How to Find a House to Hygge in when you visit Denmark
(Originally posted in 2017, updated 2021)
Want to know how the Danes do summer? Simple. Seek out a summer house. And find your own hygge. That communal sense of slowing down and focusing on being together in a comfortable place with your family or friends. You’ll be grateful once you find it. But know that there are rules about how to hygge in a Danish sommerhus. But what if you don’t know the rules? Don’t worry. I’m here to help. And give you some tips on how to find one.
The Danish summer house is simple. And cozy. Not lavish or large. A cottage. A home. Near the sea. Clean and concise. Like the Danes. And dare I say it – darn hyggeligt. You may have heard this Danish word hygge. Lots and lots of posts and books and articles have been written about it, how the Danes have it, how it makes them happy. How you need it in your life. How to get it in your life. Danes also love that hygge is untranslatable. Somehow that makes it theirs alone. And while I appreciate that much of the Danish language feels untranslatable, I don’t believe this is true. You too can feel hygge. You don’t have to be Danish. And a sommerhus is a wonderful place to try.”
– Summer House Hygge, Oregon Girl Around the World
Get outside the city
Come to Copenhagen she said. In fact, I say it all the time. But don’t stay here for your entire visit to Denmark. There is so much more to this country than the capital. And much of it is along the coast. Did you know that there is no place in Denmark that is more than 52 kilometers from the water? And there are so many charming villages and towns to see along the seaside. Heading for a break near the water is a very Danish respite. And most likely it happens in a summer house. A Danish sommerhus.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #1:
Find a place to unplug near nature.
WHERE TO SUMMER HOUSE IN DENMARK
The “Danish Riviera” stretches across the northern part of Sjælland from Helsingør to charming towns and beautiful sandy beaches starting in Hornbæk, Gilleleje, Tisvildeleje, and Liseleje. Or roll through Roskilde and head out towards Odsherred area and Rørvig. Further south, look to the island of Møn for gorgeous hiking and dark skies. On Falster, look in the beach community of Marielyst Strand.
On the northwest coast of Jutland, summer house communities began developing around stunning Skagen at the top of Denmark as well towns like Løkken and Blokhus along the North Sea coastline. Check out “Cold Hawaii” near Klitmøller and the beautiful Thy National Park. Or explore the fishing and oyster hunting prevalent in the enormous Limfjord area. The wild west coast offers huge beautiful beaches and water sports. Further south, the beautiful Wadden Sea National Park offers wide beaches and wildlife – look for spots on the islands of Fanø and Rømø. On the east side of Jutland, check out the charming summer villages like Ebeltoft and Grenaa.
Pick an island, any island – Denmark has plenty. Popular ones for summer holidays are Samsø, Anholt, Læsø and Ærø. And don’t forget Funen, Denmark’s island region in the middle. We loved Helnæs and Faaborg – which is a great jumping-off point for the archipelago of islands that litter Fyn’s southern shore. Look for spots on Æro or around Helnæs.
But the best place, I now believe, is Bornholm. An island off the coast of southern Sweden, Bornholm is a beautiful Danish microcosm of cozy. There are so many opportunities to discover summer house hygge here.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #2:
Bring people together.
Summer house Agencies
You can find listings via Airbnb, but you’ll be missing so many potential spots. Every local tourist board has links to summer houses for rent in their region. The following booking sites have the largest selections across the country and can help you find that special place to bring your people together and create those hygge memories.
Dansommer has one of the largest online collections of summer houses in Denmark. Here you can search for houses based on your specific needs, wants, and desires. I love that you can filter for homes that are energy efficient and by their distance to the water.
Formerly SommerhusDanmark.dk, here you can search through privately owned summer house rentals. No agency rules to work through and communication is direct with the owner.
Sister company to Dansommer, sharing many offices and resources across the country. Both companies are part of the larger Wyndham Vacation Properties.
Sol og Strand, or “sun and beach” in English, is a Denmark-specific summer house agency and prides itself in knowing and helping with not only the vacation rental but activities and sights near your rental. They have 5800 rental properties and strive for quality over quantity.
With 10,000 houses, Dancenter has the largest collection of homes to let online.
Specializes in holiday homes and summer houses on the wild west coast of Jutland, Denmark. Find specialty spots for stays in the charming and quirky Tyskerhavnen in Hvide Sande here.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #3:
Make it comfy.
BRING YOUR OWN SHEETS:
The easiest way to get comfy is carrying along your own linens. It is standard for Danish summer houses to provide duvets and pillows, but you will need to bring your own covers, sheets and towels.
Visiting Denmark from somewhere else? Don’t have space in your hand luggage for all that? Don’t worry, you can rent a linen package from most of the different rental agencies. Check ahead.
Linen Package usually includes:
Duvet/pillowcase, sheet for 1 person, 1 towel, 1 big bathing towel, 1 kitchen towel and 1 cloth. Costs around 100 DKK per person.
Doesn’t seem as cozy to borrow sheets? You can get comfy by bringing casual clothes to curl up in with your closest friends.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #4:
Share good food.
FOOD AND DRINK
Find the local fish shop or smokehouse (røgeri in Danish) for local delicacies. Support the nearby farm stand and buy some new potatoes or fresh rhubarb and strawberries. Pick ripe red currants, known as ribs in these parts. Cooking together and eating definitely together ups your hygge factor.
And don’t fret, all Danish summer houses will have dishes, utensils, cookware, and glasses for your use. Basic appliances like coffee maker, toaster and sometimes microwave may be available. If it is important for your holiday stay, make sure to clarify before booking. Any and all food and drink will be yours to bring or buy along the way.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #5
Turn down the lights.
ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION IS EXTRA
It is normal and expected that you will be responsible for paying for how much electricity you use during your stay. (And sometimes water.) When you pick up your keys, you will receive a sheet to denote the starting meter measure when you arrive at the house. You can ask ahead what average consumption prices are for each specific house before renting.
Since you are paying for it, use less of it. Unplug and turn down. It’s greener AND more hyggeligt. Light some candles. Make a fire if there is a wood stove or a fire pit outside. Roasting marshmallows together or as the Danes do, cooking bread on a stick (snobrød) is a great way to hone some collective hygge.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #6
Everyone pitches in.
CLEANING AT THE END
In Denmark, you take your shoes off when inside. Doing so will help when it’s time to clean at the end. Summer houses need to be left in tip-top shape and the cleaning is your responsibility unless you book a final clean service with the rental agency. This can be booked beforehand or at the time of arrival. Final cleaning fees vary depending on house size but can add up to 1200 DKK on the total price. ($180 USD, €160)
Care to clean it yourself and save some kroner? Bring your own vinegar and baking soda or purchase at the local market. And make sure everyone pitches in. Hygge is about equality. There are no tall poppies here in Denmark and tasks should be shared. An egalitarian “many hands make light work,” ensures everyone contributes for the good of the group.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #7
Hygge makes you happy
Slow down. Get comfortable. Be casual. No drama. Play games. Eat food. Be together. Turn off the phone. Set aside some time each day to come together and consciously be together. Find when it best suits your peeps. This is your place to feel peace. With each other. With yourself. This is hygge.
MORE SUMMER HOUSE TIPS:
IMPORTANT TO NOTE:
- Normal Danish summer house rentals run one week from Saturday to Saturday.
- Check-in time is between 14:00-19:00. After hours arrivals need to be arranged ahead.
- Keys are normally picked up at a central location, not the house itself.
- Consumption of electricity is paid at the end.
- Check-out time is 10:00.
- Peak rental time is during the Danish school holidays between weeks 26-31 (late June to early August).
- Renting a summer house off-peak is cheaper and can be even cozier.
FACTS ABOUT DANISH SUMMER HOUSES
- 55% of all foreign tourist stays in Denmark are in a summer house.
- There are over 200,000 summer homes in Denmark. About 40,000 of them are available for rent.
- 90% of all Danish summer home rentals are members of the Danish Association of Holiday House Letters.
- Since 1973, when Denmark joined the European Union, foreigners have not been allowed to buy a Danish summer house.
- If you have special connections to Denmark or a specific house, you can apply for a limited number of exceptions to the above rule each year.
- Denmark saw a huge summer house building boom in the late 1960s and 1970s when the Danish economy was growing.
- All of the building prompted a law in 1977 that forbids building on the seafront and requires a 3 kilometer set back from the beach, making it difficult to find a waterfront property to rent.
- You are not allowed to live year-round in a summer house unless you are a pensioner (retiree).
Live like a local. Seek out a sommerhus.
For more about hygge – check out Meik Wiking’s A Little Book of Hygge | Danish Secrets to Happy Living.