The birthplace of the innovative ‘Hygge’ culture of good food, good company, a warm atmosphere and simple beauty perfectly sums up all which is great about Denmark. The happy Nordic country is a wonderful collection of islands steeped in legend, brimming with stunning watery landscapes and steeped in fascinating history. Here are a collection of places to explore in the country that has captured so many imaginations over the years, from painters, to architects, poets, and warriors, Denmark is the full package! I truly loved this unique and very easy-on-the-eye country, here are my best and most beautiful places to visit in Denmark…
Copenhagen – the gorgeous capital is must-see place to visit in Denmark
From fine dining to free livin’ communes Copenhagen has it all! Denmark’s capital city sits on the Islands of Amager and Zealand on the east coast of the country, it’s connected to its neighbour Sweden by Oresund Bridge. The bridge itself was the longest in Europe until 2018 and is well worth a look if you are a fan of spectacular engineering! Probably the two most iconic sites in Copenhagen are the historic canal district of Nyhavn, whose colourful waterfront townhouses and picturesque bridges appear in many a photograph, followed by Edvard Eriksen’s bronze statue of The Little Mermaid.
Gorgeous Architecture in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is literally awash with awe-inspiring architecture, history buffs must absolutely not miss Christiansborg Slot, once home to a long line of kings and queens and still used by Danish Monarchy and Parliament. Parts of the splendid palace interior is open to visitors, think luxurious chandeliers, ancient tapestries, and marble floors, and you’re on the right track! The 400-year-old Rosenborg Castle and surrounding Kings Gardens will also satisfy folks with a thirst for the past but if modern architecture is more your thing then head for the ultra-sleek Black Diamond Library.
Shopping in Copenhagen
Shopaholics should head for Little Stroget to enjoy high street shopping the Scandinavian way! If you’re in search of a little whimsy then the fairytale spires of Tivoli Gardens create a theme park like no other! Opened in 1843 and themed around the stories of Hans Christian Anderson, Tivoli was Walt Disney’s original inspiration for Disneyland.
Eating in Copenhagen
Foodies will be spoilt for choice in Copenhagen with world-renowned Noma paving the way for all sorts of innovative eateries! A perfect place to sample some great food, wine and craft beers is the Meatpacking District in the cool Vesterbro neighbourhood.
Hidden Gems in Copenhagen
Other slightly hidden gems to check out if you have time are the library gardens by Christiansborg Palace, the network of underground cisterns beneath Fredericksberg Gardens and my personal favourite, the six wooden giants created by Thomas Dambo who live in the forests on the outskirts of the city.
Once you have enjoyed these city icons perhaps explore some more unusual aspects of its culture such as Freetown Christiana, an old military base that was taken over by hippies in the early 70’s and is now a totally autonomous anarchic community of its own. The capital is a beautiful and elegant must-see destination to explore in Denmark!
Aarhus – the second-largest city in Denmark is a mix of youthful energy and historic architecture
Aarhus is Denmark’s second-biggest city situated on the Jutland Peninsula, though it’s often overshadowed by Copenhagen it is actually an amazing place to visit in its own right! This friendly city is nicknamed “the city of smiles” and here you will find wonderful Scandinavian architecture, world class art and innovative cuisine and plenty of Hygge. It’s very easy to see why Aarhus was awarded European Capital of Culture in 2017, it’s filled with fantastic sights to see and isn’t crowded at all.
Aarhus for History Lovers
History lovers head for the unique Den Gamle By in the old centre of town, it’s an open-air museum which allows you to travel back in time and experience life as it was pre 1900’s right through to the 1970’s. The most fascinating thing? Although they seem very at home the timbered buildings were actually relocated from all over Denmark to create the museum! Another great place for historic architecture and also laid-back danish boutique shopping and dining is the city’s Latin Quarter, characterised by cobbled streets and 18th-century buildings.
Impressive Modern Sculptures
Alongside the ancient is the contemporary and the city is littered with some impressive sculptural modern buildings too. Look out for the jagged shape of The Iceberg apartment buildings and the sloping grass roof of the Moesgaard Museum of Anthropology and Prehistory, also the glass faceted concert hall. For a perfect blend of art and architecture head for the ArOS gallery and the breathtaking 360 degree views from its Rainbow Skywalk.
Eating in Aarhus
As expected the foodie scene is thriving here too, try delicious pastries at Langenæs Bageriet or seasonal themed fine dining at the innovative Nordisk Spisehus. If you can’t make up your mind head to the vibrant Aarhus Food Market for an eclectic mix of cuisines and classic smorrebrod! Finally, walk it all off under the shady branches of the beautiful Marselisborg Forests just outside the city… but steer clear of the poisonous mushrooms!
Mols Bjerge National Park – one of the most beautiful places to explore in Denmark
Mols Bjerge is a beautiful protected stretch of 180Km2 in Djursland, bounded on one side by rugged coastline and the other by verdant forests. The extraordinary landscape encompasses some wild and ancient land including barrows and burial mounds, ruined castles and henges. A great place to start your trip is Karlsladen visitor centre, housed in a 300 year old barn it has a great exhibit about the history, culture and nature of the area. From there head to the 700 year old ruins of Kalo Castle, perched in a strategic spot with magnificent views over the Bay of Aarhus.
Ancient sites in Mols Bjerge National Park
Following that perhaps an exploration of Poskær Stenhus, one of Denmark’s most impressive stone henges, believed to date back to 3,300 BC! Continuing with antiquity I recommend also visiting the Bronze Age burial mounds of Stabelhøje near the village of Agri. Speaking of villages, the quaint village of Ebeltoft with it’s beautiful cobbled streets and timbered buildings is a must-see, also the coastal village of Femmoller. Don’t miss the opportunity to take some photos of the bleak and atmospheric lighthouse on the unpopulated Hjelm Island.
For real nature lovers the park is packed with unspoilt scenery and beautiful lakes such as the forested Ojeso (Eye Lake) and glistening Lake Stubbe, the largest in the area. The sweeping beaches and sheltered coves of Begtrup Vig in the north are an amazing spot for snorkelling and swimming and the Mols (hills) themselves are filled with fascinating caves and crevices.
Skagen – an attractive port town to visit in Denmark
The bustling, picturesque fishing port of Skagen is situated at the northernmost point of Denmark and is surrounded by the north sea to one side and the Straits of Denmark to the other. In the 1830’s the town became a retreat for artists and had its own colony of impressionists called The Skagen Painters. The quaint fishing cottages and narrow streets that provided endless inspiration can still be found in the Vesterby and Østerby areas of the town.
The Painters were not the only ones to be attracted by the beauty of Skagen and its surroundings and at the turn of the century King Christian X built a summer residence there; Klitgaarden is still very much intact and now serves as a retreat for artists and scientists.
Beautiful beaches in Skagen
There is plenty to absorb around the town, which is surrounded by pristine sandy beaches and unspoilt headlands, rich in wildlife, especially birds! The beautifully designed Odde Nature Centre, close to the top of the peninsula, is a great place to go to understand more about the water, sand, wind and light that make the area so unique.
Shopping and Eating in Skagen
The town remains true to its bohemian roots and as you wend your way through Gammel Skagen you’ll find plenty of beautiful handmade gifts and artworks created by local artisans. Finally, as can be expected from its location, it’s a wonderful place to sample delicious seafood and New Nordic Cuisine in places such as Pakhuset and the delectable Ruth’s Gourmet, which has been voted one of the top restaurants in the whole country! Easily one of the best destinations to explore in Denmark!
Frederiksborg Castle – a beautiful palatial complex in Hillerød, Denmark
Just 40 minutes from downtown Copenhagen you’ll find the extraordinary Frederiksborg Castle, a palatial complex in the renaissance style that is still used by the Danish Monarchy. The fairytale spires, turrets and gables rise out of the castle lake like something from a storybook, leaving an unforgettable first impression.
Comprising 70 rooms across 3 story’s the castle is now home to The Danish Museum of National History, inside you’ll find the biggest collection of portraits in the country rubbing shoulders with beautifully restored staterooms.
The exterior of the castle is as beautiful as the interior with an amazing symmetrical garden and a baroque style formal garden.
Odense – the attractive third-largest city in Denmark
The cosy city of Odense is named for Odin, Norse god of war, wisdom and poetry and it lives up to its name with a rich cultural and literary history. Best known as the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen and the inspiration behind many of his fairytales. The little yellow house where he was born is still there and now houses The Hans Christian Andersen Museum, a wonderful compilation of mementoes, artifacts, illustrations and original writings that should definitely not be missed!
Great attractions in Odense
Other museums in the city are the Railway Museum, a celebration of the age of steam, and the unique Time Collection. When you have exhausted museums head for Storms Pakhuset Gastronomic and creative street food market to sample some creative food in an amazing setting.
Another great spot for innovation is Brandt’s Art Hall in the west of the city, a former textile factory that is now an arts centre complete with artisan shops, restaurants and cafes and a massive exhibition of art, architecture and handicrafts.
Architecture fans will also love St Knuds Cathedral, The Town Hall and Møntergården Museum. Stretching along the waterfront by the cathedral is HC Andersen Haven and the famous statue of the writer himself, it’s a nice place to relax and unwind along with the larger Munke Mose Park.
Just outside of the city is the picturesque Egeskov Castle, considered the best preserved moat-castle in Europe, it’s towering and beautiful spires make it easy to see where some of Hans Christian Andersen’s inspiration originated!
Romo Island – a large pretty island located in Jutland’s South East
The beautiful natural island of Romo is located in Jutland, to the south of the country in the Wadden Sea. It is characterised by its wide sweeping beaches and dunes and lush marshy landscape. It’s a perfect spot to head for if you just want to get away from it all and a great location for outdoor pursuits.
The wonderful beaches are popular for kitesurfing, land sailing, kite buggying and each September there is a kite flying festival held at Lakolk Beach. There are beautiful coastal walks and plenty of wildlife to spot as well as some cultural gems like Toftum Skole, the smallest and oldest school in Denmark.
It’s a beautiful place to collect conchs and seashells and even amber and to witness the Black Sun phenomenon when swarms of starlings take wing and completely obscure the sky! If you want a peaceful break in nature away from the crowds then this might just be the perfect spot for you!
Svaneke – was once awarded the title of Denmarks most beautiful town
One of the most picturesque destinations to explore in Denmark, the quintessential Danish fishing village of Svaneke sits prettily on the eastern coast of the island of Bornholm. Quaint red-roofed timber cottages cluster lazily around a harbour where boats bob gently on the water. Sweet little sandy coves and rocky beaches provide an excellent place for bathing and exploring tide pools.
The special city is considered one of the prettiest places in Denmark thanks to its perfectly preserved 16th and 17th Century streets and many buildings of notable historic significance. The most visited places are the Bryghuset brewery out on its own island and the “caramel Svaneke Bolcher Caramel Factory.
They are great spots to sample very local beer and sweeties! Some of the oldest buildings in Denmark can be seen in and around Svaneke including Bechs Molle, the country’s oldest standing windmill, Svaneke Kirke, parts of which date back to 1350 and Siemsens Gaard, a 16th-century quadrangle Manor House and beautiful rose garden that is now used as a hotel.
Wadden Sea National Park – a tranquil beauty spot to explore in Denmark
Wadden Sea National Park is the biggest in Denmark and if you are a lover of nature and the outdoors then Waddensea and the Islands of Rømø, Mandø and Fano should not be missed. With stunning natural coastlines, impressive dunes and beautiful woods and heathland it is a remarkable place to visit.
Because of its unique ecosystem the Wadden Sea is a designated UNESCO area, it’s mudflats and wetlands are home to more than 10,000 species of animals and plants, including Denmark’s largest population of harbour seals. The most unique of the islands is Mandø, which can only be reached during low tide. Visitors can drive themselves or take a tractor bus across the sea in the summer months. On the mainland you’ll find the oldest town in the whole of Scandinavia, the historic Viking town of Ribe, a great place to make your base.
Faaborg – the perfect little Danish Village in Southern Funen
Faarborg on the island of Funen is a quintessential Danish town which dates all the way back to 1229! Cobbled streets and alleyways wind between ancient timbered buildings in crisp Scandinavian colours until they eventually open up onto the gorgeous harbour, where picturesque fishing boats bob peacefully at their moorings and the delicious smell of traditional smoked fish pervades.
Great things to do in Faaborg
One of the best places to sample this classic danish staple is Faaborg Røgeri Café, where they have been smoking their own fish every day for almost 19 years! It’s the perfect location, especially in the summer when you can take your food out into the decking and watch the harbour activity as you eat, even if you end up indoors you’ll still have a lovely view.
You can see some beautiful examples of their works in the Faarborg Museum, which is really a work of art in itself. Other things to look out for around the town are the wonderfully painted doorways, curiosity shops hidden down narrow alleyways, and traditional artisan boutiques and cafes galore!
Rebild Bakker National Park – one of Denmark’s most beautiful nature areas
Rebuild Bakker is one of two original national parks in Denmark and is an outdoor lover’s paradise! Rolling heathlands sprinkled with purple are encompassed within the ancient forest of Rold Skov, the largest in the country. The best time to visit and catch the heath in full resplendent bloom is during the summer months.
The Rebild National Park is an excellent place to immerse yourself in nature and all she has to offer. You can take one of the many accessible hiking and biking trails through heath and forest, swim in St. Økssø lake and the Madum Sø, explore the ancient 300-year-old troll forest or simply pick a spot and enjoy a picnic whilst spotting some of the wonderful wildlife. A great destination to add to your Danish trip.
Åalborg – Denmark’s fourth-largest city home to a spectacular waterfront
In the ancient city of Aalborg you can literally peel away the layers of history all the way back to Viking times, when their ships would sail down the Limfjord from the North Sea. The stone circles at Lindholm Høje are a glimpse into that early settlement and believed to be more than 1500 years old! Fast forward a few centuries and you’ll come to the sinister Grabrodre Kloster Museum. Situated 3 meters underground and reached via an unassuming elevator near the Salling Department Store, Grabrodre Kloster is a chance to explore the excavated graves of medieval monks… not for the claustrophobic!
Close by you’ll find the 14th Century Budolfi Church, Denmark’s smallest cathedral, which has a melodic bell system that knocks out a tune every hour between 8am and 10pm. Continuing to travel through time it’s beautiful to stroll along the cobbled streets and crooked houses of the 16th Century old town, don’t miss picturesque Hjelmerstald and the bustling bars and restaurants of Jomfru Ane Gade.
Take a pew in a cosy cafe with a view of some amazing street art and just watch the world go by! In fact Street Art is another of the city’s delights, with more than 50 remarkable murals to discover! For culture-junkies a visit to Nordkraft for cinemas, eating places and exhibitions all contained in the guts of a 1940’s power station.
Another relaxed cultural hangout to vibe out with the locals is The Lighthouse, a permanent street food market in an old furniture factory. Head to the waterfront and the pristine lido-cum-water park Vestergade Fjordpark for a swim, sail or kayak in the clean waters of the Limfjord.
Gorgeous Åalborg Architecture
Whilst there you must take in some stunning modern architecture including Musikkens Hus, home of Aalborg Symphony Orchestra and Utzon Centre, where you can explore the works of Jørn Utzon, architect of The Sydney Opera House.
Other notable modern buildings to seek out are The Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, designed by Alvar Aaltoand and the 30’s era Aalborg Tower, where you can take an elevator up to the viewing platform and bistro for breathtaking views of the city and beyond.
Maritime and Military enthusiasts shouldn’t miss The Sofarts Og Maritime Museum and The Forsvars Og Garrison Museum. So really, something for all types of traveller awaits in Aalborg, possibly the jewel of Jutland – one of the best destinations to explore.
Mon – One of Denmark’s most magical islands
A beautiful destination in Denmark, The Magical Island of Møn lies in the Baltic Sea, and is most famous for the iconic Mons Klint on its eastern side. The white chalk cliffs jut upwards of 450 feet in places and are crowned with stunning beech forests.
Many artists have painted the vista and still now the island is not short of artisans, artists and generally creative types! Møns history dates back thousands of years and boasts some atmospheric burial chambers and churches.
One of the island’s most magical sites is Liselund Slot and it’s romantic landscaped gardens, which are open to the public to explore. The castle itself is now a hotel but you can book a meal in the restaurant that occupies some of the classical rooms and also has beautiful outdoor seating overlooking the lake and grounds.
Visiting the town Stege
The largest town on Møn is Stege, a beautiful maze of narrow cobbled streets and half-timbered houses where you can enjoy boutique shopping,craft beers, and museums such as Thorsvang.
Being an island you can also expect sweeping stretches of pristine beaches like Rytsebaek, and the crystal blue waters of Stege Bay, perfect for windsurfing and other water sports. Hikers will find no shortage of trails winding through the fantastic landscape.
Østre Søbad – one of the cleanest lakes in Denmark
Østre Søbad at Lake Almindsø is a network of wooden jetty’s that create the perfect bathing spot in one of the cleanest lakes in Denmark. So clean in fact, you can actually drink the water! With no agriculture nearby and no polluting drainage the lake is pristine and home to over 400 species of aquatic flora and fauna!
A well-marked trail follows the banks of the lake which is about 4km around, the trail is perfect for a gentle walk or run as it winds through shady trees and opens out into beautiful vistas of the lake and the River Gudenå system.
The most noteworthy is Kroghs Bænk Viewpoint, the perfect spot to sit a while and take in the stunning landscape. Swimmers and hikers make sure to put Ostre Søbad on your list, the perfect place to unwind in nature and fill your lungs with the freshest air around!
Thy National Park – said to be the last wilderness in Denmark
A visit to the beautiful wild and windswept beaches and Atlantic dunes of Thy National Park is a must for lovers of the great outdoors! The vast selection of marked trails for biking and hiking meander through more than 200 lakes, forests, and heath. The long-distance West Coast Trail follows the dramatic limestone cliffs and encompasses most of the park.
Travel light and you can sleep in small campsites and rustic shelters all along the 98km route and enjoy the wilderness under a blanket of unspoiled stars! There are plenty of other ways to enjoy Thy; explore the sand-swept forests and rugged landscape or take a boat trip with the locals from the historic village of Stenbjer.
For extreme watersports head for the small village of Klitmøller, otherwise known as “Cold Hawaii”. Also look out for red roe deer, common seals or even a white-tailed eagle or crane as you traverse this unique and stunning National Park!
Helsingør – a beautiful port city in eastern Denmark
The 15th Century Kronborg Castle provided Shakespeare’s inspiration for Hamlet and it resides here. The rest of the town is fascinating too and with over 600 years of history the medieval quarter is a fantastic place to explore on foot.
There are some beautiful historic buildings such as the Karmeliterklostret (the Carmelite monastery) and Sankt Mariæ Kirke (church of St Mary) as well as quaint narrow streets and colourful timbered buildings housing boutique shops, cosy cafés, and charming restaurants serving up Danish cuisine.
Kronborg Castle itself is a UNESCO world heritage site and the views from its turreted towers are truly breathtaking, as are its restored renaissance rooms, ballroom, and knights hall. Next to the castle in the revamped former shipyard area is the amazing Maritime Museum and culture yard, designed by renowned modern architects BIG.
Another museum worth the trip is Danmarks Tekniske Museum, a collection of everything industrial and mechanical housed in an atmospheric 1960’s iron foundry. This ancient town is not to be missed by anyone who has an interest in medieval history, architecture, and the maritime life that drew so many to Denmark’s shores across the ages!
Hornbaek Beach – the largest and most visited beach on the coast of North Sealand
The hip seaside resort town of Hornbaek draws flocks of posh Copenhageners to its beautiful shores every summer. Old style Badehoteller (the Danish version of Bed and Breakfasts) rub shoulders with cool and unusual boutique shops and colourful street food trucks at Det Fedtede Hjørne. Sit out on communal tables, chat, eat and soak up the atmosphere.
The beach and other attractions
Of course, the main draw is still the amazing sandy beach which stretches for three blissful kilometres and is the perfect spot for sunbathing, surfing, sailing, and swimming!
There are also the wonderful bike trails around the twisted trees of the old plantation Tegner’s Museum and Statue Park, a unique collection of works by sculptor Rudolph Tegner. For a lovely lazy beach holiday and a break from city life, Hornbaek is the very top of the pile!
Grenen – the meeting of two seas and a natural beauty spot
At Grenen, Denmark’s northernmost point, a unique natural phenomenon can be witnessed, namely the meeting of two seas. Here the Skagerrak meets The Kattegat and the dramatic collision of waves is actually visible to the naked eye! Grenen is a spit formation that consists of sand and gravel, unloaded and carried along for millennia by the forceful currents.
It’s a rare example of an ever-changing landscape, as the large expanse of beach at the head of Grenen is constantly moving, creating frequent occurrences of lagoons. These are very popular with families and with wading birds but the powerful undercurrents mean swimming and bathing is strictly prohibited! It’s a haven for wildlife and in fact here you can spot more species of bird than anywhere else on the Island, in particular during the spring when you can even spot birds of prey.
There are a couple of attractions nearby too, namely Holger Drachmanns grave, the poet died in 1908, and also Skagen Bunker Museum and the famous ‘Den Tilsandede Kirke’.
Roskilde – once the capital of Denmark and a place filled with history today
Just a half-hour drive from Copenhagen is the ancient Viking city of Roskilde and its awe-inspiring Cathedral of St Luke, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As well as the cathedral there is the amazing Viking Ship Museum, where you can see rare surviving examples of Viking ships and learn all about seafaring history from ancient through to medieval times.
Another great thing to do is take a dinner cruise on an authentic replica of a Viking ship, sailing out of Roskilde Havn and Fjord. The beautiful baroque palaces of Ledreborg and the Royal Mansion are also pleasing to the eye of architecture buffs! Just take a stroll through the cobbled alleys and grand square of the old town and you will be transported through time and blown away with the richness of culture and the history!
Each year since 1971 Roskilde has staged one of the biggest music festivals in Northern Europe drawing hundreds of noteworthy acts including Bruce Springsteen, Eminem and The Rolling Stones!
Knudhule Beach, Knudsø – a popular place to visit in Denmark
Knudso Lake in Skanderborg is one of the purest lakes in Denmark. Set among beautiful forests and unspoiled countryside the lake is a picturesque spot for a dip in the cold crystal waters.
The best place to experience swimming and boating is Knudhule Beach, where protective wooden jetties provide the perfect launching-off point and create a safe barrier for families with children.
Whilst in the area it’s worth exploring nearby sights such as Himmelbjerget or “The Sky Mountain” which rises above the beautiful landscape to 147 metres and is a fine place for a picnic! Also close by are the winding banks of Denmark’s longest river The Gudenå and Ejer Baunehøj memorial tower, which sits atop the highest natural point in the country.
I hope you enjoy beautiful Denmark just as much as I did!