Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Denmark isn’t just the happiest country on the planet, it’s a great nation to vacation in with its rich history, fabulous cuisine, fairy-tale homes and cottages, and breathtaking coastline. To experience the best of the best, be sure to put at least some of these places on your itinerary.
YOU'RE ALL SET!
Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.
Copenhagen offers many reasons to visit, and as most travelers arrive in Denmark’s capital anyway, it’s a no-brainer to stick around a little while. It’s popular for shopping and also home to gorgeous architecture, with beautiful old buildings that speak to the centuries sitting alongside trendy boutiques. The city is compact and easy to explore on foot or by bike, but arguably the best way to experience it is to hire a bicycle by the hour, day or week, and head out on two wheels to enjoy the many attractions and scenic parks that are an ideal place to mingle with picnicking or football playing locals. The Danish Crown Jewels, housed in Rosenborg Castle, is a highlight not to be missed, though all three of its central palaces truly are must-sees, Rosenborg as well as Amalienborg, where you can watch the changing of the guards, and Christianborg, with a tower that can be climbed for spectacular views.
Located in the country’s sunniest region, Gudhjem sits way out in the Baltic Sea and is renowned for its stunning chalk cliffs, lush forests, stark white beaches and pure, ethereal light that draws artists to paint its beautiful landscapes. It’s one of the most charming small towns in Denmark, crowned by a windmill that stands over the sloping streets and half-timbered houses. With its steep streets and alleyways leading down to the harbor, it’s considered to be Bornholm’s most attractive harbor town. This is also Denmark’s only mountain town, built in the rocky terrain and up the Bokul mountain range. By climbing the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the town, the red roofs, the harbor and the sea beyond.
Hornbaek is found in the region north of Copenhagen known as North Zealand, which is often referred to as the Danish Rivera, thanks to its beautiful beaches, laid-back atmosphere and exclusive areas. The town’s natural harbor is what helped developed it into a thriving fishing village before its natural beauty made it popular with tourists. Horbaek caters to cosmopolitan tastes with its upscale restaurants and tidy spots and offers a number of attractions like the Frederiksborg Castle, the Maritime Museum, and the fictional home of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Kronborg Castle.
A popular day trip from Copenhagen, Aarhus is frequently named one of the happiest cities on Earth. As soon as you set foot here you’ll understand why. Situated along the coast next to stunning fjords and forests as well as Viking rune stones, it boasts a beautiful Old Town that displays traditional Danish architecture from the 16th to 19th centuries. Aarhus is also a great foodie destination, hosting everything from trendy cafes to Michelin star restaurants where one can sample New Nordic cuisine. It also hosts an extensive array of diverse museums – so much so that the city was honored with the European Capital of Culture title in 2017. Be sure to stop by the ARoS Museum, the oldest public art gallery in Denmark outside of Copenhagen with a collection that spans the Golden Age to today.
Denmark’s oldest town sits on the shores of scenic southwest Jutland. It’s home to a fascinating living Viking museum and a well-preserved medieval center. Founded in the early 8th century, the magnificent Ribe Cathedral, built way back in 860, still stands today and offers awe-inspiring views from its tower. Other attractions include the Wadden Sea Centre (Vadehavscentret), where you can learn about the country’s new Wadden Sea National Park, visit marshes, gaze out at the sea or take an excursion to the island of Mando. The town is especially picturesque with its cobbled streets, charming houses and pretty harbor, and it also hosts a number of popular cultural events, like the Ribe Wine Festival and the Ribe Jazz Festival.
Denmark’s third-largest island is the birthplace of one of the country’s most beloved authors, Hans Christian Andersen. The “Garden Island” as it’s called, is made up of orchards, gently rolling hills, hedgerows and thatched, half-timbered houses, and it offers the chance to visit castles, public gardens and manor houses. Take a stroll through the old cobbled district of Odense, where the famous author was born, and visit the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. Part of the museum is located in the house where Andersen was allegedly born and it features an impressive collection from his life and times, including period furniture, and many drawings and paper clippings he is famous for at home. Another highlight is Egeskov Castle, one of Europe’s best-preserved Renaissance water castles, dating back from 1554. Located in a scenic park, it includes a maze, walk-among-the-treetops and a veteran auto museum, toy museum, and more.
This quaint town of cobbled streets, crooked old houses and blooming hollyhocks in the spring, is home to the Jylland, one of the largest wooden warships in the world. Ebeltoft itself is often cited as one of Denmark’s most beautiful destinations. While it would be easy to mistake it for a sleepy seaside town, in the summer, in particular, the streets come alive with music and the thousands of visitors who arrive to enjoy it. Tourists also come from far and wide to see the frigate and the town’s tiny perfect 1789 city hall, which was transformed into a museum complete with the original dungeon, reached through a trap door in the floor of the reception hall.
Mon Island, located just a couple hours south of Copenhagen, is home to Denmark’s highest white cliffs and some of its most dramatic scenery. Explore the quaint villages, handicraft shops, and age-old churches with frescoes, and enjoy walks on beautiful beaches that include everything from small secret coves to expansive stretches of sand. Other highlights include Liselund Castle with its gorgeous romantic garden, and the Geocenter Mons Klint, an interesting museum with lots of activities for the kids. At the white chalk cliffs, which were created from the shells of tiny animals and plants settling on what was a tropical seabed some 75 million years ago, you can even go fossil hunting. Just bring a hammer and chisel, and chisel away – the most common fossils are belemnite, though others can also be found.
This picturesque village nestled in the dunes of Fano Island, the northernmost island in the Wadden Sea and part of the Wadden Sea National Park, has been called Denmark’s most beautiful town. Walking down the narrow, crooked streets lined with lovely old houses, it feels as if you’ve stepped into another time, back when Sonderho was the main shipping town on the Jutlandic west coast. Enjoy taking a pleasant stroll, popping into interesting places like the Fanø Art Museum, the mill (Hannes hus, Sønderho Mølle) and Sønderho Church (kirke). You also might want to combine a trip here with the wetlands of the national park that surround the island and visit some of the other towns like the capital, Nordby. From the promenade here, you can gaze at the wading birds and watch the seals that often lounge around a sandbar nearby.
Though the Amager island town of Dragor is just a short drive from Copenhagen, it feels as if its world’s away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. This friendly, laid-back village dates back to the 12th century and was once one of the country’s most important fishing ports. Its maritime past is celebrated at Dragor Museum and Herring Day, a seafood and music festival hosted annually in August. All year round you can enjoy browsing the shops and art galleries that line the main street, marveling at the pretty yellow houses with red tile roofs and exploring local museums in the harbor area. History buffs won’t want to miss Amagermuseet, a historical museum located in two old farmhouses, detailing the Dutch history of immigration on the island.