After having driven through the highlights of the islands of Zealand and Funen, we tackle the largest landmass of Denmark, the peninsula of Jutland linking Denmark with the continent of Europe -- Germany in this case. In just 1 week you can skim the highlights of this history-rich part of Denmark.
Our tour continues in the marshlands of South Jutland in the area's capital, Tønder, and proceeds north to Ribe, which, for most visitors, is the sightseeing highlight of the entire peninsula. This is followed by a trip to Fanø, the most beautiful island off the coast of Jutland.
We'll follow that with a trip to Silkeborg to call on the Tollund Man (who is 2,400 years old). Both of the two leading cities of Jutland, Århus and Aalborg, can be visited before we head for the northernmost point of Jutland, the artists' colony and summer resort of Skagen.
Day 1: Louisiana Museum & Helsingør
On Day 1 of our driving tour, after wrapping up your visit to Copenhagen and renting a car, head north in the morning to the town of Humlebæk, 30km (19 miles) north of Copenhagen, for a morning visit to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which opens at 10am. This is one of the greatest art museums of Scandinavia, and you'll want to give it at least an hour or two.
From Copenhagen, follow coastal road 152, known as Strandvej. Depending on traffic, the scenic drive takes some 45 minutes. After a visit, continue north from Humlebæk into Helsingør, a distance of 14km (8 2/3 miles), following the same Strandvej route. Once in Helsingør, you can check into a hotel for the night, but if you don't want to change hotels so often, you can use Copenhagen as your base and return there for the night.
There are many attractions in Helsingør, but the one magnet for most visitors is Kronborg Slot, fabled as "Hamlet's Castle," even though Shakespeare presumably never visited it and Hamlet may never have existed. Allow at least an hour for an afternoon visit here after lunch in Helsingør.
Day 2: The Cathedral City of Roskilde
On the morning of Day 2, leave Helsingør (or Copenhagen if you spent the night there) for a drive west to Roskilde. The distance is 30km (19 miles) west of Copenhagen, but a distance of 72km (45 miles) southwest of Helsingør. From Copenhagen, head west on the E21 express highway; from Helsingør follow Route 6 southwest.
If you're on Route 6 from Helsingør, you can stop off for a morning visit to Hillerød, a distance of 25km (16 miles) southwest of Helsingør, or a jaunt of 35km (22 miles) north of Copenhagen. This town possesses one of the great treasures of Denmark and is well worth a detour regardless of where you spent the night. Hillerød is the home of Frederiksborg Castle, which has been called "the Danish Versailles." Surrounded by a moat, it is the most beautiful royal residence in Denmark and the setting for the Museum of National History, with one of Denmark's greatest collections of historical paintings. Allow at least 1 1/2 hours for a visit.
From Hillerød, continue along Route 6 southwest into Roskilde, where you can check into a hotel for the night. In the afternoon, visit the Roskilde Domkirke and try to take a 90-minute boat tour of the Roskilde Fjord. If you can't schedule a visit to the fjord, then call on the Lejre Research Center, which, in spite of its dull name, is actually a reconstructed Iron Age village.
Days 3 & 4: Odense & H. C. Andersen
On the morning of Day 3, leave Zealand altogether and drive west to the neighboring island of Funen, whose capital is Odense, lying 134km (83 miles) to the west of Roskilde. From Roskilde, take Route 14 southwest to the express highway E20, continuing west to the port of Korsør, where you cross the Great Belt Bridge into Funen, entering the island through its gateway city of Nyborg. Once on land in Funen, continue west along E20 until you see the cutoff arteries leading north into the center of Odense. Once here, book into a hotel for a 2-night stay.
After lunch you can take in some of the major sights of the city, including the H. C. Andersen's Childhood Home. If it's summer, you might even hook up with a 2-hour walking tour, taking in all the highlights. Check with the tourist office.
On the morning of Day 4, visit Funen Village, an open-air regional museum depicting life in Denmark in the 1700s and 1800s. In a busy afternoon you can visit both Egeskov Castle, one of the grandest in Denmark, and Ladbyskibet, 19km (12 miles) northeast of Odense, to see the ruins of a 10th-century Viking ship.
Day 5: Svendborg: Favorite Port for Yachties
On the morning of Day 5, check out of your hotel in Odense and drive 43km (27 miles) south to the port city of Svendborg, following Route 9. Once in Svendborg, check into a hotel for the night and set out to see the rather minor sights in town, including Anne Hvides Gård, Skt. Jorgens Kirke, and Skt. Nicolai Kirke. After lunch, you can explore nearby islands, each linked to Svendborg by bridge. These include the horseshoe-shaped Thurø, called "The Garden of Denmark," and Tåsinge, where you can visit several attractions such as the church tower at Bregninge Kirkebakke for its panoramic views. After a call on the 17th-century Valdemars Slot, you can spend the rest of the afternoon just exploring at random. Because the island is so small, it's almost impossible to get lost. Return to Svendborg for the night.
Days 6 & 7: Ærø: Denmark's Most Beautiful Island
On the morning of Day 6, leave Svendborg by driving to the port, where you can board a car ferry heading for the island of Ærø, lying 29km (18 miles) across the water south of Svendborg. Check into a hotel in the little picture-postcard capital of Ærøskøbing for 2 nights, and set out to explore the island.
Begin first on foot by walking the cobblestone streets of this most enchanting of Danish villages, saving the driving tour of the island for the following day. The main attraction of the town is Ærøskøbing itself, although there are specific sights of minor interest, including the Ærø Museum and an 18th-century church, Ærøskøbing Kirke. Dine in an old kro (inn), and later walk down by the water to watch the yachts and other boats bobbing in the harbor at night.
On the morning of Day 7, while still based in Ærøskøbing, set out on a leisurely motor tour of the island, stopping at random to enjoy anything that fascinates you. We'd head east to the "second city" on Marstal, really just a modest port town. After a 2-hour visit here, you can take the southern road all the way to the little port of Søby in the northwest. From Søby, you can drive southeast back to Ærøskøbing for the night.
The following morning, you can take the ferryboat back to Svendborg, where you can drive north once again toward Odense, and link with the E20 to carry you east across the Great Belt Bridge to Zealand and back to Copenhagen. Here you can make air or rail connections to your next destination.
Day 8: Tønder: Capital of the Marshlands
Our tour begins in South Jutland in one of Denmark's oldest towns, Tønder, lying on the banks of the River Vidå in the center of the southern marshlands, a section of Denmark that once belonged to Germany. Tønder lies at a distance of 277km (172 miles) southwest of Copenhagen. To arrive in Jutland, you can use the port of Kolding as your gateway. Driving distance from Copenhagen to Kolding is 208km (129 miles). You can cross the bridge from Funen in the east, then follow Route 161 into Kolding. The final trip from Kolding to Tønder is a distance of 85km (53 miles). From Kolding take Route 25 southwest to the junction with Route 11, which will carry you to the turnoff for Tønder, reached along Route 419 heading west.
Once in Tønder, check into a hotel for the night and set out to explore the area, whose highlight will be the little village of Møgeltønder, lying 4km (2 1/2 miles) west from Tønder via Route 419.
This charming old-world village is one of the highlights of South Jutland. Back in Tønder, you can wander up and down its old town, taking in its quaintness. Specific visits aren't necessary as it is the antique homes of Tønder that form its appeal, although you might drop into the 16th-century church of Kristkirken.
Day 9: Ribe: Nesting Place for Storks
On the morning of Day 9, leave Tønder and head north for 47km (29 miles) to Ribe, which, like Tønder itself, is one of Denmark's oldest towns. From Tønder, follow Route 11 north all the way. You should arrive in Ribe in time to see all its highlights in 1 day, after checking into a hotel for the night.
Spend 2 or 3 hours exploring its Gamle Stan (Old Town), centered on the Torvet, the town's ancient market square. Its chief attractions include Ribe Domkirke, site of Denmark's earliest wooden church, and the Ribe VikingeCenter, 2km (1 1/4 miles) south of the center, a re-creation of Ribe in the early Middle Ages.
Day 10: Fanø: Beautiful Island in the North Sea
On the morning of Day 10, leave Ribe and drive to the island of Fanø, 47km (29 miles) northwest of Ribe. From Ribe, head north on Route 11 to Route 24, which you follow northwest into the city of Esbjerg, where you can board a car ferry to Fanø. Once on the island, check into a hotel for the night, then set out to explore. But most motorists will want to skip any of the man-made attractions and devote the rest of the day to exploring this most beautiful of North Sea islands itself. If the weather's fair, try to get in some beach time.
Day 11: Silkeborg & the Oldest Man in the World
On the morning of Day 11, leave Fanø and return by car ferry to the port of Esbjerg. Head northeast to the city of Silkeborg, a distance of 139km (86 miles). From Esbjerg follow Route 12 north. Near the town of Varde it becomes Route 11, which you follow all the way to the junction of Route 15, which takes you due east into Silkeborg.
Once here, check into a hotel for the night. Call first at the Silkeborg Museum, where you can see the 2,400-year-old "Tollund Man," who was discovered in an amazing state of preservation in a peat bog in 1950. Other attractions include the Silkeborg Kunstmuseum, one of the finest provincial art museums in Scandinavia, and AQUA Ferskvands Akvarium, North Europe's largest freshwater aquarium.
Day 12 Århus: "World's Smallest City"
On the morning of Day 12, leave Silkeborg and drive 43km (27 miles) to the west, following Route 15. Once at Århus, check into a hotel for the night and set about to spend 1 busy day. Because Århus is hard to cover in just 1 day, as it's so much larger than the previous destinations, we suggest you take a 2-hour tour, leaving in summer at 10am and covering all the major highlights. After lunch you can spend another 2 hours wandering Den Gamle By, an open-air museum of historic buildings. If time remains, pay a visit to the Århus Kunstmuseum and the Århus Domkirke, the cathedral honoring St. Clemens.
Day 13 Aalborg: Capital of North Jutland
On the morning of Day 13, leave Århus heading for Aalborg, the largest city in Jutland, a distance of 112km (70 miles) north of Århus. From Århus take the express highway, E45, north into Aalborg, where you can check into a hotel for the night. For the best overview, head for the lookout tower, Aalborg Tårnet, for a panoramic view of this vast (in Denmark's terms) city. The Aalborg Zoologiske Have is usually a must on many a visitor's itinerary, as are stopovers at Jens Bangs Stenhus and Nordjyllands Kunstmuseet, the best museum of modern art in North Jutland. Cap your day with an evening visit to the major amusement park in the north of Jutland, Tivoliland. Okay, so it's not as great as Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens (but, what is?).
Day 14 Skagen: An Artists' Colony
On the morning of Day 14, leave Aalborg and drive northeast for about 100km (60 miles) to Skagen, at the tip of Jutland, where you can check into a hotel for your final night. While enjoying the bracing air of the North Sea, you can set about to explore Skagen Havn, the colorful harbor, followed by visits to Den Tilsandede Kirke, an old church mostly buried in the sand dunes. You'll definitely want to visit the Skagens Museum, the best showcase for the Skagen School of painting that was launched here between the 1870s and the 1900s. If you've finished in time, you can also drive 50km (31 miles) to Hirtshals, a neighboring town, to see the spectacular Nordsømuseet, an aquarium of North Sea marine life. From Aalborg, you can drive back to Copenhagen, or else return your car in Aalborg if you made arrangements in advance. You can also take a plane or train ride back to the Danish capital for transportation links to the rest of the world.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.