Roadtrip in Denmark
Denmark is, compared to Europe, a country of quite reasonable size, and to tell the truth, not the sexiest in the world. Flat (the highest peak is 171m above sea level), it was for us rather a passage between Germany and Scandinavia. But in fact, there is plenty to do in Denmark!
Our itinerary in Denmark
As we didn’t want to go to far from Copenhagen (to take the bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo on Sweden), we didn’t go further north after Aarhus, the 2cd town in Denmark.
Bikers, lakes, rainbow, independant district, back to childwood… Denmark has enough to surprise you.
A) Tønder / Møgeltønder, cute small towns
Arrived from the north af Germany, we had our 1st stop in Tønder and Møgeltønder. Cute but not unmissable, it was good to spend an afternoon there.
Stating that this is the oldest city in the country, this town with typical small houses has Germanic influences. A few pedestrian streets with its church and old pharmacy. You can visit it pretty quickly.
A little further (1/4h by car), the village of Møgeltønder. There is the Schackenborg castel, still inhabited by the royal family, and its garden … To get to this famous castle, you will probably pass by “Slotsgaten”, the main street of the village. Very kitsch with its colorful houses straw roof, but rather aesthetic.
B) Ribe, a city full of history
Again, certainly the oldest city in Denmark, which one is it at the end? In any case, from our point of view, more interesting than its neighbors further south. Bigger but can still be easily visited by foot in 1 day (except visit of museum), we liked to discover its history.
Its cathedral (also the oldest) in the center is worth a small stop, a beautiful organ at the end of the big alley leading to the altar. In town, many houses are classified, and that’s understandable. Some seem survive as if by magic. Small, quirky and not straight at all …
Discover Ribe and its many stories
On a beaucoup aimé la visite gratuite (de mai à Septembre, environ 45 minutes) faite par un homme habillé comme les anciens veilleurs de nuit (visite en anglais ou danois). Cela explique bien l’histoire de la ville, des charmantes bâtisses… et ce avec beaucoup d’anecdotes sympa, on recommande. Par contre, on recommande aussi de faire…pas comme nous et de choisir la visite de 22h (20 ou 22h). Celle de 20h est blindée de monde car plus accessible en termes d’horaire. C’est vivant, mais il faut jouer des coudes pour suivre et bien entendre le récit du veilleur bien veillant.
We enjoyed the free tour (from May to September, about 45 minutes) made by a man dressed as the former night watchmen (visit in English or Danish). It explains the history of the city, of the charming buildings … and with a lot of nice anecdotes, we recommend. On the other hand, we also recommend… not to do like us and choose the latest visit (10pm instead of 8pm). The 8pm one is full of people as it’s more accessible for family. It’s alive, but you have to stick together to follow and hear the story of the guide.
C) Back to childwood at Legoland
A theme park, it’s always cool to fill up the thrill. And then, it’s the Legoland Park … so that really speaks to us. Like for every park, we suggest you do the best activities early in the morning so you do not have too much to wait. Also, a smartphone app lets you know in real time the waiting time for each attraction. And from East to West, the park can be visited in 20/30 mins max.
Mainly for nostalgics…
If you’re looking for thrills, it’s not the best park in the world. Only 2 or 3 attractions are really cool and the park is aging. But to have a fun day, between having thrills, watching 3D Lego movies and discovering Denmark in Lego miniature… let’s go!
D) Silkeborg, the lakes region
On our way to Aarhus, we were looking for a little bit of nature and we found it. Silkeborg is the lakes and hills region (including the highest peak in Denmark, Mount Møllehoj and its incredible 171m, no I’m not ironic at all …).
Despite this total flatness, this region is really beautiful and worth a trip for those who like to walk, bike, go kayaking or enjoy a boat tour. In short, we had a beautiful day. The trails are clearly indicated and if the weather is good, we strongly recommend it.
E) Aarhus, 2cd largest Denmark’s city
In Aarhus, we made a mix between culture and nature. We liked to walk in the town, to visit the ARoS museum (16€/pers.) and its famous Heaven « the rainbow roof top of Olafur Eliasson » at the last floor.
9 floors from hell to paradise. Paintings, sculptures, photos, videos… there is something for every taste and the museum is well designed. You can visit from a floor to another very intuitively.
In the center, a beautiful cathedral (admission free) in the busy streets. And a little further (10 mins walk), a streetfood market will make you want to try everything. Prices are quite high, but it is the case throughout the rest of Scandinavia …
About 4km further south of the city, we stopped on the waterfront. A beautiful little beach lined with fishing boats. And on the road, the Dyrehaven, a free animal park where deers and their youngs are free. If you come with food, expect to lose all sense of living space. There are also boars, but in a separate run.
F) Odense’s fairy tales
Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling or The Little Match Girl… It sounds something to you? Odense town, situated in the center of the Funen island is the city of the famous « Hans Christian Andersen ». And you’ll find many reminders in town: statues, museums, illustrations…
For old fairy tales lovers, do not hesitate to make a stop in this city that can be easily visited by foot. Many pedestrian streets and a nice garden make the city pleasant and if like us you go there mid-August, you will fall in full Flower Festival.
G) Møn Island, small…
…but full of surprises! We wanted to have a rest and stop to drive for a while. So Møn is the perfect spot. The island can be easily visited with a bike and offers many things to see.
N° 1 : Møns Klints
Its chalk and white clay cliffs and turquoise water (east of the island). Very beautiful views from above, and fun from the beach. 128m high in which are nestled the last wild hawks of Denmark and fossils are apparently stuck in the cliff.
N° 2 : Medieval frescoes
Medieval churches with very naive frescoes that represent the Bible (among others, the one of Keldby and Elmelunde). You can even visit some more…but the frescoes are quite always the same from one to another (same unknown artist “the Elmelunde artist).
N° 3, 4, 5… but also…
- For pottery lovers: its raw material (chalk and clay) make this island the number one place in Denmark for pottery. You’ll find many « keramik » on the road. Stop to discover the Møn’s art.
- Visit freely the candy shop/fabrik « Møn Bolcher » (even if you’ll certainly leave with a little something from the shop). Call before because even if they’re open every day, they’re not always producing.
- Discover the many megalithic tombs of Møn Island. On the road you’ll see many hills encircled by stones… in fact, they’re tombs. THe biggest are close to Røddinge.
H) Stevns klints white cliffs
If you do not want to make a detour on Møn island, go to Stevns Klints. At least as beautiful, its cliffs are located on Zeeland island, on the coast near Vallø and Køge (nice little towns). A very nice walk with many stops (information center about the geological layers of Stevns, lighthouse, church). It’s worth the detour on the way to Copenhagen.
I) Copenhague, the Danish capital
Stroll in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen … can be nice, surprising, embarrassing … yes as everywhere, this capital has many facets that represent the Danish mentality.
Christinia, the free town in Copenhagen
Before talking about Copenhagen center: design, refreshing, touristic, we just wanted to make a point on what surprised us the most. The district, or rather the free city of Christinia. In Haderslev, the Streetdome skatepark’s manager told us about it, but I must say that we did not really take it seriously. But really, you have to see it to believe it.
How Christinia was born?
This part of Copenhagen, very close from the city center is “independent“. These 22 to 40 hectares (don’t really know) of military camp were abandoned and immediately squatted by many Danes in 1971. Quite enepectedly, it was recognized as a “social experience” by the Danish authorities and benefits from there, its own laws and rules . We go in and out normally, except that once inside, photos and videos are forbidden, as people live their lives freely.
Small bars and local breweries, stalls, tags. People build their workshop, their house on the lake without a particular architecture. Re-use, ingenuity, but all with style, and no rent to pay. People seems free, dogs too. Great for our Huaca who could walk in town without leash … but not 100% relax as the Christinia inhabitants seem to have a special affection for pitbulls.
The most amazing thing is that everybody (mostly) smoke cannabis absolutely legally in every corner. And above all, there are a lot of small stands of cannabis in all its forms, shit… (after many abuses, the Danish authorities have at least banned hard drugs). Incredible, both good-natured and disconcerting. We inquired but we still do not have all the answers to our questions (do they have laws about property, crimes…). I can tell you that it made our imagination go far.
After all these years, in 2012 the public authorities decided to get this territory back. In my opinion, it is even surprising that they didn’t try before. If they want to keep their life style and territory, Christinia inhabitants have to buy the district back before mid 2018. Watch this space. In any case, this was a real unfamiliar experience.
Copenhagen, lively and cosmopolite capital
Then of course, comes the Copenhagen we expected. Modern, elegant but quite casual. With beautiful museums like Ny Calsberg Glypotek, nice squares, Danish design shops. A perfect place for bike lovers, there are bike paths everywhere and it seems that the Danes really love biking. Just as their schedule seems very as we saw many workers out at 3, 4pm.
The famous NyHavn street with its colorful buildings and quayside boats. Very touristy, it’s full of small terrace bars that make you want to stop for a cold beer … or a fruit cocktail of course! Taste a famous Smørrebrød.
The Danish sandwich par excellence (even if its variants in the Scandinavian countries exist). A slice of buttered rye bread, with: salmon, herring, fish roe, rosbeef, boiled egg … in short, the lunch of any self-respecting Danish.
We liked to get away a bit to discover Norrebro or Vesterbro districts. Less touristy, there are small bars very friendly and cheaper. Even if for our budget, it remains expensive. Not far from Vesterbro, the famous Tivoli Park, a Danish institution (we found an other one in Stockholm, Sweden).
North East of the city, you will find the Little Mermaid statue by Hans Christian Andersen, the famous Danish writer. It is rather small (1.25m) and apparently often vandalized (repainted, head cut). In short, nothing unmissable, but if you pass in the area, go to see this Danish symbol.
You want to discover the Danish style? Here is our 100% Danish playlist on Youtube !
You’re planning a European roadtrip? Read our articles about European countries.