Summer houses: How to vacation like a Dane

by Luisa Geitmann-Mügge

Have you ever heard your Danish (or German) colleagues or friends talk about spending their vacation at a summer house and wondered what this is all about?

Summer or vacation houses are a big deal in Denmark and you might get a better idea of why that is so by reading on.

Summer houses then and now

The history of the Danish summer, vacation and weekend houses started in Hornbæk (Sjælland) in 1886 where the citizens were longing for establishing a more natural and direct relationship to the nature around them

Some of the first summer houses, which were built alongside a cliff at Horneby Strand, were villa-like buildings – commissioned by members of the upper class and large enough to accommodate household staff.

With Horneby Strand being the first of its kind,an increasing number of areas across the country became dedicated summer house “colonies” and by the early 20th century, more and more societal groups were able to join the fun.

Working- and middle-class people started building more primitive and significantly smaller summer houses (lysthuse) close to the bigger cities.

These smaller houses are reminiscent of small huts and houses to be found in allotment gardens (kolonihaver) – where they originated from.

Since the good old days, the public authorities have been getting increasingly involved in regulating summer houses.

There is a number of laws and regulations with limit who can built what kind of summer house where.

Nevertheless, the number of summer houses kept increasing with a significant boom in the 1960s and 70s, where middle-class city-dwellers – mostly families – started to look for an escape from their apartments.

In the same period, building summer houses was professionalised with the establishment of companies specialised in building and delivering “ready-to-move-in” summer houses.

Since the 1960s and until today, renting out your summer house to friends, family and often tourists has become very common.

Thanks to there being companies that provide all services from a booking system, handing out keys to cleaning after the guests – renting out your summer house is made relatively easy.

A majority of the international tourists renting summer houses from Danish families are  – who would have thought – their neighbours from Germany.

Fun facts about summer houses

  • According to estimates, about every 20th person living in Denmark owns a summer house.
  • Only 5% of all owners of summer houses are under the age of 40.
  • There is only three out of the 98 Danish municipalities where you will not find a summer house.
  • Since the introduction of a law prohibiting summer houses to be built within a 100-meter strip from the water line in 1937, there has been – and still are – legal cases against illegal builts.
  • Most summer houses stay in the possession of a family for longer than regular houses.
  • Even the owner of a summer house is not allowed to live there all year round. Only pensioners can have their primary residence at a summer house and live there.

Del artikel

Andre læser også