There are mountain people and sea people and, with over four hundred islands, it’s not surprising that our Denmark tours attract a salty set. Zealand is the largest island, at just over 7,000km², and home to the capital city of Copenhagen. This is separated from Sweden by The Sound (Øresund) where, for top cycle touring, Denmark links seamlessly with its neighbour on an Øresund Strait circuit.
Denmark walking tours also offer seamless, seaside sojourns, one of our most popular being the North Sea Trail heading all the way up to Skagen, the country’s northernmost tip on Jutland. Head even further north to the Danish Faroe Islands, between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic, for some colossal coastal walking. Or, for calmer island idylls, take a cycling tour around the east of Jutland. You can’t really escape water in Denmark – even if you head inland you’ll hit the luscious lake district of Søhøjlandet. It’s a country to just simply immerse yourself in and go with the flow.
Where to go
The Øresund or Öresund Strait is a body of water that separates Denmark and Sweden, adjoined by the Øresund (road and rail) Bridge, made famous by the worldwide TV series hit, The Bridge. Cycling around the Øresund Strait is far from a world of Scandi noir however, as you will discover on this seven day tour around both countries. Ride alongside sandy beaches, waterfront villages or the Jaegersborg Dyrehave deer park, all in Denmark, as well as harbour villages like Barsebäckshamn and the island of Van in Sweden. And yes, you do get to go on ‘The Bridge’, putting your bike on board the train that crosses one of the longest bridges in Europe.
Our Denmark walking tours also extend further afield to the Faroe Islands, which are part of the Danish Kingdom. The Faroe archipelago is made up of 18 volcanic islands, emerging from the depths of the Norwegian Sea between Scotland and Iceland. A Faroe Islands short break walking holiday is a wild and wonderful introduction to the natural heritage of this remote spot, basing yourself on Eysturoy, the second largest island. The Faroes are a revelation for many newbies, whether it’s the small, remote communities such as in Gjógv, located on a natural harbour enveloped by mountains, including the archipelago’s highest, Slættaratindur at 882m, or the world renowned bird watching at Vestmanna Bird Cliffs (accessible on our longer eight day Faroes trip). Our Faroe Islands walking holidays include a car rental, so that you can navigate the islands easily.
Silkeborg Lake District (Søhøjlandet)
Even on an inland walking holiday in Denmark, you’re never far from water, such as in the Silkeborg Lake District which boasts over 200km2 of fifty lakes and forest. Jutland’s lakelands are also Denmark’s most elevated terrain, although that is not saying much given that one of the highest hiking points is to the top of Himmelbjerget, at 147m. This is just high enough to take in the beauty of it all, however. Silkeborg is dotted with delightful towns such as Silkeborg itself, Skanderborg and Ry. Your gentle walks also include a journey along the Trækstien, or towpath, along the Gudenåen, Denmark’s longest river, through lakefront forests and also to the popular bird reserve at Lake Sminge.
The Danish capital is clean, green and the place to be seen. It’s also foodie heaven, cycling central and its colourful harbourside architecture and waterfront vibe is a perfect way to start a holiday. It’s a great jumping off point for some of our Denmark walking tours too, such as to the Fairytale Castles and, although our cycling tour around the Øresund Strait starts in Malmö, you cycle through Copenhagen en route. We recommend taking a canal boat trip from Nyhavn harbour, visiting the 17th century Rundetårn observatory tower, and the stunning Tivoli gardens. You can also cycle or walk out to Langelinje to see The Little Mermaid statue.
Aarhus is the second largest city in Denmark, on Jutland, and it’s an energetic one too, with a lively university scene. Its airport and main railway station are also perfect for heading off on our similarly energetic and uplifting walking holidays and cycle touring, Denmark’s Jutland peninsula and lakelands proffering the prettiest of outdoor adventures. Do take time in Aarhus itself, wander around the Old Town, with its fine array of traditional architecture, and set time aside for its fantastic museums such ARoS for contemporary art or the Moesgaard Museum which focuses on prehistory inside a fantastically modern work of architecture.
Things to do
- Cycling in Denmark is part of the residents’ DNA – which should really stand for Denmark No Automobiles. Cyclists are everywhere here and so is a sturdy infrastructure, not only in its main cities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, but along its coasts, lakes and forest paths. In addition it’s very flat, making cycling all the more accessible for those who want to pootle rather than pant their way around this beautiful country. There are over 12,000km of designated cycling tracks to connect with on Denmark cycling holidays, and Sweden too of course, one of our most popular trips being around the Øresund Strait which takes you to both countries.
- The North Sea Trail is a growing transnational long-distance hiking trail across seven countries, and Denmark is one of the countries to have really embraced it as a waymarked trail. You can walk the Danish section in a week, starting in Løkken and finishing in Skagen, Denmark’s northernmost point, where the North Sea meets the Baltic. En route you stroll across sparkling sandy beaches, past traditional lighthouses, through coastal pine forests and picnic in impressive dune seascapes.
- Always carry a swimsuit in your pannier or backpack, because Denmark is all about dipping. As well as the inland lakes, where there are many swimming facilities, you will lose count of beaches along its 7,000km coastlne. In fact there are over 1,300 registered beaches, and many of them have lifeguards during the summer months too, details of which you can see here. As some of our Denmark tours operate in the colder months, it’s worth noting that winter swimming is also popular in Denmark, some even with saunas nearby. But remember, always take care with cold water swimming, breathing deeply before entering the water and really taking your time. And never go alone.
Responsible travel tips
- Cyclists are everywhere in Denmark, which can actually be a bit overwhelming to those of us who aren’t used to velo-cities. So, it’s good to read up a little about cycling etiquette before you head off cycle touring, Denmark kindly providing some clear guidance here. Some of the key differences include raising your hand to show you are stopping, and never turning left in one swift movement at a junction. Break it up into two manoeuvres, crossing safely so that you are in the direction you want to travel in. Always use the bicycle lanes and, if there isn’t one, stick to the right and don’t even think about going on the footpath.
- Don’t be afraid to ask restaurant staff to box up any leftovers in restaurants in Denmark, as the country has become very food waste aware with their campaign Stop Spild af Mad. So asking for a doggy bag, goody bag or just ‘to go’ is much more common here than in some other European countries. Start as you mean to continue and ask restaurants to do the same thing back home as well and let’s all aim to break down the stigma around asking to take home what you have paid for already!
- If you are going on one of our Faroe Islands tours, be aware of the controversy around whaling, a tradition dating back to the 9th century that is still carried out today. Animal welfare groups such as Sea Shepherd protest vehemently against the annual hunt, known as grindadráp in Faroese. The number of whales, and sometimes dolphins, being killed varies each year, as does the time of the hunt, although it’s usually late summer when pods become prolific. While we at The Natural Adventure welcome cultural diversity and respect local traditions, we don’t condone whaling in any way. So we invite you to read up on it and understand its history before making up your own mind.