In the U.S., when someone mentions the happiest place on earth, your first thought is probably Disneyland. But according to the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, Denmark is officially one of the planet’s happiest countries. It’s also one of the most popular tourist destinations. More than 30 million foodies, fashionistas, ice hockey fans, history fanatics, and curious explorers choose to visit this Scandanavian country each year.
There’s a long list of reasons why travelers head to the Nordic island nation. Travel experts give Denmark high marks in safety, and women traveling alone often report that they feel secure doing so. The Danish people share a common belief that all people are equal, and everyone deserves acceptance. This mentality, combined with the country’s forward-thinking environmental and social policies, is just part of what makes this such an awesome destination. Whether you seek spectacular natural landscapes or a fun-filled getaway complete with unique cultural experiences, you’ll find everything you need in Denmark.
The preferred mode of travel in Denmark is the long-held tradition of cycling. In fact, there are twice as many bikes in the country as there are cars. Some of the top cycling destinations include the picturesque island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea and the quaint, peaceful city of Svendborg on the island of Funen. The more adventurous cyclists should try the Limfjord Cycle Route from Hals to Thyborøn, a 372-mile scenic trek through an array of landscapes, including forests, hills, and lakes.
Dress as a Viking and hop aboard a 1000-year old Viking ship in Roskilde to get an authentic feel for the Norseman’s way of life. Travel to Lindholm Høje and explore the 700 graves in the Viking cemetery. The burial ground dates back to between 400 and 1000 AD. The annual Viking fair at the Trelleborg Viking Ring Fortress in Northwest Zealand is a week-long festival in July featuring Viking lore, crafts, and a battle reenactment.
More than 200,000 people each year travel to see a spectacular landscape in Denmark, the Møns Klint, which lies just two hours outside of Copenhagen. These white chalk cliffs jut out of the water, extending nearly four miles into the sky and bordering more than 400 feet of the Baltic Sea coastline. Hunt for ancient, 70-million-year-old fossils along the beach or sail through the surrounding crystal blue waters. Rent an Icelandic pony and explore the many trails through the area’s cliffs and forests.
Denmark is a land of architectural variety. Kronberg, the castle near Copenhagen that inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is a must-see majestic marvel. Another fascinating site to visit is Roskilde Cathedral, the burial site of 40 Danish kings and queens. In Aarhus, stroll through the streets of Old Town, one of the best-preserved areas in Denmark. If you prefer modern architecture, check out the Copenhagen Opera House, the Wave residential building in Vejle Inlet, and the Iceberg apartment building in Aarhus.
Travel to Kildeparken in Aalborg, Denmark’s Park of Music, and experience the Singing Trees. In 1987, Cliff Richard planted a tree in the park as a memorial of his performance at the Aalborg Congress and Culture Center. Over the years, more than 80 other artists have done the same. Legendary performers Elton John, Rod Stewart, Sting, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and ZZ Top have planted trees in the park, along with local artists as well. The oak and cherry trees “sing” when visitors press a button on a plaque that bears the artist’s name.
What was once a tiny island famous for its stunning beaches, rugged coastlines, and sloping hills is now the wedding capital of Europe. Same-sex couples and foreigners alike discovered the ease of weddings and the romantic surroundings in Ærø a few years ago. The island’s main town of Ærøskøbing is a meticulously preserved Middle Age village with cobblestone roads, cottages covered in flowers, and breathtaking sea views. Enjoy bike rides, fishing, or kayaking, and then make your way to one of the village’s eateries and dig into some delicious local fare.
Greenland, which is 840,000 square miles of land, is not only the largest of Denmark’s 400-plus islands, but it’s also the largest island in the world. If you’re seeking a destination with fewer bodies, this is the place to go. Not only will you find fewer than 60,000 residents here, but you’ll also experience fantastic vistas in a true Arctic landscape. Join in on one of the night time snowmobile excursions and catch some awe-inspiring views of the Aurora Borealis.
Wild herds of Exmoor ponies live in the southern part of Langeland, one of the southern islands in Denmark. Visitors can get within 164 feet of the herds to observe these unique equines, which are close relatives of the now-extinct horses that once roamed Europe. The ponies eat the grass on the island, which not only helps to ensure plant diversity but allows the sun to reach the ground’s surface. Because these animals are shy, there are a few rules to observe, but the herds are a definite must-see.
Travel north to Skagen, and you can stand in the place where the North Sea and the Baltic Sea meet. This area is the northernmost town in the country. Grenen, Denmark’s northernmost point, is a split formation of sand and gravel deposited by the sea where visitors can see the collision of the two seas. Skagen enjoys more hours of sunshine each day than any other spot in Denmark and offers Old World charm, historical memorials, art, entertainment events, and cuisine for every taste.
The Øresund Bridge is a marvel of Danish and Swedish engineering. The bridge provides a convenient and safe way to travel across the Øresund, the strait that forms the border separating Denmark and Sweden. The structure includes a bridge, a railway on the lower deck, and a road for vehicles on the upper deck, plus a man-made island called Peberholm. Travelers pass through an immersed tunnel that plunges into the Baltic sea to commute between Copenhagen and Malmö, Sweden.
A Danish artist named Thomas Dambo challenges visitors to find the Six Forgotten giants hidden in six western locations around Copenhagen. The treasure hunt is a unique and intriguing way of getting visitors and residents outside to enjoy the majestic natural beauty of the area. Hunters can follow a map that leads to each of the sculptures, which have names like Thomas on the Mountain and Oscar Under the Bridge that give clues to their locations. Trek through pine groves, across streams, and around swamps to find the whimsical giants.
Denmark is the land of hygge, a small word that describes a national concept about day-to-day Danish life. It represents contentment, joy, and good vibes for the simple things that make us feel cozy. This way of life isn’t hard to find in Denmark because you’ll see it in parks, at concerts, street festivals, park picnics, and local restaurants and bars. The high season for hygge, however, is Christmas, when locals light the long nights with millions of candles, sip on mulled wine, and stroll through the streets, wrapped up in blankets and oversized scarves.