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Things to do in Denmark

Must-see Denmark sights

Once little-known and little-thought of, Denmark has morphed into a cultural powerhouse, with its Michelin-starred restaurants, impeccable musical offerings and an efficient transport infrastructure. It’s easy to get around the country, so it’s well worth making (or adding) time to your Denmark holiday to explore the other towns, villages and cities outside of Copenhagen and other big-hitters. All in all, you should prepare to feel overwhelmed in this underrated country – in a good way.

  1. Copenhagen
  2. Aarhus
  3. Skagen
  4. Aalborg
  5. Helsingor

1. Copenhagen

Kick-start your trip to Denmark with a visit to Copenhagen, the country’s ultra-hip capital. With its historic core (Slotsholmen) once home to a 12th-century castle and today the Christiansborg complex, there’s also the medieval Indre By (‘inner city’) and royal splendour of Kongens Have and Frederiksstaden. Alternatively, check out the Carlsberg Visitors Centre, where you can pull pints at the Jacobsen Brewhouse and sample two beers. It’s possibly one of the best things to do in Denmark… But Copenhagen isn’t all just booze and history; one of the best ways to make the most of this trendy city is by taking a bus, boat or cycle tour to take in the city’s key sights.

Best for: Cosmopolitan cities.

While you’re there: Choose from Michelin-star restaurants and budget bars; the varied eating scene is delightful.

2. Aarhus

Often labelled as ‘Denmark’s second city’, the university town of Aarhus doesn’t boast many attractions, but what it does offer equals some of the most pleasant things to do in Denmark. In fact, it was the 2017 European Capital of Culture, and retains a laid back vibe with vast open spaces in the likes of the historic Den Gamle By (The Old Town) recreated historic museum and its long pedestrianised shopping street. Despite a large and well-behaved university presence, it’s not the cheapest part of Denmark; but it does boast a trendy cluster of restaurants that line the riverside. You should spend a morning or afternoon at ARoS, a brilliant modern art museum with a cafe on the ground floor and spacious exhibition rooms on each of the floors. Up on the rooftop is the glass-rainbow wheel called Your Rainbow Panorama; the title is pretty obvious, but stroll around the inside of this horizontal hamster wheel for coloured views over the city.

Best for: Space to stroll.

While you’re there: Visit the library by the docks; inside is a huge bell, which rings every time a baby is born at the local hospital.

3. Skagen

At the very top of Denmark sits Skagen, a town home to sandy beaches and coastal walks that won’t leave you wondering what to do in Denmark. While there are a couple of sights worth checking out, such as the Skagen Museum and the 18th-century Buried Church, the best thing to do here involves embracing the outdoors, whether that’s cycling, swimming or aimlessly wandering around its pleasant marina. If you’re browsing Denmark holidays, make Skagen an overnight stay during your trip.

Best for: Slow travel.

While you’re there: Stop off at one of the marvellous seafood restaurants.

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4. Aalborg

This low-set city has redeveloped its waterfront into a design and entertainment centre, proving a major pull for locals and visitors alike; continue the modern theme with a visit to the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art. It still retains its historic charm, though – Aalborg is a city renowned for its Viking burial ground – with its cobblestone streets through the Old Town home to the likes of the Gothic Budolfi Kirke cathedral and 16th-century Aalborghus Castle.

Best for: Mix of tradition and new.

While you’re there: Bar-lined Jomfru Ane Gade is the city’s booziest street.

5. Helsingor

Although it’s a bustling ferry port, the town of Helsingor is still likeable and home to a number of historical attractions. It’s long been an important waterway, with ferries running to and from Sweden every 15–30mins. It’s ideal if you’re interrailing or looking to extend your trip! Back to Helsingor, start off at Kronborg Castle, which is the biggest pull for tourists visiting the town; the castle is associated as the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, although there’s no evidence that the playwright ever visited the place. Still, you can bank on plenty of Hamlet-inspired souvenirs… once you’re done here, move onto the Maritime Museum of Denmark to understand more about the historic shipyards, before rounding off at the Culture Yard (a theatre, concert venue and cafe-restaurant). The medieval quarter is worth a slice of your time, home to a busy shopping street, Town Museum (not for the faint of heart) and more.

Best for: Literary hotspots.

While you’re there: Take a free guided tour of Skt Mariae Kirke cathedral, the best-preserved medieval monastery in Scandinavia.

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