Exploring Denmark: A Lost Girl’s Guide

City Travel, Country Guides — By on December 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Copenhagen Port

By Meredith Kaufman
Special to Lost Girls 

Though small in size, this Scandinavian country packs a lot of culture and sites to see. Located just above Germany, Denmark is home to some 5.4 million people, with a little under 2 million located in the city of Copenhagen. A country characterized by sprawling green countryside, bicycles, and herring, it is a place where people are bonded by a sense of national pride. Denmark is a welfare nation, and visitors will note the lack of poverty, its cleanliness, and the eco-friendly ways of the Danes. By the time you leave Denmark, you will surely come to understand the art of Hygge, a word the Danes use to describe their culture, which is characterized by a visit to the Tivoli Gardens, or a mug of beer and a Smørrebrød at a café with friends.

Where to go:

Copenhagen

It would be impossible to visit Denmark without experiencing its exciting capital city, Copenhagen. While exploring, be sure to take a stroll down Strøget, a long street home to some of the best shopping in the city. After, check out Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s oldest port, and a classic icon for the country. On a nice day, visitors should be sure to check out The Little Mermaid statue, inspired from a Hans Christian Andersen tale located near the harbor. In this beautiful city, bikes are used as one of the most common forms of transportation. Keep an eye out while crossing the bike lanes during rush hour.

Bornholm

Located in the Baltic Sea just south of Sweden, Bornholm is a great place to visit for the weekend. This small Island is known for its beautiful coastal views, round churches, 13th century ruins, and of course smoked herring. Look for a restaurant that will allow you to debone the fish yourself; it will add a new level of adventure to your meal. Feeling ambitious? Bornholm is also a popular location for biking excursions. But cyclists beware: I went out for a weekend bike trip expecting flat roads, and a simple trip. In reality, most of the roads are fairly inclined. Come day two, my friends and I bagged the bikes for a trip to the beach instead. At night, be sure to check out the hygge cafes where you can watch the sunset with a beer or steaming mug of hot cocoa.

Places to see:

Christiana

Located in the heart of Copenhagen, Christiana is an autonomous community of about 850 men, women, and children. It was founded in 1971 when hippies and homeless people took over an abandon military barracks. Christiana is often referred to as Pusher Street, where hash and cannabis are sold to tourists and locals a like, but there is much more than drug peddling to be seen. Enjoy lunch at one of their vegetarian restaurants, or visit one of the warehouses used as an art studio. Don’t let the community’s reputation intimidate you, locals are extremely nice as long as you follow their three rules: no running, no pictures, have fun. Be sure to check if there is a free concert in the evening.

Tivoli Garden

This famous amusement park/ garden also located in Copenhagen was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s parks. Tivoli is home to rollercoasters, rides, a concert hall, Pantomime Theater, The Tivoli Boys Guard music ensemble, and many delicious restaurants. Tivoli is most crowded in the summer and is best to visit during the fall season. It closes for a brief period during the later fall season, but opens back up for Halloween and during the Christmas season. Remember to bring change, as there is both an entrance fee and a fee for the rides.

Frederiksborg Castle

Located in Hillerød, this castle was built by Frederick II in 1560 and is the largest Renaissance castle in Scandinavia. Highlights of the castle include the church, with its walls adorned by various coats-of-arms, the beautiful art work hung throughout the many rooms of the castle, and the sprawling baroque garden.

What to eat

It is safe to say that Denmark may not be known for its cuisine in the same way that Italy and France are. However, all visitors should try at least one traditional Danish meal. With seafood as fresh as Denmark’s, you won’t be disappointed. For those with an appetite, try a sampler plate which typically includes Frikadeller (meat balls), rye bread, a small cut of beef, picked or curried herring, fresh shrimp, deviled eggs, smoked salmon, fried fish, and liver pate. On a tight budget? Hot dog carts are located throughout the city and offer a wide selection of different types of dogs. For those looking for something other than Danish cuisine, Copenhagen is filled with ethnic foods, ranging from Indian, to Italian, to Cambodian. For sushi lovers, it is best to do running sushi (all you can eat) as opposed to going a la carte- with a set price, running sushi restaurants tend to give you the most food for your buck.

Denmark 101

Here are some traveler’s tips to keep in mind while traveling through Denmark.

  • Danes are very reserved and shy people. This should not be mistaken for unfriendliness. Unlike most Americans, Danes engage less in small talk and take longer to open up. However, get a Dane talking and you may find yourself enjoying a pot of coffee for the next few hours.
  • Intimidated by the language barrier? Don’t worry- nearly all Danes speak perfect English, as they begin it early on in their schooling.
  • This is perhaps the most important: in many places in Denmark, credit cards are not accepted without a pin code (this acts as their signature and is an extra security measure). Many places will not accept credit cards without a pin code. Although I told my credit card companies I would be traveling to Denmark, I was not warned of this. Make sure to either set up a credit card compatible with a pin, bring lots of Krone, or remember your ATM card.

 

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