Vallø & Its Castle
This hamlet of mustard-yellow houses and cobblestone streets from the Middle Ages gets our vote as the most charming in South Zealand, lying only 7km (4 1/3 miles) south of Køge. Off the beaten path, it's visited by those wanting to wander through the gardens of the redbrick Vallø Slot, dating from 1586 but rebuilt after a fire in 1893. Originally the palace housed "spinsters of noble birth," but today it is used for housing pensioners. You can't go inside but you can wander through the well-landscaped gardens, with their little lakes, moats, rare trees, and rose and dahlia flower beds. The castle is surrounded by 2,800 hectares (6,920 acres) of woods and ponds and also enveloped by 1,300 hectares (3,210 acres) of cultivated fields that flow gradually to the coast. Charging no admission, the gardens are open April to October 10am to dusk.
By Train -- Vallø station is two stops from Køge.
By Car -- Head south on Route 209, turning right onto Billesborgvej and left onto Valløvej.
By Bicycle -- Bicycling is the ideal way to reach Valløvej, as there's a cycle route signposted from Køge.
The Chalk Cliffs of Stevns Klint
If you, like us, sometimes prefer to wander off the beaten track, we suggest an afternoon exploring Stevns Peninsula, lying only 24km (15 miles) south of Køge, near Rødvig. The attraction here is the chalk cliffs of Stevns Klint (admittedly, they don't compare to the White Cliffs of Dover).
This chalk escarpment extends along the coastline, opening onto a panoramic vista of the sea, and it's one of our favorite places to wander and explore during an afternoon in southeast Zealand. The most stunning white chalk crag rises 43m (141 ft.) in the vicinity of Højerup. In the hamlet of Store Heddinge, you'll come across a little church, Højerup Kirke, built here in 1357. Legend claims this church was erected by fishermen in gratitude for having been rescued at sea. There's another legend about this church as well. The sea continues to erode the chalk cliffs, and locals claim that each New Year's Eve, the church moves a fraction inland to keep from falling into the sea. In 1928, it didn't move far enough and the choir collapsed, but the church has since been reinforced and made relatively safe. Hours are daily 10am to 5pm, but only May to September.
For more information about the area, consult the Turistbureau in Stevns at Havnevej 21 (tel. 56-50-64-64; www.stevnsinfo.dk). It is generally open in summer Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to 4pm.
By Train and Bicycle -- To get to Stevns Klint from Køge, take the train to Rødvig, where you'll rent a bicycle from the tourist office. From here, it's only about 5km (3 miles), heading east, following the signs to Højerup, to the cliffs. This is an easy bike ride and offers the best way to experience the bracing sea air and wind-swept panoramas.
By Car -- From Køge to Stevns Klint, take Highway 261 to the village of Store Heddinge, then detour to the cliffs, following the signs to Højerup.
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.