Denmark is a very interesting place to visit in Europe: it has a lively art scene, has a lot of cool cuisines and drink options, is a hub for trendsetting fashions, and it boasts a vibrant social setting.
Before making a trip there though, there are a few customs and norms you should be aware of.
They Share A Principle Called Janteloven
Janteloven is a concept common across all of the Scandinavian countries. It discourages being too open or bragging about individual successes—if anything, they’ll attribute wins to the team. You’re better off staying modest when talking to locals.
It’s Almost A Cashless Society
Despite being part of the European Union, Denmark still uses the Crown as its currency. If traveling, you might want to get some currency, but many places only accept credit and debit anyway.
Cycling Is Not Weather-Dependent
Cycling is one of the most common modes of transportation in Danish cities. However, while people in North America will reserve bicycling for clear weather, the Danes will cycle in rain, shine, and sometimes even snow.
There Is No Such Thing As Small Talk
Compared to how conversations might start with some small talk in North America, Danes avoid such pleasantries. If you ask someone how they’re doing, they will answer you honestly about their personal well-being.
It Is Expensive As Heck
Similarly to other Scandinavian countries, goods and services aren’t cheap in Denmark. A single cup of coffee costs about $5, and meals are also not that cheap. If traveling here, be prepared to shell out a bit of extra dough.
Get Ready To Party Hard If You Go Out
In Denmark, people don’t start hitting the bars until 11 p.m. and won’t start leaving until around 3–5 a.m., so if you plan on going out, get ready for a long and wild night.
People Really Value Their Personal Space There
It’s pretty natural to want a little personal space, but the Danes are a little more enthusiastic about it. It’s common for citizens to stand on public transit rather than take a seat next to a stranger.
They Are Obsessed With Coziness
They even have a word for it: hygge. Hygge is the concept of being cozy, whether it be in a public atmosphere, with a group of close friends, or even just on your own.
In General, People Are Tall There
One thing that shocks some tourists is how tall everyone is. In Denmark, the average male is 5’11” and the average female is 5’6″. For comparison, the average American male is 5’9″ and the average female is 5’3″.
Don’t Wear Your Best Heels To The Club
While bringing out your tallest pair of high heels for a night on the town might be the norm here, fashionable sneakers are the norm in Denmark—both during the days and at the clubs.
Put The Baby Out Back!
If you see an unaccompanied stroller just sitting outside with a baby in it, don’t call CPS. In Danish culture, it’s normal to put your baby outside to nap, no matter the temperature, and it’s believed to help them grow up healthier.
It’s A Great Place If You Like Your Caffeine Kick
The Danes love their coffee, and there is no shortage of cafés to get your fill. In fact, the average Dane drinks four cups of coffee a day! Pro tip: never ask for decaf—they won’t have any.
Don’t Expect To Hear “Please” Or “Thank You”
Danes are known to have exceptionally good manners, so this one confuses a lot of people. They don’t say “please” or “thank you” regularly because they believe it is redundant alongside their already polite behavior whether in personal or public situations.
If You See Someone Drinking While Pregnant, Don’t Freak Out
While drinking while pregnant is considered a major faux-pas in North America, Danish studies have shown that there is nothing wrong with a single glass of wine per day, so many pregnant women will indulge in a single drink.
It Rains About 170 Days A Year
Much like the other countries in northern Europe, the weather skews toward being rainier. It rains pretty regularly year-round, but it’s a little heavier from September through April, so pack a raincoat.
They Create A Lot Of Good Domestic Beers
While Belgium and Germany are well known for their breweries, Denmark also has a great selection of domestic beers that are well worth trying, and Copenhagen has many great craft breweries to visit.
Pretty Much All Doors Open In, Not Out
The push vs. pull door struggle is something we’ve all had an embarrassing experience with, so pro tip: doors open inward rather than outward (which is the norm for North America).
Don’t Be Late For A Dinner Party
If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a dinner party with locals, make sure you arrive right when they ask you to. Come too early and you’ll stress out the host who might not be ready. It’s rude to come late. Also, don’t make any plans for the rest of the evening—dinner parties are long events.
They Hate Being Indebted To Others
If you buy a drink for someone else, they will try to pay you back in the exact same amount immediately or return the favor by buying you the same drink to cancel the debt.
It’s Reported To Be One Of The Happiest Countries In The World
According to an annual United Nations Report, Denmark is the runner up for “Happiest Country,” trailing its Nordic neighbor Finland. In fact, the top four positions are all held by Nordic countries, with the Netherlands in fifth place.