Many people know it as simply Denmark, but this is actually the Kingdom of Denmark thanks to the Royal Family that has resided here for centuries and made this a sovereign state. As a result, palaces and castles feature heavily on the landscape, and if you are a history buff then there is a huge amount to enjoy.
Arguably a number of the best attractions in Denmark however happen out of doors, as this country is home to some of the most stunning natural sights on earth, such as floating sand dunes that change location every year and majestic cliffs that bring with them 65 million years worth of history. As if that wasn’t enough, you can explore some of the islands off the main coast of the country, where you will find vast pine forests, wild horses, and relaxing seals. Depending on your interests, you can take a trip back in time to learn all about the Viking roots of the smallest country in Nordic region, or fast forward into the future at some of the most cutting edge museums in the world such as the Maritime Museum or the AroS Art Museum.
Lets explore the best things to do in Denmark:
1. Visit the animals at Copenhagen Zoo
Copenhagen Zoo has the claim to fame of being one of the oldest zoos in the whole of Europe and it was first opened in 1859. The zoo sprawls over 27 acres of land and you find 264 different species here as over 3,000 animals call the zoo home.
The area is made up of different sections such as the Tropical Zoo which spans 1,500 square meters and mimics the conditions of the rainforest and you will find animals like deer, snakes, and crocodiles here as well as a butterfly garden.
For younger visitors there is a Children’s Zoo and you can get up close with the animals like dwarf goats from Africa.
2. Discover Thy National Park
Thy National Park is the first official national park in Denmark and spans 12 kilometers of land along the western coastline of Jutland.
Here you will find rugged landscapes as well as vast pine forests and bracing sea air.
Hiking and biking are both popular activities in the park and you can amble over scenic sand dunes as you take in the local flora and fauna.
Birdwatchers are also in for a treat as there are over 30 species of birds in the park, as well as resident otters.
In addition to the wildlife found here you can also take in the grave mounds that dot the site and date from the Bronze Age.
3. Climb the Råbjerg Mile
Nestled near Skagen in the North Jutland region is that largest moving sand dune in all of Northern Europe.
The Råbjerg Mile moves at a rate of around 18 meters per year, and you can still see the path that it has carved in the surrounding landscapes as the sands have rumbled past.
This is one of the premium tourist attractions in Denmark and more than 250,000 people come here annually to marvel at this amazing feat of nature.
4. Visit Egeskov Castle in Funen
Egeskov is one of the most beautiful and famous buildings in Europe and is built in the Renaissance style.
Points of interest to look out for if you come here include the mighty Knights’ Hall as well as elegant spires and a working moat.
The area around the castle is as famous as the interior and you will find a large forest dotted with local buildings and trails.
There is also a Segway course here if you feel like something a little more relaxing.
5. Stand in the northernmost spot of Grenen
Most people won’t know that the northernmost point in Denmark is Grenen.
As you stand looking over the water here you will be able to see the spot where the Skagerrak and Kattegat seas meet and crash together as they break over the Skaw Reef.
This area is known as the tip of the European mainland and you will be able to watch the resident seals at play as well as enjoy the beach which has some of the best coastline in the country.
6. Visit a buried church in Skagen
The seaside area of Skagen is the home of Den Tilsandede Kirke or the sand buried church.
It is dedicated to Saint Laurence who is the saint of seafarer’s and it dates from the 14th century.
In the days gone by this would have been the largest church in the region but the nearby sands have drifted here over the years, starting in the 17th century, and started to cover the building.
The church was finally closed in 1795 when the sands overtook it to the point where it could no longer be used and now only the main tower can be seen poking out of the dunes.
7. Explore the Viking burial grounds of Lindholm Høje
If you venture to Lindholm Høje you will find some of the most amazing Viking artifacts in Europe.
Once buried in the sands here, they were undiscovered for centuries before being uncovered and put on display.
The grave sites here date from the Iron Age and the Viking Age and you will find 682 graves as well as 150 ships carved from stone.
There is also a preserved village here that has stone circles and wells.
Part of the complex is the Lindholm Høje Museum where many of the relics that were discovered are displayed and there are also 3D exhibitions that tell the story of how life in the Viking Era would have been.
8. Enjoy the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense
The famous children’s writer Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense and you can come here to visit the Hans Christian Andersen Museum that dates from 1908. The museum tells the story of the writer’s life and work and you will find exhibitions that feature many of his unique drawings and paintings.
If you want to hear some of his famous stories then there are listening posts dotted around the museum and a museum shop where you can pick up a copy for yourself.
9. Go underground at the Maritime Museum
The Maritime Museum is Helsingør was designed by Bjarke Ingels and sits in the shadow of the castle depicted in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
What makes it different from so many other museums is that it is actually located deep underground where it then takes you on a tour of the maritime history of Denmark.
It is easy to visit from neighboring Copenhagen and well worth the trip to experience one of the most unique museum settings in the world.
10. Build a tower at Legoland in Billund
This is a great pick if you are travelling with children as you get to experience all the fun of playing with Lego on a massive scale.
At Legoland in Billund you will get to see 25 acres of Lego themed parks that include an astonishing 40 million blocks of Lego.
There are reconstructions of famous monuments both from Denmark and around the world here as well as rides and themed areas like Pirateland, Castleland, and Duplo land.
11. Drive across Oresund Bridge
Oresund Bridge in Denmark connects the country to neighboring Sweden and stretches for an impressive 5 miles across the water.
It is the longest bridge in Europe and for that reason alone it is worth a look as you take in the sweeping views that herald the last glimpses of Denmark and usher in new vistas as you approach Sweden.
12. Have fun at Dyrehavsbakken
If you drive 10 minutes outside of Copenhagen you will come to the amazing Dyrehaven, a famous lush forest which contains hidden depths.
Inside the forest you will find Dyrehavsbakken which is an amusement park that is also the oldest of its kind in the world having been opened in 1583. You will find a selection of rides here including a rollercoaster that dates back 82 years as well as arcades, shooting ranges, and restaurants.
13. Explore the ancient fortress of Kastellet
Sitting on the edge of Copenhagen is Kastellet which is a fortress that mirrors the shape of a star.
There are bastions at each of the five points of the star and this would have been a section of the main ramparts that encircled and protected Copenhagen.
The area dates from 1660 when it was commissioned by King Christian IV who was fearful of Denmark being attacked from the sea.
You will also find a windmill, a church, and a park located within the citadel.
14. Dress up as a Viking at the Viking Museum
Located in Roskilde is the Viking Museum which has the claim to fame of having five preserved Viking boats.
The ships are over 1,000 years old and the museum has guided tours every day that will tell you all about how people would have lived during the Viking Era.
You can even dress up in period garb and go out on the water in a reconstructed boat if you really want to get into the spirit of things.
15. Check out the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen
Perhaps the most iconic site in all of Denmark is the sculpture of the Little Mermaid which is now over 100 years old.
The sculpture is made of bronze and takes its inspiration from the story of the Little Mermaid by Danish native Hans Christian Andersen.
The Little Mermaid sits on a rock on the shoreline and gazes towards the land where the story says that she is in love with a prince.
16. Watch the wild horses of Langeland
You may not realize that there are any wild horses still left in Denmark but actually they are well known on the island of Langeland which is a big hit with domestic travelers.
Here you will find flocks of horses with foals that run all over the island.
The most popular place to see them is from a small hill that is known as Ørnehøj and you can enter the area where the horses run as long as you don’t disturb them in any way.
17. Visit Kronborg Castle
Located in Helsingor is Kronborg Castle which was the setting for the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates from 1640. Things to look out for include the castle chapel as well as the ornate woodcarvings that decorate the interior.
The style is from the Renaissance period and you will find the amazing Knight’s Hall in the center of the building along with ancient tapestries that line the west of the castle.
18. Have a beer at the Carlsberg Brewery
Just outside of Copenhagen sits the Carlsberg Brewery which is the home of one of the best known beers in the world.
If you want to know how it is brewed and produced then you can take a tour here with a beer historian who will tell you how beer was first made in Denmark.
There is also the largest beer bottle collection in the world on display here and of course you can indulge in a tasting session of some of the classic beers that have made this brand famous.
19. Go back in time at the Lyngby Open-Air Museum
If you drive 15 kilometers out of Copenhagen you will come to the Lyngby Open-Air Museum which unfolds over 35 hectares.
Here you will find a range of traditional buildings like mills and farmhouses which will give you a great picture of how people would have lived and worked in Denmark in the days of old.
You will even find animals here, many of which are ancient breeds that would have roamed Denmark centuries ago.
If you really want to dive into the atmosphere then you can also go for a romantic horse and carriage ride around the gardens of the museum.
20. Take a ferry to Bornholm Island
The island of Bornholm sits in the Baltic Sea and is known as the ‘Pearl of the Baltic’. It is known for having gorgeous pristine beaches and the island is bisected with bicycle paths so that you can get easily get around by cycling.
The buildings here date from the 1800s and you can get here by taking a picturesque ferry ride.
21. Tour Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg Palace is actually not one but four palaces that were constructed for the four noble families of Denmark.
The palace was actually a replacement for the previous Christiansborg Palace which was razed to the ground in a fire in 1794 and features beautiful octagon shaped courtyards, ornate inner rooms, and blooming gardens in the spring months.
Make sure to also look out for the Soldiers of the Royal Guard who protect the palace and wear signature bearskins.
22. Meet the Giants of Esbjerg
The Giants of Esbjerg are not as scary as they might sound, but they are well worth the trip out to the West Coast of Denmark.
The giants are actually huge sculptures by Danish artist Svend Wiig and were first paced here in 1995 to guard the coastline.
The sculpture is officially called Man Meets the Sea and is meant to be a comment on the way that man and nature co-exist.
23. Stand inside a rainbow at AroS Art Museum
AroS Art Museum is famous in Aarhus and it is modeled to reflect Dante’s Divine Comedy.
The piece de résistance of this art museum however is the top layer of the building which is now home to a rainbow window that gives you panoramic views over Aarhus through the lens of a selection of window panes painted in different hues.
The circuit around the rainbow rooftop stretches for 150 meters and is an absolute must-visit if you are in this city.
24. Hunt for fossils at Stevns Klint
Stevns Klint sits in the South Zealand region of Denmark and has some of the most important fossils in the world.
The cliffs here show off 65 million years of history and you can wander along the coastline and take in the different slices of sediment that have built up here over the years and that are now slowly crumbling back into the sea.
You can also learn more about the fossils found here and their significance at the nearby Geomuseum which has interactive exhibits that tell the story of the geology of Denmark.
25. Feel like royalty at Christiansborg Palace
Sitting on a pretty island in the center of Copenhagen is Christiansborg Palace.
The island is called Slotsholmen and is now the center of the government and houses the parliament buildings as well the office of the Danish Prime Minister.
It is officially also owned by the Royal Family although much of it can still be visited and this is also the spot where the earliest foundations of the city of Copenhagen would have been laid in 1167. You can even see some of this in the form of ruins of a fortress that dates from the medieval period as well as the former ruined castle of Bishop Absalon.