Denmark may be a small country geographically, but it’s so much bigger when it comes to its influence on the world stage.
In fact, when it comes to what Denmark is famous for, you may be surprised at just how many things in your day to day life have Danish roots!
There are also things that you may have heard of that you didn’t realize were linked to Denmark or where the country is leading the rest of the world. As you’ll see, it’s so much more than just the country of Hamlet and pastries (although those are pretty great too).
Best things that Denmark is famous for
One of the things that Denmark is most famous for is its bikes – and for good reason. In Copenhagen, 62% of its residents commute to work or school by bike every day, with the city having what’s often been called the best biking infrastructure in the world.
You’ll find bike paths basically all throughout the city, not to mention other cities throughout the country, with locals choosing to bike no matter the weather. Although I can say from personal experience that this tends to be more enjoyable in some seasons than others…
If you’re visiting Denmark, you should definitely embrace this by renting your own bike to get around the city. It’s often much faster than other modes of transport, including cars – after all, there’s no need to find any parking!
Just be careful when you cross the bike paths on foot as the waves of cycling Danes stop for no one!
Related: 9 Best Cities to Live in Denmark (For Your Best Life)
2. The Little Mermaid
Easily one of the most well-known tourist attractions in Denmark is the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. While she has been the victim of several attempts against her life over the years, including beheadings and being covered in paint, there’s no doubt that she remains a major draw.
The reason she’s there is because her creator, Hans Christian Andersen, is a Dane and so having her perched on a rock in Copenhagen harbor is fitting. That said, don’t expect too much – she’s likely going to be far smaller than you may expect.
3. Happiest nation on Earth
One point that the media likes to repeat about Denmark, and the Scandinavian countries more generally, is that they’re regularly found to be the happiest places on earth.
In fact, Denmark was named at the top of the list in 2012, 2013 and 2016 and regularly remains in the top five in the other years.
The reports issue these results are based on findings on a number of issues, such as low corruption rates, a strong democracy, transparent government institutions and effective welfare system. Fortunately, Denmark definitely ticks all those boxes.
Any reference at all to Danish history quickly leads to the most fearsome people of the time: the Vikings.
With Denmark having been ruled by the Vikings for hundreds of years as well as being the place from which they launched many of their most famous raids, particularly on the UK, it’s easily one of the most famous things in Denmark.
And there are some great places to see remnants of the Vikings even today. Århus and Roskilde, in particular, have some excellent museums with items the Vikings left behind, including a full Viking ship. You can also find Viking burial grounds and other incredibly interesting sites in other parts of the country.
Find out more: 11 Best Places in Denmark For Viking Experiences
Hygge is another idea that started in Denmark but that is now being picked up all over the world. Danes claim that there is no exact translation of this term, but the closest in English is probably inverted “cozy”.
The best way to describe it is to imagine a cold and rainy day (not so rare in Copenhagen!) and so you light some candles, put out a blanket, pour a glass of red wine or some hot chocolate and spend the afternoon reading or just chatting with a friend.
However, it goes well beyond that. For example, one thing you’ll notice if you go to a few restaurants in Copenhagen is that the Danes are quite big fans of low lighting. Add some rustic wooden tables and some muted tones and you would also be correct to describe that as hyggelig.
It’s a lovely, warm idea in every sense of the word and gives off that sense of coziness that is particularly good for getting you through some fairly dark winter months (although hygge is important in summer too, of course!).
You can also check some of the best hygge quotes to really get in this cozy mood!
Note: “Hygge” (pronounced “hoo-guh”) is the noun while “hyggelig” (roughly said as “hoo-guh-lee”) is the adjective.
If you’ve ever played with (or stepped on…) some little colorful blocks that have captured the imagination of so many over the years, then you’ve definitely heard of LEGO. But did you know that LEGO is a Danish company?
In fact, the word LEGO is an amalgamation of the Danish phrase for “play well”.
There’s even a LEGO theme park in Denmark if you want to dedicate a few hours of your Danish vacation to everything those little blocks have to offer!
When you think of food that Denmark is famous for, smørrebrød is often one of the options that come to mind.
Simply put, smørrebrød is an open faced sandwich – although it’s also so much more than that. This is especially the case in recent years when when that humble piece of Danish bread, usually full of seeds and other goodness, has now become topped with almost anything you can think of stop
Seriously, walk around the center of Copenhagen for long enough and you’ll see little shops advertising their smørrebrød options in their windows. Whether you want fish, a range of vegetables, cheese, or even Danish caviar (stenbiderrogn), you’ll soon be able to find a combination that suits you.
8. Danish pastries
Danish pastries are renowned the world over for their warm, sweet, gooey pleasures. Funnily enough though, they’re not actually called Danish pastries in Denmark. Instead, the word in Danish for these yummy treats translates to “Viennese bread”.
You’ll find great pastries basically anywhere you go in the country, but if you’re planning a trip to Copenhagen, definitely include Sankt Peders Bageri on your itinerary. It’s just down the road from St Peter’s Church, which is the oldest church in Copenhagen – and, indeed, the oldest building in the center of the city.
It’s the oldest bakery in Denmark, having been founded in 1652, and getting a warm cinnamon bun there for morning tea one day will definitely be a highlight of your trip to Copenhagen.
You may also be interested in: Stockholm vs Copenhagen: Which Is Better to Visit?
While the play Hamlet may be a Shakespearean creation, Hamlet himself was actually a Dane. Have you ever heard the saying “something is rotten in the state of Denmark“? That’s taken from the play which covers the dark story of this prince.
And you can actually visit Hamlet’s castle, which is a short train ride outside of Copenhagen to the town of Helsingør. Visiting Kronborg castle is a great day trip, not only for the Hamlet connection but also to see a castle that was actually functioning for hundreds of years and is still in very good condition.
You may also be interested in: What Do You Call Someone From Denmark?
10. Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen is one of the most famous authors of all time, and is one of the reasons why Denmark is famous. In particular, he wrote a number of fairy tales that you’ve almost certainly heard of, including The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl and Thumbelina.
You can even visit his grave in the Assistens Cemetery in the middle of Copenhagen. The location is beautiful, shaded by tall leafy trees and is perfect for a serene wander as you pay your respects to this literary master.
11. Oldest flag in the world
Did you know that Denmark has what is officially recognised as the oldest flag in the world? Well, it’s true and it’s definitely something that this country has as a claim to fame.
The most widely recounted story of how the flag was created is that it dropped from the heavens on to a losing Danish army during a battle. This rallied the troops and allowed the Danes to succeed.
Whether or not you believe that, it is well established that the flag existed in the 900s so is now more than 1000 years old.
Related: Denmark vs England Flags: Who Influenced Whom?
While it may sound weird to say that the capital city of the country is a thing that Denmark is most famous for, in this case it is very true.
After all it’s by far the city in the country that gets the most tourists and it’s also made a name for itself in a number of other fields in recent years, including Nordic cuisine, fashion, decor and more.
If you’re yet to visit this Scandinavian capital, it should definitely be on your list as there’s no question that there’s plenty to see here!
Find out more about: Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District: The Ultimate Guide (2023)
13. Danish design
Danish design has been having an absolute moment in recent years, with its commitment to cool, sleek minimalism being replicated in magazines and homes around the world.
This means that if you’re in the market for a new sofa, table or a beautifully styled lamp, Denmark is the place to be. Of course, this often comes with the corresponding price tag, but there are more budget friendly options.
And even if you aren’t looking to bring some furniture home as a souvenir, simply admiring hints of Danish design in restaurants around the country or, if you’re lucky enough to have a Danish friend, in their homes can be enough to show you why this is so sought-after.
14. Flat landscapes
Don’t expect to find any mountains in Denmark, as the highest point in the whole country, Møllehøj, is only 561 feet (171 meters) high.
But this flat landscape is far from boring, with the open fields connecting with the office tempestuous sky making for some beautiful views. Catch a train between two cities and you’ll see what I mean
It’s also one of the reasons that biking is so popular here, as the lack of hills certainly makes this easier than it would be in other places.
15. Nordic cuisine
Nordic cuisine has been taking the world by storm recently and Denmark has absolutely been the capital for this.
With Copenhagen having several Michelin starred restaurants, including several that regularly rate among the best in the world (one of which I’ll get to shortly), you will absolutely eat well on your next Danish vacation.
Of course, these don’t always come cheap. But many of the very high-end restaurants actually have more mid-range options as well, where the food is excellent with a more casual vibe – and certainly more friendly for your wallet as well.
I mentioned how Nordic cuisine is at the top of many foodies’ lists these days and no restaurant better captures that than noma. Having been ranked the best restaurant in the world several times, it truly symbolizes everything that Nordic cuisine has to offer and more.
If you’re planning a visit to Copenhagen and want to go to noma, be aware that bookings fill up several months in advance so get in early.
Budget tip: if you don’t want to pay noma prices, several chefs from noma have opened up other restaurants around Copenhagen, including a burger joint among others. This means that there are chances to experience the noma taste without the noma price tag.
17. Hot dogs
That said, don’t think that you have to eat at the very highest end restaurants to get a true Danish experience. After all, one of the things that Denmark is famous for is, believe it or not, hot dogs.
It’s very common to find little hot dog stands around the city, although be aware that the hot dogs you get may not be exactly what you find at home. Instead, expect to be served pickles and onions on the sausage at the very least, with a wide variety of other toppings also being on offer.
For the equivalent of just a few dollars, it’s a great way to grab a quick lunch – or something satisfying on the way home after a night out.
18. Danish butter cookies
If you’ve ever been at your grandparents place and seen a blue tin of cookies, only to open up and find, say, a sewing kit (just me?), you have the Danes to thank for that. Those Danish butter cookies are now famous all over the world– and rightly so, as they’re delicious!
They may not be the healthiest thing in the world but for a sugary snack, the Danes certainly know what’s up.
Herring, or sild in Danish, is one of those foods that people say as a joke when talking about Scandinavian foods. However, in this case, herring is actually super popular in Denmark.
In fact, it’s been popular since Viking times ever since those feared people worked out how to preserve this unassuming little fish.
Herring is particularly known in some of the regions of Denmark, like Bornholm where you can find delicious smoked herring or Møn, which is known for its pickled herring. However, you can find it everywhere, especially on smørrebrød and often accompanied by a good glass of Danish snaps.
If you ever looked at that massive island at the top of most world maps and wondered what is going on there, perhaps it’s time to consider a trip to Greenland.
Greenland is actually a Danish territory, meaning that while it’s part of the country of Denmark, many aspects of it run independently.
While it’s possibly not the first tourist destination that springs to mind in the northern part of the world, it is attracting more interest in recent years in light of climate change and the possibility of oil.
Given this is still under heavy discussion given the need to protect its spectacular wilderness, be prepared to hear more about Greenland in the coming years.
21. Oldest European monarchy
Not only does Denmark have the oldest flag in the world, it also has the oldest European monarchy. The current queen, Queen Margaret, can trace her lineage back to Gorm the Old, who ruled from around 936 to 958.
Interestingly, given how flat Danish society is, the royal family are still very popular. You’re also welcome to visit the outside of their main palace in the middle of Copenhagen. In fact, riding your bike into the massive courtyard out the front is definitely a photo opp that shouldn’t be missed.
22. Crown Prince met the Crown Princess in a pub
No story about the royal family is complete without the details of how the current Crown Prince Frederick met now Crown Princess Mary. That is, Mary, a very normal Australian girl, met who she thought was just some guy called Fred at a pub in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics.
She soon found out who he actually was and love blossomed from both sides of the world. They ended up getting married in 2003 which, for the country of Hans Christian Anderson, really is the stuff of fairytales.
23. Tivoli Gardens
No matter which time of year you visit Copenhagen, the Tivoli Gardens shouldn’t be missed. While they’re primarily an amusement park, including that it has the oldest roller coaster in the world (don’t worry, it’s very safe), the gardens and other surroundings are also pretty spectacular.
In particular, if you plan to visit around Christmas, the Christmas markets at the Tivoli Gardens are some of the best in the country. The lights and overall atmosphere are like something straight out of a fairytale and will certainly give you the winter wonderland you’re looking for from your Scandinavian trip.
24. Oldest amusement park in the world (not Tivoli!)
While the Tivoli Gardens may be a more common member on lists of things that Denmark is famous for, there’s actually another amusement park in Denmark that deserves some attention.
That is, Bakken is an amusement park around 10 minutes from the center of Copenhagen – and it’s actually the oldest amusement park in the world.
It’s in the middle of some woods, so it’s a beautiful setting. and knowing that people have been enjoying themselves here since 1583 does add another level of wonder.
I mentioned before how important the concept of hygge is to Danish society and this is exactly why candles are such a big thing in this country.
Seriously, no Danish home is complete without some candles (and they’re often actually lit, especially on darker days). It’s also not only fancy restaurants that have tables with candles, with this soft lighting being pervasive.
There are plenty of Danish companies making their own candles so this could be a great idea for a souvenir to take home and bring your own little piece of hygge back to your corner of the world.
26. Old, colorful houses
There are a number of cities in Denmark that have existed for centuries and the architecture certainly reflects that.
The most famous of these is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Copenhagen, the center of which has a ton of streets lined with old wooden houses painted in various bright colors. Nyhavn, as seen on every second postcard sent from Denmark, also shows this off well.
The oldest street in Copenhagen, Magstræde, is particularly well known for this. You’ll notice that many of the buildings have a slight tilt to them, which isn’t so concerning given their age and makes that street and others in the surrounding areas full of charm.
Just look out for all the Instagrammers who are also well aware of just how beautiful the streets are!
There’s no two ways about it: Denmark is expensive. As a tourist, this may make you baulk at visiting this beautiful area of the world but if you can stretch your budget, it’s definitely worth spending a few extra kroner to see the sights.
For those who live here, wages are higher compared to many other parts of the world, which is often something that’s brought up when Denmark comes up on the news.
Interestingly, Denmark doesn’t actually have a federally mandated minimum wage. There are strong unions though, which ensure that wages are consistently aligned with the overall high cost of living in the country.
28. High taxes
Another point that Denmark is famous for, especially in the context of some of the issues I’ll get to shortly, are high taxes. It’s definitely true that income tax rates in Denmark are likely much more than you’re used to, with the average Dane currently paying an income tax rate of 45%.
That said, they get a lot for it, as you’ll see below. It’s perhaps because of this that you rarely see Danes complaining about their taxes and that while they acknowledge the rates are high, it’s fairly widely accepted without strong complaint.
29. Strong welfare system
So where exactly do those high taxes go? Well, the welfare system in Denmark is extremely strong, with a number of benefits being payable for those who need it.
While this has prompted accusations (arguably unfounded) from certain Talking Heads this makes Denmark a socialist state, at the end of the day, people are protected and given the help they need when the need arises.
30. Free healthcare
Something else that comes with those high taxes is another thing that Denmark is famous for and that’s free healthcare.
Like much of Scandinavia, the healthcare system in Denmark is essentially free, but citizens and residents alike are able to take advantage of the system at virtually no cost to themselves.
For example, a friend of mine gave birth last year and the only price she paid was her husband’s parking ticket for one day outside. Not bad.
31. Free education (including university)
If you’re Danish, have permanent residency there or are from the EU, you’re in luck when it comes to your education as guess what – it’s free!
And that includes access to free university. Not only is it free, but each Danish student receives around US$900 every month for living costs.
32. Excellent parental leave benefits
There are no two ways about it: parental leave in Denmark is some of the best in the world.
In brief, pregnant mothers are given four weeks of paid leave before birth and 10 weeks of maternity leave after the birth. The other parent also has the right to two weeks of leave following the birth.
But after that is what it gives even better. That is, each parent has the right to 32 weeks parental leave. Each parent can share the same amount of leave between them or only one parent can take the entire period. if they choose to share, they can even take the leave at the same time or in periods one after the other.
Clearly, this is much more time than other countries give and really shows the support the Danish state provides to new parents.
33. Babies sleeping outside
One thing that Denmark is known for and that shocks many new arrivals to the country is one very widely accepted parenting strategy in the country.
That is, it’s extremely common to see a line of strollers outside cafes and restaurants with babies sleeping soundly inside. Meanwhile, the baby’s parents are inside the cafe or restaurant, perhaps having a few minutes of peace through grabbing coffee with a friend.
This always prompts the question of how can parents be so trusting but, simply put, it works. The fresh air has been shown to be good for babies lungs and Denmark is so safe that concerns of kidnapping just don’t seem to arise.
It does, however, lead to some funny (or perhaps terrifying) stories like this one in New York, where some Danish tourists tried it and promptly got arrested. It seems this is one Danish tradition that may not necessarily be able to be exported.
While this is something that not just Denmark is famous for, as it also belongs to the other Scandinavian countries, it’s an important part of Danish culture.
Snaps is usually Danish aquavit, a spirit that’s kind of like gin but which is infused with caraway or dill. It’s very strong, usually being 40%, and has been part of Danish culture for centuries.
You can tell the difference between Danish snaps and those of its Nordic brothers in that snaps in Denmark are often clear, if not a very light color.
Another drink that Denmark is famous for is beer. Sure, you may first think of Germany or Belgium when considering major beer drinking European countries, but you’ve probably heard of Tuborg or Carlsberg. And both of them are from Denmark!
The Carlsberg ads stating that it’s “probably the best beer in the world” may be a bit overblown, but there’s no question that these types of beer are definitely famous.
What I personally prefer though about beer in Denmark is the massive craft beer industry. You can’t take two steps in most major Danish cities without tripping over a craft beer bar, with Mikkeler particularly booming in this category.
You can even find Mikkeler bars in other countries around the world with their beer also now being sold globally, but there are plenty of other craft beer bars around the country that are just as good.
Copenhagen has a reputation for being a combination of beautiful historical buildings and a bit of a hipster vibe, but there’s one area that turns that on its head.
Christiania – or the free state of Christiania, if we’re being official – is an area in the capital where things are done a little bit differently.
The famed Pusher Street sells a range of, uh, herbal products that are not technically legal but to which the police mostly turn a blind eye in that part of town. Just don’t try to run or take any photos, as neither are permitted.
Walk a bit further in and you’ll find a number of self-built homes, many of which are so good that it will leave you wondering if you should do the same. In summer, Christiania is also great for concerts, an overall fun vibe for hanging out and, of course, some of the best people watching around.
37. Scandinavian fashion
Scandinavian fashion has definitely had a moment in recent years, with the clothing being identified by its chic minimalism. While some brands are now showing more color than recent years, Danish fashion in particular is typified by embracing blacks and grays to make a real statement.
You can also find some of the most famous shoe stores in the world here, with Danish shoe brands having taken hold in a number of countries outside of Scandinavia. Safe to say, it’s not just the weather that’s cool here.
38. Nordic noir
In the last decade or so, Nordic noir has really started to become more mainstream well outside of Scandinavia. Have you watched The Killing (Forbrydelsenin Danish) or The Bridge (Broen in Danish), for example?
Both of these are products of Denmark – well, The Bridge is half Swedish, if we’re being fully honest. Even so, both shows typify the bleak crime fiction that this genre is so known for – and that has definitely become something that Denmark is famous for.
39. Work/life balance
Work/life balance is definitely something that Danes are committed to.
For example, it’s pretty rare to find someone working long hours and there is definitely no expectation that you stay as long as possible, like you may find in other cultures. In fact, it’s more likely to be the opposite, with parents in particular being encouraged in most workplaces to leave the office around 4pm to pick up their kids.
You’ll also often find July to be a pretty quiet time from a working perspective, helped by the fact that Danes are legally entitled to get five weeks of paid vacation leave each year.
40. Royal Copenhagen porcelain
If you’ve got a family member who considers themselves a porcelain connoisseur (or perhaps that’s you) with a cupboard full of pieces that you’re never, ever allowed to eat off, they’ve almost certainly got pieces of Royal Copenhagen porcelain tucked away in there.
Royal Copenhagen has been producing beautiful porcelain pieces since 1775, with the first of those pieces being made for the Danish royal family.
Interestingly, Royal Copenhagen is also known for the collectibles it produces each Christmas. Its Christmas plates are made in very limited numbers each year and once they’re done, the mold is destroyed so the design can never be made again.
41. Roskilde music festival
Roskilde is a city in Denmark that’s well known for its Viking museum most of the year. However, for a few days every summer, it’s also the home of one of the biggest music festivals in Europe.
It attracts some of the biggest artists in music, which may seem crazy for such a relatively small place but believe me when I say that Roskilde goes off during this time. In previous years, for example, they’ve had acts like David Bowie, Nirvana, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and so, so many more.
42. Pigs and bacon
For a country that’s got quite the selection of trendy vegetarian cafes and restaurants, you may be surprised to hear that Denmark is the largest pork producer in Europe. In fact, the country has more pigs than humans!
More than 70% of Danish pork is exported within the EU, with Germany being the biggest importer – probably not so surprising when you consider that Denmark isn’t so far from Germany.
43. First country to recognize same-sex unions
In 1989, Denmark was the first country in the world to enact registered partnerships. This provided same-sex couples with almost all of the rights and benefits of marriage.
Marriage rights took a few years to catch up, with same-sex marriage being made legal as of 15 June 2012, making it the 11th country in the world to legalize this.
Same-sex rights continue to be important to Denmark, as seen in the Spartacus Gay Travel Index.This is used to measure how gay-friendly countries are all over the world, with Denmark continuing to rank very highly year on year.
44. Jewelry law for asylum seekers
Not everything that Denmark is famous for is positive and this is certainly one of them.
Specifically, in 2016, as Syrian refugees fled the war in their home country, Denmark enacted a law that allowed authorities to seize possessions worth more than DKK 10,000 (around US$1,400) from refugees.
It’s one of the harshest examples of such laws in the world and was widely criticized – but as of the time of writing, it’s still in force.
Janteloven – or “the Law of Jante” – is not only something that Denmark is famous for but also the other Scandinavian countries.
It essentially summarizes the egalitarian nature of these countries, although is also accompanied by a general disdain for anyone who becomes more successful as they’re seen as thinking they’re more special or better than they are.
It’s not strictly Scandinavian – the concept is very similar to “tall poppy syndrome” in Australia and New Zealand, for example – but is a good, if not slightly harsh, way to explain a key part of Scandinavian culture.
46. Øresund Bridge
The Øresund Bridge is a train and car bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden through the Øresund strait – effectively between Copenhagen and Malmö.
But what makes this bridge something that both Sweden and Denmark is famous for is how cool it looks. Half of the bridge is above the water, as normal, but the other half is actually underwater. When you look at the bridge, it almost looks like the trains are charging straight into the water, although no train passengers have drowned yet.
The reason it was built like this was to allow ships to get through in good and bad weather, particularly to avoid ice building up in winter which would block sea traffic. It’s definitely a feat of engineering.
You may also be interested in: Stockholm vs Copenhagen: Which Is Better to Visit?
47. High antidepressant consumption
While not the highest in Europe according to one report (that honor goes to fellow Scandinavian country, Iceland!), Denmark has become famous for its relatively high rate of consumption of antidepressants. Specifically, out of every 1,000 inhabitants, apparently 85 take antidepressants each day.
It’s perhaps a bit unfair to say that this is something that Denmark is famous for, given how many countries rank above it. For example, the US has a consumption rate of 110 out of every 1,000 people in the country. But for better or worse, it is something that has been linked with Denmark.
Some say it’s because the long winter months can really affect people, while others actually attribute it to Denmark’s strong healthcare system, meaning that people can easily get treatment for depression. Either way, the numbers are what they are.
48. No euros
There’s no question that the euro has made traveling around Europe much easier. However, not every member state of the EU accepts the euro, with Denmark being one such example.
The Danish kroner may take a moment to get your head around with some pretty funky exchange rates to most major currencies. For example, at the time of writing this, it’s about six kroner to one US dollar and eight krone to 1 euro, give or take a few points either way.
You’ll soon get used to it though – I may even come to appreciate it, especially when you see the coins that make up Danish currency and the cute little hearts that are all over them.
49. Excellent level of English
While the official language of Denmark is English, with both Greenlandic and Faroese being minority languages that also have official status in Greenland and the Faroe Islands respectively, you’ll be amazed at how widely English is spoken here.
In fact, 86% of Danes report that they speak English as a second language and one survey found it to be the country with the third highest proficiency in the world in speaking English as a second language.
The fact that Danes are so comfortable speaking English is reflected in day-to-day life in Denmark, where it is very easy as a foreigner to get around without speaking Danish. As a foreigner who lives in Denmark (and, ahem, doesn’t speak Danish super well…I know, I know, I’m working on it!), I can tell you from firsthand experience that I’ve worked in Denmark for years in English and have never, ever had an issue.
Related: What Do People in Denmark Speak – and Can You Speak English There?
50. Renewable energy
Denmark is a world leader when it comes to renewable energy. Over 50% of Danish electricity is based on wind and solar power and, by 2030, the goal is for Denmark’s electricity system to be completely free from fossil fuels.
In fact, the biggest wind farm in the world is Danish, being more than half the size of New York City. This aligns with other commitments the Danish government has made to respond to climate change and is definitely something that other countries could learn from.
51. Disputed island with Canada
This is one of the funnier things that Denmark is famous for.That is, for decades, Denmark and Canada have been locked in a diplomatic battle for control of an island in the middle of the Atlantic.
Specifically, Hans Island is a 1.3 square km (about half a square mile) rock located between Greenland, belonging to Denmark, and Ellesmere Island, belonging to Canada.
For years, this dispute famously played out by Canadian authorities visiting the island and leaving a bottle of whiskey, followed by Danish authorities visiting and leaving a bottle of schnapps. Clearly the war to end all wars.
However, in June 2022, a solution was found. Both countries agreed to split the island almost in half, creating the world’s most northerly international land border and the third shortest land border. Peace in our time!
52. Salty licorice
If you want to take a souvenir home to your friends after your Danish vacation, one of the most typical ones you can take is Denmark’s favorite treat: salty licorice. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that your friends will appreciate it given that it’s quite an acquired taste, shall we say.
Personally, I’m not a fan – and yet, my (non-Danish) husband loves it, so preferences can definitely differ here.
If you also want to give it a try, you can pick up a jar of licorice basically anywhere. Or why not go all out and try a variant of this, like licorice ice cream, chocolate or even vodka!
If you’ve ever been looking for the perfect gift and settled on a charm bracelet or a personalized pendant, chances are that you’ve heard of (or even bought from) Pandora. But did you know that it’s a Danish company?
Founded in 1982, the company is now the third largest jewelry company in the world for sales, after Cartier and Tiffany’s.
While Pandora may be a company that Denmark is famous for, there’s another huge one where you may not have realized its Danish connection.
ASOS, the online fashion retailer, is actually British, but its largest shareholder is a Danish company owned by Anders Holch Povlsen, the richest person in Denmark. While it may be a bit of a stretch to call ASOS a Danish company, it definitely has some Danish influence.
Bluetooth technology was actually invented in Sweden, but its name has much stronger Danish links. That is, it’s named after King Harald Bluetooth, king of Denmark and Norway from around 958 to 986 AD.
The inventors of the more modern use of the term decided to use his name as they wanted the technology to unite devices the same way as its namesake united the Danish tribes into a single kingdom. You can even see this in the logo, which consists of runes of his initials: H (ᚼ) and B (ᛒ).
56. Google Maps
Something that may not be something that Denmark is famous for but that you’ve almost certainly used is Google Maps. Specifically, brothers Lars and Jens Eilstrup Rasmussen co-founded a mapping start-up (along with two Australians) that was ultimately bought by Google.
From there, they co-led the team that created Google Maps – and history was made.
Jens was also the designer of the Google Maps pin to point to a specific location. So whenever you’ve been trying to tell a friend where you are and send them a map point, you can thank Denmark for that!
57. World’s largest producer of insulin
You may be surprised to hear that Denmark is actually the world’s largest producer of insulin. One company, Novo Nordisk, has a factory that accounts for half of the world’s production of insulin.
Insulin production actually began in Denmark in 1923 when Danish Nobel laureate August Krogh and his wife Marie, a doctor living with diabetes, heard about the discovery of insulin in 1921.
After receiving permission to produce it in Denmark, the first patients were treated with Danish-produced insulin two years later, starting a now thriving century-long industry.
This is perhaps something that Denmark is famous for in certain (mostly European) countries, while others will have no idea what this is referring to.
That is, Denmark has one of the best teams in the world for handball. The men’s team has been Olympic champion and World champion multiple times in recent years, with one of their current team members, Mikkel Hansen, being widely considered as one of the best players in history.
The women’s team has had less success in recent years, although did win three Olympic gold medals in a row in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens.
59. No word for “please”
This is a funny little quirk in the Danish language: there’s no word for please. This doesn’t mean that Danes aren’t polite – far from it, as you’ll find Danes to be very nice when you speak with them.
Instead, there are other ways in Danish to be polite when asking for something. Sometimes it can just be implied through the tone, while adding “tak” (thank you) at the end can help. An alternative in Danish is to say “May I beg for a cup of sugar?” or “Would you not be sweet and help me with this bag?” (as some examples).
But an actual “please” doesn’t exist. Whether this is down to the famed Danish efficiency (have you seen how good their bike lanes are?) remains to be proven.
60. Danish flags for parties
It can be very confusing when you visit Denmark and see a group of people at, say, a park surrounded by Danish flags. Or perhaps you go to dinner and see one of the nearby tables has a Danish flag on it.
Don’t worry, this isn’t some overt display of nationalism. Instead, it usually means it’s someone’s birthday – in fact, it’s one of the most important Danish birthday traditions!
In Denmark, no party is complete without a Danish flag being added to the occasion. Basically every cafe or restaurant has some on hand to add in case a patron is celebrating and it’s also common for your colleagues to put one on your desk when it’s your birthday.
61. Cake man
Cake man (kagemand) or cake woman (kagekone) is, well, a cake in the shape of a man accompanied by decorations and, of course, a face. And along with the Danish flag, it’s a key addition to any Danish birthday.
This is an important tradition to remember if you plan to work for a Danish company, as it’s actually your responsibility to bring it to work if it’s your birthday. The first step when everyone gathers around is to decapitate the cake man (and eat its head) so make sure you get your knife ready!