From being a little-known, little-understood country wedged between mainland Europe and the rest of Scandinavia, Denmark has morphed into an international cultural powerhouse with multiple Michelin-starred restaurants and raved-about hit TV shows. But this international renown doesn’t make the country any less thrilling to navigate on the ground and on a budget. Food-wise, you’d be hard-pressed to find better butter, bacon and beer anywhere around, with some mean cheeses and pastries to boot. It’s heart-warming to know there’s still a country where the term ‘fairy tale’ can be used freely – from its most enduring literary legacy to its textbook castles. In a nutshell, Denmark gets it right: old-fashioned charm embraces the most avowedly forward-looking design and social developments.
The country wins a regular place on lists of both the most liveable and the happiest nations on earth. You won’t have to search hard to find much-prized hygge, a uniquely Danish trait that has a profound influence on the locals’ inestimable happiness. Hygge is social nirvana in Denmark – a sense of cosiness, camaraderie and contentment. The world first took notice of Denmark more than a millennium ago, when Danish Vikings took to the seas and ravaged vast tracts of Europe. How things have changed. These days Denmark captures the global imagination as the epitome of a civilised society, and it punches above its weight on many fronts – progressive politics, urban planning, sustainability, work-life balance, design and architecture. Recent global crushes, freshly exported from Copenhagen, include a city cycling culture, the New Nordic culinary movement, and brilliantly addictive TV drama series.