Destination Denmark

Denmark is marked in red in this map of EuropeThis page is divided into to sections. The first section contains general information about Denmark and the secound part contains information about all the cities I have been to.


General information about Denmark
Denmark is a country in Scandinavia. The main part of it is Jutland, a peninsula north of Germany, and a number of islands, including the two major ones, Zealand and Funen. Both siuated 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 a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. It has a state-level government and local governments in 98 municipalities. Denmark has been a member of the European Union since 1973, although it has not joined the Eurozone. A founding member of NATO and the OECD, it is also a member of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Denmark, with a mixed market economy and a large welfare state, ranks as having the world's highest level of income equality. It has frequently ranked as the happiest and least corrupt country in the world. Danish, which is the nathional language, is closely related to Swedish and Norwegian, with which it shares strong cultural and historical ties. In most cases norwegians, swedes and danes can speak their native language and be understodd by their fellow scandinavians.

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.

Travel to Denmark
Denmark is a gateway to Scandinavia and is well connected with the rest of European continent and to Scandinavia. Most European airlines offers routes to Copenhagen which is the capital of Denmark. Lots of ferries connects Denmark with Europe and Scandinavia, and Copenhagen airport is the main Scandinavian hub for flights. Cheap airliners fly to Malmö in Sweden ans say they fly to Copenhagen.. The train from Malmö to Copenhagen is using something like half an hour. Denmark is served by two major and several minor airports who nearly all offer international connections. 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.

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. Check out Eurolines for prices and timetables. 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. 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

Traveling within Denmark
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. 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. 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, and Øresundsbron between Copenhagen and Malmö.

Places to sleep
In Denmark you may sleep in castles. In adition there are many types of tourist accommodation, ranging from hotels and pensions. You may use i.e. hotels.com, booking.com or hostelworld.com to find somewhere to sleep. I have stayed a couple of times at Generator hostel Copenhagen and liked it. The1st floor have areas for eating, a pub and other social places. Rest of the floors (there are 6 in total) have wveything from private suoits to family rooms and dorms. If you want to rent a private home Airbnb.com could be something for you.

Money and banking
Despite the fact that Denmark is a member of the European Union the country is not a member of the Eurozone. Dansk krone (Shortened DKK) is the currency in Denmark and in January 2012 1 USD ~ 5.74 DKK. All major credit cards are widely accepted and you should have no problems to find an AMT. 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 1½l 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.

Vaccine and health
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. EU/EEA citizens should bring the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which grants you access to state-provided healthcare. 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. There is a general trend in Denmark 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 are usually well stocked, but brand names may differ from those in your own country. Staff is highly trained, and major cities usually have at least one 24 hour pharmacy. 

Many drugs that are prescription-free in other countries, require prescription in Denmark, which is not trivial to get, and medicines available in supermarkets and drug stores are very limited; i.e. allergy drugs and light painkillers; Paracetamol based, acetylsalicylic based and Ibuprofen based. 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.

Visa
Denmark is a member of the Schengen Agreement and there are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. 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 are travelling within the Schengen area or not, many airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport. Travel in the Schengen zone is an informative article which provides aditional informastion.

Crime
Denmark is a very safe country, with almost no risk of natural disasters or animal attacks. There is one poisonous snake, the European viper, but this snake is rare and its bite is not lethal. Crime and traffic are only minor risks, and most crime visitors are likely to encounter is non violent pickpocketing. Danes drive by the rules, and they have every expectation that pedestrians do the same. because of this it is important to obey Walk/Don't Walk signals and avoid jaywalking in cities, simply because cars will not slow down since you're not supposed to be there. Take good notice of the dedicated bike lanes when crossing any street to avoid dangerous situations as bikers tend to ride fast and have right of way on these lanes. Don't bathe alone and don't get too far away from land. Swim along the coast rather than away from it. In some areas undertow is a danger, and kills a number of tourists every year, but will mostly be signed at the beach. On many beaches, flags inform of water quality. A blue flag means excellent water quality, green flag means good water quality, red flag means that bathing is not advised. A sign with the text "Badning forbudt" means that bathing is forbidden. Obey these signs, as it often means that the water is polluted with poisonous algae, bacteria, or chemicals, or that there is a dangerous undertow. A few districts in major cities are probably best avoided at night by the unwary, or by lone women - but reverse of the trends in North America, it is often the ghettos in the suburbs that are unsafe, rather than the downtown areas. Use common sence and you will be fine.

Danish cuisine and drink
Tap water is drinkable 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. Danish cousine originating from the peasant population's products, was enhanced by cooking techniques developed in the late 19th century and the wider availability of goods after the Industrial Revolution. The open sandwiches, known as smørrebrød, which in their basic form are the usual fare for lunch, can be considered a national speciality when prepared and decorated with a variety of fine ingredients. Hot meals traditionally consist of ground meats, such as frikadeller (meat balls), or of more substantial meat and fish dishes such as flæskesteg (roast pork with crackling) or kogt torsk (poached cod) with mustard sauce and trimmings. Denmark is known for its Carlsberg and Tuborg beers and for its akvavit and bitters although imported wine is now gaining popularity. Most Danes have three regular meals a day, usually consisting of a cold breakfast with coffee, a cold lunch at work and a hot dinner at home with the family. Some also have a snack in the middle of the afternoon or in the late evening. Meat, especially pork, is by far the most common ingredient of hot meals. It is usually accompanied by potatoes and sometimes by another vegetable such as carrots or lettuce. Most hot meals consist of only one course: starters are fairly rare but desserts such as ice cream or fruit are a little more frequent. Beer and wine are fairly common drinks at mealtimes but so are soft drinks, plain water and, to a lesser extent, milk and coffee. 

The danes are crazy about their open sandwiches. Smørrebrød (originally smør og brød; Danish for "butter and bread") usually consists of a piece of buttered rye bread (rugbrød), a dense, dark brown bread. Pålæg, the topping, then among others can refer to commercial or homemade cold cuts, pieces of meat or fish, cheese or spreads. This daily practice is the base on which the art of the famous Danish open sandwich, smørrebrød is created: A slice or two of pålæg is placed on the buttered bread, and then pyntet (decorated) with the right accompaniments, to create a tasty and visually appealing food item. Ida Davidsen is one of the most famous places that sell smørrebrød and worth a visit. 


Cities I have been to
Copenhagen
is the capital of Denmark and what a million Danes call home. This "friendly old girl of a town" is big enough to be a metropolis with shopping, culture and nightlife par excellence, yet still small enough to be intimate, safe and easy to navigate by foot. Overlooking the Øresund strait with Sweden just minutes away, it is a cultural and geographic link between mainland Europe and Scandinavia. This is where old fairy tales blend with flashy new architecture and world-class design; where warm jazz mixes with cold electronica from Copenhagen's basements. You'll feel you've seen it all in a day, but could keep on discovering more for months. Copenhagen, as in the rest of Denmark, has four distinct seasons. The best time to visit is definitely the warm period from early May to late August. The two big hubs are Central Station (da: Hovedbanegården/København H) with S-trains, intercity trains and buses, and Nørreport Station with S-trains, metro, regional trains and buses. Travel by train, bus and metro can be scheduled electronically through rejseplanen.dk.

Entrance to most museums is free once a week, mainly on Wednesdays. You can always count on the principal attractions to be well signed in English and German and for these places to be generally geared towards tourists. A good tip to see whether a smaller museum caters to non-Danish speakers, is to check whether the website has an English section. If it does, this usually means the museum has at least some English information throughout its exhibitions. Of course if you have some interest in a particular subject, such museums can be interesting even if you don't understand the sign-postings. As Danes are usually fairly fluent in English, you can always try to ask staff if they could give you a brief tour. If you are into the arts Copenhagen has a lot to offer and the natural starting point is a visit to the Danish National Gallery (Statens Museum for Kunst, free entry, 10 kr deposit for lockers) where you can feast your eyes on blockbusters from the likes of Rembrandt, Picasso, and Matisse. There are a number of paintings by Danish artists from the "Golden Age." For more classical art, visit Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (adult 75 kr, 20 kr or €2 deposit for lockers). If you want your vacation to be educational, or if you want to sneak some knowledge into the kids during the vacation, there are several options to consider. The best choice for kids is perhaps the hugely entertaining, and well renowned hands-on science museum, the Experimentarium north of Copenhagen. Another popular and well-renowned institution, is the Copenhagen Zoo on Frederiksberg, counting both among both the best and oldest zoos in Europe.

An excellent start to any visit to Copenhagen is to climb the unique 7.5-turn helical corridor leading to the observation platform of Rundetårn (the Round tower), one of Copenhagen's most iconic buildings. It offers excellent views and is smack in the middle of the city. If that is not high enough for you head to Christianshavn for a climb up the circular stairs on the outside of the church spire of the Church of Our Saviour. It has always been regarded as something of a manhood test to climb up and touch the globe on the summit, nearly 100 meters up in the air. And now that you're in the area, head over to the opposite side of the street to Christiania, a self-governing community that has been squatting on an old naval area since the seventies. Their inventive, brightly coloured, home built houses are spectacular, as is the relaxed atmosphere - this is truly one of Copenhagen's most unique and best attractions. Due south of Christiania the old, crooked, brightly coloured buildings and soothing canals lined with masted ships make this an excellent place to continue a stroll. Other fine examples of classical architecture include the impressive City Hall and the massive dome of the Frederikskirken colloquially known as the Marble Church. This dome, with a span of 31 meters, is one of the largest in northern Europe. Both are in the Indre By area.

Another great place to visit which goves you a nice overview of the city is The Tower in the Christiansborg palace. With a height of 106 metres, the tower on Christiansborg Palace is the highest tower in Copenhagen. The tower has a restaurant at the top with a nice view of thhe city. Christiansborg, also known as Borgen, houses the Danish parliament, and in June 2014, the tower opened to the public, which means everyone can access the tower free of charge and experience the magnificent views of Copenhagen.

The bothanical garden is a nice, green place to relax in Copenhagen and contains flowers and plants from all over the world. Rosenborg castle is situated close to the bothanical garden. the castle is situated in The King's Garden and a popular recreational area for people living in Copenhagen. The palace both serves as a museum of Royal history and as a home for the crown jewels which are on display in the catacombs beneath the castle. A closed-off wing of Rosenborg serves as barracks for the Royal Guard, and every day a detachment marches through the Copenhagen city center between Rosenborg and Amalienborg for the changing of the guard. Unusual for a well-founded democracy, the palace that houses the parliament, Christiansborg, is also a royal palace. It is usually possible to visit the Royal reception rooms, stables and the old court theatre here.

If you like food marked Torvehallerne is someweher you should check out.

For real architecture buffs, the city's main claim to fame is the modernist architecture and its native masters. Jørn Utzon (of Sydney Opera House fame) and Son is behind a trio of buildings on Østerbro's northern harbour, known as the Paustian complex. There is a fine, but expensive restaurant in one of the buildings. You can enjoy Arne Jacobsen's work by either sleeping at, or taking in the atmosphere (and great views) of the top floor lounge bar at the Royal Hotel which is one of the very few tall buildings in the inner city. Alternatively, head north to Bellavista, a residential complex and theatre near the beach, where there is even a restaurant featuring his famous furniture and his name. Lastly Henning Larsen, famous for his iconic buildings in Riyadh, is behind Copenhagen's new Opera house overlooking the harbour in Christianshavn. From here you can also catch a view of Copenhagen's latest iconic contraption, the Royal library known to locals as the black diamond, after its shiny polished black granite walls. The four identical classicist palaces of Amalienborg, make up the main residence of the Danish royal family. The octagonal courtyard in the centre is open to the public and guarded by the ceremonial Royal Guard. The relief takes place every day at noon and is a highlight for any royalist visiting the city. There is also a small royal museum on the premises.

Amazingly, the two oldest functioning amusement parks, with the two oldest roller coasters, are both located in Copenhagen and they are distinctively different. Bakken or Dyrehavsbakken is the older of the two, set in a beautiful beech forest near Klampenborg north of Copenhagen. This gives it a special atmosphere and it is a lot less touristy than its counterpart — Tivoli — which is located smack in the city center in a beautiful park surrounding a lake. Strøget is one of the largest pedestrian malls in the world which links City Hall, Kongens Nytorv, and Nørreport station. Impeccably dressed Copenhageners breeze through high-end fashion and design stores when not zig-zagging through the hordes of tourists during the summer and Christmas seasons. Your fellow visitors can make it all feel rather touristy at times but if nothing else, it is great for people watching. If all this strange outdoor shopping takes you too far from your usual habitat, head for Magasin du Nord (on Kongens Nytorv) or Illums (on Amagertorv) for more familiar surroundings. There is even a real American style mall complete with a gargantuan parking lot out on Amager. Appropriately, it is called Fields. You can also try Vesterbrogade and Istedgade on Vesterbro, due west of the central station, although you'll need to go a few blocks before hotels/sex shops/Thai restaurants turn into more interesting territory. Right at the border of this area, Værnedamsvej and Tullinsgade are also good bets. In Nørrebro, Ravnsborggade is well known for its huge number of antique stores that are excellent for bargain hunting and the next street to north, while more modest Elmegade has some small independent fashion boutiques.

Denmark is marked in red in this map of Europe.