Travelling to the Denmark? DOs and DON’Ts

On September 2007 I went to Denmark (see map) with my wife. We don’t like arranged travels and we prefer to travel on our own, because we think is the only way you can get in touch with the real country and its people. This way of travelling is harder and more expensive than others, but also more pleasant, relaxing and, that’s the best, gives you a different point of view on the culture and way of life.

After my experience here you have my advice if you plan to travel on your own to these areas. You have to understand that this is MY PERSONAL POINT OF VIEW and that it is not my intention to criticize the people or culture of any of the mentioned places. You also must take into account that these observations are from year 2007. Things might have changed (either in the right or in the wrong way) since then. You must also bear in mind that this is not a travel guide, but just the description of my own journey and my own impressions. If you don’t agree with some of the opinions below just write your own WEB page with you own opinions, but don’t bother me.

Legend:
Excellent / Specially interesting Very good / Very interesting Good / Interesting
Mediocre / Not very interesting Very bad / Not interesting Click on it for pictures of the area

The main idea of this journey was to visit Denmark, where we had never been before. When planning the journey it was obvious that we’ll have to spend some days at Copenhagen, but it was difficult to decide what other places in the country would be worth to visit. Finally, taking into account the few days we had and the fact that we were arriving and leaving by the airport of Copenhagen we decided to concentrate on the islands, leaving most of the continental part (Jutland) for a future travel.

I found a relatively cheap direct flight from Palma de Mallorca to Copenhagen in Lastminute.com with Spanair . The flight lasted for about 3 hours and when arrived we went directly to get the car I had booked at Budget . I had booked a Peugeot 307 SW, but as they didn’t have any available I was given an Audi A4 Avant for the same price (no need to say I didn’t complain…).

And there the problems began…. suddenly I realized I had forgotten the travel guide in the seat of the airplane. I immediately went to the customer service of SAS (the partner of Spanair in Denmark) and they “kindly” told me that nothing could be done. That the airplane had been already cleaned and that it was not their responsibility (!!). The girl told me that I should go to the lost and found department of Copenhagen police !!. Well, buying a new guide would solve the problem, so after my initial anger I decided it was better to forget the incident, take the car and drive towards the city.

We went directly to the Hotel Avenue that I had booked in hotusahotels.com . This hotel is not at the centre of Copenhagen, but this was not a problem for me as I would have a car. The hotel itself was good for me, it offers free WiFI to guests, the crew was always very helpful, room and bathroom are clean (but both very small) and you can use their car park for an reasonable fee. The only drawback was the price of the room, but this is the same for all hotels in Denmark. They are terribly expensive, specially if you are from a country like Spain, where you are used to get the same (or even better) quality and services for half the price.

It was getting late for lunch so we just left the baggage in the room and went to a cafe nearby (the hotel doesn’t have restaurant) to eat one of the traditional Smorrebrod (a toast with salad and fish/shrimps or meat) that the Danes like so much to eat at lunch. Afterwards we went to the downtown to to have a first feeling of the city and walking a bit by the famous Strøget , that is said to be the longest shopping street in Europe. To the disappointment of my wife all shops were already closed at that time (Almost all shops in Denmark close at 17:00 !)

The following day was Sunday, so we decided to visit the downtown of Copenhagen Photos and information of the area as it would be easier to park than in a working day (and free!). Driving by the city of Copenhagen is not complicated, but parking in the old town is really expensive (free on Sundays), and understanding the complicated signals that supposedly tell you where and when you are allowed to park (depending on the day, time, etc.) is simply impossible for a foreigner. And fines are not cheap, believe me…. I strongly recommend you don’t get to the downtown in you own car in working days!

We went directly to the most important attraction of the city, the Little Mermaid , that although not being specially impressive is an icon of Denmark and thus you are supposed to visit it. We left the car at the car park near the Little Mermaid and walked to the near downtown, passing by the really beautiful Saint Albans church and the Churchill park, to end up in the impressive Marble church and the Amalienborg palace . From there we walked towards the Rosenborg castle , that is surrounded by a beautiful park, and then to the botanical garden Photos and information of the area, that is absolutely splendid and holds a huge greenhouse that is worth the visit.

It was getting late, so we went to Nyhavn , one the most popular corners of the city, and where there are plenty of restaurants with terraces along the channel. After lunch we took one of the open boats that leave from Nyhavn itself and offer one-hour cruises by the channels and harbour . This gives you nice view of the city for a reasonable price and we certainly enjoyed very much the experience.

Next day, Monday, it was time for some shopping, so we spent the whole morning going up and down by the Strøget, buying some amber (quite expensive, by the way) and other souvenirs. In the afternoon we went to the famous Tivoli gardens Photos and information of the area, a amusement park in the central Copenhagen, that in spite of its reduced size (about 75,000 sqr. meters) catches you for many hours. Tivoli is specially beautiful in the night, when it’s illuminated by thousands of coloured lights, so it’s a good idea to get there in the afternoon and stay till late in the evening, having dinner in any of the multiple restaurants, that cover all tastes and budgets.

The following day we left Copenhagen towards northern Zealand (the island where Copenhagen is located), driving by the coast road that takes you through a never-ending succession of houses that hardly allow to see the sea (the Oresund sound, that separates Denmark and Sweden). We got to the Kronborg castle Photos and information of the area, near Helsingør, that is specially famous for being the setting for much of William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. From there we continued northwards by the coast to the village of Gilleje , and then went south to the Fredensborg palace Photos and information of the area, that we only could see from outside (It is the Danish Royal Family’s spring and autumn residence). A little further there is the impressive Frederiksborg palace Photos and information of the area, that we have to visit very quickly as it closes at 17:00 (as almost every place does in this country, grrrr!!). In order not to go back to the hotel so early we drove eastwards to the village of Hundested and spent some time walking in the sunset by the beaches nearby Photos and information of the area.

Wednesday was a rainy day but we had to go on with our plans, so we took the car and crossed the 16 km. long bridge that links Denmark and Sweden, spent some time in the city of Malmö Photos and information of the area, with beautiful parks and many pedestrian streets, and then went to Lund Photos and information of the area, one of the oldest towns in Sweden which has a beautiful cathedral. From there we drove down to the southern coast and went back to Malmö by the road along this absolutely flat coast of the Baltic sea. Crossed the bridge again and went back to the hotel with a really bad cold I had got….

Next day it was time to move to our new destination in the island of Lolland, but instead of going directly there (distance is really little) we stopped at Roskilde Photos and information of the area, which has a beautiful cathedral, nice pedestrian shopping streets, and a famous Viking ship museum. Then went down to Næstved Photos and information of the area, where we had lunch, and then to the beautiful Gavnø palace Photos and information of the area, that lays on its own island, and that we could only see from outside (do you guess why?…yeees, it closed at 17:00 !!)

Just before sunset we arrived to Maribo, the main town in Lolland island, and went to the Hotel Maribo Søpark , where I had booked a room. The problems began when they told me that there were no smoking rooms available, and in spite of me insisting that I had booked a smoking room I was forced to get a non-smoking one, what certainly exasperated my wife (the smoker..). The girl at the reception was kind enough to provide us with an ashtray an grant us permission to smoke at the balcony of the room (no need to say how “pleasant” was to smoke outdoors, in the fall, in Denmark, in the evening…). Regarding the room and the bathroom, well…. they should be fine in the 80’s, but little had been renewed since then…. The leather of the chairs was worn out, the sheets were broken, the curtain of the old bath tube was dirty, the balcony hasn’t been cleaned for ages and it was full of spiders,…….. The only good point of this hotel is the location, right at the shore of the Søndersø lake, with nice views and in a restful place. Let’s say it’s the wrong hotel in the right place, and it’s certainly not cheap at all.

Maribo Photos and information of the area is a small town with no special tourist interest, however its location in central Lolland, by the shore of the charming Søndersø lake Photos and information of the area, makes it an interesting place to stay when visiting this most rural, and somehow less developed, region of Denmark.

A few km. north of Maribo you can find the excellent Knuthenborg safari park Photos and information of the area. If you are travelling with children the visit to this park is a must, but anyway if you like enjoying the nature and animals you should also consider spending at least one morning there. You can take a bus at the main entrance, but definitively the best way to visit the park is with your own vehicle. The ticket is not cheap, but it’s worth the money.

The next day we drove to the east of the island of Møn, where Møns Klint is located. If you like natural landscapes I strongly recommend you visit Møns Klint Photos and information of the area, a famous natural resort with over 100m high bright chalk cliffs, on top of which a beautiful forest invites you to walk along the well preserved (although quite steep) footpaths that go along the coast for several km.

It was time to move on, so the following day we took the ferry that links the islands of Lolland and Langeland (there is no bridge between these islands) and from Langeland we crossed the bridge to the island of Fyn, driving directly to the city of Odense Photos and information of the area, where the most outstanding is the house of Hans Christian Andersen and the traditional houses of the neighbourhood Photos and information of the area. There are also many pedestrian shopping streets in the downtown, but this time we only had very little time to walk around.

When I was planning this travel my intention was to stay in a hotel in Odense, but for some reason there were no rooms available in any suitable hotel, so I finally booked a room in the Hotel KongebroGaarden in Middelfart Photos and information of the area, right at the shore of the narrow sound between Fyn and the mainland. The Hotel KongebroGaarden is a good hotel, with comfortable and excellent, although pretty small rooms, some of them with views of the Lillebælt sound.

Our journey was getting to its end, but still had one day left for a visit to the charming city of Ribe Photos and information of the area, in the mainland, known for being the oldest city in Denmark and for having more than 100 traditional well preserved houses. I enjoyed very much spending the day in Ribe and walking up and down by the pedestrian streets.

In the afternoon it began raining a lot, so we went back to the hotel early and rested a little in our last night in Denmark. The last day we crossed the island of Fyn eastwards, stopping again in Odense for some last-minute souvenir shopping, crossed the 18 km long bridge that links Fyn and Zealand islands and went directly to the airport of Copenhagen.

In summary:
Copenhagen is a really worth a visit and there are also other interesting (but isolated) spots all over the country, but the landscapes and coasts that we visited somehow disappointed me a little (the only exception was Møns Klint). Might be it has to do with the fact that this is a very flat country, with no mountains at all (highest is about 170 m above see level only) and also because of the too domesticated nature.
The Danes are very polite and they are always willing to help you as much as they can. They are really nice people.
The food is quite different to what we are used in the Mediterranean, so it was really hard to get used to it (in fact we didn’t manage to get used to it). Most dishes are based on fish or meat, with very little vegetables.

The different lunch and dinner habits were also a problem (they use to have a relatively light lunch and a strong dinner). My wife is vegetarian and her opinion about the Danish food was even more radical than mine…. her words were “thank goodness there are Italian restaurants everywhere….” 🙂
Alcoholic drinks are VERY expensive. There is no Danish wine (too north for the vines), but fortunately there are many different good beers (very expensive, but good).

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