Considered the happiest country in the world, this upbeat archipelagic nation contains over 400 islands, 4.2 million bikes, and 7,314 miles of pristine, windswept coastline. Discover what else makes Denmark such a unique destination, and why it’s capital city, Copenhagen, should be at the top of your travel list!
- The Danish monarchy has been around for more than 1,000 years and is the oldest continuing monarchy in the world.
- There are more than twice as many bikes as cars.
- Denmark has one of the highest number of Nobel laureates per capita with 14.
- No place in the country is more than 30 miles from the sea.
- Swimming lessons are part of the compulsory curriculum in all state schools.
- Shakespeare’s Hamlet was set at Elsinore Castle, which is modeled on Denmark’s Kronborg Castle. Every summer the castle stages the play during its Hamletscenen Festival.
- Adopted in 1219, the Danish flag (Dannebrog) is the oldest in the world still in use by an independent nation.
- The first Danish newspaper was founded in 1666 and written entirely in verse.
- The tallest “mountain,” Mollehoj, is 561 feet high.
- Baby names are highly regulated and parents must choose from a government-approved list of 7,000 names.
- Danish pastries are not, in fact, Danish. They were introduced to the country during a baker’s strike in the 1870s, when bakery owners brought in Viennese chefs—who in turn brought their flaky puff pastry delights. The Danes call these pastries Wienerbrød, or Viennese bread.
- Bluetooth got its name from the second king of Denmark, King Harald Bluetooth.
- Denmark charges a tax of 150% on all new car purchases.
- The word “Lego” comes from the Danish words “leg” and “godt,” meaning “play well.”
- The country has an underground vault containing every Lego set ever made.
Don’t Miss These Copenhagen Attractions:
At nearly two miles long, Strøget is the oldest and longest pedestrian street in the world. With congestion on both the streets and sidewalks, in 1962 the Danish government banned all cars from Town Hall Square in the west to the King’s New Square in the east. Shopping fiends the world over can delight in the street’s string of high-end designer stores, including Prada, Max Mara, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. Restaurants, sidewalk cafes, specialty shops, art galleries, street entertainers, theaters, and museums have also taken up residence along this bustling pedestrian thoroughfare. Those in search of spectacle can watch the Royal Guard on its daily march down the avenue, from Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg Palace—the residence of the royal family.
This colorful 17th-century waterfront district is a hotbed of activity day and night. Once considered the shady part of Copenhagen, Nyhavn is now home to a vast array of bars, restaurants, jazz clubs, and cafes. House numbers 18, 20, and 67 were once residences of the country’s literary darling, Hans Christian Andersen.
There are over 13,000 plant species on display in this 25-acre greenspace, many of which are 200 years old. Of the garden’s 27 glasshouses dating back to the 1870s, the most notable is the 62-foot Palm House. It features a cast-iron spiral staircase leading to a passageway at the top.
This castle was built by King Christian IV during the Dutch Renaissance, at the start of the 1600s. The interior has hardly changed in centuries, displaying historic tapestries and collections of 17th-century Venetian glass. Visit the king’s private writing cabinet and bathroom, or check out the crown jewels and exquisite Flora Danica dinnerware. After your visit, take some time to wander around the sculptures and maze-like hedges of the King’s Garden—the oldest royal garden in Denmark.
When Danish architect George Carstensen approached King Christian VIII for permission to build Tivoli Gardens, he claimed that “when people amuse themselves, they forget politics.” The King agreed, and the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world opened to the public in 1843. It features a whimsical assortment of rides, games, restaurants, theaters, and dance halls. Some of its main attractions include a classic Japanese garden, an aquarium, and Friday night fireworks. It’s said that Walt Disney was so inspired after a visit to Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens that he used it as a model for Disneyland.
Founded in 1847, Carlsberg Group is the fifth-largest brewing company in the world. The brewery features interactive exhibits and the world’s largest collection of beer bottles, which consists of more than 20,000 bottles in various shapes and sizes. Visitors can examine the original machines in the Old Brewhouse and explore the sculpture garden and draught horse stables. Admission price includes a beer tasting.
The Rundetaarn (Round Tower)
Feast your eyes upon the city and seaside of Copenhagen from the top of the oldest functioning observatory in Europe, built in the 17th century. A spiral path winds you up to the 118-foot lookout, where views extend past the harbor and include a glimpse of the Øresund Bridge to Malmö, Sweden. The tower also features a library hall, which once held the entire collection of books from the university and today hosts exhibitions of art, culture, history, and science.
Want to experience Copenhagen by foot or bike? Try one of our informative walking and biking tours!
Check out our Insider’s Guide to Denmark to learn more about this Scandinavian treasure!