The Danes love the outdoors and are particular about their work-life balance – which means plenty of picnics, sunbathing, cycling, swimming and an active lifestyle. Proud and protective of its natural wealth, is it any surprise that Denmark is the happiest country in the world in 2016?
With its impeccable sustainability credentials, Denmark has some of Scandinavia’s most inspiring green holiday experiences. In 2014, Copenhagen was named the European Green Capital and aims to become the world’s first CO2 neutral capital by 2025. From Copenhagen’s 350km of cycle paths to the country’s 11 national cycle routes, from its stunning fjord landscapes to the national parks, Denmark is one vast playground. Try these once-in-a-lifetime experiences on your visit:
Chase The Black Sun
At Tøndermarsken in the Wadden Sea National Park, see the surreal natural phenomenon known as the Black Sun. In spring and autumn, the Black Sun occurs when millions of migrating starlings gather at dusk, creating amazing dark patterns in the sky. Spend some quality time out on the flat marshes to soak up the sight of the starlings creating brilliant patterns in symphony.
Where: Tøndermarsken, South Jutland is the best place to witness this incredible aerial choreography. Also catch it around Ribe, Tipperne at Ringkøbing Fjord and on Rømø island.
Climbing and Caving in Helligdomsklipperne
Helligdomsklipperne (sanctuary rocks) is a series of rugged coastal rocks up to 22 metres high. This stunning vista was created after thousands of years of wind and weather sculpted jagged shapes, deep grottoes and rugged pillars into these rocks. Helligdomsklipperne Rock was named after the Rø Kjijla spring at its foot, once considered a holy spring where people flocked in hopes of being cured.
Helligdomsklipperne are on Bornholm island, where you can follow the deepest caves – called Ovens – far into the mountains. One of the most remarkable caves is named Black pot and you can explore it for more than 60 meters.
Go Seal and Porpoise Spotting
Meet the adorable seals and porpoises in Denmark, where the coast is home to many seal colonies. The most common is the inquisitive spotted seal, much rarer is the grey seal. Porpoises are small whales with distinctive dorsal fins. In some areas, access to seal colonies is restricted – for example, the Rødsand Seal Reserve on Falster island is the most important breeding ground for spotted seals in the Baltic Sea (closed in the breeding season from March to September).
Where: Spot the porpoise in the waters of the Great and Little Belts, the Skagerrak, the Kattegat and the North Sea. On the island of Rømø, you can take a seal and porpoise safari.
Canoeing at Denmark’s longest river
Gudenaen River, at over 98 miles (158 km) long, is Denmark’s longest river from its source at Tinnet Krat in east-central Jutland, to the Randers Fjord on the east coast. On its way, the river crosses the relatively high lying Søhøjlandet region; passes woodland and lakes before emptying into Randers Fjord. For pure pleasure, canoeing is the perfect activity here. And if that isn’t enough hard work for you, climb Himmelbjerget – the nearby “Sky Mountain”.
Hike to Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse – Before it Crashes into the Sea
When built,Rubjerg Knude lighthouse (23m high) on the cliff’s highest point – 60 m above the sea – was more than 200m inland. Over time the sea moved in and the wind blew sand up from the cliff. Ultimately, the sand was so high that it was sometimes impossible to see the lighthouse from the sea. Sculpted into a massive dune, the sand submerges the lighthouse, with only the top of this tower still visible. It’s foretold that erosion will see the lighthouse crashing into the sea in the not-too-distant future. Hike the dunes and don’t forget to bring a picnic.
Where: Along the North Jutland coast, to the west of Skagen
Mountain Biking in Danish Forests
There are eight special areas in Danish forests where you can mountain bike off the normal marked paths out into the forest. Stamina is rewarded with scenic routes and abundant natural beauty. Also, try another kind of scenic route for mountain biking – the island of Møn is known for its dramatic tree-capped white cliffs overlooking the Baltic Sea.
Where: Bidstrup Forest in North Zealand (9.5km), Blåbjerg Klitplantage south of Ringkøbing Fjord (7.3km), Bordrup plantation at Båvands Huk (6.8 and 8km), Klosterheden northwest of Holstebro (50km), Hare woods NW of Copenhagen (26km), Rold Skov in Jutland (23km), the forest north of Copenhagen (10km), Aabenraa Forests in South Jutland (8.4km)
Go Fly a Kite in Denmark’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site
Fanø is a unique island community in Wadden Sea National Park, Denmark’s newest UNESCO World Heritage site. On the 31km Fanø cycling route, explore heather dunes, coastal nature and pedal across the open sands of one of Denmark’s widest beaches, popular with kitebuggies. The annual kite-flying festival takes place on the sandy beach in June with 5000 merry kite fliers. It is known as one of the best places in the world to fly kites. From traditional diamond shaped kites to fantasy characters, many kites are homemade with the owners spending hundreds of hours preparing them for their debut.
Where: South-west Jutland, part of the West Coast Route. Fanø can be reached by ferry from Esbjerg on mainland Jutland.
Go Kayaking on a Fjord
Explore the stunning fjords of Denmark in style. Ringkøbing Fjord, at about 300 sq metres, is the largest lake in West Jutland.The fjord is a shallow lake of brackish water surrounded by meadows, particularly at the Tippen and Værn areas.
South of Aarhus the coastline along the Kattegat has several fine sandy beaches. The fjord areas of Horsens and Vejle also offer sheltered beaches, great for a lazy swim. The serene scenery makes for a rewarding experience on a kayak.
See Strutting Stags in Season
If you want to experience the strutting of stags in season, head to Denmark in late summer and autumn. Stags roar and put on impressive displays to attract females and defend their territory. The rutting season lasts about a month.
Where: You can see red and roe deer at Haderslev Jægersborg Deer Park, 15km north of Copenhagen and catch the action at Thy Oxbøl and Slotved Forest in Jutland.