Denmark 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 Østersøen Sea between Jutland and Sweden.
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 European Union's Maastricht Treaty, the European monetary system (EMU), and issues concerning certain internal affairs.
Denmark is also the birthplace of one of the world's most popular toys, Lego. There is no other better place in the world where one can buy Lego bricks than at the Legoland theme park in Billund.
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 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.
Denmark is home to the 'lowest-highest' point in Europe; but what that exactly entails is somewhat uncertain. Ejer Baunehøj, in the Lake District region south-west of Aarhus, seems to be the highest natural point (171m with a large tower built on top to commemorate the fact), although Yding Skovhøj, some 3km away stands 2m higher owing to an ancient burial mound. Either way, the 213m tall Søsterhøj Transmission Tower (1956), with its top 315m above sea level is technically the highest point in Denmark!
Sports are popular in Denmark, with football reigning supreme in popularity and counted as the national sport, followed by Gymnastics, Handball and Golf.
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 peoples 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 not only prominent in the Danish behavioural patterns. It is 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 of the country, which they are rightly proud of, but any criticism - however constructive - will not be taken lightly, although most Danes will be 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 a 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.
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.
All these lofty green visions, does actually have a few tangible implications for travellers:
Though not immediately obvious on a map, Denmark comprises of more than 400 islands, of which 72 are populated. The peninsular 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.
These are the nine regional centers in Denmark:
Denmark is not only the 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 a 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. For EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) citizens, an officially approved ID card (or a passport) is sufficient for entry. In no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length. Others will generally need a passport for entry.
There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty - the European Union (except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: Not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union.
Airports in Europe are thus divided into "Schengen" and "non-Schengen" sections, which effectively act like "domestic" and "international" sections elsewhere. If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear Immigration and Customs at the first country and then continue to your destination with no further checks. Travel between a Schengen member and a non-Schengen country will result in the normal border checks. Note that regardless of whether you travelling within the Schengen area or not, some airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.
Keep in mind that the counter begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving a specific Schengen country for another Schengen country, or vice-versa.
As of January 2011 only the nationals of the following non-EU/EFTA countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area: Albania*, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia*/**, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan*** (Republic of China), United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports. These visa-free visitors may not stay more than three months in half a year and may not work while in the EU.
However, all British Overseas Territories citizens except those solely connected to the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas are eligible for British citizenship and thereafter unlimited access to the Schengen Area.
Further note that
(*) nationals of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel,
(**) Serbian nationals with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate (Serbs residing in Kosovo) still do need a visa and
(***) Taiwanese nationals need their ID number to be stipulated in their passport to enjoy visa-free travel.
Obviously you apply for visa at your local Danish embassy (list), but in many countries where Denmark has no consular representation, other Nordic (Scandinavian) embassies 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 Faroe islands, are not Schengen members, but due to the open border with Denmark, there are effectively no border checks or visa requirements for citizens of the Schengen area, and visa free travel is also applicable to the same nations that are exempt from Schengen visas. For other nationalities the situation is somewhat more complicated, and a visa to Denmark/Schengen does not automatically cover travel to Greenland and the Faroe Islands.
Denmark is served by two major and several minor airports who nearly all offer international connections. Most European airlines offers routes to Copenhagen, and many also to Billund, but SAS Scandinavian Airlines remains the dominant carrier. Key players in the low-cost market include the national Cimber-Sterling or Norwegian , Easyjet , Transavia and finaly Ryanair which has services only to provincial airports.
There are five direct trains per day from Hamburg to Copenhagen, approximately every two to three hours. 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. There are also two train lines to Jutland from Hamburg, one via Padborg and the other via Tønder.
Trains run every twenty minutes from Malmö to Copenhagen. The total journey time is 35 minutes.
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 137km from Hamburg and 309km from Berlin respectively, and avoids the 215 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 conjugation with the German Automotive organisation, 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 (312km) or E4 from Stockholm (655km) to Malmö and connect with the Øresund bridge (150 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 serveral 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 1990'ies 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). And though it has been waning for years, with the ever increasing competition of low cost carriers, Denmark also has the only remaining ferry route between the UK and Scandinavia (Harwich-Esbjerg, 18 hours). 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).
Long distance bus-service between Jutland and Copenhagen is possible with the company Abildskou (line 888) , and while cheaper than the train, the difference is less pronounced than in many other countries, A ticket between the countries two largest cities; Aarhus-Copenhagen for instance, is DKK 270 One way for adults with Abildskou versus DKK 350 with the train. If you are flexible there is considerable discounts available in certain departures, where tickets can get as low as DKK 180, if you buy your tickets in advance.
See also the overview at: Fjernbusser.dk.
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 trains. Danish trains are very comfortable, very modern and very expensive. Tickets can be purchased in stations, from vending machines in the stations and via DSB's website. In addition to a ticket, some trains require a seat assignment. Most trains have 230V power outlets.
If you are not travelling on a rail pass, try asking for a 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. Unfortunately due to worn out rails, the intercity trains are often late, though as many other railways suffer from similar issues, this is of course very relative, and both funding and a comprehensive 36 billion kroner plan to deal with the problem, has passed through parliament, although it will take many years to remedy years of neglect. All trips with trains and local buses can be scheduled electronically through Rejseplanen.dk .
The only way get to most of the smaller islands, is by ferry. There are 55 domestic ferry routes in the country. The two most impotant ferry companies are Nordic Ferry and Mols Linien .
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 from Copenhagen and Ronne - 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 (except for the bicycles) but may not be very helpful to other drivers in ceding right of way, etc. 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).
Ease of driving inside cities is a different story. Congestion in and around the major cities, especially during rush hours and especially in Copenhagen, can be hellish. 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. Many cities and towns require "P-skiver" or parking card, which you place in your front window, with the clock face and hands set to the time you park. In Copenhagen you get tickets from coin machines and stick them in your window. If your stay in Copenhagen is extended, and you are not using a hotel garage, which can be expensive, you can buy daily or weekly tickets from Parkering København, located on Borgergade, near the royal palace.
Touring Denmark by car is a wonderful experience and highly recommended. Margueritruten 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. It is marked on most roadmaps.
Rental cars are available from all the familiar rental companies, with outlets located at airports and downtown. However, renting cars in Denmark is very expensive, even at discounted tourist rates. If you wish to rent a car, your best bet is to rent it out of Malmö, Sweden, just across the Sound from Copenhagen. Car rentals in Sweden are less than half the price of Danish rentals. Be aware that Scandinavia is no exception to the widespread European scam of adding hidden charges to your car rental bill. Also, unlike other goods and services, quoted car rental rates may not include the 25% V.A.T. or sales tax. Carefully read the rental agreement before you accept your car.
If you need auto assistance, you should generally enquire 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:
There are two ride sharing networks in Denmark; Go More and Turen.dk , but unfortunately both have a limited user base, relative to the success enjoyed by similar sites in other European countries, but there are usually a small handful of trips available every week.
Unless otherwise posted, speed limits are 130 kph (80mph) on the motorways, 80 kph (50 mph) outside cities and 50 kph (30 mph) inside cities. Regulations are similar to most other EU countries, but there are some rules that may differ from your native country; It is not only good driving practice, but also mandatory use turn signals when changing lane on motorways and prior to- and after overtaking. It is also compulsory to use dipped headlamps - even by day. It is not permitted to drive while using a handheld mobile phone, and there is a general duty to give way to traffic from the right, unless otherwise indicated by a series of roadway markings of white triangles pointing in the direction of the oncoming vehicle and/or a red and white triangular traffic sign. Watch out for the bicycles in the cities, especially when turning across bicycle lanes; they have right of way. Also, as a special note to North American drivers, it is illegal in Denmark (as in rest of Europe) to turn right on a red light.
Seat belts are compulsory for all front and rear seat occupants 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. You must always carry your driving licence, 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.
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 is 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 in the guides on this page:
It is quite easy to hitchhike in Denmark. People who pick up hitchhikers usually speak English. Destination boards are recommended. It is illegal to hitchhike on the highways, so it is better to use highway-entrances and gas stations. 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 highway 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 wikitravel if you are new to hitchhiking.
Scandinavian Airlines , Norwegian and Cimber Air all operate domestic routes, all of them either from or to Copenhagen Airport, there is no domestic routes between regional airports. Since most of the country's airports were build as military airfields during the second world war, they are often inconveniently located far from town centres, which as a general rule make train travel nearly as fast from town centre to town centre 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, albeit competition is heavy, and it is indeed sometimes possible to find plane tickets cheaper than the train, if you book well ahead of your planned departure - this is especially true for the Copenhagen - Aalborg route, where both traffic and competition is heaviest.
Airports with domestic traffic are: Copenhagen, Billund, Aarhus, Aalborg, Karup, Sønderborg and Bornholm.
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 traficed 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.
Denmark's top tourist attractions (2008)
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 Templer, 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. Finaly in South Jutland, the islands of Fanø, Mandø and Rømø are located in the Wadden sea, a intertidal 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.
Much has happened since the Danes were wrecking 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, 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. The National Museum in Copenhagen, also has a good collection of Viking artefacts.
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 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.
Denmark's national language is Danish, 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, and many Danes have native fluency. The only partial exception is children or people older than 65. Danish school children start their English lessons in third grade, and regular English lessons continue until students finish high school, furthermore 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 you don't get extra points for trying to speak the 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, it is not meant to condescend or belittle. 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. This is not their intention, but simply results from them directly translating from Danish to English.
Many Danes also speak German, and 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), and also especially in Southern Jutland (Sønderjylland / Northern Schleswig). Elsewhere in the country, many people prefer to avoid speaking it, even when they do have some command of the language, and you'll have a hard time convincing anyone to (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 the southern border to Germany (Sønderjylland / Northern Schleswig) and vice verse across the frontier there is a small community of Danish speakers to found in Germany. French is also spoken to some degree, as all Danish students have received at least 3 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.
With a 7400 kilometre 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:
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 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. And 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 one.
The national currency is the Danish krone (DKK, plural "kroner"). 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%. In the 12 months from Aug 2005 to Aug 2006 the average exchange rate was 1 EUR = 7.46 DKK. The Kroner comes in 50 øre (½ kroner) copper coins, 1, 2 and 5 kroner silver nickel coins with a hole in the centre, 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 Dankort/hæve-automat, 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 og 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 many retailers will add a 2%-3% transaction charge (often without warning) if you pay with a 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 (€120) according to the annual 2009 Hotels.com price index, a hostel bed hovers around 200 DKK (€26), but can be found cheaper in Copenhagen. While a three course meal at a standard restaurant will usually set you back around 200 DKK (€26), this can be done cheaper if you eat cafés or pizza joints, 40-70 DKK (€5,50-8,50). Sundries like a ½l bottle of Coca Cola costs 25 DKK (€3), while a beer will cost you 8 DKK (€1) in a supermarket, and 40 DKK (€5,50) in bar. If you are a bit careful about your expenses a daily budget of around 700 DKK (€100) per day is not unrealistic.
In Denmark 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. So tipping is not expected, nor required, but is a matter of choice. Needless to say, tipping for outstanding service is obviously greatly appreciated.
Naturally what to buy remains highly subjective, and in an expensive country like Denmark, also largely depends on the size of your pocket, but here are some suggestions:
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 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 à l'amande" (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 "Superpiratos" (hot licorice candy with salmiakki).
Do avoid touristy places where no Danes are to be found, popularity amongst 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 spend 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, and 18 in bars, discos and restaurants. The enforcement of this limitation is somewhat lax in shops and supermarkets, but quite strict in bars and discos, as fines of up to 10,000 kroner 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 amongst 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 is considered socially acceptable in Denmark, and having a beer out in a public square is a common warm weather activity there, 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.
Due to the compact size and dense population, unlike the other Scandinavian countries, Danes and visitors does not enjoy the Right to access in Denmark, visitors who want to enjoy the outdoors can overnight in one of the more than 500 camping grounds, most are well equipped with up to date facilities. The Danish Camping Board maintains a list of official camping grounds on their website. It is also possible to do wildlife camping in forests or other untouched sights, but only in designated areas (there is about 800 of them). Unfortunately the digitalized information of the locations are in Danish only, but it can be found at the Danish Forest and Nature Agency , another option to find these sights are to buy a printed guide book which costs DKK 98, and is available from many tourist informations desks or the Danish Cyclist Union
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 Vandrerhjem, 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 ($158/€113) in 2007, hotels are mostly off limits to shoestring travellers, 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 Cabb-in . Alternatives to hotels include a well developed network of Bed & Breakfasts which are bookable through the national tourism organisation VisitDenmark (Click on Accomodation > Private accomodation) - or in country famous for its bacon, butter and cheese - what better way to dive into Danish culture than on a Farm Holliday? the National organisation 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 organisation called Danske Kroer og Hoteller .
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, but its bite is not lethal). Compared to most other countries crime and traffic are only minor risks, and most crime visitors are likely to encounter is non violent pickpocketing.
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. 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 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 their 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:
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. The easiest way to get online is often the public library, as there is one in almost every town, they 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, so you can time it better.
Bring your own unlocked GSM phone to make calls. Prepaid SIM cards are available at most shops and international calling can be reasonably priced. The prepaid credit generally only work in Denmark, but can be purchased in small amounts to avoid waste when you leave.
International collect calls are not alllowed 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.
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 postoffice, 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 handles 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.
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 in one month, after which it will be returned to the sender. The address format is:
Name c/o Poste restante Hovedpostkontoret (General Postoffice) Postal-Code City Denmark
Major international parcel services like UPS or Fedex, while present in Denmark, do not offer any holding service.