Most tourists visit Roskilde as a day trip from Copenhagen (it is less than 25 minutes by train with frequent connections), but the city has a number of interesting places and things to do to justify an overnight or longer stay, especially if you like Vikings, music, museums, galleries, and the outdoors. The range of accommodation options is of course very limited compared to Copenhagen, but there are a few very nice and affordable (on Danish terms) places to stay.
City Layout and Best Areas to Stay
Although it feels quite small when you come here from Copenhagen, Roskilde is the second biggest city in the Zealand island after Copenhagen and 10th biggest city in Denmark. Its population is still only 50,000, but the city is quite spread out.
Centre: Between Train Station and Fjord
The above said, virtually all the places of interest are concentrated in the central area between the train station (which by the way is the oldest operational railway station in Denmark) and Roskilde Fjord (it may look like a lake, but it is actually connected with the sea some 35km further in the north).
The top attractions are also in the city centre: the Viking Ship Museum is on the shore of the fjord and Roskilde Cathedral is about halfway between the train station and the fjord. If you are looking for a place to stay with most central location, always check the hotel’s distance from the cathedral.
A good mid-range hotel directly on the main shopping street (Algade) is Zleep Hotel Roskilde. It is the same building as the former Hotel Prindsen, the best hotel in Roskilde where Hans Christian Andersen also stayed. Prindsen went bankrupt in 2015 and reopened as a mid-range hotel under the name Zleep Hotel Roskilde. Overall probably the best place to stay in Roskilde, perfect location, nice building, good restaurant. One downside is that being on the pedestrian shopping street, it is quite difficult to get there by car, although the hotel does have a car park.
Near the Fjord
If you like the outdoors, you will really like the surroundings of the fjord. The paths along its shores are great for taking a stroll, running or cycling (renting a bike is super easy in Denmark, and some hotels also offer their own bikes). The best place to stay for access to both the outdoors and the city centre is the area around the Viking Ship Museum.
South of the Train Station
Generally, coming as a tourist I would avoid the other (south) side of the railway, which is mostly residential anyway, with family houses, schools and supermarkets. One place of interest in this area is the Ragnarock museum for pop, rock, and youth culture (the actual site of the famous Roskilde Rock Festival is further south behind the motorway).
A good hotel in this area is the Scandic Hotel Roskilde: nice, clean, modern, offering free bikes, and also with very nice immediate surroundings (park and lake). Its downside is its location outside the city centre, so stay here only if you don’t mind a bit of walk (20 minutes to cathedral, 35 minutes to the fjord), or want to explore the city the Danish way – on a bike. You can cross the railway and get onto the city centre side using an underpass in Køgevej on the other end of the park, or at the train station.