Denmark is such an incredible country! I’ve spent a lot of time there (and met my fiance there), and I’m a little bit obsessed. Denmark is known for being one of the happiest countries in the world and “hygge” has recently become popular around the world, but there is much more to know about the country before you visit. If you’re planning on visiting Copenhagen or another Danish city (you should see as many cities as you can), these are the top things to know about Denmark before you go! 🙂
14 things to know about Denmark before visiting
Learn some basic Danish
I have lived in Denmark and have taken courses on Danish, and Danes will probably laugh at my attempts at Danish! So you don’t have to try to be fluent before you go, just learn some basic phrases. Tak (pronounced like “tock”) is thank you. Hej is hi and is pronounced like hi, so that one is pretty easy. The famous colorful canal Nyhavn is not pronounced like “nigh haven,” it’s pronounced like “new hown.”
Practice saying Nyhavn before you visit!
Don’t get caught without a train ticket
You buy tickets ahead of time for the trains and buses, but for most of them, you don’t scan them before you get on. Instead, they have people who come on the trains and buses and do random checks. So some people won’t buy a ticket and will risk getting caught, but I don’t recommend that because the fines for not buying a ticket can be steep!
The “silent car” really means silent
I LOVE the silent cars on trains in Denmark because they really are silent. I was once rustling papers too loudly for people and got called out, so when they say silent, they mean it! It’s great for escaping the noise of morning commutes or getting a break from noisy crowds of tourists.
You should eat all the pastries (there’s a reason they’re called Danishes)
Pastries in Denmark are called wienerbrød because they were brought over by Austrian bakers, but in many places around the world they’re called Danishes because Danish pastries are just so good. So load up on wienerbrød while you’re there! My favorites are the cinnamon snails, anything with chocolate, and hindbærsnitter (basically gourmet raspberry poptarts).
Cinnamon snails are delicious!
Rye bread isn’t what you’re expecting (but it’s amazing)
The bread is just as delicious as the pastries! It’s very hearty and filled with nuts and seeds. Rye bread, called rugbrød, isn’t the rye bread you’re probably used to. It’s very dark and dense, and it’s delicious! I have the hardest time finding some in the US (the only place I’ve found it is in a bakery in Grand Central Station in NYC), so try it in Denmark where you can get it pretty much anywhere.
It’s possible to sightsee on a budget
Scandinavian countries are notorious for being expensive to visit, and they can be. But it’s possible to see Copenhagen and other places in Denmark on a budget! There are lots of free historic sights, and you can get some pretty great food at street stands and cafes. If you want to see Copenhagen for cheap, I made a whole guide of cheap and free things to do (and eat) in Copenhagen!
You can get this view for free!
There are traffic lights for bikes
Biking is HUGE in Denmark, so there are designated bike lanes and traffic lights for bikes. Before you cross the street, make sure you’re checking for bikes and don’t walk in front of them.
Street food and casual dining restaurants are great
Denmark is world famous for Noma and there are other amazing gourmet restaurants in the country, but if you’re on a budget, you can still get great food for a cheaper price tag. Street food is awesome (you should definitely get a hotdog or shawarma), and there are some good casual dining restaurants and food markets. One of my favorite restaurants in Copenhagen is a sandwich shop called Smagsløget!
Danes keep to themselves (but will help if you need it)
Danes can be reserved, but if you need help or directions, most people are happy to help! So don’t be too intimidated about the silent cars or reserved nature of Danes.
There is no air conditioning in most places
Summer doesn’t get too hot in Denmark, but they can have heat waves. I spent six weeks in Denmark last summer and it was one of the hottest summers on record, and nowhere I went had air conditioning! No public transportation, restaurants, bars, classrooms, or even my dorm room had air conditioning so I was melting the whole time. Denmark is beautiful in the summer, but just be warned that if it’s hot, you probably won’t get any cool relief!
The currency is the krone and many credit card readers need pin numbers
Denmark use the Danish krone and not the euro for currency. I’ve also run into issues with credit cards machines only accepting credit cards that had pin numbers. So just make sure you have some cash with you and have a way of getting more cash in case your credit cards don’t work.
Yogurt is sold in cartons like milk- don’t buy the wrong one
You probably won’t run into this issue, but I thought I would mention it just in case! Yogurt is sold in cartons like milk, so if you’re wanting to buy milk, make sure you get the right carton. I may have accidentally poured yogurt into my hot chocolate once, so I learned my lesson!
I can’t be the only one who got them mixed up, right?
Black licorice has salt
Danes love their salted licorice! Some people love it when they try it, but it’s an acquired taste for a lot of people. It’s worth trying while you’re there because it’s, but be warned that if you get black licorice, it’s not going to taste like the kind you’re probably used to.
Get off-the-beaten path
You know I love Copenhagen, but there’s so much more to see in Denmark! I’ve written about my favorite 11 towns in Denmark, and even in Copenhagen, there are amazing places off-the-beaten path. See everything that you can see in Denmark because there are beautiful sights around every corner!
Those are the top things you need to know about Denmark before you plan your trip! The number one thing you need to know is that it’s a fantastic country and you’ll see some amazing sights when you go 🙂