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How to Live in Denmark

Author: Kay Xander Mellish

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Life as an international in Denmark, one of the world's most homogenous countries, isn't always easy. In Denmark’s longest-running English-language podcast, Kay Xander Mellish, an American who has lived in Denmark for more than a decade, offers tips for enjoying your time in “the world’s happiest country” plus insights on Danish culture and how to build friendships with Danes.

Whether you're living in Denmark, thinking about moving to Denmark, or interested in a job in Denmark and want to understand Danish business culture, this podcast will offer insights and guidance.

Each episode of "How to Live in Denmark" tackles topics that will help you understand the Danish way of life, emphasizing work-life balance, the unique Danish workplace culture, and the social norms that define Danish society. With Denmark's renowned flat hierarchy, workplace flexibility, and emphasis on equality, understanding the subtleties of Danish work etiquette is essential for anyone working in Denmark or engaging with Danish businesses.

Our discussions also delve into Denmark's flexicurity system, a distinctive approach to labor market regulation that blends flexibility with security, providing insights on how this model supports a dynamic and adaptive work environment. Listeners considering entrepreneurship in Denmark or business ventures in Denmark will find strategic advice on navigating the Danish labor market and leveraging business opportunities in a society known for its innovation and egalitarian corporate culture. (Is Denmark socialist? No, it's more free-market than the US or UK.)

Expats in Denmark will particularly benefit from episodes focusing on cultural integration, socializing in Danish workplaces, and the crucial role of professional networking in Denmark. Learn how to navigate Denmark's informal communication styles, engage with the Danish sense of humor in the workplace, and appreciate the significant autonomy given to employees in Danish companies.

Kay's short episodes about her experiences in Denmark illuminate the practicalities of living in Denmark and pleasures of Danish life. From understanding Danish employment law to embracing the social trust that is so basic to Danish society, "How to Live in Denmark" equips you with the knowledge to survive and thrive in Denmark.

Whether it's deciphering Danish management style, exploring how to maintain work-life balance, or understanding the egalitarian mindset that pervades Danish workplaces, this podcast is your companion in mastering the art of living Danishly.

Subscribe to "How to Live in Denmark" start your journey to a deeper understanding of Denmark, ensuring your Danish experience is both successful and enjoyable. Whether you're in Denmark for a new job, a safer home protected by the Danish welfare state, or new business opportunities, let's explore together what it means to live and work in Denmark, raise your family in Denmark, and advance your career in Denmark.
131 Episodes
In June of each year, the streets of Denmark are suddenly full of young people wearing stiff white caps with bands of various colors - burgundy, midnight blue, light blue. These teenagers have just graduated from gymnasium, the Danish equivalent of high school, and the white hat is a sign of that accomplishment.  They wear the white hat everywhere they go for the two or three weeks after final exams, and it awakens a deep sentimentality in the usually practical and private Danes. It has a sort of magic.  When my daughter received her white cap last year, total strangers stopped her in the street to say “Congratulations on the hat” – tillykke med huen. Bus drivers congratulated her as she boarded, and so did supermarket clerks at the checkout counter.  Getting the hat is seen as a very happy occasion on the road from childhood to the big wide world. The white cap holds a special place in the Danish national consciousness. The open-backed truck tour If you visit in Denmark in June, you’ll see teenagers celebrating their graduation, riding through town on the back of open-backed trucks, wearing their fresh white caps and cheering or blowing whistles. Using there’s some pop music pumping at a very high volume.  The sides of the truck are covered with white banners, traditionally bedsheets, on which are painted slogans that are more or less obscene. Everybody on the truck except the driver is several beers in and shouting at passerby on the sidewalk, who shout back.   
If you’re only in Denmark for a few months, it might not be worth the investment in time to learn much more than the basic pleasantries in Danish. But you plan to stay in Denmark for more than a year or so, it’s a good idea to learn some Danish – and your visa may require that you do so. Even if you’re not forced to, it’s a good idea to learn Danish if you plan to make a commitment to Denmark. It’ll make daily life easier: you’ll stop wanting to tear your hair out every time you run across a website or voice prompt that’s only available in Danish. You’ll have more job opportunities, since around half of the positions in Denmark are with national, regional, or local governments. Almost all governmental jobs require a working knowledge of Danish. Plus, a lot of social life in Denmark takes place in Danish: Danes, understandably, want to speak Danish to each other, particularly when they’re off duty with a beer in hand. Read more in Kay Xander Mellish's book "How to Work in Denmark" or at    ----------------- The Professional Benefits of Speaking Danish in Denmark While many Danes speak English fluently, knowing the local language can open up a broader spectrum of job opportunities. Being proficient in Danish is often a requirement in sectors such as education, healthcare, and public services. Moreover, speaking Danish fluently allows you to integrate more deeply into the workplace culture, which is highly valued in Danish society. Understanding and speaking Danish not only helps in daily communications but also demonstrates your commitment to your life and career in Denmark. It shows respect for the local culture and an eagerness to fully engage with the community, both of which are appreciated by Danish employers and colleagues. Best Danish Language Resources for Expats For expats moving to Denmark, there are numerous resources available to learn Danish. Many cities offer free Danish classes provided by the government, which are a great starting point. Additionally, there are private language schools offering intensive Danish language training for professionals, which can be tailored to your specific needs, whether you're looking for basic communication skills or fluency. Online courses and apps also offer flexibility for learning Danish at your own pace. These resources often include practical exercises and real-life scenarios that can prepare you for actual conversations in the workplace. How to Learn Danish Quickly for Working in Denmark To accelerate your Danish learning journey, immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. Engage with local media, listen to Danish radio, watch Danish TV shows and movies, and practice speaking with native Danes. This immersion will not only improve your language skills but also help you understand cultural nuances, which are crucial for effective communication in a professional setting. Additionally, learning essential Danish phrases for the workplace can make your daily interactions smoother and more productive. Simple phrases pertaining to greetings, meetings, scheduling, and professional courtesies can go a long way in building rapport with your coworkers. Danish Language Skills for Jobs in Denmark In competitive job markets, having Danish language skills can give you a significant edge. For positions that involve direct communication with customers or clients, such as sales or customer service, Danish is often mandatory. Even in international companies where the corporate language is English, local language skills might be necessary for liaising with local clients, regulatory bodies, or in negotiating contracts. Why Learn Danish for Working in Denmark Learning Danish for work goes beyond just expanding your job prospects. It enables you to participate fully in meetings, understand all documentation and legal requirements, and integrate into the social fabric of your workplace. It also greatly enhances your expat experience, making everyday tasks such as shopping, dining out, and dealing with bureaucracy much easier. In conclusion, while it is possible to live and work in Denmark without speaking Danish, learning the language is incredibly beneficial. It opens up a wider range of job opportunities, helps you integrate into Danish society, and enriches your personal and professional life. So, consider investing in Danish language courses that cater to your professional needs and start your journey towards achieving professional success in Denmark.
A story I’ve heard over and over again when I talk to internationals working in Denmark is this: They thought they were going to get fired. They’d been working for a year or so at professional-level job in Denmark, often one they’d been recruited for, but they’d never heard any positive comments from their manager. They started to worry. They were doing their best, but maybe it just wasn’t good enough. Were they going to lose the job? Were they going to have to go back home, humiliated, and explain the whole thing to their friends and family? Expecting bad news This was what was on their mind when they went into their annual employee review. They were expecting some pretty bad news. Instead, they got a promotion. And a raise. Their manager thought they were doing great. But the Danish approach to employee feedback is generally – “No news is good news”. You have a job, you’re doing that job, we’ll let you know if there are any problems. Positive feedback is uncommon in Denmark, because Danes themselves are often uncomfortable receiving compliments. The façade of equality Compliments run smack-dab into the Jante Law, which says specifically that “Don’t think that you’re better than us.” When you give someone a compliment, you lift them above you, if only for a moment, and that disturbs the equality, or at least the façade of equality, which is so important in Denmark. So compliments are not a natural thing in Denmark, either on the job or in your personal life.   Read more at
Romance in Denmark

Romance in Denmark


Whether you're navigating the cobbled streets of Copenhagen on a first date, exploring the charming countryside with a new companion, or swiping right in the pursuit of love, this episode offers the inside scoop on Danish dating culture. We explore different facets of the Danish dating scene, from casual meet-ups in cozy bodegas to the commitment in long-term relationships in Denmark. We bring you stories, expert advice, and real-life experiences about finding love and maintaining relationships in the happiest country on Earth. Let’s start by unpacking the Danish dating culture. Known for its direct communication style, dating in Denmark can be refreshingly straightforward. Danes value honesty and usually say what they mean without much beating around the bush. We'll explore how this directness affects both initial meetings and the development of deeper connections. We'll take you through the trendiest spots for meeting Danish singles, highlighting popular online dating platforms in Denmark such as Tinder, which is widely used by Danish singles seeking both fun and serious relationships. We’ll discuss the nuances of online dating in Denmark, and how different it is from other countries, with insights on what to expect when engaging with Danish profiles. Navigating through Danish romantic practices, we'll delve into how relationships often start with a simple coffee date rather than extravagant gestures. Understanding Danish etiquette is crucial; for instance, don't be surprised that when dating a Dane, you might be expected to split the bill. This speaks to the deeply ingrained values of equality and independence that define Danish society. Furthermore, the episode will cover the importance of public displays of affection in Denmark. You'll learn why a Dane might prefer a discreet smile or a light touch over grand public gestures. Join us as we explore the heartfelt and sometimes humorous world of romance in Denmark. Whether you are a Dane looking to understand the subtleties of your own dating culture or an expat trying to navigate your way through the Danish heart, this podcast is your companion. Let us take you on a journey through the streets and hearts of Denmark.
Many internationals newly arrived in Denmark struggle with the long Danish winter.  The darkness that starts to fall in the early afternoon means that 5pm looks just like 8pm, which looks just like midnight, which looks just like 5am. Dense, inky black sky. During the daytime there’s a dim grey light, sometimes accompanied by a soupy fog of tiny raindrops. It’s tough to handle - even for Danes. Many people living through this time in Denmark describe feeling low-energy – sløj is the very descriptive Danish term. It translates directly to “sluggish”. Others feel deeply depressed. Some eat too much, or drink too much. Some sleep all the time. It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are my tips for handling these dark months, which generally stretch from November until the end of February.   Enjoy the brown charm of Danish winter nature It’s important to get outside during the brief period of light every day. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes on your lunch hour, it really helps.  Walking in nature is wonderful this time of year if you have right clothing, in particular the right footwear. A good pair of solid boots and you can even go out when it’s icy. Don’t neglect second-hand stores in Denmark. You can usually find a lot of good winter clothes there for not very much money. Parks, botanical gardens, forests – they all have a certain charm this time of year. A brown, winter charm, but a charm all the same.   The secret sauce: a project or a list with things you can check off Go see how the winter animals are doing. Deer parks are good, see what the deer are up to. And most Danish zoos are open year-round. Go see how happy the polar bears are when the weather is freezing! But my top tip for making it through the winter is a specific project, like learning how to knit, or learning how to make something out of wood, or even better, a list. If you have a list, you can check things off as you go along, and you get a feeling of progress as the dark months drag on. Read more at  
It’s almost Week 1, in the weekly numbering system that’s widely used in Northern Europe, where the year starts with week 1 and runs through to Week 52 or 53, depending on the calendar. It’s very efficient for planning, so you don’t have to say something messy like “What about that week that starts Monday June 3…” Week 1 starts on January 1, and everything follows that in perfect order. But before January 1 we have New Year’s Eve, a day that fills me with trepidation to be honest, because in Denmark, New Year’s Eve is all about amateur fireworks. Cannonballs, Roman Candles, Ding Dongs, Triple Extremes, these are the fireworks you can purchase and set off yourself in a local parking lot, terrifying any nearby dogs and cats.  Having a family member in the hospital business, I can’t help but think that today, December 26, there are a few amateur fireworks fans who have perfectly well-functioning eyes and fingers right now who won’t have them on January 2. The Queen's Speech New Year’s Eve celebrations start at 6pm, when the Queen Margrethe gives her annual speech, live.  To the uninitiated, this looks like a woman sitting at her desk reading from a pile of papers – she refuses to use a TelePrompter – but it’s all been intricately planned, from the clothes to the jewelry to the flowers to the text itself to reflect the themes and priorities of the year gone by. There’s even a website that gives odds on what words and themes will appear.  The Queen now keeps her pile of papers together with a paper clip. In past years, she left them loose, and on one particular occasion they got out of order and she had to desperately search through them on air to find her place. The comedian Ulf Pilgaard, a large man who dressed up as a colorful burlesque imitation of the Queen, used to make this incident part of his act, throwing papers up in the air like Harpo Marx. Just as an aside, when this comedian who imitated the Queen retired last year, the Queen herself showed up at his final performance and shook his hand. Having such a good sense of humor about herself is why Queen is so beloved, even by people who do not really like the monarchy.  Some Danes even stand up to watch the Queen’s speech on TV. It always ends with “Gud Bevare Danmark”, God Protect Denmark. "Wreath cake"  After the speech, it’s dinner time, followed by a very sweet cake called kransekage – which translates to “wreath cake.” It’s made of a lot of rings delicately placed on top of each other, in a little tower. There’s lot of marzipan involved in this cake. I’m not a marzipan fan myself, but if you are, you’ll like this cake.  Read more at
If you are an international who lives in Denmark, or someone who wants to, you have to learn the Danish way of dealing with conflict. This might be with a colleague, or your upstairs neighbors, or the authorities at the commune. In these cases, it’s very important not to lose your temper or raise your voice. And this can be tricky if the culture you come from, your culture of origin, is a passionate culture. Denmark is not a passionate culture. If you hear someone talking about their passion here, it's almost always some sort of hobby, or the summer home they have been fixing up for years. Their passion is almost never a person or a cause. And they generally use the English or French word passion, not lidenskab, which is the rather clumsy Danish translation. So, the keywords to handling conflict here are not strength and passion, they are humor and equality. You have to take the approach that you and the person you disagree with are equals. Your counterparty isn’t someone you can push around, but they’re also not someone better than you that you have to bow down to. One of Danes’ favorite expressions is øjenhøjde, or eye level. They love that concept. When Prince Christian, the future king of Denmark, recently turned 18, several of his birthday greetings from the public said, Remember to always stay at eye level with your people. The person you disagree with is your human equal, even if they’re a teacher or a manager or someone who works for the government. The other best strategy getting a conflict resolved in Denmark is to find the humor in it. If you can make the other person laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, you’re halfway there. Keep it as light as you possibly can, assume good faith, and assume that the other person really would like to solve the problem, and assume that it is solvable, which isn’t always true, but it’s a good first assumption. Humorously acknowledge your contribution to the problem, whatever it might have been, and own your mistakes. Danes really like people that admit they’ve made a mistake and have a sense of humor about it. Be as practical as possible. Danes are practical to a fault. Focus on something that can really get accomplished, not big noble concepts of truth and justice. I have seen internationals in Denmark make disagreements much worse than they have to be by raising their voices, telling the other person they are racist or sexist, threatening to call in somebody’s boss or threatening to expose them online, which is illegal, by the way. Denmark has very strict privacy laws – if you catch someone stealing your bike and you post a photo of them online, you’re the one who will hear from the police first.   Read more at  
Drugs in Denmark

Drugs in Denmark


Denmark is getting rich selling pharmaceuticals to other countries, but within Denmark itself, the approach is inconsistent. Getting illegal drugs doesn't seem to be too difficult, but getting legal drugs from your doctor can be.
When I first arrived in Denmark, you could shut down any dispute in Denmark by appealing to equality and the common good. Solidarity - “solidaritet” -  and “fælleskab”, or community, or even “samfundssind”, societal spirit, were magic words. They still are with the older generation that built Denmark’s welfare state. If you want to convince this generation of anything, just make a reference to solidarity and community and societal spirit. Works like a charm. I’m often asked if the younger generation is as dedicated to these principles as their elders, and if they still follow the "Jante Law". Jante Law is not really a law – it’s like a legend, in which people living in Denmark are not supposed to act like they’re better than anyone else, or smarter than anyone else, or know more than anyone else.  But young people aren’t too keen to put up with that, in particular in an environment where they are competing internationally. For many Danish young people, the idea that all Danes are equal and we must all move together, at the same pace, seems outdated. And one contemporary example is the rise of the electric bike.  What has now been accepted in Denmark’s bike lanes is a concept that is used to be very "uDansk", or un-Danish….that some people simply go faster than others.    This is the 125th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at  
Many people who visit Denmark are fans of the Vikings, the colloquial name for Scandinavians before the medieval era, although technically speaking the Viking raiders were at their peak in the years 800-1100.  There are plenty of opportunities, especially now during tourist season, to see modern-day Danes dressed up as Vikings, building wooden ships, cooking over open fires, and fighting with swords and shields. Exhibitions like this are very popular with visitors from overseas.  What they might not know is that you can see actual Vikings in Denmark, or what’s left of their bodies. It was common in the Viking era and before to toss sacrificial items and people into peat bogs, which, it turns, out preserves bodies and clothing and hair very well. So there are several places in Denmark where you can see actual humans from the Viking age, more than a thousand years old, and sometimes their clothes and hairstyles, sometimes even the last food they ate, reclaimed from their stomachs.  Some bodies are so well-preserved that they still have fingerprints.  The top spot for this is near Aarhus, the Moesgaard Museum. It’s a huge museum that’s interactive, immersive, almost overpowering.  You will see hundreds of Viking objects and and weapons and skeletons, amid multimedia exhibits. For example, there’s a room that lets you experience of what it was like to be in the middle of a Viking battle, with armed warriors shouting and screaming and running at you from all directions.  It’s overwhelming, because the people it celebrates lived such brutal lives. Sacrificing people, sacrificing animals, killing each other with clubs and daggers and axes to the head in violent raids.  It’s a lot. After a while I found myself cowering in the gift shop. (Read more at   This is the 124th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at
In Denmark, the right to a long summer vacation is enshrined into law - the national vacation law, which states that all employees have a right to three weeks’ vacation between May and September. Shops close, too. An ice cream shop in my neighborhood closed down for the entire month of July last year. You would think this would be peak time for ice cream, but for the owners of the ice cream shop, their own vacation was more important. This year, I noticed that the bicycle store up the street is closed for three weeks – hope you didn’t want a new bike to enjoy the summer. So is the local "smørrebrød" sandwich shop. Too bad about your picnic. Danes believe that if you take a good, long, Danish vacation, you’ll come back refreshed, with new perspectives. Free time is precious in Denmark – certainly more important than prestige, since people don’t generally use their job titles, and far ahead of money, since whatever you have the government will be taking a big bite out of. Free time is cherished, free time is wealth, and that’s one of the reasons the summer vacation is so prized.  You’ll often hear Danes ask each other how many weeks they’re taking for summer vacation. “So, this year, are you taking 3 or 4?”   This is the 123th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at
Rich in Denmark

Rich in Denmark


Denmark is a rich country, but does it have rich people? It does, but Denmark’s wealthy tend to keep a low profile, due to the informal Jante Law in Denmark that prohibits too much showing off.  That said, spring and summer is great time to see Danish rich people in their natural habitat. That’s when they put the roof down on their expensive German cars and drive through the medieval old towns, drink rosé chilled in silver buckets at fancy outdoor cafés, or sail through the harbor on their personal boats of various sizes. In the summer, Denmark’s rich come out to play.  There are two types of wealth in Denmark, old wealth and new wealth. Old wealth is the leftovers of Denmark’s nobility, Dukes and Counts and Barons, even though noble privileges were officially abolished in 1849. Many of these families still own their old castles and country houses, some of which have been turned into hotels or fancy restaurants. You can stay there for a weekend with your sweetheart, very romantic. And then there’s new wealth. Denmark’s richest man owns Bestseller, a fast fashion chain that owns names like Vero Moda and Jack & Jones. The heirs to LEGO, which is less than 100 years old, are also quite well off, and so are the heirs to the Ecco shoe fortune. Finance types and entrepreneurs also figure on the list of richest people in Denmark. Every year, one of the local newspapers publishes a list of Denmark’s top taxpayers – the people and companies who have paid the most taxes. In 2020, the top individual was a successful hedge fund guy who somehow ended up paying more taxes than Danske Bank, Denmark's largest bank.  In 2021, the list featured a man who got rich selling COVID quick tests.  While there are small wealthy neighborhoods in Odense and Aarhus, most of Denmark’s rich live in the Whisky Belt, which is the area along the coast north of Copenhagen. It’s called the whisky belt because back in the day, whisky was the most expensive alcoholic drink. Poor people drank beer and schnapps.   This is the 122th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at
When you’ve been an international in Denmark for a while, as I have, you sometimes forget what it was like to arrive here for the first time and know nothing. I remember arriving just about this time of year and being astonished by all the public holidays in spring. I’d arrived to work, but the office kept shutting down. Now one of my various gigs is cultural training for newcomers, paid for by the big corporations that bring them here. The questions they ask bring me back to the time when I first arrived. One of the most popular questions is pretty basic: How do I send a letter in Denmark? What does a postbox look like? Where do I buy a stamp? I also get a lot of questions about Danish bicycle culture, which the Danish government promotes so heavily in its tourist campaigns. A nice man newly-arrived from Russia asked me: Will it be possible for me to get a bicycle in Denmark? I said yes, it would. But hey, there are no dumb questions. (Would it be possible for me, Kay, to get a bicycle in Moscow? I have no idea.) Bicycle culture is often exaggerated in Denmark – the truth is, the number of kilometers cycled each year keeps falling, and the number of cars keeps increasing, even thought it is very expensive. You can still get by with only a bike in Copenhagen and Aarhus, but in the less urban parts of Denmark, life will be uncomfortable without a car.   This is the 122th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at
The hottest competitive sport in Denmark over the past year hasn’t been handball, or football, or badminton. It’s been chasing cheap butter in the supermarket. Recent inflation has doubled the price of butter – in some places, up to 30 kroner – but if you rush, you can get…a package of butter for 10 kroner at one supermarket…wait, only three packages per customer…hey, this competing supermarket has matched the price…look, this other one has it for only 5 kroner…ohhhhhh, it’s sold out for today. Better come earlier tomorrow. Butter chasing is how even high-achieving, high-earning Danes have been spending their time. Nobody wants to pay 30 kroner for butter. ----- Butter is a part of the Danish soul. The Danish word for butter is smør…you might be familiar with smørrebrød, the famous open-faced Danish sandwiches. Smørrebrød means buttered bread. So even though inflation has hit Denmark recently just like everyplace else in the world, supermarkets use low, low butter prices to bring in customers who will buy their other goods. Butter is big business in Denmark – it is one of the world’s top 10 butter exporters – and dairy in general is a big part of the traditional Danish diet. There used to be corner shops called mejeri, dairy shops, that only sold dairy goods and eggs. Evolutionists would tell you that Scandinavians evolved to get more Vitamin D from food, since they don’t get much from the sun for most of the year. ----- If you’re learning Danish, look up all the expressions that begin with the word “smør.” I counted about 30 in Den Danske Ordbog, Denmark’s official online dictionary. One well-known expression is smørgris – butter pig. That’s someone who loves butter so much that they eat great amounts of it, with gusto. Or smørhul, butter hole. A butter hole takes its name from the hole in the middle of a bowl of oatmeal. You make a hole so you can put the butter inside. But smørhul has a bigger meaning. A ”butter hole” or smørhul, is a way to describe a very nice place, safe from the tumultuous world around it. A “butter hole” is the way many Danes see Denmark itself.   This is the 121th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at
Randers is not a joke

Randers is not a joke


It seems as if every country has a city or region that it is the butt of jokes. The rest of the country makes fun of the locals’ unattractive accents and supposedly low-end behavior. In Denmark, that city is Randers. Randers is a city in Northern Jutland, about a half hour away from Aarhus. It used to be bigger than Aarhus, and bigger than Aalborg too, but it was a manufacturing town, and when manufacturing fell apart in Denmark after the Second World War, so did Randers. The stereotype of Randers today is...muscle meatheads, possibly criminal... possibly in some sort of motorcycle gang... with a rough, gravelly accent... lots of tattoos and leather. And that’s just the women. The men are the same but with shorter haircuts. Listen to hear more about Randers and how Danish urban planners ruined what was once a very nice medieval town into a paradise for very fast cars and Mokaï, a canned alcoholic fruit cider sometimes called "Randers champagne." Find out how you can spend more than DK1000 on a pair of gloves in Randers, and how you can visit a full replica of Elvis Presley's mansion Graceland nearby.    This is the 120th episode of the "How to Live in Denmark podcast", and originally ran in 2023. Get all of Kay Xander Mellish's books about Denmark at Book Kay for a talk to your group or organization at
The Bridges of Denmark

The Bridges of Denmark


A country like Denmark, with so much coastline and water, needs a lot of bridges - and there have been 5 new colorful, stylish bridges built in Copenhagen alone in the past decade. And because this is Denmark, and people love design, each bridge has its own special look. You can’t just put up a few bridge supports and a deck on top for traffic. You need style, and you need a colorful name. Consider, for example, the multicolored Kissing Bridge in Copenhagen. It’s not named that because you’re supposed to kiss on the bridge, although you can if you like. It’s named that because it breaks in half on a regular basis to let ships through, and then it’s supposed to come together again like a kiss. The Kissing Bridge has needed to visit a relationship counselor, however, because there have been constant problems getting it to kiss. It wasn’t quite aligned the way it was supposed to be. It seems to work now, although it’s rather steep and a difficult ride for bicyclists, which is rather a shame, because it is a bicycle and pedestrian bridge only. There are no cars on it. The Bicycle Snake and the Brewing Bridge a little further down the harbor are also just for cyclists and walkers, and so is the Little Langebro bridge.
After some time out of Denmark, Kay returns and finds a whole new list of things to love. Swimming in Copenhagen harbour is a delight - the once-industrial waterway has been cleaned up enough to become a giant swimming zone.  The wild blackberry bushes are ready for harvest, and there are plenty in public spaces - like near the railway and S-train tracks - where the blackberries are totally free, first come, first serve. Wash them well and they make for a wonderful blackberry pie,  a blackberry crumble, or even a blackberry smoothie. And Kay even finds something to admire about the Danish cops, who are more likely to approach miscreants with sarcasm than with guns drawn.  
It’s hard to be a teenager no matter who you are or where you live, but spare a thought for the two teenagers of the Danish Royal Family. 16-year-old Christian - the future King Christian XI - and 15-year-old Isabella have to deal with family photo calls and media events, leaked Tik Tok videos, and a TV documentary this week accusing their boarding school of being a toxic environment.
Denmark has several amusement parks, including the original Legoland, but the ones I know best are the ones in Copenhagen - Tivoli Gardens and Bakken. Tivoli and Bakken show two different sides of the Danish character.   Tivoli is the sleek, confident, high-end image that Denmark likes to present to the world: it has exquisite flower gardens, fancy shops and restaurants, and a theater that hosts world-class performers. Bakken is more homey, more quirky, a little shabby, and a bit more hyggelig, under my own definition of hygge as “unambitious enjoyment”.  The differences between the two parks also illustrates the class differences in Denmark – even though Danes like to pretend there are no class differences in egalitarian Denmark.
It’s springtime, and the cherry trees are about to bloom in Copenhagen Northwest, which is usually the only time people who live outside Northwest bother to go there. Northwest is a working class neighborhood, so much so that the streets are named after working-class occupations. While other Copenhagen neighborhoods have streets named after kings and queens and generals, Northwest has brick-maker street, and book-binder street, and rope-maker street, and a barrel-maker street.   But there are other things to see in Northwest besides the cherry trees, which have become a bit of a crowd scene since they were reported on by a national news network.
Comments (1)

Ensieh Noroozi

Thank you so much for your detailed information about Denmark. Very useful and interesting! How will be for an Iranian pharmacist to immigrate Denmark?

Apr 19th