A person hiking along Skallingen on the West coast.

What is friluftsliv?

Photo: Anne Nørkjær

Say hello to another untranslateable Danish word. Friluftsliv literally means ‘living in the free air’ and it’s about our love of the outdoors. Grab a rainproof coat and come and find out what this Scandinavian lifestyle concept is all about.

A man hiking at Hornbæk plantage, North Zealand, Denmark
Photo: Daniel Overbeck - VisitNordsjælland
Dueodde strand - Stefan Asp
Photo: Stefan Asp

How Danes embrace friluftsliv

For Danes, friluftsliv is a form of disconnecting from our hectic lives and reconnecting with the nature around us. In Denmark, you are never far from nature. Even when you live in the centre of Copenhagen, you’re only a 10-minute metro ride from the heath-like Kalvebod Fælled and the free-roaming deer in Dyrehaven Deer Park north of the city. The same goes for the coast. No matter where you are in Denmark, you are never more than 52 kilometres (32 miles) from the coast.

Campings in Denemarken | Kosten en tips | VisitDenmark

Photo:© Niclas Jessen

What sort of activities fit the bill?

Almost anything that encompasses nature! So that could be swimming, hiking, or picking oysters off the beach on the west coast. It could be mountain biking or running trails in the forest, or it could be forest bathing (a new trend where people take a meditative approach to walking in the woods). It could be hunting for trolls. And while the idea of friluftsliv is embraced by all of Scandinavia, there’s one difference when it comes to how we do it in Denmark: mountain climbing does not count. That's 100% because the best we have is hills ⛰️

Løvtag treehouse
Photo: Søren Larsen
Vakantie Denemarken duur? Verblijf in de gratis natuur shelters
Photo: Jesper Balleby, LUMO Arkitekter

What's great about friluftsliv right now?

Many Danes have used friluftsliv as a way to get out of their home offices and find new ways of exploring their own surroundings. New hiking and biking routes have opened, for example the Ice Age walking route, Istidsruten, and the 27-km Amarmino hiking route. And new friluftsliv experiences are popping up all the time, including stargazing shelters at the Brorfelde Observatory and the glamping yurts at Camp Adventure, and the Løvtag treetop houses.

Winter swimmers in North Jutland.

Photo:Mette Johnsen

What should I wear?

The classic saying associated with friluftsliv is: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.’ Let’s be honest here: experiencing the changing seasons is a part of the charm of Danish weather, and that weather can be a bit unpredictable, so wellies and a raincoat always come in handy. Check out the aptly-named Danish brand Rains for items that, in true Danish fashion, combine beautiful and design-led with useful. 

Oysters by the Wadden Sea
Photo: Frame & Work, Thomas Høyrup Christensen
Campingvan am Strand von Dänemark
Photo: LABAN Stories

How do you pronounce friluftsliv?

Be careful - the word also exist in Swedish and Norwegian but they say it slightly differently! When you’re pronouncing it in Danish, say it like this: ‘free – lufts – leee – u’ and you'll sound like one of us. 

Now get out there and enjoy it!

These are some of our favourite ways to enjoy friluftsliv in Denmark.

The annualSkagen Winter Swimming Festival takes place in late January
Winter swimming in Denmark
Thy National Park, Denmark
Go on an outdoor adventure
Par på gåtur i solskinnet i Nationalpark Thy
Denmark's wild and beautiful national parks
Surfer at Klitmøller
Adventure sports in Denmark
Camp Adventure auf Seeland
Camp Adventure Treetop Experience
Woman in Rold Forest in autumn, Himmerland, North Jutland
Treat yourself to some room to breathe