Statistically, Denmark is one of the safest countries in the world, meaning that visitors have little to worry about in terms of crime and women need not fear harassment in public nearly as much as they do in the United States. Still, if you visit this Scandinavian country, follow a few basic safety precautions so that you don't give petty thieves an easy target.
- The U.S. State Department recommends that travelers "Reconsider Travel" to Denmark due to COVID-19.
- Prior to COVID-19, the U.S. State Department advised travelers to "Exercise Extreme Caution" in Denmark due to the possibility of terrorism.
- The U.K. Foreign Office notes that pickpockets and purse-snatchers operate in crowded areas of Denmark, such as train stations and shopping malls. There have also been some recent violent clashes between biker gangs and local groups, particularly in the capital, Copenhagen.
Is Denmark Dangerous?
Even though you could spend weeks exploring all of the fairytale towns around Denmark, most travelers start and end their Danish vacation in Copenhagen, the capital and largest city. Considering Copenhagen is such a busy city, it's amazing to consider its low crime rates compared to other European capitals. According to Bustle, for example, Copenhagen had a rate of only 0.3 homicides for every 100,000 residents, making it safer than Madrid, Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague, and Bucharest.
As with any other destination, though, you should keep an eye on your wallet or purse. Although not especially common, pickpockets and other petty criminals operate at many tourist attractions, train stations (especially in the city's main train station, Nørreport Station), and on its major shopping street Strøget as well as other areas popular with tourists such as Christiania, Nyhavn, and Kongens Nytorv.
Is Denmark Safe for Solo Travelers?
Denmark is arguably one of the safest countries in the world to travel alone. Whether you're staying in Copenhagen or exploring the countryside, it's easy to get around. If you do get lost or need assistance, the locals are friendly and many have at least a basic level of English, if not better, so just ask a passerby for help.
There are many well-known nightclubs in Denmark's biggest cities, especially in Copenhagen and Aarhus. Travelers can safely go out alone and you'll likely befriend locals or other travelers, but be aware of illegal drug use which is common in some venues. Plainclothes narcotics officers have arrested many foreigners for purchasing or consuming drugs.
If you venture out of Copenhagen on your own into rural Denmark, it's even safer in terms of crime although other services may be more limited. Many residents in rural areas do not speak or understand English well enough to help you with a safety issue, and emergency response times by police and ambulances may be slower in these regions.
Is Denmark Safe for Female Travelers?
When it comes to gender equality, Denmark is considered one of the top countries in the world. In fact, a 2020 study by U.S. News places Denmark as the best country for women. It's easy for female travelers to get around and the country is exceptionally safe, much more so than in the U.S. Even catcalling on the street is a rare occurrence in Denmark.
One area where women should be especially vigilant is when going out at night. Even though bars and clubs are generally safe, a 2020 report by OSAC notes that the use of date-rape drugs in Denmark has increased. If you can, go out with a group of people who you trust, keep your drink with you at all times, and never accept drinks from a stranger.
Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers
Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly countries in the world, and travelers needn't worry about common concerns such as showing affection in public with a same-sex partner or identifying as a different gender from your ID. In 2021, Copenhagen is co-hosting World Pride along with the neighboring city of Malmö, Sweden, an indication of progressive attitudes across the city and region.
Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers
Even though Denmark is exceedingly safe for travelers of color, as well, there are some instances that BIPOC visitors should be heedful of. Anti-Islam sentiment exists not just with far-right groups but also in mainstream politics, as evidenced by the passing of the headline-grabbing "burqa ban" that was passed in 2018, forbidding women to wear any garment that covers their face. Occasionally, hate crimes are perpetrated against Muslims by extreme-right or white nationalist groups.
Danish culture is often described as hygge, which translates to the warm and cozy feeling of being with friends but can also be used more broadly to refer to the ideas of simplicity, politeness, and equality that define Denmark. Unfortunately, those ideals have given rise to a new concept called hyggeracisme, or hygge racism, where Danes prefer to ignore racism instead of acknowledging it.
Safety Tips for Travelers
- Remember that photography in the "self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood" of Christiania in Copenhagen is strictly prohibited, and tourists have been attacked for not abiding.
- Thieves are known to operate in busy hotel lobbies and in cafes and restaurants. Keep your personal belongings, including passports and money, secure when you are out and about.
- Street gambling is a common tourist scam on the popular Strøget Street, with one example having to guess which cup has a ball underneath. These games are designed to take money from tourists, so don't try playing.
- If you need to contact emergency services, dial 112 from any phone.
U.S. Department of State. "COVID-19 Information." November 16, 2020.
U.S. Department of State. "Denmark Travel Advisory." August 6, 2020.
U.K. Foreign Office. "Foreign Travel Advice Denmark." 2020.
U.S. News. "Best Countries for Women." 2020.
Overseas Security Advisory Council. "Denmark 2020 Crime and Safety Report." April 6, 2020.