Goodbye Denmark (P.S. We Love You!)September 29 in Denmark
This summer we spent over 9 weeks touring Denmark. 6 of them were spent on Jutland (the mainland) in July and August, then after a little break we returned for 3 weeks in September to island hop between Funen, Zealand and the smaller islands south of here.
We hadn't originally planned to spend so much time in Denmark but changes in circumstance led to changes in our plans and we are so glad we got to extend our stay. Having spent a month in the country several years back we knew we liked the place, but having toured Sweden and Norway last summer we feared we may find it rather tame. Instead, as we got to know it better, we found ourselves slowly falling in love with Denmark. In no particular order, here's why:
🛣 Driving and Roads
Main roads are smoothly tarmacced and well organised. Drivers are polite, facilities are well signposted and the roads could rarely be described as busy. Many of the more rural places we stayed were down long gravel tracks, but despite the rougher surface, they too were well maintained. The summer drought had the disadvantage of making these very dusty and Martha motorhome was rarely clean. Diesel is a little cheaper than in the UK and motorways are free, although there was a hefty toll of £45 to cross the Storebælt Bridge between Zealand and Funen islands. The ferry from Germany was even more expensive. We almost always found free parking in towns and cities, some of which had dedicated motorhome spaces.
Places to stay:
Wild camping is permitted in Denmark and we found plenty of wonderful free places to stay on the Park4Night app. As such we only payed to stay overnight in 3 places over the 9 weeks. The only difficulty we found was that sleeping was prohibited in some National Parks, but we didn't see signs to tell us this, only finding out when a ranger knocked on our door to let us know (in a very friendly way). As water and nature lovers it was great for us to be able to stay at so many lakeside, seaside and rural parking areas. These would often be beside a free campground, provided for walkers and cyclists to pitch their tents or sleep in the shelter. There are free stellplädz in some towns and harbours will often have paying places for vans. From what we saw, campsites tended to be for caravans.
Filling and emptying was free or inclusive. Water was easy to come by and after we got used to the system, we found that many motorway service stations signposted an area where you could empty your toilet and grey water. We did miss the provision of public recycling bins which were few and far between, however litter bins were numerous. One big disadvantage of Denmark is that it only has 5 places that sell LPG. We almost got caught out with this, but were able to find the closest one on the MyLPG.eu app.
🍎🍞🥗🍩🍺 Food & Drink
We loved the massive range of organic foods for sale in supermarkets and the homegrown or homemade food on offer at little honesty stalls outside people's houses. Beer was good and cheap at supermarkets and despite the food being more expensive than in the UK, we found it affordable and didn't worry about overspending like when we were in Sweden and Norway. Many harbours sold fresh and smoked fish and offered basic seafood meals at an attached eatery. There were plenty of little bakeries selling tasty loafs of bread and of course, the ubiquitous Danish pastry was always available. We had a few lunches out in cities and went out for drinks. The higher price tags bought food that was good quality and tasty, with an emphasis on local produce, carefully prepared and presented. We would have eaten out more had it mot been for the call of the countryside!
With climate change our idea of 'normal' weather may well alter. This summer has been a lot hotter and drier than we are used to and Denmark experienced very similar weather to the UK, although perhaps a little windier. We loved the easy access to water bodies so we could cool ourselves down.
Denmark has left us with so many beautiful memories. The countryside isn't stunning like Norway, or very different from what we know like Spain was, but it is consistently clean, accessible, uncrowded and pretty, with forests, beaches, lakes, islands and even a few cliffs. The island of Møn is a certified Dark Sky Community and treated us to one of the best, if not the best view of the night sky we've ever had. Despite it being high season, we were able to spend a lot of time with nobody else around and encountered wildlife such as hares, birds of prey, dolphins and harbour porpoises. Funnily enough the seals we saw seemed to be drawn to people, such as the one at Skagen (see the video here:https://youtu.be/zDoOwXIv6ZI). There are art installations like the Dodekalitten standing stones (see video here: https://youtu.be/YX6EAdYbjzk) and history to explore such as the ancient burial mound we crawled inside at Klekkende Høj. Denmark's buildings are well maintained and while the quaint thatched country cottages melted our hearts, the modern city architecture was varied and beautiful.
The cost of living in Denmark is higher than in the UK, but lower than in Sweden and Norway. This being said, we actually ended up spending less than we do on average. Let's break it down: we spent more on supermarket food but less on restaurants and cafés because we were so often camped in a rural spot. The overnight stays we payed for were usually 100-150kr (£12-18) for a car park with facilities close to a town, but we did so much wild camping we ended up saving. Entrance prices to attractions were higher than we were used to but we naturally engaged in so many free activities that we felt we could afford the cost on the occasions we drawn to something in particular.
🚴♀️🎣 🚶♂️🏄♂️🏊♀️ 🛶
Cycling and Walking:
With the highest natural point in Denmark standing at 170m you'll not be surprised to hear that the majority of the country is flat, making cycling and walking from place to place easy. Combined with one of the most, if not the most extensive network of excellent quality cycle tracks we've ever seen, this makes Denmark a great place to get around on foot or by bike in towns or the countryside. Drivers are cautious and courteous towards cyclists, probably because so many of them cycle themselves.
We can't count the number of times we (especially Will) swam in a lake, fjord or the sea. The Danes love their swimmimg and there were so many signs pointing you to the nearest bathing place where there was frequently a low pier with steps into the water. Countries like Germany provide numerous freibads (outdoor swimming pools) and these do exist in Denmark but it is far more common to find free facilties at a wild swimming spot. Will spent hours snorkelling, we canoed (see the Velje Fjord video here: https://youtu.be/qNr-gpaeDD8) and he bought a national fishing licence online for £15 which he got his money's worth out of in terms of time.
Denmark has no shortage of galleries (particularly ceramic) and museums. We visited two Viking museums which were both very good, hands on places. We even had a go at crewing a traditional boat at Roskilde's Viking Ship museum! (See the video here: https://youtu.be/UxPB_yiBbaE)
🙋♀️🙋♂️ People and culture
Part of the thrill of touring is to put yourself into situations with which you are unfamiliar and to some extent, challenge yourself with places that sometimes feel uncomfortable. Denmark certainly thrilled us, but we can honestly say that we were never made to feel uncomfortable there. Citizens on the whole seem very happy and we didn't knowingly see any homeless people the entire time we were there. Locals were very friendly, helpful, respectful and engaging without overstepping the mark. We were flabbergasted by how good the average level of English was and how many people spoke it. The Danish are big on their fresh food and we loved the harbourside fishmongers and honesty stalls selling fruit, veg and homemade produce. We rarely went for very long without seeing a sign for 'Loppemarked' or 'Antik', showing how much the Danes love their preloved goods. Perhaps these signs stood out more because the advertising in Denmark is low key. Like in almost every other country we've been to, there were McDonalds but we would come accross one by chance, instead of having its presence shoved down our throats from many kilometres away by huge billboards. You are given space to consider things in your own time and this was a wonderful detox for us. Although a great many visitors flocked to Denmark over the summer, there were very few situations where it felt crowded. The country charges a 25% VAT, but it invests its public funds in facilities for the public, which proliferate. If there are too many people at one swimming area, then you can often just travel down the road to the next one.
For all these reasons Denmark has slowly risen past the more beautiful countries, the cheaper countries and the more exotic countries to take pride of place as our favourite country out of the 15 we've toured over the last 2 years and 3 months. We rarely agree on a favourite, but Denmark has worked its subtle magic to win us both over!Read more