Denmark © james j8246
Best known for its large dogs and Viking warriors, Denmark is a small, prosperous and highly functional kingdom in northern Europe that is often overlooked by travellers on their 'grand tour', although it has one of the highest standards of living in the world and plenty of charming experiences to offer visitors.
Denmark is almost totally surrounded by water, consisting as it does of the Jutland Peninsula and 482 islands. Its only land border is with Germany. The country's capital city, lovely and lively Copenhagen, occupies the biggest of the offshore islands. With all the water it is not surprising that Denmark is very reliant on shipping and fishing; the country also has an important agricultural sector, though, and is famed in particular for its dairy products. Lovers of butter and cheese will enjoy a taste of Denmark!
Denmark boasts small green farms, blue lakes and white coastal beaches; the rural areas are sprinkled with thatched cottages, castles and windmills across a gentle landscape which lends itself to cycle touring. The cities are modern and bustling, but an air of medieval charm has been preserved in old sections of colourful buildings and cobblestone streets. The country boasts nearly 300 museums, most of the important ones in Copenhagen, as well as the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde that is devoted to honouring Denmark's bold ancient mariners.
Other notable attractions for travellers include the annual summer music festival in Roskilde, which is one of the largest in Europe; the Tivoli Gardens amusement park which has entertained crowds in Copenhagen since 1843; and one of the world's longest bridges, which spans 10 miles (16km), joining Denmark to Sweden.
The country is compact, with an excellent road and rail transport system, and numerous ferry connections to the myriad offshore islands. It all adds up to a very civilised destination, as sweet and tempting as the rich, flaky pastry treat that the world has come to know as the 'Danish'.