In the last couple of years the World has heard a lot about the Danish concept of HYGGE and The United Nation's World Happiness Report have seen Danes top the list as The Happiest People in the World. This has shown Denmark in a wonderful light all over the World, of course, and has, no doubt, done wonders for tourism in this wonderful little country in Scandinavia and Northern Europe.
Now, being Danish and living in the UK, I didn't need any reports to convince me to go visit. My family live in Denmark, and when I go back with my English husband and our children, it always makes us happy people, of course.
Denmark might be one of the smallest countries in the World with only 5,6 million people living on the 42,915 km2 of country and islands, but it's far too big to explore in just a few days, so in this piece I have picked Seven Super Things to do in North Zealand, the area just north of the capital, Copenhagen.
1. The Beach.
You might think of Denmark as being cold with an average temperature of 7.7˚C, but it's really not. Not all the time, anyway. Denmark has cold winters with lots of snow and ice, and hot summers with lots of sunbathing and ice cream. And with so much coastline, Danes are very much beachgoers and tourists and visitors to the country should add that to their list of things to do in Denmark when visiting in late Spring, Summer and early Autumn.
North Zealand has some of the most wonderful beaches in Denmark. Take a drive on the coastline from Copenhagen all the way up to the tip of Zealand in Gilleleje - especially worth mentioning is Espergaerde and Skodsborg which both are wonderfully sandy, great for a swim, have good parking and lovely ice cream shops. Rungsted Beach is wonderful and located right next to the luxurious harbour with everything that has to offer in terms of beach restaurants, crab race-track, shops and more. A little further north in Gilleleje you would be wise to spend more than just the day, as here the beach is a short stroll from the beautiful and bustling town centre.
One of the most picture perfect beach towns in all of Denmark is Gilleleje, located on the northern tip of Zealand. The harbour is the heart of the town with the loveliest independent restaurants, fishing, crab race-track, a large green overlooking the boats for picnic'ing and playing and the town as backdrop with a mix of romantic thatched houses and buildings in that sleek, contemporary style that we have come to know as Danish architecture at it's finest. Gilleleje could be a movie-set or a postcard of the perfect, Danish beach town... but it's all real and just plain lovely!
The town centre is like most Danish High Streets with a great mix of mainstream chains and independent shops, restaurants and places geared for it's visitors and tourists like ice cream- and beach gear shops.
The beach is wonderful too... really, truly worth a visit when you're out on a warm day, for a long weekend or on a week's holiday in Denmark in the warm months.
3. Danish Danish.
You probably think you know what Danish (pastry) is, but unless you've had Danish in Denmark, you simply don't. Because Danish Danish is nothing like Danish anywhere else. Nothing like the dry, oddly glazed and weirdly shaped Danish pastries you get in other countries.
A Danish Danish is crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, some with a set custard cream or jam centre, some with cinnamon, some with icing sugar and hundreds and thousands on top and all served as a kind of "pudding" for your breakfast "main", which is a freshly made (picked up at the local bakery just before breakfast) breakfast bun, crusty on the outside and like white, soft bread on the inside, cut in half, served with butter, jam and/or cheese. Now you know!
4. The Fairytale Factory (Eventyr Fabrikken).
If you're in North Zealand with kids, they will love you (and I mean 'luuuurve you') for taking them to The Fairytale Factory in Kokkedal. It is the largest indoor play area in Denmark and it is A-MA-ZING. Climbing walls, race cars, dinosaurs, slides, trampolines, bouncy castles, giant balls, air bazookas and so much more for the kids to enjoy. You can easily spend the better part of a day there and with lots of seating for parents and a restaurant with fast food, fruit, sweets, tea and coffee, you won't go hungry or thirsty either. Fantastic fun!
5. The Hermitage Palace and The Deer Park.
Built in 1736 for King Christian the 6th of Denmark, The Hermitage Palace (Eremitage Slottet), a small palace or castle just north of Copenhagen, sits beautifully in The Deer Park (Dyrehaven), a large park that is open to visitors throughout the year for walking, cycling, golfing and sightseeing around the castle. Built to host royal banquets following the hunts in the park, The Hermitage Palace and The Deer Park is now maintained as a natural forest and has herds of just over 2000 deer. For a wonderful drive, ride or walk, The Deer Park is an absolute must.
6. Bakken, The World's Oldest Amusement Park.
Located on the edge of The Deer Park and only a 10-minute drive from Copenhagen, Bakken is good old-fashioned family fun in a very Danish and romantic setting, offering a great mix of nostalgia and super fun thrill rides. Bakken is full of rides, restaurants, shops and shows.. and it's free to get in. Yes, you read it right, FREE! Of course rides, food and all the amusement park fun comes at a price, but for those wishing to just go for a stroll and check the fun out from afar, this is possible at no cost at all. Bakken is open from March to August.
Copenhagen deserves it's very own 'Seven Things To Do', but as part of Northern Zealand, it certainly also deserves a place in this list. Because Copenhagen is... WONDERFUL! The architecture, the people, the restaurants, the attractions and the overall feel of the Danish capital is so worth a visit, a long visit. And even if you haven't got the time for a long visit, even if you're just going there to get to the airport, the drive through the city is one to be enjoyed, savoured and remembered. When you visit Denmark, make sure Copenhagen is on your list of places to go, you'll love it.
See I ♡ TRAVELS for more great ideas on places to visit on your next day trip, long weekend or holiday in Denmark.