Most foreigners only know the capital Copenhagen, but there are many other places to visit in Denmark – medieval towns, Viking age monuments, sandy beaches, rugged coastlines, fairy tale castles, museums and galleries, and much more. Despite being a small country of less than 6 million, there are many things which come from, or are connected with, Denmark – such as Lego (you can visit the original Legoland), Carlsberg beer (you can take a tour of the brewery in Copenhagen), Hans Christian Andersen (besides the Little Mermaid and his own statue in Copenhagen, you can visit his birthplace in Odense), or Shakespeare’s Hamlet and his castle Elsinore (it is real – the castle is named Kronborg and the town’s Danish name is Helsingør, 50 minutes by train from Copenhagen). This page will introduce the best places to visit in different parts of Denmark.
Understanding Danish Regions and Islands
The surface of Denmark is quite small (42,924 km2, unless you also count the autonomous island of Greenland, the largest island in the world), and it is also very fragmented. The biggest part is the Jutland peninsula, which runs from the European mainland as a northern extension of Germany, the only country sharing land border with Denmark.
Besides Jutland there are many islands, about 70 of them inhabited. The biggest are: Zealand (Sjælland), the North Jutlandic island (Nørrejyske Ø), Funen (Fyn), and Lolland. Most of the big islands are connected with road and rail bridges, making travel between individual parts of Denmark fast and efficient, and making it easy to see multiple places on one trip.
Here are the best places to visit in each region:
Places to Visit in Zealand
The highest concentration of popular tourist destinations is on the Zealand island, where Copenhagen is located. Some of the most popular attractions of Copenhagen are the Little Mermaid, the Nyhavn harbour with its coloured houses, Tivoli Gardens, Carlsberg brewery museum, Amalienborg and Rosenborg royal castles, or the longest pedestrian shopping street in the world – Strøget.
See more Copenhagen guides, tips, and resources here.
Less than an hour from the capital and easy to visit as a day trip are:
Roskilde – former Viking and Danish capital, home to Roskilde Cathedral, which is the burial place for Danish kings, the Viking ship museum, and Roskilde Rock Festival.
Helsingør – already mentioned Hamlet’s castle and a nice historical town.
Hillerød – the fairytale looking Frederiksborg Castle.
Places to Visit in Jutland
The Jutland peninsula also has interesting historical cities (7 out of 10 Denmark’s biggest cities are located here). Most of them are 3.5-4.5 hours by train from Copenhagen, perhaps a bit too long for a day trip, but worth visiting if you have more time. The best places in Jutland are:
Aarhus (Århus) – Denmark’s second largest city and (as second cities are) proud alternative to Copenhagen, with vibrant cultural life, cafes and museums. Top attractions include Den Gamle By (Old Town), an open air museum with 75 original buildings dating back to 1597-1909, and ARoS, a big art museum.
Aalborg – the fourth largest and the northernmost of the big Danish cities, with a nice old town, castle, a good zoo (with African savanna section with free ranging animals), and the most famous nightlife street in Denmark (Jomfru Ane Gade). A good base for exploring the north of Jutland and the North Jutlandic island.
Skagen – one of the most popular holiday towns in Denmark, with some of the biggest sand dunes in Europe and the highest (46m) lighthouse in Denmark. It is located at the northernmost tip of the North Jutlandic island, only some 60km across the sea from Gothenburg, Sweden. You can get here in two hours by train from Aalborg, and also by ferry from Sweden (via nearby Frederikshavn) or Norway (via Hirtshals).
Ribe – the oldest town in Denmark with nice medieval centre. Also the gateway to the nicest section of the wild west coast of Jutland and The Wadden Sea National Park (Nationalpark Vadehavet). An alternative base for exploring the west coast is nearby Esbjerg, which is a much bigger city than Ribe.
Billund – a small town, but one of the best known towns in Denmark thank to Lego. The original Legoland is here.
Funen and Odense
Funen is the big island in the middle of Denmark, on the way between Jutland and Zealand (it has excellent road and rail connections to either side). Its capital is Odense, the third biggest city in Denmark and the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, with several Andersen-related attractions. That said, its top attraction is the Odense Zoo, the best in Denmark and one of the best in Europe. Outside Odense, the island, known as the green island of Denmark, offers diverse landscape, sandy beaches and many smaller islands around its shores.
Lolland, Falster and Møn
The islands to the south of Zealand, about 2.5 hours by train from Copenhagen, are known for their diverse landscape and natural attractions, the most popular being the white cliffs of Møn.
This island is a popular holiday destination for the Danish, with rocky coast as well as beaches, and a number of historical monuments. Bornholm is located further offshore, actually closer to Sweden than to the rest of Denmark. You can get there by ferry or a short flight from Copenhagen.