Podcasts, Stories about life in Denmark

Summer vacation in Denmark: The agony and the ecstasy

Planning your summer vacation in Denmark is like playing the lottery. You could hit it lucky, with golden days and long, warm evenings, when you can sit with friends in the soft light and drink hyldeblomst cocktails.

Or you could get grey day after grey day, interspersed with a little rain whenever it is least convenient. The weather could be chilly, leaving your cute new summer clothes to sit disappointed in your closet while you wear your boring long trousers again and again.

I find that locals tend to base their decision about whether to stay in Denmark for the summer on the previous year’s weather. Last year’s summer was great for anyone who is not a farmer: it was unusually hot and dry.

This year, so far, the weather has been very good for farmers with crops that need a lot of rain, and not so great for anybody else.

Grey summers are sad summers
Grey summers are sad summers. The shops have stocked up on ice cream bars that no one wants; they sit crystalizing in the freezer. The balconies of apartment houses are empty.

Heaven help anyone who put their savings into an outdoor restaurant or café, or the optimistic brides and grooms who thought an outdoor reception after the ceremony would be a really good idea.

Most of these partygoers are smart enough to put up a tent in the backyard in case of rain, but have you ever spent a windy, rainy, cold afternoon with several dozen strangers in fancy clothes trapped inside a slightly unstable tent? You need a lot of champagne to make it through that.

Some give up hope
As the grey days drag on, with little to recommend them except cheap and excellent strawberries in the supermarket, some people who had planned a summer vacation in Denmark book last-minute trips to someplace sunny and warm.

The selection starts to dwindle as the summer advances. If you make it to July before giving up on your Danish summer dreams, you may find yourself flying on an airline you’ve never heard of to a location you’ve never heard of, and quite possibly to a resort you will never exit, because there is nothing nearby to see. But at least there is guaranteed sun.

Tourist still head for Denmark
When it isn’t a COVID year, there are still plenty of tourists coming to Denmark. The Germans are hardy people who love West Jutland’s windy beaches; on a few of them, you can even drive your Audi right onto the sand. Cafés nearby advertise a gemütlicher Atmosphäre and menus in German.

In Odense, the Hans Christian Andersen center always has long lines of summer tourists.

And the streets of Copenhagen are full of cruise ship passengers, unfolding their paper maps and asking for directions for Kong-ENS Noy-TORV.

I’m happy to see that whomever booked these tourists on their trip prepared them for the fact that summer in Scandinavia can be really cold.

I see them on the Strøget, surprised to find themselves wearing a thick jacket and sometimes gloves in May or June, but that’s the way it goes with a Danish summer vacation.


Kay Xander Mellish books


Buy Kay’s books about Denmark on Amazon, Saxo, Google Books, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble Nook, or via our webshop.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2024

Read also:

Danish summer: Why you should run outside now
Summerhouse or doll house: What to expect if you’re invited to a Danish summer home
Danish summer: The downside of the “light times”
Danish beaches in winter: White light and bitter wind
More Snow Tomorrow: Surviving Winter as a Foreigner in Denmark
Danes and Spring: Hot wheat buns and highly-educated drunks
Autumn in Denmark: The Slow Fading of the Light

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