Denmark Beyond Copenhagen
Rick Steves' Europe: Episode # 511
Using Copenhagen as a springboard, we'll visit the very best of Denmark. Aarhus welcomes us with its ruddy affluence, charming open-air museum, and eerily well-preserved, ancient bog man. Roskilde impresses visitors with its royal burial church and the best Viking ship museum anywhere. And the delightfully quaint Isle of Aerø comes with half-timbered cottages, ships in bottles, and cobbled alleyways that remind us of the world of Hans Christian Andersen.
- Read the script from the show.
Frederiksborg Castle is located in the cute town of Hillerød. Built from 1602 to 1620, Frederiksborg is the castle of Denmark's King Christian IV. Much of it was reconstructed after an 1859 fire, with the normal Victorian over-the-top flair, by the brewer J. C. Jacobsen and his Carlsberg Foundation. A museum since 1878, today's castle takes you on a chronological walk through the story of Denmark from 1500 until today (the third floor covers modern times). Many rooms have a handy English-language information sheet. The countless musty paintings are a fascinating scrapbook of Danish history. From Copenhagen, take the S-tog to Hillerød (line E). From the Hillerød station, you can enjoy a pleasant 20-minute walk to the castle, or catch bus #701 or #702 (tel. 48 26 04 39).
The collection displays five different Viking ships. One boat is like the one Leif Eriksson took to America 1,000 years ago. Another is like those depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry in Normandy, France. The ships aren't as intact or as ornate as those in Oslo, but this museum does a better job of explaining shipbuilding. The English descriptions are excellent — it's the kind of museum where you want to read everything. For a fee, you can go for an hour-long sail around Roskilde harbor in a replica Viking ship (from train station catch bus #216 or #607 toward Boserup, or, from Roskilde Cathedral, it's a 10-min walk downhill; tel. 46 30 02 00).
To celebrate Hans Christian Andersen's 100th birthday in 1904, the city founded this museum in the house where he was born. Today the humble (and rebuilt) house is the corner of an expansive, high-tech museum packed with mementos from the writer's life and hordes of children and tourists. You could spend several delightful hours here getting into his life story and work. Exhibits include a display on the era in which Andersen lived (1805–1875), a 13-minute introductory film about his life (plays every 15 minutes, alternates between Danish and English), a library of Andersen's books from around the world (his tales were translated into nearly 150 languages), and headsets and benches throughout for you to listen to a selection of fairy tales (Bangs Boder 29, tel. 65 51 46 01).
Legoland is divided into eight different "worlds" with fun themes such as Adventure Land, Pirate Land, and Knight's Kingdom. Pick up a brochure at the entrance and make a plan using the colorful 3-D map. You can see it all in a day, but you'll be exhausted. The Legoredo section (filled with Wild West clichés Europeans will enjoy more than Americans) merits just a quick look, though your five-year-old might enjoy roasting a biscuit-on-a-stick around the fire with a tall, blond park employee wearing a Native American headdress. A highlight is Mini Land, where landscaped gardens are filled with carefully constructed Lego landscapes and cityscapes. Alongside representations of famous world sights, you'll see Danish monuments, Dutch windmills, and an amazing representation of the Norwegian harbor of Bergen. Children joyfully watch as Lego boats ply the waters and Lego trains chug merrily along the tracks. Legoland is easiest to visit by car, but doable by public transportation: at Vejle, the nearest train station to Billund, transfer to the #244 bus to travel the remaining 25 miles to Billund (generally open April–Oct, closed Nov–March, tel. 75 33 13 33)
Tel. 62 52 22 98
For up-to-date specifics, see the latest edition of the Rick Steves' Snapshot: Copenhagen & the Best of Denmark travel guide or the Rick Steves' Scandinavia travel guide — or join us on one of our free-spirited Scandinavia tours.