59km (37 miles) N of Copenhagen; 30km (19 miles) NW of Helsingør

The great philosopher Søren Kierkegaard used Gilleleje as an escape from his world -- and so can you. In World War II, it became the port for yet another escape, as Danish Jews fled here from the Nazis. The daring local fishermen in their colorful wooden-hulled fishing boats -- sometimes under heavy gunfire -- transported the refugees into neutral Sweden.

The northernmost town in Zealand, Gilleleje offers Blue Flag beaches (meaning their waters are not polluted), the leafy glades of the nearby Gribskov forest in the south, and a typical Danish landscape with straw-roofed houses and a large fishing harbor. In all, there are 14km (8 2/3 miles) of coastline with plenty of sandy beaches for water lovers of all ages.

Gilleleje Harbor is the center of local life. As soon as dawn breaks, fishing boats of all sizes make their way into North Zealand's largest industrial port, and they can be seen unloading their catch. Look for the fish auction hall to see the night's catch being sold in a unique language understood only by the initiated. There are many smokehouses along the harbor used for smoking the fish.

Later you can go for a walk in the town itself, with its many small and large shops. On Thursdays and Saturdays, you can experience a Zealand mylder (market), when the town square becomes a marketplace with stalls and booths vying to take your kroner. Horse-drawn carriage rides and street music provide an added bonus.