This post is part of the Ask Alex, Travel Question Wednesdays weekly series. To see previous questions click here. To submit your own; tweet it to @AlexBerger, ask it in a comment on this post or send it in by e-mail.
This week’s travel question is from Lindsay who asks,
Q. “Alex, why visit Denmark over England, France, Germany? Make your case.”
A. – That’s a difficult one! Over the last 10 months I’ve fallen in love thoroughly with Copenhagen, and the parts of Denmark I’ve seen. However, it’s a relatively small country and geographically fairly uniform. You won’t find the awe inspiring fjords, clifftop castles, or the soaring spires of the alps. What you will find are beautiful cities awash in vibrant colors which are populated by wonderful, friendly, happy and sincere people. As most of my time spent here in Denmark has been in the late fall/winter I’ve stayed on the island of Zealand where the capital city, Copenhagen is located. It will not be until later this spring that I have the opportunity to head to the mainland (Jutland) and the country’s many smaller islands to explore Denmark more completely.
The Danes have a rich history and heritage. Their flag is the oldest flag in the world. They were the launching point for the Viking explorers, raiders and conquerors that explored the globe and left a lasting mark everywhere they visited. More recently they have invested heavily in alternative technologies, education and culture. All of these elements come together to create a landscape that is distinctly Danish. Danish artists, architects, musicians, and intellectuals have been incredibly influential on the international stage for hundreds of years – an incredible accomplishment given Denmark’s small population and challenging geography. Each of these factors shapes and crafts the Danish experience and what you will find when you visit the country.
That said, I would not necessarily call Denmark an exclusive destination country. It is possible to visit England, France or Germany as the sole destination for a 2+ week trip and leave feeling like you still missed a lot. With Denmark I think you would find it to be a wonderful, rich, experience but one which might lack the diversity and fast-paced stimulation that you typically want out of a 2-3 week trip. I believe a good illustration of why this is the case is Copenhagen. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve fallen in love with the city. It is beautiful, it is charming, it feels cozy, and it has a lot to offer. However, it’s what I would call a 4 day or 8 week city. The primary tourist attractions in Copenhagen – Nyhavn, the Opera House, Tivoli, the Little Mermaid, Christiania, etc. – can be seen fairly easily over the course of 2-3 days. A week or a week and a half would be far too long for a casual visit. However, for those who have several weeks to spend and who want to immerse themselves in Copenhagen, the city has a lot to offer. Copenhagen has an amazing music scene, wonderful festivals, an incredible outdoor, park and BBQ lifestyle in the summer, charming coffee shops and a wealth of small stores and quirky side streets that draw you in and leave you hankering for more. In summer it is a wonderful cafe city with its ancient cobblestone streets, a young, gorgeous population, vibrantly painted multi-colored buildings, bikes everywhere, and a wealth of outdoor cafes. The city’s numerous canals and lakes also give it an Amsterdam-like feel, but in a uniquely Danish fashion.
So, to answer your question – I would suggest Denmark, but I would suggest it as part of a larger visit. Round trip flights to Copenhagen from Berlin, Germany can often be found for less than $70 USD. Flights from England and France are often only slightly more expensive making it hard to justify not including Copenhagen in an itinerary.
Would you like me to elaborate on an aspect of this response? Let me know!