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Denmark

Before You Go

Best time to go: July - August
We went: Early to Mid April

As we had to cancel our trip to Denmark last year owing to the Icelandic ash cloud and with the ever increasing concerns of the harmful effects that flying has on the atmosphere, we decided to tr y the overnight ferry to Denmark. Aside from being able to take our car and fill it with delightful Danish design, we also thought it would be a fun way to travel and arrive into Denmark. We were not wrong. Book the DFDS ferry - www.dfdsseaways.co.uk (Harwich to Esbjerg), as always, the best prices are offered the earlier you book.

Prepare your route in advance with hotel bookings made where you plan to stop over. Parking is not a problem in most parts of Denmark but in larger towns and especially in Copenhagen, ask at your chosen hotel about reserving parking spaces. If you prefer to travel without a satellite navigation system, print off Google map routes for all of your destinations. It will give you quickest route and an accurate estimation of times between destinations.

Copenhagen has some amazing restaurants, including the current World's number one - Noma. To get a table here you must book far in advance - www.noma.dk

Day One - London to Esbjerg
Harwich to Esbjerg Denmark

Harwich is a couple of hours drive from Central London and as the ferry leaves at 5.45 we leave after a leisurely lunch. So much better than getting the early morning flight from Stanstead, already pleased with the choice of transport. After driving through passport control and straight onto the car deck we are soon off and exploring the ferry and our four bunk cabin. Ideally we would have a sea view but it is much nicer than I thought.

Live music, a bar (although very expensive) and restaurants, there is plenty to keep everyone entertained. If it is sunny then the sun deck also serves up beers and soft drinks. Wi-Fi is available onboard too. For small children a pirate entertains and takes interested parties up to meet the 'Captain'.

Top Tips

Look online at the restaurant options and book in advance. Also ensure you get a table at the time you need (bearing in mind that the boat always operates under Danish time, even whilst you are in the UK).

Our crossing was very smooth but the North Sea can be choppy so to avoid the obvious motion sickness take some travel sickness pills in advance. Ours needed to be taken two hours before sailing, so check information on the packaging.

Day Two - Esbjerg to Ebeltoft via Ribe
Kolvig Restaurant Ribe Denmark

After a fairly decent buffet breakfast we are soon docking into Esbjerg. Ten minutes after driving off of the car deck, we are already through passport control and well on our way. We are travelling North through Jutland to Ebeltoft which is about a two hour drive. To break up the drive and to explore a new town we head for Ribe. Ribe is only half an hour away from the port and as Denmark's oldest town is well worth visiting. It is a lovely town with cobblestone streets and traditional buildings harking back to Viking times.

We find a lovely restaurant for lunch, perched on the side of the river, serving delicious sandwiches and soups, Kolvig restaurant is a perfect first stop on our holiday - www.kolvig.dk - After lunch take a five minute stroll over the river to Isvaflen where you can buy delicious ice cream served in a hand made waffle cone (made in front of you as you choose your ice cream flavour of choice).

After a good walk around the historical town of Ribe we head for Ebeltoft. As we pull into the car park of the Hotel Ebeltoft Strand we are all vey happy - www.ebeltoftstrand.dk - the hotel is long low rise hotel set on a stunning long white beach with views over the Ebeltoft Bay, beautiful. The hotel also has a great indoor swimming pool which pleases the 'freckles' no end.

Top Tips

When in Ribe look to the top of the Den Gamle Radhus. Each year around April 1st a pair of storks return to Ribe and build their nest, spanning a couple of meters in diameter it is easy to spot at the top of the Town Hall, if they are here you will not miss it. Ribe residents have a little celebration on the first Thursday after the storks return.

Day Three - Ebeltoft to Silkeborg
Ebeltoft Glass Museum Denmark

One of the reasons for visiting Ebeltoft is to visit the Glass Museum - www.glasmuseet.dk - not only are the exhibitions fantastic but the shop sells some fantastic glass creations too. A studio positioned in the corner of the museum garden houses a talented glass design company called Studio Strange - www.studiostrange.dk - go and visit the studio whilst you are there, you can watch the artists glass blowing and also buy their innovative pastel coloured glass robots and creatures.

We are heading off early to Silkeborg as there is so much to do there. We are staying at the SAS Radisson which is a converted paper factory - www.radissonblu.com/hotel-silkeborg - after checking in we drop our bags and head into Silkeborg centre for lunch, try Tvaergade for delicious sandwiches, smoothies and nachos - www.tvaergade.dk. Stylish shops line the quaint streets here and there really are too many to mention, do not leave without visiting T.I.N.G. - www.ting-shop.dk - especially if you love delightful design items for the home, for you and for the 'freckles' too.

We head to the campsite just outside of the town to hire bikes - www.seacamp.dk - Denmark really is the place to hire bikes, large bicycle lanes and beautiful scenery, it is the perfect way for the whole family to get around. We head to the aquarium (Aqua), which is a fantastic place to visit. Hand feed otters, see raccoons and lots of fish in this wonderful aquarium. The aquarium currently has no website so call for opening times: Aqua T: + 45 89 21 21 89

After Aqua we head off on our bicycles to the Silkeborg Museum to see Denmark's oldest 'preserved' man. The Tollund Man strolled around the outskirts of Silkeborg in 400 BC during the Iron Age, and his remains were found in 1950. You can see the Tollund Man, wrinkles and all as he has been preserved so well. To see him you have to enter a darkened room, this protects him from damage - www.tollundman.dk - The museum is yet another stunning example of Danish design, look at the floor as you walk around, really simple yet so stylish.

Once we drop the bikes back, we are all thinking of food. Luckily there is a delicious Greek restaurant in Silkeborg called Zorba - www.zorba-silkeborg.dk - book a week or two in advance as they can get very busy.

Top Tips

Hire boats in Silkeborg, at Indelukket - www.gudenaaenscamping.dk - located next door to the best mini (crazy) golf course - www.indelukketsminigolf.dk - this leafy riverside location is a must for an afternoon of fun. After the mini golf and the canoeing there is an ice cream and snack shop.

If you do not fancy rolling up your sleeves and canoeing yourself, you can always book onto a wonderful paddle steamer, Hjejlen (T: + 45 86 82 07 66) which will gently cruise you to Himmelbjerget, Denmark's highest point. Himmelbjerget translated into english means Sky Mountain and is 147m high, once off the boat, it is a thirty minute walk to the top.

Day Four - Silkeborg to Kolding
Almindso swimming lakes Silkeborg Denmark

Visit Almindso swimming lakes, Denmark's cleanest lakes - www.visitdenmark.com - it was too cold for us on this trip but we have been on previous trips and in July-August, it really is an amazing place to swim, stunning scenery, really beautiful. We drove by the crystal clear lakes on the way to Kolding and stopped to take a few photos.

In Kolding we head straight to the Trapholt Modern Art Museum - www.trapholt.dk - great exhibitions on Danish chair designers, past and present and an amazing secret summer house, designed and used by Arne Jacobsen, really lovely. Another great museum shop too, found some great designers here, look out for them on Freckles in the Sun soon.

Our hotel for this evening is First Hotel Kolding - www.firsthotels.com/en/Our-hotels/Denmark/Kolding/First-Hotel-Kolding/ - a modern hotel with a nice cafe/restaurant where we have lunch - www.berg-vip.dk

After lunch we head to the reason we are in Kolding, - www.koldinghus.dk - Koldinghus is the town's stunning showpiece, a fortress once occupied in 1248. In 1808 the castle was virtually devastated by a fire but some parts remained. These remains have been transformed with the help of ultra modern timber and steel supports that not only support the original frame but also reinvent the castle into a stunning place to visit. Climb to the top to see spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Top Tips

If staying in Kolding and eating or drinking in Berg, be warned that drinks are charged by how long they take to prepare. If you order a non alcoholic cocktail for the 'freckles', it will cost the same as an alcoholic one, owing to the bar tenders time!!

Day Five - Kolding to Odense
Koldinghus Kolding Denmark

Today we are driving over the bridge from Jutland into Funen as we are heading to Odense. Odense is the home of Hans Christian Andersen. Not only does it house a lovely Museum tracing the life and works of Hans Christian Andersen, - www.museum.odense.dk/museer/hc-andersens-hus.aspx - but it also takes you back in time as you walk the cobblestone streets and view old Danish houses in delightful quiet tree lined streets. You can even see the very house that the man himself grew up in. Bronze statues relating to Hans Christian Andersen are everywhere but they do not feel out of place somehow, our favourite was the bronze paper boat, floating on the lake in the park.

Odense is a really special place, not only for the history but also for the squares with cafes and bars offering food and drink on outside tables, rugs to wrap around you and outdoor heaters make it comfortable whatever the weather. We could have stayed longer in Odense but Copenhagen is our next stop...

Top Tips

Try not to visit on a Sunday as all of the shops are shut and it looks as if there are some lovely shops to peruse in.

Stay at - www.firsthotels.com/en/Our-hotels/Denmark/Odense-C/First-Hotel-Grand/ - a really lovely hotel with a great bar and restaurant (although this is also closed on a Sunday).

A great place to eat and next door to the hotel is Goma - www.goma.nu - serving amazing sushi. Also shut on Sunday and Monday but their sister restaurant, also serving sushi is open every day of the year, (except 24th/25th December) - www.barsushi.dk - we ate here and it was so good we did a detour en route to Esbjerg.

Day Six - Odense to Copenhagen
Odense Denmark

Up early as Copenhagen is two hours away and we are keen to get there early. We are driving over Europe's longest suspension bridge from Funen over to Zealand. The bridge is called The Great Belt Fixed Link and is 6,790 metres in length, this is an amazing bridge with some amazing views too, it is also toll bridge so have your Danish Kroner ready.

We arrive in Copenhagen and check into the Admiral Hotel - www.admiralhotel.dk - situated opposite the Opera House and a two minute walk away from Nyhavn, it is the perfect place to spend a few nights when in Copenhagen. They are currently building an outside decked terrace overlooking the waterfront, due to open in May 2011, this will be a superb addition.

After a stroll around the centre and some of our favourite shops, we head back to Nyhavn for the last canal boat trip. Sitting in the sunshine as we are taken past some of Copenhagen's finest sights, it is such a great way to see and hear some of the historical facts and interesting stories relating to the city. The Little Mermaid, The Black Diamond, named as the shimmering water below reflects in the sunshine to make the building shimmer and twinkle like a diamond, Christianshavn, Christiania and much more, gently roll on by as we sit in awe, brilliant.

We head back to The Admiral Hotel for a delicious meal in the hotel restaurant Salt - www.saltrestaurant.dk

Opera House Copenhagen Denmark
Top Tips

Although Nyhavn is full of restaurants, the italian on the corner of Toldbodgade and Nyhavn, L'Olivio is really great for pasta, salads and sandwiches. Opposite is a fantastic ice cream shop called Vaffelbageren, serving soft whippy ice cream, dipped in either chocolate sauce or chocolate dust and placed on a freshly cooked waffle, the 'freckles' could not get enough of these. You can't miss it, either follow your nose or look for the huge ice cream outside the shop door.

To avoid the queues for the canal boat tours, either take the first or the last boat out, check the website for details - www.canaltours.com - pack a coat too as it can be chilly when the boat is not in the sun.

Day Seven - Copenhagen
Copenhagen Denmark

Today is a day for the 'Freckles' and we agree to spend the day at Tivoli - www.tivoli.dk - this amusement park has rides for all ages and fear levels, from corkscrew roller coasters to the worst ride I think I have ever seen, Vertigo. Everyone had a great time here, be sure to get the multi-ride ticket to enable you to go on all rides as many times as you wish (otherwise it will be incredibly expensive).

After Tivoli we take a walk back into town via the Royal Library. As we pass the new addition to the Library, the Black Diamond completed in 1999, you walk straight into a courtyard and the adjacent old building. On our walk we also pass The Old Stock Exchange Building, with it's famous twisted dragon spire. We are heading for the Rundetarn (Round Tower) - www.rundetaarn.dk - a vaulted 35m high brick tower built by Christian IV in 1642 as an astronomical observatory. The king wanted to take his beloved horse up the tower so the way to the top is by a 209m spiral walkway, great views. As we are close to some great shops, we all enjoy a little retail therapy. Here are some of the shops not to be missed:

Illums Bolighus - www.illumsbolighus.dk - for the most stylish design items
Hay - www.hay.dk - fabulous fabrics and more home style
Cinnober - www.cinnobershop.dk - cute stationery and great art books
Illum - www.illum.dk - fashion for all
Magasin - shop.magasin.dk - a sort of Danish Selfridges

Top Tips

Unlike most amusement parks, the food at Tivoli is surprisingly good, we went to Wagamama. Everything is in the centre of Copenhagen, even Tivoli, so everything here is best to visit either on foot or by bike, (Copenhagen have a bike hire system similar to the Barclays bike in London, in fact it was used for research and in the development of the London bike system).

Take your passport with you to Magasin as you are given 10% all purchases if you show it as you pay.

Day Eight - Copenhagen
Copenhagen Denmark

Today we are going to explore Christianshavn. We walk along the waters edge and after Nyhavn we approach Custom House. Noma is opposite on the other side of the water. Custom House was once a customs house and later a passenger terminal for travellers across Oresund, now it boasts three Conran restaurants. We head in and book a window table in Bacino for the evening, the menu looks great, Italian food and great desserts. There is also a Japanese restaurant and a steak house here - www.customhouse.dk

Along from here and over the bridge you will find Christianshavn. This is a really lovely part of Copenhagen, smaller streets with lots of charm. Plenty of great shops here too but less crowded and as the canal runs through the middle it has a relaxing atmosphere, it also has some fantastic sandwich shops. The entry to the Church of Our Saviour, with its corkscrew spire and external winding staircase is here too, get there early if you plan to climb to the top as queues do form in large numbers to see the views from this unique spire.

Next to the church we found an amazing clothing store called Yo-Yo. Owned by Elza Christensen (Helena's Mum), the shop is a treasure trove, full of vintage fashion, some from Helena Christensen's New York store and some cast off's from the supermodel herself, if you love fashion, you will love this shop. If like us you are lucky enough to visit when Elza is in the shop, her enthusiasm to tell you about her shop and the story behind the garments is fascinating. I found an amazing (brand new with labels), Tocca sherbet pink sari dress, designed by Helena Christensen for Tocca, for £35. So many bargains to be found here, a must visit if in Copenhagen. (Open Wednesday-Friday)

Part of the same shop but on the other side from Yo-Yo is a designer children's clothes store owned by Helena's sister. Find these gems at Sankt Annae Gade 31, Christianshavn.

In the afternoon we head to Charlottenlund to see the hilltop fort and also to walk along the pebble beach. On a clear day you can see Sweden as you grab a coffee in the picturesque restaurant raised above the beach - www.charlottenlundfortet.dk - delicious latte's here.

Top Tips

Lagkagehuset is our lunch spot of choice in Christianshavn, perched perfectly next to the canal (Torvegade 45), serving delicious sandwiches, salads, pastries and coffee's, you can eat in or on the side of the canal watching the boats pass by - www.lagkagehuset.dk

Around Copenhagen you will see many 'Joe and the Juice' shops, this is the place to head for a smoothie or delicious fresh juice, (some great combinations, including one with fresh chilli). The one on the ground floor of Magasin is perfectly positioned for a healthy pitstop - www.joejuice.com

The outdoor Veuve Clicquot champagne bar, outside of Custom House looks great for a pre or post dinner drink. Lit up at night, these padded cocoon style seating pods have yellow fleecy Veuve Clicquot branded blankets to keep you stylishly warm as you sip your champagne at this waterside venue.

Day Nine - Copenhagen to Esbjerg and back to UK
Lousiana Art Museum Denmark

Today is our last day and we are keen to visit a museum that has been highly recommended to us by family and friends called Louisiana. We head towards northern Zealand (approx 45 minutes from Copenhagen) to the Louisiana Museum. Panoramic views across the Oresund are enjoyed from the museum as both the main building and the sculpture garden face the sea. When we visit, the museum are featuring some excellent exhibitions, a Picasso and also a brilliant David Hockney iPad art collection called 'Me Draw on iPad', superb.

As you walk around the gardens filled with Henry Moore and Giacometti sculptures, plus many many more, you can not help but marvel at the stunning design of the museum itself and the views surrounding you. The cafe and the shop are both fantastic too. I urge you to keep half a day free to enjoy this museum - www.louisiana.dk

It is a long drive from here back to our starting point in Esbjerg. It has been a fantastic trip!

Top Tips

The ferry back to Harwich leaves Esbjerg at 18.45, listen out for news from the captain who will let you know what weather conditions and sights to expect. We were told what time the sun would be setting and that North Sea dolphins had been seen that day. True to his word, as we sat watching the sunset we saw a few dolphins swim right past us, another great reason to go by boat.

Top Trip Tips

Here are a few things that we have enjoyed on previous trips to Denmark but unfortunately could not fit into our itinerary on this trip:

Aarhus is a great town to visit, is is compact so easy to navigate and is filled with great bars, massive museums and sandy beaches. The art museum here is fantastic and houses a 5m high Ron Mueck sculpture of a crouching boy. Both the 'freckles' and adults love this one - www.aros.dk

Randers dome enclosed tropical zoo is amazing. Here you can visit the Asian, African and South American domes to see crocodiles, monkeys, manatees, flying foxes, etc, etc. Monkeys jump past you and you can hand feed them when the helpers are nearby. Treetop walks, the petting zoo and the aquarium, this unique zoo is a must for the family and needs a whole day to see it at it's best - www.regnskoven.dk/en/frontpage/

Visit the Monsted-Kalkgruger Limestone Mines near Viborg and Skive to see the world's largest limestone mine and around 12-14,000 bats in hibernation - www.monsted-kalkgruber.dk/uk/menu.htm - Walk around with a hard hat and a torch to see an endless maze of galleries and caves as large as cathedrals and narrow passages where a grown man cannot walk upright. Very cold though so do pack a sweater or two!

 

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