Eco-friendly Denmark greets visitors with everything from a cosmopolitan, food-loving city in Copenhagen to Renaissance castles, wind-swept offshore islands and tiny fishing villages. This is the land that inspired the children's author Hans Christian Andersen, and the Vikings to lay claim to much of this part of northern Europe. Those who obsess about furniture, handcrafted items, and sleek modern design make pilgrimages to Denmark for Hans Wegner's sculptured teak chairs and hand-painted Royal Copenhagen porcelain. Remember Lego? At Legoland kids encounter a miniature world made from 20 million plastic Danish bricks.
Tivoli Gardens has been keeping visitors under its spell for 150 years, especially those who soar above Copenhagen on the Ferris wheel. Nearby in Klampenborg, ride the classic wooden Rutschebanen rollercoaster at Dyrehavsbakken, the oldest amusement park in the world. At the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense, see the author's walking stick and top hat and listen to some of his children's tales on tape.
Eating and Drinking
It's substance over style in Denmark where locals love the freshest of ingredients and relaxed dining. Book ahead at Copenhagen's Noma -- literally meaning "food mad," it's topped the S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list. All over Denmark, locals fill up at lunch on shrimp-and-dill smørrebrød sandwiches on freshly baked bread. In the evening tuck into traditional herring, steak and potato dishes made from organic ingredients. In Aarhus, sit in a riverside cafe and sip the national brew, Carlsberg.
The roads in Denmark happily accommodate cyclists so roll past windmills and half-timbered houses on Ærø, off the coast of Funen. No place is more than 35 miles from the sea, and the country's lakes and rivers are well-stocked, so fishing for shrimp, herring, eel and salmon is a national pastime. Base yourself in Silkeborg, unusually hilly for Denmark, if you want to canoe on its lake, cycle, or walk through forests.
You can completely let go at Denmark's sandy beaches, as many Danes like to go nude. The best seaside spots for relaxation are on the north coast of Zealand, with its fine white sand and shallow waters, and the sunshine-filled southern tip of Bornholm, out on the Baltic Sea. Across the country, nearly 500 private garden owners display their fragrant blooms to the public.