Updated on November 6, 2023 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

Before 2020, Denmark’s tourism industry had a string of record years, and it’s now on its way back to where it was before the corona pandemic. Every year, up to 12.8 million foreign tourists visit Denmark, with the capital Copenhagen seeing an 88 percent growth in overnight visitors in the last decade. As a result, Copenhagen is at the forefront of a very favourable trend in Denmark’s tourism sector, and one of the most frequently visited cities in Northern Europe, according to tourism statistics.

Tourism contributes 139.1 billion kroner to the Danish economy each year, and the tourism industry employed 171,400 people in 2019. Danish tourism generates 4.4 percent of Denmark’s total export revenue and provided DKK 46.8 billion in VAT, taxes, and penalties in 2018.

Overall figures for tourism in Denmark

  • Denmark is annually visited by 12.8 million foreign tourists.
  • In 2019, the total tourism consumption in Denmark was DKK 139.1 billion.
  • The foreign tourists accounted for 60.2 billion or 43.3 percent of the total tourism consumption.
  • With a consumption of DKK 16.7 billion, Germany is the largest foreign market for Danish tourism.
  • German tourists account for 28 percent of total foreign tourism consumption.
  • The majority of tourism consumption, 74 percent, is accounted by holiday tourists.
  • Danish and foreign business travelers account for 26 percent of total consumption.
  • The number of overnight stays broke a record in 2019, reaching 35.2 million. This was an increase of 3 percent compared to the previous year.
  • The 3 percent increase in the number of overnight stays from 2018 to 2019 corresponds to 911,600 overnight stays.
  • Tivoli in Copenhagen is the most popular attraction in Denmark and receives 4.85 million visitors annually.
  • Since 2001, Spain has been the Danes’ favorite destination for holiday trips lasting longer than four nights.
  • Germany is the Danes’ favorite destination country for shorter holiday trips with three or fewer nights.

When it comes to total tourism consumption in Denmark, it is evident that neighbouring Germany is by far the largest foreign market, yet the majority of tourism earnings are generated by Danes themselves. It increased the entire turnover of tourism-related products from 92 billion to 132 billion kroner between 2013 and 2018. That’s a 44 percent increase in just five years.

The goal of the Danish tourism national policy is to boost tourism sales to DKK 140 billion by 2025. This, of course, necessitates our ability to provide a positive vacation experience for travellers in Denmark. Fortunately, travellers that visit Denmark are typically pleased with the country and rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Denmark is also the favoured destination within the Nordic countries, accounting for up to 45 percent of all international visitors’ overnight stays in the region, a percentage that has been consistent for many years. Denmark even boosted its proportion of international overnight stays to 60% in 2020, owing to the fact that Denmark opened up to tourism from countries with restricted infection in the summer of 2020, resulting in a lesser drop in foreign overnight stays than neighbouring nations.

Holiday length, type of stay and daily consumption

  • At the end of December 2019, there were a total of 56 million overnight stays in holiday homes, hotels, holiday centres, hostels, campsites, and other tourism accommodation establishments. The arrivals differ widely from region to region, with the most visited one being the Copenhagen Capital Region.
  • In 2018, there were 19.5 million overnight stays in Danish holiday homes.
  • In 2019, this figure rose to 20.8 million overnight stays – an increase of 6 percent.
  • As many as 37 percent or 20.7 million of these overnight stays were made in rented vacation homes.
  • The Germans accounted for as much as 13.3 million of the 20.7 million overnight stays in holiday homes in 2019, which corresponds to 64.15 percent.
  • 30 per cent of the total overnight stays are made in hotels, 20 per cent in campsites, 7 per cent in holiday centres, 4 per cent in hostels and 1 per cent in marinas.
  • Coastal and nature tourists have the highest overnight stay average of 6.4 nights and an average daily consumption of 750 kroner.
  • Business trips have the highest daily consumption of DKK 3,300, but in return the lowest overnight stay of just two nights.
  • The city tourists place themselves between the other two categories with an average of 2.7 nights and daily consumption of 2,150 kroner.
  • Holiday homes account for the largest proportion of overnight stays.

When you look at the various tourism data in Denmark, it becomes evident that they are heavily reliant on German visitors in particular. In 2019, German tourists accounted for 58 percent of the total 28.9 million international overnight stays. Norway and Sweden came in second and third positions, with 2.3 million and 1.7 million overnight stays. The rest of the people traveling to Denmark were mostly from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, France, China, and India.

Coastal and nature vacations are the most popular kind of vacation for German visitors to Denmark, and Danish holiday homes are the most common type of lodging. Varde municipality, which has 3.4 million overnight stays and is the most popular municipality to rent a holiday property in, is in the fourth position among the Danish municipalities with the highest tourist turnover. Ringkbing-Skjern municipality is in fifth place, a hair’s breadth behind Varde municipality, with 3.3 million overnight stays each year.

Coastal and nature tourism account for 71% of overnight stays in Denmark, while metropolitan tourism has more than doubled in recent years, benefiting total tourism turnover significantly because business and metropolitan travellers consume significantly more per day than coastal and nature tourists.

Metropolitan tourism in Copenhagen

  • In 2018, tourism in Copenhagen created a tax revenue of DKK 11 billion.
  • Tourism in Copenhagen is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year.
  • In Copenhagen, as much as 64 percent of tourism revenue comes from foreign tourists. In the rest of the country, this figure is 36 percent, and the layer cake chart is, so to speak, reversed.
  • The Nørrebro district in Copenhagen has just been named the world’s coolest district in 2021.
  • Three of the four of the most popular sights in Denmark are located in Copenhagen. These are Tivoli, Bakken and the Zoo in Copenhagen, which occupy first, second and fourth place respectively over Denmark’s most popular sights.
  • In 2018, Copenhagen accounted for 25% of the total Danish tourism turnover.
  • Up to half of the big city tourists in Copenhagen choose the city due to personal recommendations from friends and family.
  • 90 percent of Danish city tourists are satisfied with their holiday in Denmark. 59 percent answer that they would recommend friends and family to holiday in Denmark, and 32 percent will most likely come back within two years.

If you look at the municipalities with the highest tourism turnover, the capital Copenhagen and the country’s second-largest city Aarhus are unsurprisingly first and second, but Copenhagen is without a doubt Denmark’s most popular destination.

Where the coastal areas account for volume, Copenhagen accounts for a major portion of the rise, which bodes well for Copenhagen, which CNN selected as one of 20 suggested destinations for 2020.

Tourists come to the Danish capital, which provides various attractions, hotels, shopping options, and dining experiences. In fact, the area of Nørrebro was crowned the world’s coolest district in 2021. The future of Danish metropolitan tourism appears to be bright. At least, that’s what the recent media coverage of both Aarhus and Copenhagen suggests.


Danish tourism after the corona pandemic

  • In 2020, the number of tourist overnight stays fell to 44.6 million. A decrease of 44.3 percent from the previous year.
  • Danish overnight stays increased by 4.8 per cent, which, however, was not enough to offset the decline in foreign tourist overnight stays.
  • The peak season in Denmark grew significantly in 2020, when more Danes chose to stay within the country’s borders during the summer holidays.
  • It is estimated that the total loss in Danish tourism revenue in 2020 was DKK 40.6 billion.

Before the economic crisis, Danish tourism had been growing steadily for seven years, as assessed by the number of overnight stays. The holiday rental market in 2020 was on track for another record year, but the corona epidemic put a short halt to Danish tourism growth. Due to limitations in air traffic, it should come as no surprise that European tourists made up over 85% of international inbound visitors to Denmark, according to data from the World Tourism Organization.

International tourism has declined sharply worldwide, reaching levels lower than those seen during the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, and there is no reason to believe that Denmark has seen a similar decrease.

Denmark was the first EU country to eliminate all corona limitations, indicating that Danish tourism is on the mend chevalier. Although there are still a few percentage points to go to reach the 2019 level, recent data shows that summer nights in 2021 will be similar to those in 2017.

There were 1.8 million more people visiting Denmark for more than one day in June, July, and August 2021 than in the same months last year, and while this is still lower than in 2019, it indicates that tourism in the post-COVID world is slowly returning to the levels seen before the pandemic.