5 reasons to visit Denmark

As England plays Denmark in Euro 2020 on 7 July, the Danish author Dorthe Nors shares her favourite things to do in the Scandinavian country

3 mins

1. Discover Denmark's 7,000km of shoreline

Dorthe walking the Danish coast (Astrid Dalum)

Apart from being a country that for centuries thrived on selling bacon and Lurpak butter to the world, Denmark is more than anything else a nation of sailors. The peninsula, Jutland, also known as the mainland, balances on the German border, but the rest of the country consists of smaller and bigger islands. That adds up when it comes to shoreline.

Denmark has more shoreline than the United States of America. That means that you should, of course, experience the Danish islands and the Danish shores.

Here’s the coolest thing: in Denmark, you can’t own the beach. The beach belongs to all of us. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can take your tent and camp on the beach in front of somebody’s house. But it does mean that you can walk on the beach as much as you want. I recommend you do that: walk the Danish shoreline. 

2. Experience the ‘hygge’ capital

Nyhavn, the museum harbour in the heart of Copenhagen (Dreamstime)

You should definitely visit Copenhagen. One of my favourite things about the Danish capital is how many cyclists there are. When I lived there, I would ride my bike with such pride, because that’s what Copenhageners do.

You should also research the Danish phenomenon of hygge (pronounced hoo-guh). You might not be able to grasp the slightly dangerous social control issues that are a part of hygge, but you can enjoy the bright sides of it: sitting in cafes, drinking coffee, enjoying candle-lit meals and creating cosy interiors.

When you’ve had enough hygge, take the train north to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. It’s setting is as gorgeous as its art.

3. Visit the Wadden Sea

Wadden Sea at sunset (Dreamstime)

Walking on the southern Jutlandic shoreline, you’ll get to the Wadden Sea, which is enigmatic, unpredictable and dangerous, but also incredibly beautiful.

I suggest you also visit the medieval city of Ribe. Visit its cathedral and climb the tower. From here you can see the vast, flat landscape stretching out into the Wadden Sea. Then drive to Esbjerg and take the ferry to Fanoe island, where locals have prospered from the Wadden Sea for centuries.

Explore the beautiful community of old boatman’s houses, fruit trees, rose gardens, dunes and beaches by car. The islanders (called fanniker) often dress in traditional costumes, play the fiddle and dance the beautiful sønderhoning, which takes years to master. 

4. Tour Aarhus

ARoS art museum, Aarhus (Dreamstime)

On the eastern side of Jutland, you find the laidback college city of Aarhus, Denmark's second largest metropolis, which is also called ‘The Smallest Big City in The World’.

Don't miss the art museum, ARoS, and the prehistoric museum Moesgaard. 

5. Experience the wild North Sea coast

Grenen lighthouse, near Skagen (Dreamstime)

The North Sea Coast is is where I live now, and I long for people to see it for themselves because it’s raw and wild. The sea dunes, which are known as sea mountains, are amazing, while the moors, plains, fjords and migrating birds induce respect. The entire area is breathtaking and overwhelming.

Thousands of Germans, Norwegians, Swedes and Copenhageners visit every summer. I was told that a Norwegian once stood on the North Sea beach looking south then north before asking a Dane standing next to him how long the beach was. The Dane answered: “About 560km,” and the Norwegian replied: “So it never stops?” The Dane said: “No, not really.” That silenced the Norwegian which takes something, since Norway's scenery is among the greatest in the world.  

Dorthe Nors' work has appeared in Harpers, The Boston Review and The New Yorker. For information about Dorthe visit dorthenors.dk. For information on her novels, which include Mirror, Shoulder, Signal, visit pushkinpress.com

Main image: Dorthe Nors (Astrid Dalum)

Read more about Denmark:

The Wanderlust guide to Denmark

How to spend 3 days in Aarhus, Denmark

5 reasons to visit Aalborg, Denmark


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