10 reasons you should hurry up and book a family holiday in Denmark this year
The last couple of years saw us all become fairly obsessed with Denmark and the very Danish (and Scandinavian) concept of 'hygge'.
And for good reason, let us assure you. Because this smallest of the Scandinavian countries more than make up for its size by its charm, style (oh my GAWD the style!) and way of life.
And while Copenhagen is pretty much as perfect a city for a shopping break (or romantic long weekend) as you can possibly find, when you visit Denmark with the family in tow, you also need to also look beyond the capital and explore the outdoor adventure, attractions, exhibits, sights and pure amazingness that can be found across the Danish Archipelago (the larger islands are conneced by bridges, making it perfect for a road-trip none of you will ever forget).
Depending on what you want to see and where you want to go (and where you are staying), renting a car will make getting around a lot easier (or bring your own, there is a Stena Line ferry from the UK to Denmark, meaning you can actually drive yourself and the family over to Scandinavia).
Meanwhile; are you ready to fall head over heels?
For many foreign visitors, this is where they touch down (and getting a flight from Dublin to Copenhagen is easy, direct and fairly cheap too, certainly if you book well in advance). And don't miss out on spending a couple of days in this incredibly charming (and stylish) city – if you are a fan of fashion and/or interiors, the shopping opportunities here (Danish design is, of course, known across the globe) are jaw-dropping.
Make sure you stop by Illums Bolighus for all the best of Danish design. Strøget is one of the longest pedestrianized shopping streets in Europe and we guarantee you will leave a few Danish kroner poorer, to put it that way. Magasin is a department store not unlike Brown Thomas or Arnotts, only with far more Scandi-chic vibes and if you are a fan of healthy eating, you will simply be blown away by the share amount of options for every meal.
The area of Vesterbro is possibly the hippest neighbourhood right now, and an area you should head to for food and drink – your only problem will be trying to pick where to go.
For something for everyone in the family, we love Café Hoegs. From breakfast to lunch and dinner options, this small neighborhood café offers a menu of pasta dishes, sandwiches and burgers, and is an excellent choice for a simple but tasty meal.
2. The Original LEGOLAND
Lego is the Danish-designed toy that just keeps on giving, and is as popular among children today as it was 3o or more years ago. And while you might have paid a visit to the UK Legoland already, nothing really compares to the original one, we think.
Right now you can experience the whole world (pretty much) in Legoland, with five of the world's tallest buildings having been recreated in Miniland. In fact, more than 830,000 Lego blocks were used to create models of the Burj Khalifa, the Shanghai Tower, Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, One World Trade Center and Taipei 101.
And if your children are fans of Lego Ninjago, prepare to be see them light up the interactive Lego Ninjago The Ride, where you will master the elements of fire, lightning, earth and ice – in 3D.
And there is more. In fact, if your schedule allows it, we would recommend two days for this park, as trying to cram it all in in just the one day might leave you feeling like you haven't seen it all.
3. Møns Klint
If your family is a fan of taking hikes together, the southern coast of the Zealand island is dominated by Møns Klint, the highest cliffs in the country and a fantastic place to get out walking.
Møns Klint is an unmissable experience. The trails at the cliff top weave through woodland and are excellent hikes, offering you superb views out into the Baltic Sea.
At GeoCenter Møns Klint, you can learn more about the formation of the cliffs and the fossils you’ve seen along the way. Inland from the cliffs, you’ll find more scenic hiking trails with views of the sea, through the Mandemarke Hills.
4. Den Tilsandede Kirke - The sandburied church
The church of Saint Laurence, a traditional white stone church in the very north of Denmark, was probably built in the second half of the 14th century and was at that time the largest church in the region of Vendsyssel.
Around year 1600, the sand drift started and reached the church at the end of the 18th century. In fact, as the sand gradually buried the church more and more, the congregation had to dig their way into the church when they wanted to attend the services.
The struggle against the sand continued untill 1795 when the church was closed by royal decree. Today, only the tower is visible, and children will ne enthralled to see this 'disappearing' chucrh.
5. Djurs Sommerland
Having just spent two full days here, in Scandinavia's biggest summerland (amusement park) let me assure you that the whole family will get a kick out of all the fun rides, the themed areas and the insanely cool Aqua Park – you included, mamas.
In Djurs Sommerland you will find Denmark's biggest rollercoasters – as well as plenty of rides for younger children (and those of us with a terrible fear of heights and scary rollercoasters too – thankfully).
If the weather plays ball, don't even think about leaving without having visted Aqua Park, where you can experience 12 meter high waves on The Wave or follow the current down the steep mountainside on Wild River. Black Hole is a full speed voyage through pitch black oblivion before a gigantic splash of water sends you back into the daylight.
Ever wanted to swim with sharks? Paddle a kayak on the deepest polar ocean? Watch seals in their natural environment?
At Kattegatcentret, just outside of Aarhus, you can. You can stand very close and risk getting wet or watch from below in the shark tunnel where only six centimeters of acrylic separates you from the sharks.
As well as sharks, Kattegatcentret also has more than 250 animal species from all over the world, from herring and catfish to colorful coral reef fish, poisonous lionfish and cuddly seals. The many open aquariums offer excitement for all senses with splashing water, smells and sounds and in the touch pools you can actually pet a real shark, play hide and seek with the flatfishes or hold hands with starfish and crabs.
Oh, and should you want to get really close, you can also take a test-dive in the 1.5 million liter Oceanarium and give the five shark species a high-five. And if you are certified diver, large tropical sharks await you in the shark tank!
7. The Old Town, Aarhus
Gorgeous Aarhus is Denmark's second largest city (and well worth a visit in itself), but if you go, make sure you pencil in a few hours in the incredibly charming Old Town, where you will literally be bought back in time, and meet people dressed and acting as folk at the end of the 19th century, and also as how people lived and worked in 1927. You can also take a walk through a town district from 1970s' Denmark, complete with streets, townhouses, shops, backyards, and workshops re-erected exactly as they stood in the past.
In fact, so great is the experience, that the museum is awarded the maximum three stars in the Michelin Travel Guide.
8. Lalandia Aquadome Tropical Waterpark
Welcome to water, warmth, fun and relaxation for all the family at the Lalandia Aquadome, where the tropical air and water temperatures make you feel you are not in Denmark anymore, but on holiday under the blue Mediterranean skies.
In addition to the seriously pleasant temperatures, the tropical waterpark can offer a large range of water activities, with something for all ages and tastes. There are water slides to suit everyone, from the huge Tornado, which you go down in a large dinghy, to the small, fun slides for the littlest members of the family.
In the children's pool with extra shallow, warm water, the very youngest can paddle and enjoy fun water activities.
Oh, and mamas; there are sun chairs along the water's edge too – as well as a full-on indoor and outdoor spa you can book into.
9. Givskudd Zoo
Givskudd Zoo is locally often just called 'Løveparken' (Lion Park) as this was its name for years previous (fitting, really, as you can drive in your own car through the savannah and get up close with plenty of lions, feeling the thrill as they prowl around just outside your car – and see giraffes and zebras cross the road right in front of you.)
Oh, and got a little dinosaur-lover living with you? Then you might be interested to know that Givskudd Zoo also has Denmark’s largest dinosaur exhibition ever, with over 40 different life-sized species – from the biggest herbivores of about 40 metres in length to the deadly carnivore Tyrannosaurus Rex.
As well as all the animals, the zoo also offers plenty more to do. Drop by the North American tepee camp where children can bake bread over the campfire and pan for gold in true Wild West style. The park also has huge playgrounds, which offer activities for large and small children – so parents can kick back with their coffee and relax for a moment.
10. Eat dinner at a traditional Danish 'kro'
You cannot leave Denmark without having visited one of these. Danish INNs, the 'kro', have existed since the 12th century, and their history can be traced back to 1198, when King Erik Klippinge decided that kro’er, inns, should be built next to the so-called royal roads, kongeveje, and ferry boat crossings, allowing the King a place to stop on his travels through Denmark.
In 1396, Queen Margrethe I expanded the number of inns when she decided they should be located all over Denmark, no more than 40 km apart, a day’s ride by horseback at that time.
Still to this day, there are many scattered across the country, mostly in countryside and in local towns. Just like pubs back home, the kro is also struggling to redefine themselves, since modern travel, new Nordic cuisine and changed eating habits have become a threat to their traditional looks and culinary meals.
But if you want to taste the traditional Denmark, and feel like you have stepped back in time, if you pass one in your car – stop.
(Feature image via VisitCopenhagen.com)