Safe and stable, but still a nice place to visit

Lacking a military dictatorship, entrenched homophobia and site of a nuclear meltdown, Denmark only comes in fifth on Lonely Planet’s list of top destinations


The back-packersÂ’ bible, the Lonely Planet, has released its top ten must visit destinations for 2012 – and Denmark comes in at a rather average fifth.

The list is voted for by Lonely PlanetÂ’s panel of in-house travel experts, who judged Denmark to at least be a more worthy destination than Cuba, Taiwan or Switzerland.

And why? After repeatedly topping standards of living and happiness surveys, the Lonely Planet suggests visiting Denmark just to see how itÂ’s done.

“Danes have long tried to make the world a better place (think generous foreign aid programs and the pursuit of green technology) and they make sure that they lead by example: their homes are stylish recycling-savvy havens of hygge (a sense of contented cosiness) and their public spaces are enjoyed by all.”

Residents of expensive, cramped and bathroomless flats in Nørrebro and operators of trash incinerator plants might question this assessment. But the tip of their hat to Danish bicycle culture is definitely something most people here can associate with.

“You’re rarely more than a short pedal from the bracing seaside, the picturesque countryside or an architectural delight, making Denmark the perfect place to put pedal power into practice.”

Interestingly, DenmarkÂ’s cosy lifestyle and highly-coveted bicycle culture managed to lift it higher on the list than the Pacific island of New Caledonia and its “fabulous islandscapes and unique mélange of Gallic and Melanesian cultures” and Bhutan with its “Royal Manas National Park, prowled by some of the planetÂ’s last remaining tigers”.

Still, Denmark had a lot to live up to when compared to Uganda (number one of the list) with its enviable wildlife that has made remarkable comeback after the fall Idi Amin. 

And even tough the people in Burma (number two on the list) might still live under an oppressive military dictatorship, they still want you to visit. The National League of Democracy is now encouraging foreigners to visit after the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from 20 years of house arrest. Witness “timeless towns and countless pagodas” in a country “rimmed by mountains and white-sand beaches”.

But there are ways that Denmark can compete with the top two countries, however. Unlike Uganda, homosexuality is not illegal and punishable by death (a recent proposal). And while Burma might have some impressive beaches, the sand from Danish beaches is exported globally due to its light colour and fine grain.

Finally, while number three Ukraine might list the exploded remains of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor as a top tourist destination, a meltdown at the (sadly decomissioned) Barsebäck nuclear power plant in Sweden, a scant 20 kilometres from Copenhagen, could prove a big draw to the capital.

See the full list on the Lonely Planet’s website.

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