Denmark is much more than Copenhagen’s colourful waterfront and world-famous fashion scene. Head outside its storybook capital for country roads that knit together its pretty islands and bring you to village inns, Viking settlements and manor houses alike. Further afield, the sublime almost-wilderness of the Faroe Islands and its spectacular wildlife is equally alluring.
While Denmark’s islands are often best known for their Viking history, more recently they’ve become home to a more aristocratic tradition. Explore its picturesque countryside, staying in regal castles along the way. Driving west out of Copenhagen, you’ll cross over to the island of Funen where red-brick moated castles would have fuelled the imagination of a young Hans Christian Anderson. Moving onto the mainland, you’ll be treated to drives through the streams, forests and, well, lakes of the Danish Lakelands, heading as far north as the sandy beaches of Jutland’s top before looping back – via a ferry trip – to Helsingor.
Denmark via Small Hotels
If you’d rather boutique intimacy over majestic grandeur, Denmark’s rolling hills and pretty country villages are dotted with delightful inns and cottages. Coastal drives past palaces and renaissance castles of the Danish Riviera bring you out of Copenhagen to waterfront stays in Helsingor while ferry rides take you to Randers, a medieval market town of half-timber merchant houses and 18th century stonework. From here, Skagen’s picturesque fishing village atmosphere of cobbled streets and fresh seafood awaits along with Vejle, where you can stay in a 100-year-old fjord-side sanatorium in a beech tree forest.
Denmark’s idyllic countryside is speckled in historic sites that bear evidence of the country’s warring past – no other country bears as much Viking heritage. Start out of the capital to make the short drive to Roskilde, overlooking the fjord of the same name. Founded by Vikings, you’ll find everything from reconstructed longboats to Gothic cathedrals, the main burial site of Danish monarchs from the 15th century to modern day. Heading inland will bring you to Lejre, home to an excellent open-air museum of reconstructed villages from the Viking, Stone and Iron Ages populated by re-enactors. You can even have a go at paddling dug out canoes or walking over rickety staked bridges. Then, swap coasts to the east for Trelleborg – a 10th century ring fortress where jewellery is still cast, knives are still forged and longbows are still fired.