In Danish we have a saying that goes; “Julen er hjerternes fest” which basically means “Christmas is the holiday of the hearts”, so even though much of the Christmas feeling is about gathering with the family, I thought a little inspiration for where to go on dates might not be too far from the Danish Christmas spirit.
Now, before I get started on where to go and what to do, I would also like to share a little bit about the Danish way of getting romantic, as this is quite different from many places. So even if you’re not planning on taking one of us Danes out on a date, it might still be both useful but also somehow interesting to get to know the culture surrounding you, if you go on dates in Denmark.
First things first: As weird as it sounds we Danes don’t date - we don’t even have a word for it. We don’t go on several dates with different people and then slowly narrow it down. Of course the younger the generation, the more people you will see practicing something that is somehow like dating, but we still find the concept weird when e.g. we watch an american movie.
A Danish-born Scandinavian blogger has made an entire blog post about this, which paints a pretty good picture of the Danish (and Scandinavian) dating culture. Here she, among other elements, presents 9 rules for dating a Scandinavian. I will just go through these quickly as they give you a good idea of what you’re dealing with here.
1.We don’t flirt with strangers
Danes do not talk to strangers in general and we don’t flirt with them either. That is with the exception of when we drink. Here you will most likely find us flirting and talking, so don’t be surprised when we go from reserved introverts by day, to joyful easygoing flirtatious creatures by night.
2. We don’t ask people out
It’s slowly getting more common for the younger generation to “ask someone out”, but the general concept of asking a stranger (more or less) out is way is significantly less common, than friends slowly falling in love without these classic “scenes”. Another common way to meet a partner would be at a bar or a party.
3. We don’t go to restaurants with strangers
Now, IF you manage to get us out on a date with a stranger, don't go for the classic romantic dinner. Danes are not good conversationalists, so going to a restaurant with a stranger is probably the most horrifying scenario for most Danes. Several hours of intense conversation, one-on-one, with someone you don’t already feel really comfortable with - no thanks.
4. We do NOT let the guy pay for dinner
That being said, many Scandinavian guys will probably think they should, but at the same time, they will know that there’s a risk of offending the girl by doing this. We usually go for splitting the bill, or if you know each other a bit, then “who paid last time?” or “who’s broke?” will be the relevant factors.
5. The guy is not necessarily expected to take the initiative
If you’ve laid your eyes on one of our tall, blue eyed guys, then don’t expect them to necessarily make the first move. That being said, there are of course guys who take the initiative, but is can just as well be the girl - equality, right?
6. We don’t drive to and from dates
Now, I do realize not everyone other places drive everywhere, as we see it in Hollywood movies, but the point is still there. So if you find a Dane who actually do go on dates, then don’t expect them to drive to the meeting point - they’ll most likely arrive by bike or maybe public transportation in some cases. The reason, besides also not being a people too dependent on cars, is that we want to be able to grab a beer or more, so we can get our hidden social skills up to the surface, and that does not go well with a car.
7. We don’t date more than one person at a timecourse“dates”,Danish
First of all, we don’t date, as you probably noticed. We “hang out” or “see someone”. If we start “hanging out” or “seeing someone” then we only go out with that person. Again, of course, the youth is more open to the “dating” concept, but the point is still there. It takes very few “dates” before it would be considered direct cheating to kiss someone else for instance. That is even if you haven’t defined anything yet. In Danish, we have a gender neutral word for boyfriend/girlfriend, which is “Kærester”. If you are in doubt if you are “Kærester” (e.g. if you haven’t talked about it yet) then you are considered “Kærester”.
8. We’re slow on the uptake
Yes, yes, yes, we Scandinavians don’t make it easy on anyone. We have a hard time getting really close and personal (emotionally) with another person, even after falling for them. Even though we might meet our partner when out and about, we also tend to first befriend them (if we don’t start off with hooking up at a party at first meet) and then gradually get closer and closer, ending up as a couple.
9. We may be exclusive from the get-go but we still go out with our friends
Now, I know I just explained that we befriend our future partner and get close with them gradually, but at the same time we’re also often very close with our friends without it being romantic. Sleeping over at a friend of the other sex’s house is not weird, being in a relationship with someone or not. So while we’re slow on the uptake, you’re also expected to deal with us being very very friendly with our friends without getting jealous.
Yes, we are a complicated people.
Okay, so now you have our weird “dating life” figured out - or at least you’re warned. But then where to go for “hanging out” or for a date? Now hopefully you, just as well as I, know Denmark is much more than just Copenhagen, but I will still limit my advice to this area, as this is my city.
Picture found here
1. Going for a coffee (or beer):
Now for many Danes the entire “sit down and talk intensively without alcohol” is pretty terrifying if you don’t know each other very well yet. But somehow coffee still manages to somehow create that relaxed feeling that a beer can do as well - just without the alcohol. So generally if you’re going for a coffee or a beer, then dim light and a cozy atmosphere are essential for that relaxed romantic feeling, where you can feel comfortable. Another note to make is that most cafés also serve beer, which gives the perfect middle way between the awkward dinner and conversation and the too relaxed and not-so-romantic “let’s meet at a bar”. I’ve here listed a few cafés/bars that would be perfect for creating this atmosphere for you.
Picture found here
I’ve already blogged about this place, but it truly is a good café to go to, if you’re aiming for a cozy, laid back and non-conservative café. The place is filled with big armchairs, where you can almost disappear down in one of them in the dim light making the basement seem like one of those caves you built as a child. Having not two of the same tables or chairs and candlelights on most even surfaces, the entire place invites you into an atmosphere where you don’t have to think much about superficial worries and can just as safe as you did in the cave you built in the living room of your childhood home. (They also make incredible mojitos here).
Picture found here
Kaffebiksen is a brand new café located on the border between Frederiksberg and Nørrebro. The place especially aims to appeal to the younger crowd, serving strong coffee and cheap simple appetizers and meals. The place has, just like The Living Room a cozy cave-like atmosphere with dim light. Though here you won't find cozy armchairs. Instead, you will find trendy wooden furniture, perfectly in the true Copenhagen style, very much in line with the classic “Berlin cafés”. The place offers a classic underground city feeling, which is perfect for setting anything but an uptight mood for a date.
Picture found here
If a regular café isn’t stimulating enough for a date but true adventure might not be in the cards for you and your date yet, then Bastard Café is the perfect choice. Here you truly have the atmosphere that both invites you in for a beer and a coffee. Furthermore, the café offers you 1300+ different board and card games, which gives you the perfect excuse to play and somehow lighten the weight of the conversation. So if you’re a little worried about the conversation, then a board game is the perfect way to get something to talk about without stopping any other kind of conversation. A very relaxed and easy way to get to know each other - just remember not to be too competitive (we don’t want the date to be ruined by a bad looser).
2. Adventures and trips
If a coffee or a beer seems a little too relaxed for you, Copenhagen offers a lot of different activities you can indulge in together with your date. This is always an easy way to lighten some of the pressure as you have something to do in each others company.
Picture found here
#1 Dyrehaven + Bakken
North from Copenhagen, in one of the richer districts, you will find a huge park. Perfect for a walk or for renting a horse and going by horseback through. The landscape here is beautiful and you can even find a castle in the middle of the park, giving you the Disney fairy tale experience. The castle is not the only thing hidden within the park. If you walk 10-15 min. on the main road from the entrance at Klampenborg train station, you will find an old amusement park, which is still open in the summer period. The amusement park can brag with nothing less than being the world’s oldest operating amusement park, having opened back in 1583. The entrance is open for everyone, so you can easily walk through and feel the atmosphere without any cost, but if you want to try one of the many rides, you will have to pay a smaller fee for this.
Another amusement park, probably also a little more known to the world, is Tivoli. This I have also been blogging about before. But the atmosphere here is perfect for a romantic and fun date, where you don’t have the pressure of keeping a constant conversation going either. The lights and the old school design of the park, makes it feel like walking around in the scene of a classic romantic movie - especially after dark. If you’re up for a true romantic cliché when they’re best, take the air balloon ride, allowing you to get a view over inner Copenhagen while sitting only you two in a small “basket”, getting cozy. This is truly where most kisses are stolen and most couples are found.
Picture found here
#3 Rickshaw tour
Now rickshaws it not only something you will find in New Delhi or Mumbai in India. Here in Copenhagen various companies offer rickshaw tours. You can both find arranged tours and just grab a rickshaw cab to go from one place to another. Take one of the many rickshaws and e.g. pack some food or buy a champagne or coffee to go, and enjoy the view going through the streets of Copenhagen while sitting comfortably with your date very very close to you. Can it get more romantic?
(and as you can see here, even Rihanna loves the rickshaws of Copenhagen, driving home from a visit to Tivoli amusement park)
Picture found here
#4 Canal tours (Nettobådene)
Copenhagen is filled with water. We have a huge harbor front and canals, making it the optimal place to go for a tour by boat. Now there are two main companies offering this, and I would personally recommend the less known Nettobådende as these are less expensive and you can bring along your own food and drinks. Here you can enjoy sailing around while seeing and hearing about the history of Copenhagen. Again, if you take it by night (or twilight) the lights will with no doubt give you the perfect setting for a romantic date.
Picture found here
#5 Copenhagen Cable Park
Now, if you’re a little more adventurous, then Copenhagen Cable Park is a good place to go. It’s a foam spouting paradise for water-loving daredevils who, via wires stretched between six "pylons" in the water, can let themselves be dragged along on wakeboard or water ski at 30 km / h. A perfect way to test some boundaries and get the adrenaline pumping through the veins - what is better than a bit of fear to make two people get closer to one another?
#6 Water-bikes on the lakes
Another water activity which is a little less scary than the Cable Park and a little more private than the canal tours is the water bikes on the lakes. The swan shaped water bikes are a perfect way of getting a simple activity to do, but still not making it too big of a deal. Take some food and/or drinks with you out (e.g. from Kaffesalonen, where you also rent the water bikes) and enjoy a little light exercise while floating around on the still waters of the lakes of Copenhagen. The water-bikes however, is only open for the summer period but is you are lucky the lakes can offer you a natural ice skating area instead - also perfect for a date. And if there’s no ice on there, you can always swing by Frederiksberg Runddel, where it’s also possible to rent ice skaters.
So it doesn’t matter if you’re dating a Dane (or a foreigner living here) or just visiting Denmark with your partner - these places will guarantee you a nice day in good company and nice surroundings. So no excuse for not opening your heart up a little bit and try the Danish romance.