Europe & Britain | Destination Guides

An expert's guide on how to experience Denmark like a local

Recently updated on July 6th, 2023 at 11:11 am

Say hej to Lasse, one of our wonderful Travel Directors who knows how to experience Denmark better than anyone else. Born, raised and still living in Copenhagen (less than a kilometre from his childhood home no less) Lasse is the perfect Dane to guide us through his brilliant country like a local. 

Our Danish expert has been on the road for the past decade, touring guests across Scandinavia with Trafalgar and our sister brands, where his favourite trip is the Scenic Scandinavia and its Fjords.

Let’s chat to Lasse and find out his suggestions and travel tips on how to experience Denmark like a local

“The saddest moment on the Scenic Scandinavia and its Fjords trip is when we board the ferry from Hirtshals, as that’s the last time we’ll be in Denmark 😜”

Lasse, Trafalgar Travel Director and proud Dane.

Seek out the fairytale feeling in Nyhavn

On our Trafalgar trips Nordic Adventure and Scenic Scandinavia and its Fjords we start in Denmark. We kick off with a little orientation drive, and I’d have to say that it’s one of my favourite moments on a tour. Us Travel Directors all do it differently but I prefer to drive to Nyhavn for everyone to take some pictures. Nyhavn is one of the best places in and around Copenhagen that really shows how Denmark is a fairytale country. Hans Christian Andersen was Danish, born in Odense and actually lived in three different houses in Nyhavn. The inspiration for his fairytales? Surely Nyhavn played into it.

Taste a local treat called flødeboller

I always bring a little Danish local treat to Nyhavn called flødeboller. I highly recommend you try them when you’re here to experience Denmark. Guests love them and I think it’s a great memory to enjoy local Danish treats while looking at stunning scenery.

GET INSPIRED BY: Nordic Adventure

Watch out for bicycles

For someone planning to visit for the first time, my top local tip is: watch out for bicycles 🤣

Biking is part of life for the Danes, and we ride fast. To really experience Denmark, one of the best things to do is hire a bike and see all of the city in a couple of hours. Denmark, and especially Copenhagen, is flat as a pancake. We have a saying that you can stand on a crate of Carlsberg (Danish beer and probably the best in the world) and see the ocean from anywhere in the country. You can never be further away than 50km from the sea in Denmark.

Taste local Danish pastries

Danish pastries are a must, and my favourite is the overskåren. In Denmark we call it wienerbrød. The story is that in 1850 Danish bakers went on strike and the bakeries had to hire foreign bakers. In came the Austrian bakers from Vienna who brought their pastries and adapted it to the Danish tastes. Danish bakers then brought these sweets to USA, and it’s therefore called a “danish” in English, but in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Faroe Islands it’s called wienerbrød. All bakeries have different kinds of danish pastries, there isn’t just one, there are probably close to 100 different.

RELATED BLOG: Christmas markets in Denmark

Snack on smørrebrød

Another thing to try is our smørrebrød – open faced sandwiches on rye bread. We eat that for lunch every day, but if you get it at a restaurant it’s much fancier than what we have in our lunch box. There are so many different toppings to have on the bread, but we have traditions of when to eat what. We always start with fish, Denmark is surrounded by water so we eat a lot of fish. Herring, plaice, eel, smoked salmon, shrimps… Then we go to meats like frikadeller, leverpostej with bacon, pork tenderloin, potatoes, cold cuts… And then cheese to finish it off.

Visit Dragør, where I spent my summers

I spent my summers in Dragør as a child as my grandmother had a summer house. My brother and I would go during the summer when our parents had to work and we were on school break. We always walked down to the old town and got ice cream in the evening, and I still do that every time I visit, also on tour 🤩.

This town is where I would take any guest who comes to Copenhagen. It’s a tiny fishing village that is the best preserved of its kind in Scandinavia from the 17th century. Trafalgar visits it as an optional experience called Green Hills and Hygge.

I take guests on a little walking tour where I tell old sailors wife’s tales and connect the history between Denmark and Sweden, which is now joined by the nearby Øresund bridge. Then we have dinner at a local restaurant with all Danish smørrebrød (open faced sandwiches). There’s chicken and asparagus mayo, fried plaice (flat white fish), roast pork with crackling and red cabbage, and a Danish cheese.

GET INSPIRED BY: Scenic Scandinavia and its Fjords

Continue the fairytale trail in Odense

If you’re a fan of fairy tales, there’s no better spot to visit than the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. We take a walking tour of Odense, the city he was born in and where he lived until he was 14. Throughout the city find many statues and sites that are connected to him. I always tell guests the story of the steadfast tin soldier as well before we arrive into the city. 

Visit one of the oldest amusement parks in the world 

The Tivoli Gardens is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. According to my stats, only Bakken, which is about 15km north of the city, is older. Tivoli is magical. It’s a place for everyone to experience in Denmark whether you’re five years old or 90 years old. 

Located between the town hall and central station, this fairytale amusement park and garden is the centre of Copenhagen. There are rides for the kids and lots of small boutique shops and restaurants, plus it’s just a five-minute walk from our hotel with Trafalgar.

Created in partnership with Visit Denmark

Are you planning a trip to Denmark soon? Let us know your plans in the comments below…

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