Are you considering a trip to Denmark? Wonderful idea! It’s a great country to visit, and almost all tourists end up enjoying their visit. Danish people are incredibly friendly and accommodating to travelers. The majority of the population speaks English quite well, so it is easy to communicate, and that is a big plus.
It can be useful to know which cities are the most visited. That gives you an idea of what other travelers like, and it shows which places are typically very touristy and the ones that are not.
The 10 most visited municipalities in Denmark
We have found some data from the official tourist administration in Denmark. The statistics are from 2017, but they should still be accurate – and at least they will give an idea of the most visited cities in the country.
However, please note that the statistics mention the amount of visitors in each municipality (kommune) and not necessarily for individual cities. The largest cities in Denmark are municipalities on their own, so they will be accurate, but other municipalities include several towns, which can be a bit confusing.
But do not worry – we will explain everything below. Let’s take a look at the most visited municipalities in Denmark!
Copenhagen municipality – and Copenhagen city – is the most popular tourist destination in Denmark. The capital receives around 9 million visitors per year, equivalent to 17% of the entire tourist industry in Denmark. In 2017, it earned 31 billion DKK (4.7 billion USD) on tourism.
It makes sense in every way possible. Copenhagen is the largest city of the country, and by far the one with the most cultural offerings. It gets promoted a lot more than any other Danish city, which is a big advantage in itself. We highly recommend a visit to Copenhagen, but be prepared that it is also the most expensive city in Denmark.
The cultural city of Aarhus is the second most visited city in Denmark. While not anywhere near Copenhagen, Aarhus and its surrounding areas does get almost 5 million visits per year, and earns what is equivalent to a billion dollars on tourism.
In Aarhus, you can enjoy great museums, beautiful parks, nice shopping opportunities, and an awesome nightlife. The city feels more Danish than Copenhagen, since it is less international. It’s an important city for students, as it houses the largest university in Scandinavia.
Aalborg is the home to the largest carnival in Northern Europe. The city produces very few promotions to foreign tourists, yet it still receives a lot. Perhaps the main reason is that Aalborg has one of the largest airports in Denmark, and that there are frequent connections to cities such as London, Amsterdam and Barcelona.
A trip to Aalborg can be a great experience. It used to have an old, industrial vibe, but in recent years this has changed. Today it’s a booming university city with a large population of young people. Dining opportunities in Aalborg are great. And from Aalborg, you can easily travel to other interesting towns nearby – especially in the north.
Varde is a municipality in the southwest of Denmark – one of the largest in the country. The town of Varde is one of the oldest in the country, famous for its past as a place for trading goods.
However, most of the Varde tourism is related to nature. The distance to the North Sea is incredibly close, and it is an ideal place for fishing. Furthermore, there are beautiful views, and with great facilities for activities such as biking and sky diving, it is no surprise that Varde is popular among both foreign and domestic visitors.
Ringkøbing-Skjern is very popular among foreign tourists, with foreigners accounting for 84% of all booked stays.
Located just north of Varde, the municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern is Denmark’s largest by area. The towns of Ringkøbing and Skjern are the largest in the municipality and located within a short distance of each other.
The beaches are the highlights, but with many monuments there are also cultural things to see in Ringkøbing-Skjern. Many visitors also come here to watch handball, a popular sport in Skjern.
There are two main reasons why the northern municipality of Frederikshavn is one of the most visited places in Denmark.
First of all: The town of Skagen is a part of this municipality. Skagen is the northernmost city in Denmark, famous for its beach where the two seas flow into each other. Skagen also has the most sunshine hours of any town in Denmark. In the past, the town was a popular place to live among artists, such as the 19th century painters.
The second reason is that Frederikshavn itself has an important port. Ships are coming in every day, and from Frederikshavn you can take cheap ferry rides to Sweden and Norway. Therefore, many Swedish and Norwegian tourists arrive here.
If you wish to experience the most beautiful coastline in Denmark, go to Jammerbugt. That’s probably the main reason why so many tourists – foreigners and Danes alike – spend their summers in this municipality.
The beach town of Blokhus is an obvious highlight. But don’t underestimate the speedway in Brovst or the cultural activities in Aabybro. It’s very easy to get in via Aalborg Airport, located very close to the municipality of Jammerbugt.
The island of Bornholm is located a bit far from the rest of the country, and the people even if a significantly different dialect. Yet, Bornholm is undoubtably Danish, and it’s a part of the country that Danish as well as international travelers love to visit.
Bornholm arguably has the best weather of any place in Denmark, and there are many beautiful sights. It makes sense why it ranks among the top ten most visited places in Denmark. If we judge by quality alone, it should probably rank even higher!
Hjørring is a municipality in the northern part of Denmark. While Hjørring is the largest town inside the municipality (and one of the oldest towns in Denmark), it is not the only reason for the high amount of tourists stopping by.
Beach town Løkken is located within the Hjørring’s area, and it attracts plenty of tourists every summer. The most famous monastery in Denmark, Børglum Kloster, is also located in this municipality. Aside from that, the town of Hjørring is the host of the largest youth football tournament in the world – Dana Cup. It also has several cultural offerings, which undoubtedly plays a role.
The northern port town Hirtshals has plenty of ferries and cruises coming in – something that adds to the tourism in the municipality.
Historically, the city of Vejle has been very important for Denmark. It’s the ninth largest city in Denmark, and it contains some nice sights, such as the city hall. The oldest building is Skt. Nikolai Church from the mid 1200’s.
The whole city is very hilly and windy. If you’re here in July/August, be sure to visit the cycling race, Danmark Rundt. The main stage usually takes place in Vejle and is very fun to watch in person.
Close to Vejle, although not within the municipality, you can visit Jelling. The Jelling stone monument is on the UNESCO World Heritage list and arguably the most important cultural sight in Denmark.
Where are the tourists from?
People from all over the world like to visit Denmark, but visitors from some nations are more common to see than others.
It is estimated that 57% of all tourists in Denmark are from Germany.
Norwegians and Swedes also make up a large share of the visitors. The amount of American, Chinese and Indian visitors are increasing each year.
According to Danmarks Statistik (Statistics of Denmark), foreign tourists booked 27.6 million stays in Danish hotels, hostels and holiday apartments in 2018.
Let’s dig a little deeper into these stays and see which nationalities booked the most:
- Germany (15.8 million)
- Norway (2.3 million)
- Sweden (1.8 million)
- Netherlands (1.4 million)
- United Kingdom (881,000)
- United States (787,000)
- Italy (376,000)
- France (308,000)
- China (235,000)
- India (104,000)
Yearly increases in tourism
Every year, the record gets broken: More and more tourists choose to visit Denmark.
2018 was a record year for tourism in Denmark, with approximately 53.9 million booked nights. Approximately half were done by local Danes going on domestic holidays, while the rest are foreigners.
The growth between 2017 and 2018 was 3.4%. 2019 looks to be a new record year, but statistics are yet to arrive. Unlike in previous decades, the 2010s have had more stays by foreign visitors than by domestic travelers.
Why do people visit Denmark?
In a 2018 survey, tourists in Denmark were asked why they chose to visit and what they liked about Denmark. Here are the top 10 reasons why tourists chose to go:
- Denmark has friendly and accommodating people
- There are beaches, coastlines and easy sea access
- Denmark is a safe place to travel
- The quality of accommodation is high
- It’s a clean and environmental destination
- Easy to get natural experiences
- Local atmosphere/mood
- Nice offers and promotions
- Danish culture
Sources: Danmarks Statistik, VisitDenmark, documentation