Living in an Expat World: What is Danish summer?
Tiny Maerschalk

August 26th, 2018

This article is more than 5 years old.

In my experience, Danes associate summer with rain, wind and low temperatures. However, that is not the case this year. On the contrary, DMI has confirmed that July 2018 was the hottest and sunniest month in Danish history.

As temperatures have continued to increase, I have come to ask myself: what does a Danish summer entail and what do you do in a nearly tropical Denmark?

A plan for all seasons
Upon arrival in Denmark you will see bicycles, bicycles … and more bicycles. Danes use them as a means of transport to work and studies and for leisure. But cycling is apparently also in high demand during the summer holidays. A recent VisitDenmark study shows that 9.6 million pedalling tourists stayed overnight in 2017 – 6.6 million internationals and 3 million Danes holidaying at home.

This explains why you see Danes in colourful tights along the roads. But what does it tell us of the Danish summer? It definitely confirms that Denmark is a cycling nation for Danes and internationals alike – even when temperatures rise.

In my opinion, cycling provides expats with an opportunity to explore the coastline, small-talk with Danes and taste Danish summer treats.

The guf of legends
Although there are many treats in Denmark, I will focus on one: ‘gammeldags isvafler’. The word might be tricky to pronounce, but to Danes it is a must-eat in the summer. Usually, it consists of an ice-cream cone, ice-cream, jam, ‘guf’ and a ‘flødebolle’.

Personally, I am not yet fond of ‘guf’. But I have found that ‘flødeboller’ are somewhat of a cornerstone in Danish food culture. Often served at schools and workplaces as birthday treats, they are also part of the summertime menu.

Drought discussions
So there you have three topics: exceptional temperatures, cycling and ice-cream. To internationals these might function as advice on what to do in Denmark or even as conversation-starters. Sometimes Danes are referred to as reserved, closed-off and difficult to befriend. Yet, this does not mean we can’t try?

So as things get warmer in the state of Denmark, internationals might have to go with the flow, grab a bike and a helmet, have an overwhelming ice-cream and strike up a conversation about the ongoing drought. To me, these are three goods ways of exploring Denmark and the Danish summer mentality anno 2018.


Tiny Maerschalk

Belgium’s Tiny Maerschalk, who has worked for the International Community networking platform since its foundation in 2008, knows how it feels to settle in a new country. Dedicated to improving conditions for new arrivals, here she shares her insights about the business issues that mean the most to internationals in Denmark.


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