The first thing that strikes you about this town is how old everything looks, and that’s because most of it is really, really old. Ribe was founded in the year 700 as a Viking marketplace. One of the main attractions is the town hall, which is the oldest in the country (it was built in 1496). Another must-see attraction in Ribe is its cathedral, which was the very first Christian church to be built in Denmark. Also, consider venturing out of Ribe to the nearby Wadden Sea National Park.
Ever heard of the Danish Riviera? I hadn’t either. It’s anchored by Gilleleje, a quaint fishing town at the top of Zealand on the North Sea coast. It’s the perfect place for a photo-op because the town is as pretty as can be, with many boats lining its quays. Be sure to take in the daily morning fish auction and visit the monument to Kierkegaard, the first-ever existential philosopher.
Elsinore, or Helsingør, is home to the castle that was the setting for Shakespeare’s famous play, Hamlet. Kronborg castle is one of the highlights of this settlement, which started out as a fishing village back in the 15th Century. It’s now a bustling port city. In addition to the castle, make sure you visit the maritime museum and view the statue of Holger Danske, a legendary character who was purported to have done battle with the great Frankish king, Charlemagne.
This ancient city is one of the most significant cultural centers in Denmark, and it is also home to important Danish industries, such as wind turbine and marine boiler manufacturing, as well as grain and cement production. You won't go amiss when visiting the theaters, symphonies, or operas that the city is famous for. The Aalborg Carnival is also worth a visit. Architecturally, there is much to see, from the 16th Century Aalborghus Castle, to the 14th Budolfi Church, and Jens Bang’s famous Dutch Renaissance home.
Among younger people, the name Roskilde is synonymous with one of the biggest music festivals in Europe, which sees attendances of over 130,000 people annually. Many Danish monarchs are buried in this city, specifically in the tombs of the 12th Century Roskilde Cathedral, which was the first brick Gothic cathedral to be built in Europe. The city is also home to the royal palace, which is now an art gallery and the site of the Roskilde jars, three giant jars that were put up to commemorate the 1,000th anniversary of the city.
The northernmost city in the country also happens to be its largest fishing port. Picturesque Skagen attracts more than 2 million visitors each year. It has beautiful stretches of beach that made it very popular with 19th Century impressionist painters. Danish royalty also used to spend their summers in the city. Skagen is also a favorite with sailors from all over the region. One of the oldest lighthouses in the whole of Denmark can also be found in the city.
Bornholm is an island in the Baltic Sea that’s actually closer to Poland and Sweden than the Danish mainland. It's well-known for its arts and crafts, specifically glass and pottery. Picturesque windmills and medieval churches abound on the island, as does truly spectacular scenery, with craggy sea cliffs, to forests, valleys, and beaches. You can get there by ferry from both Denmark and Sweden. There’s also a Neolithic temple for you to explore.
Primarily known for being the birthplace of famous author Hans Christian Andersen, Odense gets its name from the Norse god of war and death, Odin. The third-largest city in Denmark is also known for the sweet treat, marzipan. It has plenty of tourist attractions for you to visit, such as an old Viking castle, Funen Village Museum, Funen’s Abbey, and the 11th Century Saint Canute’s cathedral.
The second-largest city in Denmark is home to some 330,000 people. It started out life as a fortified Viking settlement back in the 8th Century and has been a busy trade center almost ever since. A vibrant music scene has also found its home in the city, with an eight-day international jazz festival taking place each year. Aarhus is also the European Capital of Culture for this year.
If you’re an architecture aficionado, you’ll be pleased to see a huge range of styles represented in the city’s buildings, from the Viking era through to the present day. Aarhus Cathedral, which dates back to the 13th Century, dominates the skyline.
The cultural, financial and political capital of Denmark is definitely not to be missed. This vibrant city was once a Viking fishing village, but it has grown exponentially since then. Two of the biggest draws for tourists in the city are the Tivoli Gardens, Scandinavia’s most visited theme park, and the Little Mermaid, a bronze statue that drew inspiration from a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.
The city’s foremost architectural jewel is the Christianshavn neighborhood, with colorful Dutch Renaissance architecture. There are also some great castles and medieval churches in the vicinity for you to take in.