Denmark Highlights & Interactive Map

Denmark Highlights & Interactive Map

Denmark is not a destination – it’s a lifestyle.  Pintrip.eu

Let’s be honest for a moment about Denmark… Why would you want to put it on your European itinerary? Surely there are more exciting destinations to visit, like the Swiss Alps! Or more dramatic locations like Norway! Yet perhaps for you a trip to Denmark is about heading to Legoland with the kids or may be just a city-break to Copenhagen. Perhaps you see it just as a transitory country to pass through en route to Sweden or the Norwegian fjords! 

Although before you read any further, let me be clear! Come to Denmark! Explore! Stay awhile! Denmark may well be an unassuming country on the European stage, although a visit here is a must. I feel so passionate about persuading you to come here that our 7 Reasons to visit Delicious Denmark’ must be enough to whet your appetite.  If not, then perhaps this more in-depth look at our road-trip may seal it for you. We share with you our Interactive Map that gives you our route, POI and overnight stopovers. Now surely there are no excuses – come you must.  Join us as we cover all corners of this Danish journey and invite you along our 900 mile exploration. Come on in!

 

Interactive Map

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As with any road-trip, it is never a complete journey as there are so many roads, miles and corners that you can’t possibly cover. Although we hope that following our path will give you an insight to some of the off-the-beaten track places and some of the more tourist ones that you could build into your trip. And whatever your passions, there is something for everyone. The sporty types, the historians, the nature lovers and everyone in between. 

 

Our Regional Highlights

Denmark has five main regions that are neatly organised into; South, North, Central, Zealand & Copenhagen/Bornholm.  Whilst we decided against Copenhagen, we did visit each of the other four regions and we have split our highlights into those nicely organised categories. So sit back, fasten your seatbelts and let’s get that engine roaring!

 

1.  South Denmark

Rømø Island

Crossing into Denmark on the south-west fringes gave us our first opportunity for an off-the-beaten-track destination. For sure Ribe – Denmark’s oldest town, is a major draw as you cross the border. Although turning left across the five mile causeway to Rømø was perfect for us. Rømø is famous for three things; Being part of the UNESCO Wadden Sea National Park, home to the smallest school and Lakolk beach – one you can drive onto! Whilst the drive can result in a bit of ‘stuckage’ for larger vehicles, generally driving on this compact beach is a real experience. Just having some time to chill out whilst parked up on golden sands is pretty unique and surreal. Definitely one to put on your list. 

We stayed at any beautifully manicured Aire alongside a lake with the best showers we’ve ever experienced. 

 

Ribe

About 45 minutes further north, you reach Ribe. Now this will undoubtedly be on everyone’s must visit list. And who can blame them. Think classical old town, cobbled streets, coloured facias, iconic steepled cathedral and a soul that is 1100 years old. Just imagine how many ghostly footsteps you’ll be walking in. Yet for something different, if you time it right, (unlike us sadly) at 8.00pm you can have a 45 minute walking tour with the Night Watchmen, whose role it is to keep the peace. These days it’s more of a tourist attraction although worth doing for a stroll around the old streets. Tours depart from the Restaurant Weis Stue in the Market Place during summer months. 

We stayed in the main car park for the town, which has allocated motorhome spaces. Although used by college kids until 3.00pm.

 

Billund

Surely on every child’s list must be a visit to Legoland in Billund. Home to the world’s most famous brand, Billund has a theme park to satisfy every child curiosity – both young and old. Although if muscling your way through summer crowds at the park isn’t your cuppa, instead venture into the town centre where you will find Lego House. The outside terraces of this lego building are free to explore and with its six different roofs to enjoy, what’s not to like? If you want to expand your experiences to something a bit more interactive, then you can enter the bowels of the house, although this will set you back £27pp for ages 3+. Babies up to 2 can go in for free.

 

Fåborg

Part of Denmark’s south region is strangely the island of Funen or Fyn as it is often referred to. Funen is one of Denmark’s 400 islands that forms its archipelago and is home to castles, quaint thatched villages and coastal delights. The islands take on a slightly different feel to the Jutland peninsula with a more curvaceous shape to them. Middelfart is the gateway to the island (famous mostly for being one of only 3 places in Denmark where you can get LPG. And for those campers amongst us, this is like liquid gold in DK!) Thereafter it is worth taking the coastal road that winds you through towns like Assens and Fåborg. With its atmospheric port to the boutique style high street with charming shops, it’s worth an hour’s mooch. The Ymerbrøden statue is one of those pieces of artwork that just needs to be seen. Whilst the main square offering is a bronze replica, exploring its symbolism will have you staring in wonder. Just think man suckling from a cow! Yes not an every day occurrence. The rest of the town is gorgeous with its yellow painted church and medieval cobbled streets.

 

Astrup

As you pass Astrup, your breath will be taken away by the Stofmollen. An 1863 windmill that today is home to an incredible emporium of fabric. Every colour imaginable is stored in this charming mill. Whatever you imagine goes with sewing, this place has it all. It’s pretty unique and definitely worth a little stop for coffee. Or if chocolate is more your thing, then drop into Konnerup Chocolatier just five minutes up the road. Handcrafted chocolate to satiate every sweet-toothed lovely out there. Why not grab a coffee, indulge in a bit of Hygge and some sweet treats.

 

Egeskov Castle

And finally in this southern region, a castle to end all castles; Egeskov. Ranked as one of Europe’s Top 50 most beautiful places to visit, Denmark’s Egeskov is a dream – an expensive dream although worth  it.  With a £23pp price tag, you want to make a day of it, although with the gardens, classic car museum and the castle itself, there’s plenty to do for you and the kids. Not our usual attraction although every now and again it’s good to indulge. 

You are allowed to stay in the car park overnight. 

Check our Southern Region gallery below.

 

2.  Central Denmark

Denmark’s Lake District

Our first view of Denmark as we headed from Ribe to Billund was flat and agricultural. Whilst the endless fields of rape seed certainly broke up the view of green, the Lake District was a welcome sight. With a gently undulating landscape, forest and mirror lakes, this is a region unique to Denmark. This area holds the country’s longest river – Gudenå at over 90 miles long, the highest point – Møllehøj at the heady heights of 171m, Denmark’s largest lake – Mossø to name just a few of its best bits. For its outdoor pursuits and water heritage this area alone is worth visiting. 

 

Himmelbjerget

Just 15 minutes drive from Silkeborg, a short diversion to see Sky Mountain (Himmelbjerget) is worth doing. It is Denmark’s second highest point and the views from the tower across the countryside is lovely. Himmelbjerget is particularly famous for being the seat of many political discussions and strategic decisions over the course of history. You can take a boat from Silkeborg to Himmelbjerget if you don’t fancy the drive and 10DK parking fee.

 

Silkeborg

Whilst as a town there is not much to hold your attention, there are a couple of highlights that make Silkeborg a worthy stop for an hour. The first is its Hjejlen the world’s oldest coal-fired paddle boat. Then there’s one of only two sluice locks in Denmark and finally, its piece de resistance is Mr Tollundman. The preserved body of a 30 year old man, murdered and buried in the peat soil close to Silkeborg dating back to 400BC. That alone is worth the 60DK entrance fee.

We stayed overnight at a parking area in the forest and alongside the river, with toilet facilities. 

 

Viborg

North west of Silkeborg is the quaint cathedral town of Viborg. Alive with its luscious gardens, cobbled streets and magnificent cathedral, this University town has a lovely energy. Although compact you will still need a couple of hours to enjoy all its aspects. From the Bibelhaven and Latinerhaven gardens, to the lake, the elegant shopping street and weekly market, there’s plenty to enjoy here. A beer in the Nytorv Square is a must, if for no other reason than to sup a Danish beer and watch the world go by. 

Free parking in the University is allowed for motorhomes for 24hrs.

 

Denmark’s Fjords

Whilst perhaps not on the scale of New Zealand’s fjords or its neighbouring Norway, Denmark has plenty of them. And if you want a bit of off the beaten track exploring, walking or camping, then go no further. This Central Region of Denmark has a plethora of fjords to choose from where the sea is master of all. Except perhaps the wind, which seems to have a dominant role in Denmark’s economy because there is so much of it. Try exploring Ulbjerg Strand and Nymølle Strand where you and the wind can be alone with your thoughts. 

We stayed at Ulbjerg Strand and Nymølle Strand for two nights. Alone and in the most stunning areas alongside the fjord.

Check our Central Region gallery below.

 

3.  Northern Denmark

Cold Hawaii and Thy National Park

The north western coast of Denmark is a landscape shaped entirely by nature. With North Sea winds whipping up tempestuous seas, this is stark yet beautiful scenery. Classed as Denmark’s last wilderness, you will experience a unique coastal perspective that takes you through ancient sand dunes that are constantly shifting and reshaping, forests that do their best to protect the land and lakes. And with more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in the country and thanks to the wind – there’s waves. Lots of them! Waves that attract surfers! Lots of them! Kitmølle or Cold Hawaii as it is endearingly known, is a curvy bay where fishing is still the ancient art. They ably retain their grasp over the surfing camps that have more recently emerged, attracting those wishing to master the waves. 

 

Hanstholm Bunker Museum

During the German occupation of Denmark during World War 2 German armies made their presence known along this coastline. Evidence of their coastal defences against the Allies are everywhere in this northern region. Huge concrete bunkers that look like something from an alien planet, occupy strategic positions poised for attacked. The outdoor bunker museums, like the one at Hanstholm, are free to explore; the museum houses have a nominal entrance fee if you want to learn more. 

 

Lys og Glas – Tranum

For one of those unique artisan crafts that allow you a peak into a country’s culture, then take a little diversion to Tranum. Here you will find an old candle factory that has since been turned into a Guest House and Ceramic Workshop. This is a feast of colourful loveliness and if you adore hand-made crafts, then this is a gorgeous off-the-beaten-track visit.

 

Rubjerg Knude Fyr

In 1900, the lighthouse at Rubjerg Knude was built and since that time the sand and sea have taken their toll on this magnificent building. A hundred years ago it was 200m inland and now it teeters on the edge of the five mile sand dune awaiting its inevitable fate. A fate that will have the sea reclaiming its hold. It is one of those places that needs to be seen much like the Dune du Pilat in France. Whilst this may be second to the French giant, these dunes are incredible and with their natural shaped artistry, treading this fragile yet tenacious land is quite an experience. And do it soon as they predict within the next couple of years, this lighthouse will disappear forever. Be one of those people who can say ‘I went there before it fell.’

 

Grenen Point

Grenen Point is Denmark’s most northerly point and it is far more than just a spit of sand. This area has a very special quality that, like so many places around the world, has to be experienced rather than described. Although I’ll do my best to craft a visual description. The visitors aside, imagine a place where two seas converge, each one searching for supremacy. The angry sea gods fight as if on a front line, each side wearing different battle colours. Undeterred by their wrath, sea life continue their daily routines as they dive bomb the sea’s surface looking for their next meal. And the winds that punish the lands whip up the sands like you’re in a desert sandstorm. There’s a eery silence here that blends with the noise of nature that just needs quiet reflection and of course the odd selfie. The 30 minute walk from the car park is an easy saunter along the coast where gannets and seals can be spotted. Or you can take the tractor taxi if you  need to for a mere 30DK (about £3.50). 

We stayed at the Grenen Point car park for free.

 

Voergaard Castle

As you head on the E45 south, a small diversion will break up your journey. Voergaard is a 15th century castle surrounded by a moat that oozes opulence. Although not open until 11.00am for Guided Tours, you can wander around the moat alone, for free listening to the serenade of the cuckoos. Whilst Denmark boasts 177 castles, this one is rarely on the tourist list and so you can share this with just your thoughts and plunge yourself into Danish history. 

 

Hobro and Mariager

We love going to places that others may by-pass for the bright lights of a cityscape. Given that built up areas are not really for us, we tend to search out the quieter places and are always rewarded with a treasure. And this is so true of Hobro and Mariager. Situated on Denmark’s longest fjord, they each hold a space in the country’s history book. Hobro with its Viking settlement and museums and Mariager – known as the City of Roses is Denmark’s smallest merchant town. Legend has it that this humble fishing village is named after Maria who tragically drowned herself after two rivalling knights died in a duel fighting for her hand in marriage. Mariager also has a Cittaslow title, showing the depth of its historical soul. Also if you’re here, the Salt Mine is apparently worth experiencing. 

We stayed at the Marina for the night that had free services for a 150DK payment.

Check our Northern Region gallery below.

 

4.  Zealand

One of Denmark’s most important and largest of its 400 islands, Zealand is accessed by the Storebælt Bridge at Nyborg. Like the Øresund Bridge to Sweden, this is a magnificent structure that will set you back 370DK/£43 if in a vehicle over 6m.  Zealand is classified into north and south. In the north you have the important town of Roskilde and of course the infamous Shakespeare setting for Hamlet at Kronborg castle. In the quieter south you have a multitude of islands to explore before you hit the inevitable city lights of Copenhagen.

 

Island of Enø

We loved our little saunter over to the island of Enø, which was more by luck than judgement. With its Kroen Canal and draw bridge, this is a fisherman’s haven. With fishmongers everywhere, artisan bakeries and coastal paths strewn with nesting swallows in the cliffs, Enø will delight. It’s only 3 miles long, which is easily hiked or cycled and is known for its musical festivals. 

We stayed at two spots overnight. One night was at the Marina with full services for 165DK (£19.50) and the other was a wild spot at the furthest end of the Island, which you will see on the interactive map. 

 

UNESCO Stevns Klint

Stevns Klint is a geological and historical delight. Its church, that balances on the cliff edge toppled into the sea in 1928 and has since been rebuilt. With a steep descent to the bouldered beach beneath that is not sadly disabled friendly, although if you can reach it, you will see millions of years history embedded in the chalk cliffs. It is classed as one of the best exposed Cretaceous-Tertiary boundaries in the world. That means fossils to you and me. The colour of the water, best seen from the cliff-top walk is just amazing when the sun’s out. Also to top it all, Stevns has a Cold War/Nato history, given that it was Denmark’s first line of defence in the protection of Copenhagen. So plenty to experience here.

It is possible to stay in the large car park overnight for 40DK – just under £5 payable with credit card, DK or Euro coins.

 

Denmark to Sweden – Øresund Bridge

Bridges are pretty important to a Dane’s life as whether crossing from the archipelago or hopping across to Sweden, they provide a cultural and practical lifeline. We have always loved these incredible structures; there’s something spiritual about them; from the design, build and the symbolism of leaving and arriving. So we were excited about heading south around Copenhagen, avoiding the Low Emission Zone and across over to Sweden on the Øresund Bridge. As you leave Zealand you drive through a two and a half mile tunnel and then emerge into the bright light revealing the technically brilliant architecture. Øresund is five miles long and is a great feat of engineering. It’s not cheap though. If you go on line you can save money although for any vehicle between 6-10m, it will cost 704DK (£83.00). You can get a reduction on this if you buy an annual Bropas for €43 entitling you to a 50% reduction. This is only cost effective if you intend to return back over the bridge. 

Check out our Zealand gallery by clicking the image below.

 

Closing Thoughts

Denmark with its coastline, forests, history and archipelago is a must. Be willing to look at Denmark with new eyes. Eyes that see its potential, its limitless beauty and its understated depth. You’ll not be disappointed. Give Denmark a chance and linger longer. We did and we’ll be back. For an even more detailed perspective of your trip to Denmark, keep your eyes open for our soon to be launched free eBook. 

 

 

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Rocamadour – France at its best

Rocamadour – France at its best

Rocamadour is one French landmark that we have been trying to get to for nearly three years and for one reason or another, it has eluded us. Although as we so often say, ‘It’s not going anywhere. There’s time enough.’  Finally 2018 – the year we made it and marked it as an important day in our calendar.

Some icons around the world are built up so vividly in our minds, thanks to those who have gone before us, allowing us to craft an image of what it will look, sound and feel like. Blogs play a fabulous role in inspiring us to visit new places, although equally they can construct an expectation that, when seen with our own eyes, can disappoint.

 

Whilst I had heard plenty about Rocamadour, I had never seen any pictures and as a visual girl, I was very grateful to have a blank canvas to paint with my own experiences. And I’m so glad, because our visit, one autumnal day in October was not just any old day. It was 4th October and whilst this may seem insignificant to most, it is the day we celebrate my dad’s life.  I so didn’t want to be disappointed, as my parents had been here a couple of decades ago and so to tread in their footsteps on this day, of all days, I wanted it to be perfect.  Check out our video footage showing the footprints we left behind at this gorgeous village and then I’ll tell you all about it…

 

 

 

Rocamadour, one of those iconic French villages that is on so many people’s lists and a place that draws you into its valley of wonderment, peace and spirituality. Known as the Sacred City it is famous for a number of things;

  1. For being vertiginous – yes I had to look this up – it means being extremely high or steep.
  2. For its important religious status and a source of miracles, placing it firmly on the Santiago de Compostella pathway.
  3. For its three-levelled construction, each one having a completely different character and charm.
  4. For its 8 sacred religious buildings, one of which is the UNESCO Basilica and the Notre Dame chapel, home to a walnut carved Black Madonna that is a thousand years old.
  5. For its 216 steps up the Grand Escalier – the Pilgrims’ Staircase.
  6. For its medieval castle that perches regally above the valley asserting its position in the Dordogne valley.
  7. For its annual Montgolfiades Balloon Festival at the end of September, which looks like a sight for sore eyes.

Let me tantalise your senses with Rocamadour’s splendour, because this is what will entice you to experience this place for yourself.

 

A Feast for the Eyes

We approached the village from the southern side and this gave us the most incredible glimpse of the rock temple with a face-on perspective. The castle, the Sanctuary, the little houses precariously built into the rock, created a vision that was almost out of this world. Surely this was not human-made. It looked like something that was crafted by a giant girl making a doll’s house village. Although whilst this was surely a photographer’s dream, once drawn into the alleyways, Rocamadour takes on a whole new identity.

As we wound our way to the northern aspect and parked up our van in the free overnight Aire, our eyes would be further satiated by the wiggling path that takes you to the village floor and to the heart of Rocamadour’s sacred space. And as you walk through the gates to the Sanctuary that conceals its Notre Dame and Basilica, the vista is hard for the camera to capture. It is only the eyes that can really digest the whole scene as you turn 360 degrees trying to take in this magnificent complex of buildings. Chapels, spires, staircases and intricate detail in the balconies all create a very special vision.  The tower reaching way above the village looks like a Disney castle and you half expect to see Rapunzel standing there with her flowing locks. Its majesty is seen from almost every street – it is hard to not have it as centrepiece of every photograph.

 

And of course you cannot miss the image after the setting sun; the village set against the blackness of the night illuminates its beautiful architecture and an orange hew castes its dominance around the buildings. I wish I had taken my tripod to capture the picture professionally, as it was a sight to behold and completed my Rocamadour experience beautifully.

 

 

Music to your Ears

Upon the hour, the Sanctuary rings out its bell, which reverberates around this dramatic rock village in the heart of the valley. It’s almost as if the sound bounces from one side of the mountains to the other, as if in competition. And if you are fortunate enough, legend has it that you may even hear the sound of the miracle bell that rings from the inner sanctum of the Notre Dame chapel. The bell is said to ring when an oceanic miracle happens and a marina’s life is saved.

 

Combined with the melee of tourists that creates its own energy even in the autumn, Rocamadour hums with an accent of appreciation from its visitors, some of which are pilgrims making their own spiritual passage. And yet it is the sound of silence that will grip you the most as you pass through the religious chambers and wonder at the nobility who have graced these floors.

 

In stark contrast, as you head down the pilgrims’ stairway, the cafés and shops on the village’s lower level create their own music as they entice you to buy scented pebbles (which are delightful) and to taste their gastronomic fare.

 

A Sense that reaches into your Soul

There are some places around the world where there are simply no words to describe your experience; where just by standing still you can feel its heart-beat and the stories that contribute to the fabric of its identity.  France’s Rocamadour is one of those places and I’m not sure whether it’s a spiritual energy brought by pilgrims past or if it’s the pure beauty of the architecture and its precarious cliff position that draws you into a speechless state. Either way, Rocamadour has a certain something that whether gazing from afar or admiring from within, there is a special vibe about this medieval ‘cité’.

 

Feel your feet in the footprints of those before you, feel the hope in the walls of the cheerleading houses that line the streets and sense the 1000 years of legend and history that has put this iconic village top of France’s tourist map. Built on the site of a shrine to Madonna, Rocamadour symbolises healing, borne out by the 8 religious buildings in the Sanctuary complex. And with that reputation comes a deep sense of faith, which is palpable, whether you are religious or not.

 

Out of season, Rocamadour is a perfect time to visit, allowing you to contemplate the historical souls magnetised towards this place, or perhaps simply acknowledge the reflections of your own thoughts as you climb the steep and winding Path of the Crosses. It gives you permission to gaze in wonderment at the underground pillars that, in some Herculean feat are holding up the rock above or perhaps sit in prayer in one of the chapels to offer your own appreciations and gratitudes. Perhaps you need some healing… well this place is certainly somewhere where you could express hope and feel that, beneath the shadow of the Black Madonna’s presence you feel compelled to trust that you are being heard by someone or something in the Universe.

 

 

How to make the most of your experience

1. Getting there

Although there may well be day trips by coach from Toulouse or Marseille, it is best if you have your own transport, enabling you to time your visit to avoid the crowds. We took the D39 and D32 which brings you in on the southern road, offering you the most staggering view of the village. It is a perspective not to be missed. For those of us in campers, this is a narrow and winding road, although it is doable for long vehicles. I always comfort myself in the knowledge that if coaches can reach it so can we.  Although I suspect they don’t take this route.

Parking is plentiful around the village and all for free. The lower parking by the river is small and in high season probably very busy. It is the easiest parking area for anyone with walking difficulties or disabilities as there is little ‘hiking’ up or down to be done from here.  The middle parking area, Parking de la vallee de Rocamadour has height restrictions of 2m so is limiting depending upon the size of your vehicle. The upper car park, Parking de Chateau, is the largest space and if you have a camper is ideal as there is a specific Motorhome Aire that allows free parking day and night.

 

2. Getting around

Depending on which parking area you choose, there is some walking to be done so come prepared. Whilst the lower streets with the cafés and shops is fairly level, the steps up to the the religious complex are more demanding depending on your fitness. Whilst pilgrims ascended on their knees, I wouldn’t recommend it; by foot is more than enough of a challenge.

If you park at the upper car park, then you have the Path of the Crosses from the chateau to navigate, which whilst going downhill is fine, coming back is a good calorie burner. There is a lift that can take the effort out of the climb which takes you to all three levels of the village.

3. Camping

As we’ve mentioned, there is a free Aire at the chateau that you can stay at for free, overnight. There are no facilities although it is perfect for visiting the village and seeing it by night too. Alternatively if you prefer campsites with your tent or camper, then there Camping Le Paradis, which is within walking distance, albeit it a good hike. They are open from 1 April until 30 September, so not great if you are looking for genuine out of season visiting.

4.  When to visit

For us as introvert travellers, we love the peace and quiet to experience places with the solitude that they deserve. Although sometimes this is just not achievable. So if you can, we recommend visiting in March, April, September or October as these are probably the best times to experience the place without claustrophobia and shoulder barging. If this isn’t realistic for you and the summer season is all you can do, then do visit either early morning or late afternoon, when most of the crowds have dispersed. The added advantage of this, of course, is that you get to see the village in its nighttime glory, which is definitely worth staying for. It is a spectacle for sure.

I would love to have visited a week earlier so we could have caught the Balloon Festival. I can imagine how magnificent the balloons are set against the backdrop of this medieval cité. Although with over 20,000 visitors for this last weekend in September, I bet it feels a bit all-consuming if you are introverts like us.

 

 

Final thoughts of Rocamadour

Whether you have a specific reason to be at Rocamadour or perhaps you just are looking for a special experience, either way this Sacred City will not disappoint. With its commanding vistas, its Devine architectural tapestry and its charming and characterful three-tiered streets, it will take you on a journey; spiritual may be, although for sure an exploration that will enchant you from the moment you set eyes on it. Knowing I was treading in more important footsteps than the nobility before me, made it a memorable trip and one that brought me closer to my dad. This place is seriously worthy of a diversion en route to the south coast.

Rocamadour – iconic France at its best….

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Iconic France symbolised in the vertiginous medieval cité of Rocamadour

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