our 10 favorite places in Denmark
Denmark seem to have quite a nice reputation abroad. A place many people dream of visiting. And throughout the years the Danes have in fact made some positive impressions - internationally seen. Hans Christian Andersen was Danish. Kronborg - the castle where William Shakespeare’s drama about Hamlet took place - lies in Helsinore (Helsingør) Denmark. The Little Mermaid sits on a stone in the harbour of Copenhagen. And then there are a few industrial success stories like Bang & Olufsen (Luxury electronics), LEGO and Mærsk Line, one of the largest shipping companies in the world. When it comes to sports the Danes can also play a larger role. Soccer and handball seems to be national-sports whenever the national teams qualify for something big. Denmark even won the European Soccer Championship once. Back in 1992, but as they won over their German neighbours, they make sure those glory days are never forgotten!
But there are other places than Copenhagen that deserve a visit from foreigners traveling around. Well, in fact many Danes have never fully seen their own country, so the list can even be used by them!
Helsinore (Helsingør) & Kronborg: As mentioned above Kronborg was the place of the “Hamlet-drama”. The castle is located on a windy place by the entrance to Øresund with a great view to the swedish coast. The area is fantastic for walks and during the summer season, if the wind is not too strong, it is a great place for a picnic. If you are into fishing (angling) you may want to go for some garfish. They are said to be excellent in the waters around Kronborg. Don’t forget your angling permission though! The city of Helsinore is located just about a 10 minute walk from Kronborg. This is an old, very cosy trade city with plenty of small shops, cafés and art galleries. Particularly on a nice and sunny day Helsinore is impossible to resist!
Roskilde & The Cathedral: For the past millenium or so the cathedral has been the resting place for the Danish royals. You feel the wings of time as you enter the building. The cathedral can be seen over most of the city because it’s situated on elevated grounds with a great view over Roskilde Fjord. If you are up to it you may want to walk down to the shore, where the Viking Ship Museum (Vikingeskibsmuseet) is located. It has some very exciting workshops where you can see exactly how they used to build the ships. Inside the halls of the museum you can see the restored remains of some real viking ships, retrieved from the bottom of the fiord nearby. Roskilde also have hundreds of shops, cafés, restaurants and endless options for a great night out.
Ærø: The main city Ærøskøbing is a quirky and very cosy old trade city. You will fall in love with the timbered houses immediately. Lots of small shops, cafés and life everywhere during the summer months. This is because it is an attractive destination for people arriving on sailboats/yachts during the season. The island has its own brewery, Rise Bryggeri, with a café open during the summer season. Don’t forget to reserve your tickets for the ferry in due time if you wish to bring your car with you!
Skagen: The northernmost city of Denmark. Exciting to see all year round but you will see it from its most charming side during the summer months - during which there are tourists EVERYWHERE! The old houses with the characteristic tiled roofs are seen all over the old city center. On the harbour front you should not miss out on the many fish- and seafood dishes that all the restaurants are offering. About 4 kilometres north of Skagen you find “Grenen” - where you can walk all the way out until you have a leg in each of the seas “Skagerrak” and “Kattegat”. Skagen and the whole area is about THE most characteristic “Denmark during summer” that you will ever see. They all know this - the inhabitants. And the prices are accordingly high!
Århus (also written Aarhus): Also known as the “City of Smiles”. Not completely without reason! Even though Danes are generally known for their forthcoming kindness, they crack it up a notch upon arrival in Århus. It is a vibrant trade city and the large harbour with many, many container-ships and ferries arriving and departing every day, is one of the biggest workplaces in the area. You should not miss a visit to “Den Gamle By” (The old town), which is a collection of old houses collected from all over the country, dismantled, restored and gently rebuilt in a small “pocket” of land, where they now serve as a small town and living, open-air museum. You get a feel for what life was about a few hundred years ago. A recent addition even shows life all the way up to the 1960’s and 1970’s. Another major attraction in Århus is ARoS - the new art museum which has rapidly become one of the most important art museums in Denmark. Also one of the most visited ones! Do not miss the view from the round walkway on the rooftop called “Your Rainbow Panorama”. It is an art installation by the Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. From here you can see all over the city!
Ålborg (also written Aalborg): Another vibrant trade city, but also a city where you can have a night out and get together with happy Danes over a few beers. Jomfru Ane Gade is the “world famous” street in the center where all the famous bars and cafés lie next to each other and where sailors used to hang out between voyages. Ålborg has many cultural attractions of importance, including a great art museum. Do not miss the old viking graveyard “Lindholm Høje” with a magnificent view over Limfjorden.
Vesterhavet / The West Coast / The North Sea Coast: Literally the entire west coast of Denmark is something quite special - all year round. This is where you can see all of mother natures mighty power in full blossom. We have been up and down the west coast several times and we always enjoy watching the huge waves roaring against the sand dunes. Along the coast there are several old seaside hotels. They are like small “time pockets” and this is where you can get a feel for how the upper class would spend their vacation about a century ago. Far away from the everyday stress of the city. Svinkløv Badehotel by Jammerbugten is a special gem, but there are other places to go offline for a little while. We particularly like the coast between Lemvig and Thorsminde and further down to Søndervig and Hvide Sande. Along the coast you can also see hundreds of old German bunkers - leftovers from World War II. In literally all the towns along the coast there are several opportunities to satisfy your hunger for seafood dishes and fishing boat atmosphere!
Louisiana: One of the most renowned and important art museums in Denmark. Located in Humlebæk, just north of Copenhagen - possibly the most expensive residential area in the country. The museum opened its doors in 1958 and since then the magnificent buildings have housed almost ALL of the artists you can think of. From classic art to modern. Living or dead. Louisiana has a very distinguished permanent collection and a few annual themed exhibitions. Enjoy your lunch or dinner in the café - the food here is great! Louisiana is in fact several buildings tied together with corridors and staircases, curling its way through the landscape and down the hillside. Very exciting place! From the top terrace there is a magnificent view over Øresund towards Sweden.
Arken: Just like ARoS and Louisiana this is also an important museum for “art-tourists”. Arken also has a very distinguished permanent collection. But what really makes Arken outstanding is its success in attracting the biggest living artists in he world and also arranging some very exciting exhibitions of classical art. There is always something new and exciting going on here! Arken is located by Ishøj Strand south of Copenhagen, with a great view over the sand dunes surrounding the buildings. An exciting place to explore!
Frilandsmuseet / The National Open-Air Museum: Located in beautiful recreational surroundings in Lyngby north of Copenhagen. It is a bit like “Den Gamle By” in Århus - but this is about life as it was in the countryside of Denmark a few centuries ago. As it is a part of the Danish National Museum the entrance is free. The museum is open from May the 1st until mid-October every year. Special opening hours during school holidays and in December, where there is a special and very cosy atmosphere. This is THE place to go to see what life was really like in Denmark in “the good old days”. The buildings are collected from all over the country, gently dismantled, restored and rebuilt on site for present and future generations to see. A small anecdote from my own family: My grandfather went with us to the museum in the early 1980’s and as we were walking around the area, he suddenly saw an old farm where he used to serve as a young man - sometime in the 1930’s. This was a very exciting experience for him - and for us, his grandchildren! We had the best guide showing us around!
The list of important “must sees” in Denmark is really much, much longer. There are many museums, historic landmarks etc. that really requires some time to fully explore. But we have kept the list short - just to give you a small “appetizer”.
Enjoy your visit to Denmark!