Destination at a glance: Denmark

It's heart-warming to know there's still a country where the term 'fairy tale' can be used freely – from its most enduring literary legacy to its textbook castles. In a nutshell, Denmark gets it right: old-fashioned charm embraces the most avowedly forward-looking design and social developments, and wins it a regular chart-topping place on lists of both the most-liveable and the happiest nations on earth.

Its egalitarian spirit embraces visitors too – you won't have to search hard to find some much-prized hygge. This means social nirvana in Denmark: a sense of cosiness, camaraderie and contentment. Sure, Denmark may not have the stop-you-in-your-tracks natural grandeur of its neighbours, but after one visit (and a taste of hygge) you may start plotting to move here for good.

BEST TIME TO VISIT
May to September

TOP THINGS TO SEE
• The world in miniature at plastic-fantastic Legoland
• Charming cobblestoned streets in Ribe, Denmark's oldest town
• Danish style personifi ed in the streets, stores and eateries of Copenhagen
• Viking history up close and personal at Roskilde's Viking Ship Museum
• The gleaming white chalk cliffs of Møns Klint

TOP THINGS TO DO
• Escape to the beaches and bike lanes of the island of Bornholm
• Stand with one foot in the Skagerrak (North Sea), the other in the Kattegat (Baltic Sea), at postcard-pretty Skagen
• Join 80,000 others at the Roskilde Festival, northern Europe's biggest rock event
• Dine in one of Copenhagen's foodie hot spots – restaurants here have as many Michelin stars as Madrid or Rome

GETTING UNDER THE SKIN
Read Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg; Karen Blixen's Out of Africa (written under the pen-name Isak Dinesen); or, for a change of pace, Kierkegaard's philosophical works or Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales
Listen to old-school Euro-rock from D-A-D; indie rockers Veto; or chanteuse Aura
Watch Academy Award winners Babette's Feast and Pelle the Conqueror; After the Wedding; anything directed by enfant terrible Lars von Trier
Eat smørrebrød (open-faced sandwich); frikadeller (Danish meatballs); sild (pickled herring); and of course Danish pastries, known locally as wienerbrød (Vienna bread)
Drink øl (beer – the biggies are Carlsberg and Tuborg); or akvavit (schnapps)

IN A WORD
Det var hyggeligt! (That was cosy!)

TRADEMARKS
Beer; furniture design from the likes of Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner; Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales; Lego; the Little Mermaid; Vikings

RANDOM FACT
Scandinavia may be prime Winter Olympics territory, but Denmark has no downhill skiing – its highest point is a trifling 173m

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