We will be looking at the route from Denmark’s capital city, København, situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand, to Aarhus. Denmark is the southernmost of the Scandinavian countries, linked to nearby Sweden by the Öresund bridge.
København’s name comes from the words for “Merchant Harbour”. Originally a Viking fishing village established in the 10th century, it is known for its horizontal skyline broken only by the spires and towers of its churches and castles, earning the nickname “City of Spires”.
The Central Station can be found opposite the Tivoli amusement park (also known as Tivoli Gardens). The park dates back to 1843 and three-quarters of the area has been dedicated to open space so there is a combination of rides, theatre halls and pavilions as well as beautiful grounds to wander. You will also find an aquarium within the concert hall.
Nyhavn, with its colourful facades, is a 17th century waterfront and entertainment district of København, which used to be a hub for ship merchants of bygone days. Now it is the perfect place to sit and people watch while enjoying one of the many outdoor dining areas, maybe trying your first taste of a local delicacy Smørrebrød, an open faced sandwich consisting of buttered rye bread topped with cold cuts of meat, fish, cheese or spreads and garnishes.
Being a royal city, you will find castles, palaces, royal statues and monuments all around København. Rosenborg Castle in the heart of the city is home to the Danish Crown Jewels amongst its royal art treasures. Set in the King’s Garden, the main attractions are the Knights’ Hall with coronation thrones and three life-sized lions standing guard. Every day you can witness the changing of the Royal Danish Guard, leaving its Barracks at 11:30 and marching through the city to Amalienborg Palace, residence of the Danish monarch Queen Margrethe 2. Amalienborg is made up of four identical buildings surrounding the palace square with its statue of King Frederik V from 1771. The Amalienborg Museum is also here presenting the private rooms of the most recent kings and queens and an exhibition on the monarchy today and its many traditions.
The Little Mermaid Statue is a bronze statue displayed on a rock by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade. Sculpted by Edvard Eriksen, it is based on the fairy tale by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. This small and unimposing statue is a København icon and has been a major tourist attraction since its unveiling in 1913.
Having introduced this route with a look at København, this week we travel the 160 kilometres to Odense, the main city of the island of Funen. There has been a settlement on this site since the year 980 when the Viking ring castle of Nonnebakken was constructed during the reign of Sweyn Forkbeard.
The Danish Railway Museum, Danmarks Jernbanemuseum, is housed in a former engine shed adjacent to the main railway station. The largest railway museum in Scandinavia, it traces the development of the Danish railway system and has an impressive range of engines and carriages on display including Denmark’s oldest preserved steam engine, H40 of 1868.
The medieval Old Town quarter with its cobbled streets, is home to some of the oldest houses in Odense, distinguishable by the crooked facades and half timbered frontages. On Hans Jensens Stræde is the iconic yellow house believed to be the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, which has been open to visitors since 1908. Throughout the city there are numerous statues and sculptures representing characters from his classic fairytales.
The Latin Quarter to the west of the city has many characteristic yellow brick industrial buildings which house attractions such as the Brandts art museum and a contemporary history museum. Here you will also find an array of cafes, bars and restaurants.
The 150 year old Harbour has been transformed from a bustling port to a residential area and now has a variety of sports and lesiure facilities including mini golf, an indoor football factory and an open air swimming pool.
20 kilometres by rail from København, Fredericia, in central Denmark, is situated beside the s-shaped Lillebælt, a waterway between the island of Funen and the Jutland peninsular, which connects the Baltic Sea to the Kattegrat strait. In 1935 a bridge, Den gamle Lillebæltsbro (Little Belt Bridge) was built across the Lillebælt allowing faster access to the towns and cities of eastern Denmark. Before the bridge was built, ferries sailed from Strib and Middelfart to Snoghøj on the Fredericia side.
Fredericia is one of the few Danish cities to have been built as a fortification in a location with no prior inhabitants. The ramparts were built in 1650 by farmers, soldiers and convicts to strengthen Denmark’s defences in a time of war in Europe. At the main entrance to the city is the Landsoldaten, a statue of a proud Danish foot soldier which commemorates the Danish victory in the 1849 Battle of Fredericia. It is said to be the oldest monument in the world celebrating an unknown soldier.
The Town Museum consists of several old buildings and includes exhibitions highlighting the area’s military, religious and commercial developments, as well as the daily lives of the citizens. Admission to the museum is free of charge. Another great way to experience Fredericia is to visit the Historic Mini City (Miniby) located at Madsby Play Park. Here the 1849 market town has been recreated in miniature at a scale of 1:10.
The vibrant city centre has over 120 shops and restaurants on its 1.4 kilometres of pedestrianised streets. Nearby is the new Kanalbyen (canal) district where a large area of the former harbour is being transformed in to new housing, leisure and retail facilities.
The waterways around Fredericia have one of the highest concentration of Porpoises in Northern Europe. ead to the old harbour and board a whale safari cruise to see these playful animals.
DSB (Danish state railways) services link Fredericia with many other major towns and cities using comfortable modern trains. During peak times it might be advisable to book yourself a seat which can only be done at a ticket office.
Our final stop in Denmark will be Aarhus, which is just 35 minutes by train from Fredericia.
Aarhus is our final destination on this journey across Denmark from København. The city, which is 187 kilometres northwest of København by rail, and the second largest city in Denmark, was founded around the 10th century on the northern shores of a fjord at a natural harbour.
Aarhus Central Station has four platforms offering international connections to Hamburg and Berlin as well as regional services and intercity connections to København and Aalborg. It is also the terminus station for popular commuter services on the Grenaa and Odder Lines.
ARoS Art Museum is one of the main tourist attractions. Established in 1859, it has one of the largest art collections in northern Europe including the museum’s own collections from the 19th century up to the present day and the not to be missed 360º views of the surrounding city in the Your rainbow panorama exhibition.
Den Gamle By is an Old Town Museum, an open-air museum of urban history and culture with 75 original Danish buildings from 1597 to 1909. This living history attraction has neighbourhoods exploring Danish life pre 1900, during the 1920’s, 1974 and, as well as the homes, shops and workshops, there are further museums and art exhibitions.
Tivoli Friheden is a theme park where you will find four roller coasters, 40 rides, stalls, games and playgrounds, right in the centre of Aarhus. It is located within walking distance of the city centre in the beautiful Marselisborg forest. With a great selection of restaurants or, should you wish to dine al fresco, there are barbecues and dining areas where you can enjoy your own picnic.