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50km (31 miles) N of Copenhagen; 12km (7 1/2 miles) west of Helsingør

New Englanders may sing of Cape Cod, but when the summer winds blow, islanders like to head for Hornbæk for "sea, suds, and sex," as one habitué told us. A 500-year-old fishing hamlet turned modern holiday resort, Hornbæk is one of the best places for a vacation on the north coast of Zealand -- sometimes called the Kattegat coast. Coastal woodlands, heath, and sand dunes make for a uniquely Danish holiday.

Hornbæk has the best beach along the north coast, a wide expanse of soft white sands that runs the full length of the resort, set against a backdrop of beach grass and sand dunes. Rosa rugosa, a wild pink rose that flourishes in this salty air, blooms here all summer. The beach is pristine and is beautifully maintained; all the kiosks and facilities lie inland from the dunes.

The light found in Hornbæk attracted and continues to attract artists to this fishing hamlet. In 1870, the town was discovered by such artists as Kristian Zartmann, P. S. Krøyer, Viggo Johansen, and Carl Locher -- all names you've never heard of unless you were born in Denmark. Krøyer often depicted the work of fishermen at sea and down the shore. Locher was so fascinated with his marine subjects that he lived at Hornbæk from 1881 to 1889; his home still stands at Østre Stejlebakke but is not open to the public.