Denmark’s premier destination is undeniably the well-kept capital, Copenhagen, but there is plenty to see beyond the city’s borders. As a bonus, the whole country is roughly only 300 km across, making it easy to hop around to different destinations.
As a former resident of the ‘Jutland’ peninsula (Jylland in Danish), I am a firm believer that Denmark has plenty to offer outside Copenhagen – especially if you’re interested in Vikings. Below are some of my favourite attractions beyond the capital.
- 1. The original Legoland, Billund
Those colourful blocks and tiny people you spent hours playing with as a kid originated in Denmark, and this is therefore an ideal place to visit the theme park inspired by all things Lego. The first Legoland theme park was opened in 1968 and is located next to the original factory, in Billund. Here you can ride rollercoasters, see the incredible 1:20 size replicas of places in Denmark and other parts of the world in Miniland (built using 20 million Lego bricks), go on safari, and much more.
- 2. Lindholm Høje, Aalborg
Lindholm Høje in the city of Aalborg is home to a number of burial sites dating to the Germanic Iron Age (400-800 AD) and Viking Age (700-1000 AD). The site, which was buried by a sand drift in 1000 AD, contains 682 graves and 150 stone ships. There is also a village where the remains of houses, fences and wells can be seen, along with a museum. It may not cause your jaw to drop, but history buffs will appreciate being able to explore the ruins at leisure.
- 3. Odense
The third largest city in Denmark has one major claim to fame – it was the home of celebrated author Hans Christian Andersen. The city is so proud of that fact (and rightly so) that the local airport is named after the man who authored such fairy tales as The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling and Thumbelina. In Odense, you will find the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, located in a tiny yellow building in which the writer was born.
- 4. Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde
If you prefer something closer to Copenhagen, visit the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde. The museum features five original Viking vessels from the 11th century, with a Viking Ship Hall home to the main attraction and a Boatyard where archaeological work is undertaken.
- 5. Egeskov Castle, Funen
Europe’s best-preserved Renaissance water castle is situated on the central island of Funen, with construction dating to the middle of the 16th century. The castle takes its name from the oaken piles on which it is built, which legend says required an entire oak forest – literally Egeskov in Danish. Egeskov Castle sits in pristine grounds on a small lake.
- 6. Ribe and its Viking museum
The tiny town of Ribe was established in the middle of the eighth century and is therefore one of the oldest metropolis in Denmark. The town is home to Museum Ribe’s Vikings and a cultural centre, along with Denmark’s oldest town hall constructed in the late 15th century, a cathedral and cobble-stoned streets lined with historic buildings – all sitting pretty on the river, Ribe Vester Å.
- 7. The Old Town, Aarhus
This recreation of a market town in Aarhus Botanical Gardens was one of the first open-air museums of its kind when it opened in 1914. The museum is built from a collection of genuine buildings taken from 20 townships across Denmark, dating from as early as 1550 through to the late 19th century. The town is fully operational with museum employees manning grocers, diners and workshops where they exhibit traditional crafts such as blacksmithing.
Courtney Gahan is a serial expat, traveller and freelance writer who has bartered with Moroccan marketeers, seen the sun rise at Angkor Wat and elbowed her way through crowds on NYE in NYC