Known as the “happiest place on earth” – sorry Disney, the Danes have the results of the research to prove it – this Scandinavian hotspot offers lots of fun, food, and fabulousness. But if you are stuck in a guide or stuck on a tourist website, you may miss the best of Denmark. So give up the lonely planet and put on your seat belts, because you’re about to make a trip to 10 places in Denmark that your guide knows absolutely nothing about.
To be elected off this island would certainly be a disappointment because it is one of the most beautiful secrets of the Danish landscape. Denmark is of course partially surrounded by water and dozens of small islands dot its coastline. But Bijoernoe, an archipelago, offers families, lovers and peace seekers a beautiful sanctuary.
Located off the coast of Faaborg, Denmark, this small island was once a safe haven for smugglers and freedom fighters from World War II. Now, however, it offers camping, a guest room, and a few other comforts for picky tourists. Oh, and it’s a toad sanctuary.
Location: Faaborg is a two-hour drive from Copenhagen Airport and the island is a short ferry ride away.
For family fun, each guide will list Tivoli Gardens, a famous amusement park and “pleasure garden” in Copenhagen, but if you want something a little less touristy but still friendly, try the Chateau d ‘Egeskov.
Open from May 1 to October 4 this year, Egeskov offers parks, museums, camping, a playground, and even labyrinths. And of course, there is the castle. Completed in 1554, Egeskov Castle is “the best-preserved moat castle in Europe”, says its promotion in the press. It has more than 66 rooms, 200 windows, 171 doors, and four labyrinths. Imagine that this outdated Egeskov structure has a bioenergy business that creates sustainable energy products, including wood materials.
Location: Kvaerndrup is approximately two hours from Copenhagen Airport. Egeskov Castle is Egeskov Gade 18 5772 Kværndrup
If you’re done exploring the hinterland, come back to Copenhagen to make a fantastic light with Danish nightlife. Vesterbro is not a place, it is a destination. Formerly a red light district with all kinds of guilty pleasures available, Vesterbro has been gentrified in a trendy and chic artistic district where everyone wants to be.
Now it’s cheating because Vesterbro is in many tour guides, but try these holes in the walls to soak up local flavours while being wandered around like a tourist. For food and a drink, try Lé Lé nhá hang, a Vietnamese restaurant with a dramatic twist.
Location: Vesterbrogade 40. For the cinema, try Vestervovvov, a small art-house theatre with a café and a great avant-garde program. Location: Absalonsgade 5 1658 Kobenhavn V. And to party, you can do it almost anywhere in Vesterbro.
Where locals go to eat, drink and listen to happy music, this small local meeting place is intimate and intriguing. Adorned with more wood than a pirate ship, Bartof has the feeling of a local bar and the charm of a post-modern gathering place. (It has an art gallery upstairs.) Every day you can hear Irish guys singing old Billy Hill or cowboy songs singing the blues. If you want a quiet bite and an even more relaxed moment, Café Bartof is for you.
Location: Nordre Fasanvej 46 2000 Frederiksberg.
For some greenery, visit Frederiksberg Have, a vast strip of green space in the middle of a bustling metropolis. The park has a waterfall, a romantic garden, beautiful landscaping, and green grass as far as the eye can see. The park is also close to the Copenhagen Zoo. It is a wonderful place to relax after your visit to Denmark.
A travellers’ cafe located in the heart of downtown Copenhagen, this non-profit property is run by travellers for travellers. It is a unique gathering place where local Danes mingle with visitors from around the world. The cafe only serves drinks but – get this – you can bring your own food! It is a rarity in this trendy district dotted with tourists just next to H.C. Boulevard Andersen.
Introduce yourself and maybe you could see a slideshow of someone’s last trip to Iran or sip a Thai beer. The volunteers who run the cafe have plates and silverware. Claus Andersen, from Copenhagen, who, along with a host of volunteers, runs Café Globen, says that meeting the Danes at the start of your trip could make your trip to Denmark easier. “A few contacts in advance [are] a very good thing in Denmark,” he says, “because they are not the group most talkative to foreigners.”
Location: Turesensgade 000 13. Opening hours: The café is only open after 5 pm. until approximately 11 p.m. local time. If you arrive early and are hungry, try the Turesen next door. It is a restaurant which, according to Andersen, serves a traditional Danish meal at a wonderful price.
Denmark is legendary for its party scene because most bars don’t close before 5 a.m., but Folkets Hus is more than a party – it’s a revolution. This counter-cultural and post-modernist gathering place is like the American revolution of the 60s wrapped in music, food, and technology. Its name translates to “The House of the People”, and this structure of inhabitants has served people as they wish for 25 years.
Folkets Hus demonstrates the true bohemian nature of the Danes. The gathering place has everything from music and dancing twice a month on Friday, a choir that sings on Monday evening, Arabic dance and something called “folkekokken”, which Tue Rasmussen at SpottedbyLocals.com describes as ” ecological meals “. In addition, you can find protesters and underground television and radio broadcasts.
Admission to the Folkets Hus is free but they ask for donations especially in their coffee under construction. Profits will go to causes supported by the Under Construction Fund, led by the spot’s duly elected board of directors. If heavy politics is not your thing, just stop by Folkets Hus to see what it’s all about. It is guaranteed to be an experience.
Location: Stengade 50 2200 N (not far from Frederiksberg hospital). The cafe is closed on Monday but opens from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. every two evenings.
WAS (Wonderland Art Space)
Do you want to SEE the revolution but not BE the revolution? Then WAS, the Wonderland Art Space, is the place for you. This independent art gallery showcases the work of local Danish artists as well as international people. It’s not the Louvre, but you are guaranteed to see memorable styles and collections. Managed by Wonderland magazine, WAS is an interesting stop on your visit to Denmark.
Location: Absalonsgade 21b, 1658 Copenhagen. Right next to Vesterbrogade in Frederiksberg.
O.K., enough avant-garde. If you have kids, or even if you don’t have kids, how about exploring an old-fashioned Danish countryside? To do this, take a trip to Ballerup County. A place “where cities meet the country”, Ballerup is approximately 15 km northwest of Copenhagen. It has all the old world charm made famous by the books of Hans Christen Andersen and a lot of sophistication.
During your stay, visit Grantoftegaard, an organic farm where children can feed the goats and make delicious things with green leaves.
Location: Pederstrupvej 69 2750 Ballerup
Legoland. Photo by Einar Einar Ragnarsson
And if the kids still have too much energy, take them to this indoor playground. Danish Chucky cheese, this protected playground offers hours and hours of harmless fun for young children.
Location: Legelandet Vejle, Friis Hansensvej 12 7100 Vejle and Legelandet Århus Holmstrupgaardvej 18 8220 Brabrand