From delicious Danish pastries to thrilling TV dramas and a Viking past, Denmark is a country that will inspire any traveller. Copenhagen is its number one draw, but beyond the capital Denmark offers a mix of charming towns, stunning countryside and historic churches and castles. All of this invites one key question: just what are the best tourist attractions of Denmark?
We’ve thought long and hard about this challenge and – after many hours sipping coffee and eating our body-weight in butter-infused sweet-roll delicacies – we ultimately arrived at our finalised list of the top ten tourist attractions in Denmark. You’ll find some of the best-known Danish attractions in this list, but we’ve also thrown in a few unusual choices. So check out our list of Denmark’s top ten sights and get planning right away.
What are the best tourism sites in Denmark?
This heavily fortified, dauntingly imposing castle is the setting of Shakespeare’s nefarious drama Hamlet, small wonder then that it comes in firmly at number one on our list of the top ten tourist attractions of Denmark. Now a popular tourist attraction, you can even take Hamlet-themed tours through the magnificent rooms of Kronborg. The Bard aside, Kronborg has a real, fascinating history. The castle’s had more facelifts than your average Hollywood star, having been built around 1420 by Erik of Pomerania, renovated by successive royals, burnt down and then restored once again to largely what we know today. It’s impressive to look at and has an enviable coastal location. UNESCO is a big fan of Kronborg and so are we.
Fans of medieval history will eat their heart out at Hammershus Castle, Northern Europe’s largest Medieval ruin. Located on the picturesque island of Bornholm, which is one of the most famous visitor attractions in Denmark in its own right, some of the ruins at Hammershus date back to the thirteenth century. The castle served as an important fortress throughout Bornholm’s medieval past, and also as a prison in the seventeenth century. Today it might be a shadow of its former self, but it’s still a formidable shadow. It’s even a hit at night, when a light show illuminates the castle’s remains.
One of Copenhagen’s major tourist destinations, Amallenborg Slot is fit for a prince, which is a good thing since Denmark’s current royal family still reside here in the winter. That said, the first residents of this eighteenth century palace were wealthy families instead of royals. With its rococo style, the palace cuts out a fabulous shape in what’s already a very glamorous city. But – as the old adage goes – it’s what’s inside that counts: visitors can enter one wing of the palace and take in resplendent rooms, which have been used by three generations of the monarchy from 1863 to 1947.
Jelling is the first port-of-call for anyone exploring Denmark’s Viking past. It was at Jelling that Gorm the Old resided. Gorm and his son erected a series of monuments, which remain today, including two large graves, one of which is the final resting place of Gorm. While Jelling contains the remains of Denmark’s Viking rulers, the graves at Lindholm Hoje are also worth a visit. Not only are the corpses in good company – there are over 700 at this site, which date back to 400 AD – they also have an impressive setting. The graves are located on a beautiful open plain, which gently rolls down to a tranquil village beneath.
If we had to pick a favourite royal abode in Denmark it would be the palace of Frederiksborg. Its got turrets, its got manicured gardens and it’s encircled by a lake, making it other-worldly dreamy. And if that isn’t enough to draw you to one of Denmark’s top tourist attractions, it’s also home to the country National History Museum. A must visit on any tour of Denmark.
This grandiose gothic structure from the twelfth century is a great example of the evolution of European religious architecture. With spires that tower above the city of Roskilde, it’s an immensely impressive sight to behold and houses a wealth of portraits and sculptures. Roskilde Cathedral also doubles up as the mausoleum of the Danish royal family. So for those who want to explore Danish royal history, you can find 38 tombs here.
Denmark was the only European nation to save almost all of its Jewish population during World War Two. This fascinating chapter of the country’s recent history is explored at Frihedsmuseet, aka the Museum of Danish Resistance. Placed within the greater narrative of Danish resistance to the Nazis in general, Frihedsmuseet might not be the most visually stimulating of Denmark’s tourist attractions, but it is certainly one of the most interesting.
If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then Rosenborg Slot is every females’ favourite destination. It is in this beautiful Copenhagen castle that you’ll find the Crown Jewels. Not that you can touch them mind… Built in 1606 to initially act as the royal’s summer retreat, Rosenborg Slot contains cultural treasures in addition to the real treasures. Plan to spend a few hours marveling at Rosenborg’s gems.
Osterlars Church is Denmark as you’ve seen it on the postcards. With its circular structure, and white and grey colour palette, it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Denmark. It’s also in great condition, which says a lot for a building that dates back to 1150 (if only we could age so well). Osterlars is located on the island of Bornholm, famed for its amazing rugged hills and gorgeous beaches, and you can climb to the top of the church and take in the spectacular views.
Wanna know how the Vikings lived? Head to Trelleborg, one the the most fascinating Danish tourist attractions dedicated to the Viking period. The Viking fortress at Trelleborg is one of the best preserved in the country. There’s also a Viking village, cemetery and museum, with various excavated wonders. If you’re not Viking-ed out yet, complete your tour of Viking Denmark with a trip to the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, where you can marvel at the ships that made the Vikings so famous. Two top visitor attractions of Denmark for good reason.