Denmark

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The Kingdom of Denmark dapples the Baltic Sea in an archipelago of some 450 islands and the crescent of one peninsula. Measuring 43,069 square km (17,028 square miles) and with a population of 5.5 million, it is the geographical link between Scandinavia and Europe. Half-timber villages and tidy agriculture rub shoulders with provincial towns and a handful of cities, where pedestrians set the pace, not traffic. Mothers safely park baby carriages outside bakeries while outdoor cafés fill with cappuccino-sippers, and lanky Danes pedal to work in lanes thick with bicycle traffic.

The Danes' lifestyle is certainly enviable, not yet the pressure-cooked life of some other Western countries. Long one of the world's most liberal nations, Denmark has a highly developed social-welfare system. Hefty taxes are the subject of grumbles and jokes, but Danes are proud of their state-funded medical and educational systems and high standard of living.

The history of this little country stretches back 250,000 years, when Jutland was inhabited by nomadic hunters, but it wasn't until AD 500 that a tribe from Sweden, called the Danes, migrated south and christened the land Denmark. The Viking expansion that followed was based on the country's strategic position in the north. Intrepid navies navigated to Europe and Canada, invading and often pillaging, until, under King Knud (Canute) the Great (995–1035), they captured England by 1018.

After the British conquest, Viking supremacy declined as feudal Europe learned to defend itself. Under the leadership of Valdemar IV (1340–75), Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands became a part of Denmark. Sweden broke away by the mid-15th century and battled Denmark for much of the next several hundred years, whereas Norway remained under Danish rule until 1814, and Iceland until 1943. Greenland and the Faroe Islands are still self-governing Danish provinces.

Denmark prospered again in the 16th century, thanks to the Sound Dues, a levy charged to ships crossing the Øresund. Under King Christian IV, a construction boom crowned the land with what remain architectural gems today, but his fantasy spires and castles, compounded with the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, led to state bankruptcy.

By the 18th century, absolute monarchy had given way to representative democracy, and culture flourished. Then—in a fatal mistake—Denmark refused to surrender its navy to the English during the Napoleonic Wars. Lord Nelson famously turned his blind eye to the destruction and bombed Copenhagen to bits. The defeated King Frederik VI handed Norway to Sweden. Denmark's days of glory were over.

Though Denmark was unaligned during World War II, the Nazis invaded in 1940. The small but strong resistance movement that was active throughout the war years is greatly celebrated. After the war, Denmark focused inward, refining its welfare system and concentrating on its main industries of agriculture, shipping, and financial and technical services. It's an outspoken member of the European Union (EU), championing environmental responsibility and supporting development in emerging economies.

The best way to discover more of Denmark is to strike up a conversation with an affable and hospitable Dane. Hyggelig defies definition but comes close to meaning a cozy and charming hospitality. The ultimate hygge for Danes constitutes gathering indoors during the cold and dark months, lighting candles, eating sweets, and talking into the night.

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Copenhagen

The Kingdom of Denmark is the geographical link between Scandinavia and Europe. Half-timber villages and tidy farms rub shoulders with towns...

Aalborg

Aalborg may not be Denmark's most visited city, but it's a city on its way up, with plenty to see and do in the realms of history, culture,...

Århus

Århus is Denmark's second-largest city, and, with its funky arts and college community, one of the country's most pleasant. Cutting through...

Odense

It's no coincidence that Odense, the capital of Funen and third-largest city in Denmark, is reminiscent of a storybook village—much of its charm...

Helsingør

Helsingør's name is derived from "hals," or neck, after the narrow neck of water separating it from Sweden's Helsingborg. That slim waterway...

Ribe

In the southwestern corner of Jutland, the country's oldest town is well worth the detour for its medieval center preserved by the Danish National...

Skagen

For more than a century, Skagen (pronounced skane ), a picturesque area where the North Sea meets the Baltic Sea, has been a favorite destination...

Torshavn

Once the gathering site of Viking chieftains, "Thor’s Harbor" retains its command and respect as the capital of the Faroe Islands. It’s windswept...

Rønne

As the capital of Bornholm Island, Rønne remains the hub of virtually all life and activity, infused further by the many cruise ships docking...

Roskilde

Roskilde is Zealand's second-largest town and one of its oldest, having been founded in 998. The town is named for a Viking king called Ro,...

Møn

The island of Møn makes for a wonderful side trip from Copenhagen, especially in summer. Its main attraction is the white chalk cliffs along...

Billund

Billund is the site of Denmark's second-biggest tourist attraction outside Copenhagen: Legoland. The son of the founder of the Lego Company...

Hillerød

Surrounded by forests, Hillerød is an ordinary small city with some extraordinary features: it's home to the lovely Frederiksborg Castle and...

Humlebaek

Historically a fishing village, this elegant seaside town with a population of about 6,000 is now a suburb of Copenhagen. It's also home to...

Charlottenlund

Just north of Copenhagen is the leafy, affluent coastal suburb of Charlottenlund, with a small, appealing beach that gets predictably crowded...

Klampenborg, Bakken and Dyrehaven

As you follow the beautiful coast north of Copenhagen, you'll come upon the wealthy enclave of Klampenborg. Flocks of deer munch away on the...

Dragør and Store Magleby

On the island of Amager, less than a half hour from Copenhagen, the quaint fishing towns of Dragør (pronounced drah -wer) and Store Magleby...

Experimentarium

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Museet for Moderne Kunst

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Frilandsmuseet

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Copenhagen

The Kingdom of Denmark is the geographical link between Scandinavia and Europe. Half-timber villages and tidy farms rub shoulders with towns...

Aalborg

Aalborg may not be Denmark's most visited city, but it's a city on its way up, with plenty to see and do in the realms of history, culture,...

Århus

Århus is Denmark's second-largest city, and, with its funky arts and college community, one of the country's most pleasant. Cutting through...

Odense

It's no coincidence that Odense, the capital of Funen and third-largest city in Denmark, is reminiscent of a storybook village—much of its charm...

Helsingør

Helsingør's name is derived from "hals," or neck, after the narrow neck of water separating it from Sweden's Helsingborg. That slim waterway...

Ribe

In the southwestern corner of Jutland, the country's oldest town is well worth the detour for its medieval center preserved by the Danish National...

Skagen

For more than a century, Skagen (pronounced skane ), a picturesque area where the North Sea meets the Baltic Sea, has been a favorite destination...

Torshavn

Once the gathering site of Viking chieftains, "Thor’s Harbor" retains its command and respect as the capital of the Faroe Islands. It’s windswept...

Rønne

As the capital of Bornholm Island, Rønne remains the hub of virtually all life and activity, infused further by the many cruise ships docking...

Roskilde

Roskilde is Zealand's second-largest town and one of its oldest, having been founded in 998. The town is named for a Viking king called Ro,...

Møn

The island of Møn makes for a wonderful side trip from Copenhagen, especially in summer. Its main attraction is the white chalk cliffs along...

Billund

Billund is the site of Denmark's second-biggest tourist attraction outside Copenhagen: Legoland. The son of the founder of the Lego Company...

Hillerød

Surrounded by forests, Hillerød is an ordinary small city with some extraordinary features: it's home to the lovely Frederiksborg Castle and...

Humlebaek

Historically a fishing village, this elegant seaside town with a population of about 6,000 is now a suburb of Copenhagen. It's also home to...

Charlottenlund

Just north of Copenhagen is the leafy, affluent coastal suburb of Charlottenlund, with a small, appealing beach that gets predictably crowded...

Klampenborg, Bakken and Dyrehaven

As you follow the beautiful coast north of Copenhagen, you'll come upon the wealthy enclave of Klampenborg. Flocks of deer munch away on the...

Dragør and Store Magleby

On the island of Amager, less than a half hour from Copenhagen, the quaint fishing towns of Dragør (pronounced drah -wer) and Store Magleby...

Frilandsmuseet

...

Experimentarium

...

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