To the north of Germany, and west of Sweden, lies the small Scandinavian country of Denmark. Once known for its fierce warriors, the Vikings, it’s now a peaceful modern country where innovative architecture shares space with medieval buildings. With its beautiful coastal peninsula and quaint island communities, Denmark is undoubtedly one of the most scenic countries in Europe. Here are 17 interesting facts about Denmark.
1. The oldest active flag on Earth is the Danish Dunnebrog. The legend attributes its appearance to the Danes to the very beginning of the XIII century. Its design is a red background with a white cross.
2. The Danish monarchy is the oldest continuing monarchy in the world and has existed for over 1,000 years. The Current Queen Margrethe II has been sitting on the throne since 1972, but the monarchy has roots dating back more than 1000 years, all the way back to King Gorm the Elder.
3. The giant territory of Greenland belongs to the Danish kingdom. So, in reality, the country’s area is a lot bigger than just 42,931 km2, considering the fact that Greenland’s total area is 2 166 000 km². However, Greenland is an autonomous constituent country. The smaller island group “the Faroe Islands” is also a part of the kingdom of Denmark.
4. The Danes are the happiest people on Earth. International surveys and studies often rank Denmark as the happiest place in the world based on standards of health, welfare, and education.
5. The government keeps a list of 7,000 names that are pre-approved for babies’ names. Danish babies must have a first name that is on the list of approved names. Moreover, one cannot give a boy a girl’s name or vice versa.
6. Iceland used to be a part of Denmark. It exited from Denmark and became an independent republic in 1944.
7. The tax level and living expenses may be high in Denmark, but in return, education and healthcare are free. Danish students even get paid by the government to go to school (SU). This ensures that everyone has equal access to education and healthcare, no matter what his or her social background and financial capacity is.
8. Majority of the Danes are not willing to get promoted at work and are happy with their current positions and responsibilities. This is mainly because of the tax burden which does not make it worth working the extra hours or taking the added responsibility.
9. Interestingly, the U.S. tried to buy Greenland from Denmark in 1946 for a sum of 100 million. Denmark, however, denied.
10. The climate in Denmark is quite unusual. The temperature does not exceed 50-70 degrees (10-20 °C) a year. On top of this, it rains most of the time, even though it may not always be so heavy. The Danish even joke about this, saying that the only difference between summer and winter is that the rain is a little warmer.
11. LEGO was invented in Denmark. Legoland and the company headquarters are located in Billund, on the Jutland peninsula.
12. In Denmark, an attempt to escape from prison is not considered a crime. If a fugitive is caught, he will only have to stay in prison for a time that he was originally sentenced.
13. The longest pedestrian street in the world is in Denmark in the heart of Copenhagen – the shopping street Stroget, which became the world’s first pedestrian zone. Its total length is 1.8 km. It includes four streets connecting the Town Hall Square and the Opera Square.
14. In 1902 Denmark became the first country in the world where fingerprints were used as proof of the guilt of the suspect in the crime.
15. Bikes are an essential part of Danish everyday-life. Danish cities are among the most bicycle-friendly in the world designed with comprehensive systems of bicycle lanes. Interestingly, there are more bicycles in Copenhagen than there are people.
16. Did you know that Readers Digest did an experiment in 1996 and left some 40 wallets on streets in various locations in some countries? Only in Denmark and Norway all the 40 wallets were returned.
17. Bluetooth got its name from Denmark’s 2nd King – Harald Bluetooth.
How to reach?
You will find that there are numerous direct flights from Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai to Copenhagen, with airlines like Air India, Air France, Aeroflot Russia and SAS- Scandinavian. Copenhagen International Airport is the main gateway to Denmark. In addition, smaller airports at other cities- including Aalborg, Billund and Esbjerg- cater to flights coming in mainly from destinations in Scandinavia or the UK.
Denmark boasts of great road and highway networks so it is pretty easy to reach this country from the neighbouring ones. A lot of bus companies operate bus services from Hamburg and Berlin to Aarhus and Copenhagen.
Railways are a cheaper option to travel across Denmark as compared to flights or even the road. You will find that trains also come into Copenhagen from Germany’s Berlin and Hamburg regularly. Night trains are also available from farther cities like Amsterdam, Prague, Basel etc. Copenhagen is the main station in the capital but you will find tickets for other cities as well.
Captain Nero’s recommendations in Denmark:
Faroe Islands: Located roughly halfway between Scotland and Iceland in the North Atlantic, the Faroe Islands cover 18 ruggedly beautiful islands. It is well worth visiting this interesting place for a look at their unique flora and fauna. This is also considered as the insta-worthy places to visit in Denmark for tourists.
Click here to read about Faroe Islands in detail!
Aarhus: A city with both modern, cosmopolitan aspects and the charm of a small village, Aarhus, is the second largest city in Denmark and is located on the Jutland peninsula. It’s an interesting city architecturally, with all styles represented from the Vikings to present day. It is full of rich beautiful houses, little shops, and cozy café in every corner.
Skagen: This all-time favourite of Denmark’s intellectual elite and artists is a vibrant place filled with art galleries and museums. The 700-year old village of Skagen is also known for Hygge which is a unique traditional Danish experience to have on your list. The city boasts one of Denmark’s oldest lighthouses.
Ribe: Ribe is the oldest town in the country situated on the shores of scenic southwest Jutland. There is much to see in Ribe, from its quaint half-timbered medieval buildings to Ribe Cathedral, the first Christian church in Denmark. The town is characterized by its cobbled streets, quaint houses and charming harbor and is also home to cultural events including Ribe Jazz Festival and Ribe Wine Festival.
Bornholm: Bornholm, an island in the Baltic Sea closer to the shores of Poland and Sweden than Denmark, is known for its arts and crafts items, especially glass and pottery. The island is home to several towns with picturesque windmills and several medieval churches, four of which are round. Its coast holds expansive white-sand beaches, fishing villages, and the scenically crumbling ruins of Hammershus Castle.
Odense: Odense is a civil jewel right in Denmark and one of the most popular places. It is the birthplace and childhood home of the famous story teller Hans Christian Andersen, so you can expect to see many statues and sculptures of his characters around town. From Egeskov Castle’s trenches to gorgeous turrets, from strikingly beautiful Scandinavian low-rise homes to King Canute’s tomb – this Danish town is one of the most famous Denmark tourist attractions.
Aalborg: Another ancient city in Denmark which has transformed itself into an industrial and cultural centre. It’s known for theatre, symphony and opera, as well as the Aalborg Carnival, the largest festival in Scandinavia that centres around carnivals.
Helsingør: Known as the “Home of Hamlet” the city of Helsingør (Elsinore in English) is located in eastern Denmark on the shores of Øresund strait. A short stroll through the town centre promises quaint timber homes, cozy cafés, and boutiques along the cobblestone streets. Helsingør is home to the colossal Kronborg Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site located just across the harbour.