There are many reasons to make Denmark a part of your Europe experience. Below are just a few:
The Danish capital is a fantastic blend of old and new Europe. Cobbled streets lead to frenetic nightclubs. The centuries old Royal Palaces are across the water from a bold new Opera House. Bicycles share the streets with Smart Cars and buses that run on biofuels. Whether you want to dance away the nights and sleep all day, or walk cobbled streets visiting museums and galleries, you can do it in Denmark.
Danish style and design
Danes have style. From blonde wood and metal restaurants, to the girl cycling past you on a sunny Autumn day in layered wools, Danish design is world famous. Think Georg Jensen jewelery, architecture like the Sydney Opera House (designed by a Dane), top end audio equipment like Bang and Olufsen...this sense of beauty pervades all public and private spaces in Denmark.
Harmony and hygge
Movement in the capital Copenhagen is a smooth flow of bicycles, buses and cars, without snarled traffic and a cacophony of horns. The city centers have pedestrian streets dominated by boutiques and outdoor cafes rather than street stalls or gypsies. Copenhagen is a city like any other where you have to watch your purse in busy places, but on the other hand, young Danes can wander the streets late at night without fear. There are no 'no-go' zones in the cities, no slums, few beggars. Danes love a bit of 'hygge', that cosy feeling that comes from settling down at a candle lit table with friends and good wine.
Danish history and love of art
This is one of the lands of the Vikings. At various times in its history, Danish royalty has ruled over parts of Sweden, Norway and even England. Viking treasure hoardes are still dug up by farmer's ploughs, and the National Musuem in Copenhagen is a trove of Viking art and lore. The old Viking city of Roskilde is still a thriving regional hub, where generations of royalty lie entombed in the cathedral and modern boat builders use centuries old techniques to reconstruct the sailing ships of Viking times.
Danish billionares also have a tradition of leaving a cultural legacy behind them. In Copenhagen you can find the Carlsberg Glyptotek, a gift to the world from the brewing family of the same name, and an eclectic but stunning collection of both antiquities and modern artists, housed in a building like no other. There is also the Thorvaldsen Museum, a collection of neoclassical art put together by the welathy artist of this name who lived in the 1800s. Alexander Brun, who had three wives all called Louise, left behind the Louisiana Museum north of Copenhagen, which combines the best of Danish architecture with sweeping views of the Danish and Swedish coasts, and an engaging collection of modern art which regularly features exciting exhibitions of new artists.
Music, sport and festivals
Roskilde is also home to one of Europe's best know outdoor rock music festivals and July sees both the Roskilde Festival and the Copenhagen Jazz festival taking place. Whether you want to mosh in the mud at Roskilde, or sit in the sunshine in a Danish square listening to free jazz, Denmark is the place and July is the month. The rest of the year, you can hear live music in the many small bars in the inner city.
Danes love their football, and the former European Cup winners play a high quality game with local teams FC Copenhagen, AAB and Brondby high on the list of must see clubs in Europe. Danish are also masters at the fast paced sport of European Handball, their women's team in particular are regular medal winners at the Olympics, and a night at the handball is always a good night out. Finally as you would expect for a nation of a thousand islands, there is great sailing to be had whether it be a pleasure cruise along the coast or a thrilling race in a sailing boat.
And of course, while not strictly festivals, there are the fabulous brewing traditions, such as at Easter and Christmas, when the brewers bring out special brews to celebrate the season and not only that, give them away free after midnight in the bars and cafes on the first night of release!
Smoking in public buildings is illegal. Smoking in restaurants and bars is also illegal, although some places do have permission for the guests to smoke (smaller places).
Reasons not to go to Denmark?
Well, of course there are a few of these too. If you are a nature lover, then Denmark is really for you. While you can enjoy long rambling walks across farm landscapes or in the beautiful forests (Denmark is all green in the summertime), there are one national park in Denmark, the government is to point more out. Look for Skjern, Mols Bjerge, Rold Forrest, The small islands in the south are beautiful, like the sea, which sorround the country.
As with most EU nations, Denmark's biggest cities are crowded. Just above one million people are crammed into the capital Copenhagen. Be prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder at rush hour with your fellow man on buses or in trains.
It ain't cheap. Everyone knows Scandinavia is expensive, but Copenhagen regularly features among the most expensive cities in the world to live. 'Value for money' travellers won't be happy in Denmark. An average restaurant meal of main plus dessert will cost USD $50 per person without drinks. A beer or coffee at a cafe will cost USD $6 - $7 (suggest you buy at the supermarket, where beer cost less than bottled water!). A bed and breakfast in a country town is not bad, at around USD $60 to $70 per person per night, but a room at the biggest youth hostel in Copenhagen will cost USD $30 for a bed in a dormitory, or USD $100 to $150 a night for a room, depending on the season.
And finally, don't expect to tantalise your tastebuds. There is a reason why Danish cooking has never taken the world by storm. Breakfast is dark bread, cheese and salami or bread rolls and marmalade. Lunch is dark bread, pickled fish, and salami. Dinner is meat, potatoes and gravy. The big exception to this is Danish bakeries - these is a cornucopia of breads and cakes and pastries which can hold their own against the best France can offer. But if you are willing to pay the price, you will find some excellent restaurants especially in the biggest cities. International food is also available in Denmark as everywhere else in most of Europe.