting by visitors and locals alike. With quaint cobblestone streets leading the way to art galleries, museums, and historical sights, plus a modern and easily accessible public transportation system, Denmark seamlessly blends its rich history with cutting-edge advancements. During your Denmark holiday, be inspired by the works of local legends, including the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, the symphonies of Carli Nielsen, and the astronomy of Tycho Brahe, then play a bit at amusement parks like Legoland. Visitors often find themselves developing "hygge," the untranslatable Danish trait that encapsulates a sense of coziness and contentment, which is thought to have a great deal of influence on Denmark's standing as one of the happiest nations on the planet.
Places to Visit in Denmark
Regions of DenmarkJutland
: Known for its beaches and the world's largest Lego model, Jutland offers numerous recreational activities and amusement parks for your Denmark itinerary in a region filled with historical ruins dating back to the 10th century.East Jutland
: This region features a mixture of cosmopolitan scenes and dramatic natural beauty, plus Viking ruins dotted around the countryside dating back to 400 BCE.South Jutland
: Sharing a border with Germany, South Jutland carries a turbulent history after passing from rule to rule, which has resulted in an array of unique cathedrals, castles, and museums.Zealand
: The largest and most populated island in the nation, Zealand boasts the tallest cliffs in Denmark, marked by white fortresses, in addition to buzzing cities and picturesque natural scenery.West Zealand
: Rich with ancient history from the Stone Age to the Viking era, this region prides itself on local history and offers fascinating attractions like Viking fortresses.Funen and Islands
: Encompassing Denmark's second-largest island, Funen and Islands is a frequent Denmark vacation spot with rolling hills, delightful island-hopping, and a museum dedicated to fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen.Bornholm
: This island is characterized by a natural rugged beauty and coastal fishing villages, where tourists flock to try the smoked herring.Copenhagen Region
: A little bit of everything is offered in Copenhagen Region, a clean metropolitan area with a long list of highlights like the historical old town, royal palaces, and castles--not to mention the delicious local food.Helsingoer Municipality
: Known for its beaches, some of the most relaxing places to visit in Denmark, coastal Helsingoer Municipality also boasts several museums dedicated to the area's maritime history.Billund
: Tourists flock here to play at the world's first Lego-themed amusement park, although sculpture parks, churches, and cathedrals in surrounding towns are worth a visit, too.Roskilde
: Roskilde Municipality hosts some of the richest and most well-preserved history in the country, including a World Heritage-listed 1,000-year-old royal burial church and Viking ship museums.Fredensborg Municipality
: So beautiful it serves as the Danish royal family's home for part of the year, this region features coastal harbors, national parks, and world-renowned art museums.
Cities in DenmarkBillund
: Lego fans will love a visit to Billund, home to the company's headquarters, a themed amusement park, and lots of industry surrounding the little plastic toy.Copenhagen
: Dating back to Viking inhabitation in the 10th century, Denmark's capital now serves as one of the richest cities in the world and a haven for cyclists, with bike lanes connecting the entire city and making a perfect way to do some Denmark sightseeing.Aarhus
: Known for its famous musicians, Aarhus boasts a cozy small-town atmosphere with dozens of cafes where you can rest your feet.Odense
: Home to the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, the capital of Funen boasts museums, sculptures, and art pieces dedicated to the fairy tale author--all easily explored on foot along cobblestone streets.Roskilde
: Founded in the Viking Age, this city now plays host to rock stars during the Roskilde Festival each year, when thousands of fans flock to the area. But there are also plenty of classic Denmark attractions here, including original Viking ships at the bottom of a fjord.Helsingoer
: Home to the castle made (in)famous by Shakespeare's "Hamlet," Helsingoer also offers beaches perfect for swimming and sunbathing in the summer, plus museums and citadels to explore year-round.Humlebaek
: Originally a quaint 16th-century fishing village, the city now serves as a hub for contemporary and modern art, including one of the world's most renowned museums with thousands of pieces from artists like Picasso.
Things to Do in Denmark
Popular Denmark Tourist AttractionsTivoli Gardens
: The second-oldest amusement park in the world, Tivoli often tops Denmark itineraries with its thrilling rides, games, and cultural events that take place after the sun sets and the park is lit up colorfully.Nyhavn
: Built in the 17th century, this canal is famous for its scenery and is lined with colorful townhouses, cafes, restaurants, and bars serving up delicious fare like herring dishes and frothy beers.Rosenborg Castle
: See one of the country's finest examples of Renaissance architecture at Rosenborg Castle, built in 1606 for King Christian IV and famous for its displayed collection of Danish crown jewels and regalia.The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue)
: Based on the world-famous fairy tale by Denmark native Hans Christian Andersen, this monument features a bronze mermaid created by Edvard Eriksen and became a city mascot after surviving World War II fully intact.The Round Tower
: Climb the spiral corridor in this 17th-century tower once used as an astronomical observatory with access to a chapel, church, and library.Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
: A must-see for any art-lover's tour of Denmark, this museum features the personal collection of beer baron Carl Jacobsen, including the world's largest collection of Paul Gauguin's work, pieces by Picasso, Leger, and Matisse, antique sculptures, and a glass-domed conservatory.National Museum of Denmark
: Displaying everything from Viking coins to African masks, this museum educates visitors on 14,000 years of history, including prehistoric archaeological finds from Denmark.Church of Our Saviour
: Visit this 17th-century red and yellow church to see the impressive altarpiece depicting Jesus and two angels and climb the famous corkscrew spire, which took decades to build.LEGOLAND Billund Resort
: One of the most popular things to do in Denmark, this amusement park is located next to the original Lego factory and boasts a roller coaster, water rides, live shows, an aquarium, and much more.Christiania
: This car-free neighborhood is famous for its colorful scenery and mellow atmosphere with gardens, beer halls, music venues, workshops, and gift shops.
Planning a Denmark Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Denmark with Kids
A Denmark holiday has something for everyone, and your kids will love the exciting cities, beautiful environment, warm beaches, and fascinating castles. Start in Copenhagen
, the country's capital, and take a day to tour the city by bike. Cycling here is very safe and practical, as bike lanes connect the entire city. Next, head to Billund
, home of the legendary Lego toy with a thrilling amusement park and other Lego-themed establishments.
To get into nature and history, head to East Jutland
or the island of Zealand
, where long stretches of beaches, rolling green hills, 10th-century castles, and medieval fortresses await. Finally, don't forget to include Odense
in your family's Denmark trip. As the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, the city offers lots of fascinating museums and monuments where kids can learn about their favorite fairy tales.
Things to Do in Denmark with Kids
Perhaps the most popular children's attraction is LEGOLAND Billund Resort
. In this amusement park, kids and adults alike can ride roller coasters and water rides, learn about local marine life in the aquarium, or catch a live show. Many of the settings in this park are created completely out of Legos, too (not including the roller coasters). For a different atmosphere, visit the lovely Tivoli Gardens
, the second-oldest amusement park in the world. Don't let its age fool you: all rides and games are completely updated, while still maintaining their old-fashioned charm. This park comes alive especially at night, when cultural shows and events take place under colorful lights.
When you tire of amusement parks, explore the local history, where there's plenty to capture a child's imagination. No trip to Denmark is complete without storming the castles. Rosenborg Castle
, a grand Renaissance-style structure, is a great place to start. Alternatively, visit Helsingoer
, the home of the castle made famous by Shakespeare's "Hamlet." Several beaches are nearby as well, letting you combine your visit with a little swimming, sunbathing, or simply a stroll along the coast.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Denmark
Denmark's relaxed atmosphere is great for traveling with kids and the country is generally quite safe. Save a lot of money by checking into hotels that let children under 12 years old stay for free in the same room. Transportation like buses and trains also offer reduced prices for young travelers. Be sure to inquire as to whether discounts are offered at the Denmark tourist attractions on your itinerary.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Denmark
Cuisine of Denmark
During your Denmark holiday, start every day off like the Danes with a large breakfast usually consisting of bread, cheese, eggs, and salami. At lunchtime, don't miss the favorite and most filling midday food: an open-faced sandwich stacked with meat, cucumber, parsley, mushrooms, or even sliced peaches. While dining out in Denmark, you must try the renowned fresh fish dishes. Everything from small shrimp to herring and kippers are offered at top-notch quality.
Shopping in Denmark
Whether you're looking for souvenirs or high-fashion items, Denmark has something to offer for everyone in its numerous malls, galleries, and shops. One of the more popular places to browse is the main pedestrian street in Copenhagen
--the longest of its kind in the world, it features local and international brands. Visit some of the outlying villages or old towns to find more unique gifts, like handcrafted furniture, linens, art, and jewelry.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Denmark
History of Denmark
Inhabitation of modern-day Denmark dates back to prehistoric times, and the "Borderlands of the Danes" emerged as a political unit between the 6th and 9th centuries. During this period, the Danes--who originated in Skaane (part of modern-day Sweden)--settled in Jutland
. Early recorded Danish history began in the 9th century with the rise of power of the Vikings (a collective name referring to the Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians of the 8th to 10th centuries), and the nation even gets a reference in the Old English epic "Beowulf." For hundreds of years, Danish Vikings raided the areas around Denmark. Due to their expertise and skills in shipbuilding and navigation, they colonized parts of France and the British Isles, with most activity occurring in Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. The Danish Vikings also developed trade routes along the coasts and rivers of Europe and between farther-flung places like Greenland and the Byzantine capital of Constantinople.
This period has been hugely influential on Denmark and can still be felt today in places like Copenhagen
, a 10th-century city that continues to thrive as the nation's capital, and Roskilde
, which proudly displays original Viking ships. Visitors can learn more about this history at many Denmark attractions, inlcuding National Museum of Denmark
According to the Jelling stones, the Danes were Christianized around 965 by Harald Bluetooth, who also united the Danes. The Viking Age ended with the death of Canute the Great, who barely managed to maintain power over the English. The two countries divided and were never reunited, but the Danish Crown, one of the oldest monarchies in the world, rose to power in the late 1300s and Queen Margrethe I united Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. This alliance lasted until the 16th century when Sweden seceded. Denmark would attempt twice more to assert control over Sweden, both times unsuccessfully. Nevertheless, King Christian used war reparations from Sweden to establish several fortresses and towns, including Christiania
. Denmark's union with Norway, however, would endure until 1814.
During the Early Modern period, Denmark attempted to expand its territory to varying degrees of success. Defeats during conflicts including the Thirty Years' War and the Napoleonic Wars wreaked havoc on the kingdom, reducing its territory and driving it to bankruptcy (which also occasioned the split with Norway). In the 1830s, however, a liberal national movement grew in popularity, and in 1849 Denmark transitioned peacefully to a constitutional monarchy. After another crushing defeat in the 1864 Second Schleswig War with Habsburg Austria and Prussia, when it was forced to cede the territory of Schleswig and Holstein, Denmark maintained a policy of neutrality in European affairs.
This policy prevailed through World War I, and in 1939 Denmark signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany--which was promptly violated when German forces occupied Denmark in 1940. Although the first three years were marked by government's economic cooperation with the Nazis, from 1943 onwards Denmark refused to do, scuttling its ships and sending officers to Sweden. Several thousand Jews were smuggled to safety in Sweden, and resistance groups formed to help fight the Axis powers. Allied forces liberated the nation in 1945.
Post-war Denmark has been active in international affairs while still maintaining a sense of independence. A founding member of the European Free Trade Association, NATO, and the United Nations, it nevertheless refused to join the European Union until granted permission to opt out of certain EU policy areas, and a national referendum in 2000 voted to maintain the Danish kroner rather than adopt the euro.
Customs of Denmark
The Danes take privacy seriously and rarely show emotions publicly, and visitors are advised to act likewise. Natives also prefer to avoid arguments whenever possible. If attending a dinner party or business meeting during your trip to Denmark, formal introductions are not typically made and you will be left to introduce yourself to people.
Holidays & Festivals in Denmark
One of the most popular holidays in Denmark is the midsummer celebration, and if you're lucky enough to take your Denmark vacation on June 23, you can enjoy parades, singing, and speeches. Another celebrated holiday called Shrovetide occurs in February; children dressed in fancy costumes go door to door, singing and begging for candy, money, and even bread.
Denmark Travel Tips
Climate of Denmark
Any time of the year is great for a trip to Denmark, which boasts a temperate climate thanks to its being almost completely surrounded by water. Summer temperatures stay comfortable, hovering around 17 C (63 F) in the warmest month, July. Winters are relatively mild, with the coldest days averaging 0 C (32 F) in February. Bring rain gear no matter when you visit, as rainfall occurs regularly throughout the year.
Transportation in Denmark
Cycling is one of the most common means of transportation within cities, so don't hesitate to rent a bike for your Denmark sightseeing trips. If you're looking to go farther, bus routes connect major cities and some villages. For transportation between islands, you can take a plane between up to 23 airports, or go on a ferry for a cheaper option.
Language of Denmark
The official language of Denmark is Danish, which shares similarities with its Germanic cousins. The language includes several dialects differing in pitch, tonality, intonation, and pronunciation, so speech may sound strangely different when you visit outlying villages. Danish is notoriously difficult, though, so if you can speak English or German, you'll probably be able to get by with these languages instead.
Tipping in Denmark
Most bills you receive in Denmark will already include service charges, and tipping anything more is uncommon. If gratuity is not included, however--check the restaurant bill--you should leave a tip of up to 10 percent. Taxi charges include gratuity, so no need to give anything additional. For other services you'd like to tip, include up to 10 kroner or simply round up to the nearest multiple of 10.