If this is your first Christmas in Denmark or the first time you haven’t planned a holiday elsewhere, why not consider staying in a summer house you haven’t been to before and have a holly, jolly Christmas. You might discover new Danish traditions or even make friends with your local neighbours during your stay.
Text: Ophelia Wu
What comes to mind when you think of a Danish Christmas? Tivoli? Julefrokost? Or the smell of gløgg? What about Summer houses? Chances are, when you’re in Denmark, you have seen empty streets during summer as if the cities are left with only half the population. The concept of summer houses in Denmark is probably like the country houses in the UK (think Cotswolds) and US (think Hamptons). Every now and then, families want to get away from the bustling cities and retreat into a quiet and peaceful place or a common meeting point for all family members who live around the world.
The Danes and their Summer houses
Summer houses are very rooted in the Danes' lifestyle, and they date back to 400 years ago when the government started giving out small plots of land to industrial workers who live in a crowded city, so they have a chance to get away from all that for some fresh air and quiet time. This has led to over 200,000 summer houses in the country - some on the coast with an endless sea view, some in the middle of the woods, and some on the many islands. As internationals, some might be unfamiliar with this concept of having a little summer house in the countryside. In some countries, the cost of having a countryside cottage is too high, some might find it unnecessary. So while we’re all here in Denmark now, we might as well take advantage of it and experience it if you haven’t been invited to one before. Yes, it’s not summer yet, but how about using them as a mini-Christmas get-together or getaway? With some uncertainties of travelling still hanging in the air, domestic getaways are the next best thing.
These Danish summerhouses come in all shapes and sizes, and they are all over the country. Wherever you choose, one thing for sure is that they are quintessentially Danish - you will find yourself amongst the most simple Danish design, with access to nature and a good night's sleep.
A Danish staycation
There are plenty of things, or not that many, to do around Christmas in Denmark. But, it depends on what you enjoy - spending a week in one of the summerhouses on Bornholm or Fyn, even in North Jutland, can be rejuvenating. Exploring the local Christmas markets are as festive and nostalgic as a fairy tale, or looking into the clear skies and star gazing while you contemplate your life, these summerhouses are sure to be a base for you to explore everything around town.
While not all 200,000 summer houses are available for rent, because, let’s be honest- these are houses owned by families, inherited from their grandparents, not everyone is comfortable renting out their private sanctuary, especially over festive seasons. But imagine being in a cosy cottage on the coast with the backdrop of some mighty old pine trees, the hurling wind, and the crisp cold air outside the window in stark contrast with the crackling sound of a wood-burning fireplace while you sit around with your loved ones, warm and toasty, covered with a woollen blanket and a cup of mulled wine (gløgg) as they call it here. Isn’t that dreamy and cosy? Hyggelig is the word you will be using for sure.
"You have to remember, Danes retreat to their summer houses when they are not working and during holidays, so these houses are meant for relaxing and recharging yourself while being semi-detached to the busy world outside."
You have to remember, Danes retreat to their summerhouses when they are not working and during holidays, so these houses are meant for relaxing and recharging yourself while being semi-detached to the busy world outside. Don’t expect to find a McDonald’s right at your doorstep, but you will find delicious and healthy local produce. I don’t know about your experience, but when I was living in London, I found the idea of going to the countryside in Cotswolds or a tiny village up in Scotland near one of the Loches very exciting. The times I spent in those little cottages with homemade breakfast, long strolls in quaint old towns and whatever nature was close by were just so calming and soothing. I had the best sleep and woke up to birds singing and the warm sunlight - they always made me feel reinvigorated. What’s not to love? There are no flights to catch, it’s easily accessible by road, it’s sustainable, and you can even make stops along the way to explore more towns. Perhaps the budget might end up the same as a ski package in Germany, but a domestic staycation sounds less stressful given the current situation.