Extend your trip to Scandinavia and take in some of the highlights offered by Norway’s neighbours Denmark.
The three Scandinavian countries are tied by so much shared history and culture, that it sometimes surprises visitors how different they can be. After a week trekking the Norwegian mountains, Denmark offers something quite different.
From Norway, Denmark is a simple weekend trip with several flights per day to Copenhagen from most major cities. For those travelling internationally, Denmark often makes sense as the arrival airport given the huge number of international arrivals into Copenhagen. Given how close the airport is to the capital city, a quick tour is a superb option to keep things interesting during a long layover. So, let’s start there!
With a thriving culinary scene, cool Scandinavian design and super accessible arts and culture, Denmark’s capital city draws visitors in the millions every year. Copenhagen ranks as one of the happiest places in the world to live and it won’t take more than a quick stroll along the harbour to understand why.
Based on the fairy tale of the same name by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, the Little Mermaid is a Copenhagen icon. I have no idea how this figure is guesstimated, but tourist bosses claim that five million photographs are taken of her every single year.
At the heart of Copenhagen, Tivoli Gardens is the second oldest theme park in the world. Rollercoasters draw thrill-seekers to the park during the summer months but it also serves as a concert venue year-round. Although usually closed for much of the winter, the park opens for a period in the run-up to Christmas, which is an especially atmospheric time to visit. Just remember to wrap up warm!
Denmark for kids
Who doesn’t love Lego!? One of the most famous Danish exports, these tiny little bricks remind generations of adults of their childhood. So much so, that parents will get just as much enjoyment from Denmark’s Legoland than their kids do! If you need further justification to add Legoland to your itinerary, then here you go: It’s easy to access from Billund Airport, and even offers accommodation inside the park!
A cultural capital
Although its reign as European Capital of Culture is almost up, Aarhus will surely benefit from the legacy of its year in the spotlight for many years to come. Known for its modern architecture, the “city of smiles” is well worth a detour. Start at the city’s art museum, pictured above.
Take a walk through the streets of 1970s Denmark, and meet actors playing the parts of locals from the 19th and early 20th centuries at Aarhus Old Town museum. You’ll often find people cooking food, chopping wood, sewing and needling, or attending to customers in the museum shops. The grounds are also home to the Jewellery Box, the Decorative Arts Gallery, the Danish Posters Museum, and the Toy Museum, making this a firm family favourite.
A cycling vacation
Few countries in the world are better equipped to support cyclists than Denmark. First and foremost, the country is flat. But beyond that, the infrastructure in terms of cycling lanes is outstanding, both in the cities and even out in the countryside. Copenhagen in rush hour can be a sight to behold as thousands of bikes speed past the stationary cars.
Rock out at Roskilde
One of Europe’s largest music festivals, Roskilde has been held every year since 1971. Headliners in recent years have included the Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Florence + the Machine, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Prince, The Who, and Jay-Z.
The white men of Esbjerg
One of the more bizarre tourist attractions in Denmark, the white men of Esbjerg (officially known as Man meets the sea) are four 9-metre high monuments built to celebrate a city anniversary. According to Visit Esbjerg, the sculpture “portrays the meeting between pure, unspoilt mankind and nature. Man, innocent as from his mother’s womb. Man before rising up and beginning to act.”