When planning an international trip like this one, most people focus on the big stuff — landmarks, monuments, and other famous attractions.
But many of the things I love about Denmark aren’t big tourist spots. They are wonderful, of course, but there’s so much more to enjoy about the culture of Denmark.
Here’s just a few small things that I’ve been grateful for throughout my stay in Denmark.
Easy & Reliable Public Transportation
Getting around the city without a car is not only easy but a joy. My Danish flatmates have informed me that only really wealthy people have cars in Copenhagen because they’re far more expensive to own in Denmark than in the United States. ($7 per gallon for gas?? Yeah, no thank you.)
So without a car, how do you get around? Most people use a bicycle, public transportation, or a combination of both.
I’m in the combination category, but I mostly opt for riding the metro. This is mostly because it’s so easy to navigate! There’s 5 main lines, and I’ve been able to get pretty much everywhere I need to go in the city by sticking to the M1, M2, and M3 lines.
When you get to the station, you don’t have to go through a security check point or a gate or anything! You just go downstairs and onto your train platform.
Danish public transportation operates on an honor system, so you don’t have to show your ticket unless someone that works for the DOT asks you to show it to them. This makes boarding and exiting the train very quick and efficient, something that’s really handy if you’re cutting it close on your way to class.
The trains themselves come about every 3 minutes, so even if you walk onto the platform as your train is leaving, you won’t be waiting for long.
When I first got on, my first thoughts were about how modern and clean the metro was! There’s plenty of seats and space for standing if necessary, even enough for bicycles and baby strollers.
Then, relax and enjoy your smooth ride to wherever it is you’re going.
Kids Alone in the City
When I first arrived and started adjusting to life in Copenhagen, I would occasionally notice — wait, was that a child? Walking around a big city? With no parents around? Now he’s getting on the METRO?? Surely he’s going to get lost or meet a bad stranger or who knows what!
Actually… no, he’s totally fine! In Denmark children are raised to be much more independent from a young age, much more so than they are in the United States.
Seeing young kids — anywhere from 7 and up, if I had to guess— out at the park with their friends or walking down streets crowded with adults is pretty normal here. It’s a bit shocking at first if you’re not used to it, but I’ve come to appreciate it.
As one of my Danish flatmates put it on my first day here, “If I could sum up our culture in one word, it would be ‘trust.’” This has really set the stage for how I’ve been viewing the culture at my arrival.
People trust each other not to do anything to their kids while they’re out and about alone, and they also trust their kids to not do anything that might get themselves into trouble.
Having trust in your kids and those around them on such a high level as there is here is something I really admire about Danish culture. It goes to show how safe people really feel here, and I can feel it, too.
Danes don’t mind sacrificing a little extra cash for a higher quality of life — and it shows, especially in their food scene. Despite the slightly higher pricing, I’d argue that the quality of the food you receive far outweighs any cost that comes with it.
Even food from chains such as 7-11, which most Americans might associate with being cheap (and sometimes pretty sketchy), has some amazing pastries and paninis from their bakery!
The ingredients that Danes are allowed to put in their food are much more restrictive than they are in the US, primarily because they don’t allow the use of substances like GMOs and other potentially unhealthy ingredients.
So no matter what I’m looking for, chances are it’ll be either a little or a lot different than what I’m familiar with — and it’s usually for the better.
Even food that I make for myself that I’m more familiar with seems of a higher quality than it did back home. No white bread at the grocery store means opting for healthier alternatives like whole-grain wheat bread. The lack of preservatives in products like milk means that the usability window is smaller, but the freshness when you have it is unbeatable.
Whatever I’m eating, I know I can feel good about the food I’m putting into my body.
The moral of this post is, tune into the little things in life. Even though these weren’t famous landmarks like the Little Mermaid or Amalienborg palace, they’ve shaped my experience of Denmark and its culture more profoundly than I thought possible.
So make sure you stop to smell the flowers! 🌻