Between Scandinavia and the rest of Europe is Denmark, the longest continuing monarchy in Europe. Though the age of the Viking kingdom is long gone, a fairytale air still pervades in this country known today as one of the happiest places in the world.
Denmark consists of three main islands: Zealand, Funen and Jutland. For many, the main draw in Zealand is the capital of Copenhagen. Spend a few days here and you will see why Denmark is considered one of the most liveable places on earth. Take a colourful river walk down the Nyhavn and dine at one of its many Michelin star restaurants. Most notable of late is Noma, which has been ranked as the best restaurant in the world. Children will love Copenhagen; the Tivoli Gardens and blue planet aquarium are just a couple of the mega-playgrounds the city has to offer. Literary beetles will find their playground in Kronborg Castle north of Copenhagen, made famous by Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Funen is best known as the birthplace of Europe’s favourite fairytale writer, Hans Christian Andersen. In his hometown of Odense you can visit his childhood home, hear his stories on the Hans Christian Andersen walk of the city. Funen seems almost fictional in its own right with manor houses and the moat-surrounded Egeskov Castle to explore. The rest is a garden of contrasting landscapes in a countryside atmosphere. Cycle through the woodlands of mid-Funen to the beaches on the southern archipelago, where the perfect family holiday awaits on more than 50 islands scattered across a shallow sea. Kayak, fish, and stay in one of the attractive holiday homes on Helnæs Bugt bay, the Faaborg Fjord, the Svendborg Sound and the islands of Ærø, Tåsinge/Thurø and Langeland.
Jutland is the mainland that literally juts upwards above Germany. Start with Århus, Denmark’s second-largest city: a cultural hub, university town and pedestrian-friendly city that gives Copenhagen a (friendly) run for its money. Stroll along the old quarter, visit the Viking museum or go for a touch of contemporary at the Århus museum, where the Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Your Rainbow Panorama’, a circular coloured walkway on the roof, will allow you to view the city in all colours of the rainbow. Outside the city, Jutland boasts of rolling hills, river springs, and more beaches that meet the Baltic Sea. On the other hand, do not miss Legoland, 59 million plastic bricks fitted together to form a world dedicated what Fortune magazine termed ‘the toy of the century’. Even those not of the Lego generation are bound to be awed by the sheer magnitude and detail of the displays. In fact, you can practically go on a world tour in Miniland; from a mini boat trip, you can view the lego versions of many cities and icons from around the world, such as the statue of Liberty and ancient Egyptian pyramids!
DSB runs a reliable, clockwork service around Denmark, and any areas not covered by train are likely to be accessible by bus. Driving is safe, although car rentals are notably expensive, and taxis are available for hire in the cities from major shopping centres and train stations. Islands are well connected by a network of ferries. The quintessential Danish way of getting around, however, is by bike; rent your own two-wheeler and join the locals in cruising the extensive bike lanes on all three islands!
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