How to explore Denmark’s beaches and charming Danish Riviera towns

The Danish Riviera is filled with lovely towns like Tisvildeleje and miles of gorgeous coastline — Photo courtesy of olli0815 / iStock Via Getty Images

When you think about Denmark, you probably picture Copenhagen. The vibrant capital city is home to Tivoli Gardens, the Little Mermaid Statue, and the iconic colored houses of Nyhavn, all of which are definitely worth a visit.

But less than an hour’s drive from Copenhagen, somehow flying under the radar for travelers, lies the North Zealand coast, known as the Danish Riviera. Danes have traditionally spent their summers along this stretch of small towns and coastline, taking advantage of some of the best beaches in Denmark and living their best lives as the second happiest people in the world.

This relaxing Europe road trip includes some of Denmark’s best beaches and Danish Riviera hotels, including historic badehotels (bath hotels) like the one you may have ooh-ed and ah-ed over in the PBS series, “Seaside Hotel.”

Where is the Danish Riviera?

Charming Danish seaside towns invite a scenic stroll to the waterCharming Danish seaside towns invite a scenic stroll to the water — Photo courtesy of Lois Alter Mark

The scenic Danish Riviera coastline spans over 100 miles along the Oresund Strait and the Kattegat Sea, from Sejoro Bay in the west to Oresund in the east. In many ways, it makes for the perfect summer road trip.

Denmark itself leads the “coolcation” trend as a breezy alternative to the sweltering heat of Southern Europe, and driving along the North Coast of Zealand is an idyllic route to getting back in touch with nature and yourself, taking in the picturesque cottages and charming seaside towns along the way.

You won’t find Hamptons-like traffic or the drama of the Pacific Ocean here. Instead, you’ll immerse yourself in the restorative coastal culture that has attracted bohemians, urban dwellers, and even royalty since the 19th century. You’ll understand why the light and landscape inspired artists and why doctors back then prescribed a fresh-air getaway for those needing healing.

Consider starting your day by joining the locals for a refreshing cold swim in the sea, and if you’re interested in nude beaches, know that the free-spirited Danes will expect you to strip down as well.

The length of your road trip depends on how long you have. Because all the coastal towns are pretty short drives from each other, you have lots of flexibility and can spend as many nights as you’d like in each one.

We’ve chosen three towns with accommodations you’ll never want to leave. Plan to spend at least two nights in each so you can explore their distinct personalities and settle into your homey badehotel for some quality chill time.


Beautiful sunsets are common at the beach in GillelejeBeautiful sunsets are common at the beach in Gilleleje — Photo courtesy of fotoember / iStock Via Getty Images

To start, fly into Copenhagen, rent a car, and drive to Gilleleje. On your way, stop in Humlebaek, less than an hour from the airport, for a visit to the stunning Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and lunch at Restaurant Sletten, whose food is as spectacular as its harbor views.

From there, it’s less than 30 minutes to Gilleleje, situated at the northernmost tip of North Zealand. This charming, old fishing village has an amazing history. In 1943, the people of Gilleleje saved thousands of Danish Jews from the Nazis, and you can check out the moving monuments to them along the coast and at the harbor, where you can also grab an ice cream and browse the shops.

Gilleleje offers several beach options, from the family-friendly Strandbakkerne Beach to the deeper water of Veststranden. The locals go for an evening dip at Smidstrup Beach, hidden behind the town’s red and black summer houses. Nearby, Dronningmolle, with its fine-grained sand and shallow water, is considered one of the best beaches in North Zealand.

When you’ve had enough sun, take an art break at the eye-popping Rudolph Tegner Museum and Statuepark and Munkeruphus, an old country house on the sea, now a unique contemporary art venue.

Eat dinner at The Restaurant at Gilbjerg Strandhotel, where you can enjoy the sunset and family-style dishes. Be sure to try the smorrebrod, a traditional Danish lunch of open-faced sandwiches, at Fyrkroen, a lovely restaurant by the Nakkehoved Lighthouse overlooking the Oresund Strait.

Where to stay in Gilleleje: Gilleleje Badehotel stands proudly atop an almost 100-foot-high cliff in northernmost North Zealand and offers breathtaking ocean, sunrise, and sunset views. Built as a guesthouse in 1895, it’s cozy and welcoming, with light and airy, well-appointed rooms and inviting public spaces that make you feel like you’re staying at the summer home of a good friend.

The hotel features a steam bath, Turkish hammam, and mahogany sauna. Here, you’ll walk in the footsteps of Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who wrote that Gilleleje “will forever be one of my favorite locations.”

Amenities Business center, Internet, Meeting/Banquet facilities, Multi-lingual staff, Smoke alarms
Price $$
Address Hulsøvej 15, Gilleleje, Denmark


Houses line the picturesque beach in TisvildelejeHouses line the picturesque beach in Tisvildeleje — Photo courtesy of Alexander Farnsworth / iStock Via Getty Images

From Gilleleje, drive about 20 minutes to Tisvildeleje, a lovely town filled with colorful beach cabins from the early 20th century. The unexpected mix of traditional Danish beach culture and hipster attitude is irresistible (and Instagram-worthy) at every turn.

The real star of Tisvildeleje is the approximately mile of powdery white sand that’s been attracting beachgoers for generations. The town also has a great main street for strolling, shopping, and dining, and there’s a popular flea market held at Birkepladsen every Saturday morning throughout the summer.

Don’t miss Frederiksborg Castle, a short drive away in Hillerod. The gorgeous art and national history museum is known as the Danish Versailles. You’ll want to spend hours exploring the portrait galleries, listening to the haunting organ music in the original, UNESCO Heritage-worthy Chapel, walking through the gardens, and enjoying a farm-to-table lunch at Rabarbergaarden.

There are always stunning views of the Danish beaches from Helenekilde Badehotel's cozy patioThere are always stunning views of the Danish beaches from Helenekilde Badehotel’s cozy patio — Photo courtesy of Helenekilde Badehotel

Where to stay in Tisvildeleje: Helenekilde Badehotel is like the family summer home you wish you had. Built in 1896 as a private summer residence, it sits comfortably on a bluff overlooking the Kattegat, and all views — and a convenient pathway — lead to the water. You’ll find robes in every room and an outdoor sauna for after your swim.

You can curl up on the patio or your private balcony and soak in the sea air. There are lots of intimate spaces to gather with old friends and make new ones. The friendly atmosphere lends itself to lazy days enjoying the simple pleasures of nature, conversation, and good food in the light-soaked restaurant.

Amenities Internet, Meeting/Banquet facilities, Smoke alarms, Bicycle rental, Restaurant
Price $$$$
Address Strandvejen 25 Tisvildeleje, Tisvildeleje, Denmark


There is a quiet beauty in Liseleje on the Danish RivieraThere is a quiet beauty in Liseleje on the Danish Riviera — Photo courtesy of Studio Design

For your last stop, head about 9 miles west to the quaint seaside town of Liseleje. Life is just a little slower here, and the days feel longer, spent on the beach, in the woods, or at Melby Overdrev, the largest heath in North Zealand.

Considered one of Denmark’s most beautiful beaches, Liseleje Beach is ideal for the whole family. If you’re looking for something more remote, where you can sit on the dunes and think, Lille Kulgab is nearby, as is the clothing-optional beach Staengehus.

There’s more to do in Hundested, a short drive from Liseleje. Visit the must-see The House of Knud Rasmussens, Tothaven’s adorable farm animals, and the artisan shops on Kajgaden Street (especially the jaw-dropping blown glass at Backhaus Brown).

Treat yourself to a shockingly good meal at Restaurant Knud at the harbor and Lynaes Surfcenter, where you can have a burger and rent equipment for various water sports, from kite surfing to SUP. End your road trip with an outstanding dinner at Tinggarden, helmed by Jan Friis Mikkelsen, one of the chefs behind New Nordic dining.

Where to stay in Liseleje: Built in 1896, Liseleje Badehotel was once a fisherman’s house that later became a summer resort inspired by the best American motels. Today, its 16 renovated rooms remain true to their badehotel heritage but with a few modern touches like flat-screen TVs. Chances are you won’t be watching, though, because you’ll be drawn more to the beach and the hotel’s magical garden, where you can mingle with other guests or sit and think about how to return to the Danish Riviera regularly.

Source link

Share with your friends!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.