If you ever have a chance to visit Denmark, what place would you like to see? More likely than not, your answer is Copenhagen. And that’s because Copenhagen is typically the first place that comes to mind with any mention of Denmark.
Don’t get me wrong, though – Copenhagen is a beautiful city. There are a lot of interesting sights to see in Denmark’s capital. In Denmark, you’ll find the enchanting Tivoli Gardens, the colorful Nyhavn waterfront, and the majestic royal residences Amalienborg and Rosenborg. Of course, no discussion of Copenhagen would be complete without mentioning the iconic Little Mermaid statue.
The thing is there’s more to Denmark than just Copenhagen. There’s plenty of beauty and excitement to be found outside the capital city. That’s what my hubby and I set out to discover on our weeklong holiday to that country. We drove to Gothenburg to catch the Stena Line ferry to Fredrikshavn.
Day 1: From Halden, Norway to Skive, Denmark on a motorcycle
We set off from Halden in Norway on the first day of our Denmark holiday. The plan was to get to Gothenburg in Sweden, catch the ferry there and make the crossing to Fredrikshaven in Denmark. There are three ways to get to Gothenburg from Halden. You can take the bus or the train, or you can drive. Driving gives you more freedom to travel at your pace and drink in more of the sights. So my friends and I hopped on our motorcycles and biked our way to Gothenburg. The travel time is typically two and a half hours tops on a motorbike, depending on the traffic.
We were early for the scheduled ferry crossing, so we hung out at Nordstan, Gothenburg’s largest shopping centre. Nordstan is located right at the heart of Gothenburg. It’s a huge place, made up of nine buildings interconnected with walkways. The mall is packed with retail shops, restaurants, and cafes, plus office space and space for events and exhibitions.
As short drive later, and we’re at the port in Gothenburg to get on the Stena Line ferry to Fredrikshaven. Stena Line is one of the largest and most reliable ferry lines not just in Europe but in the whole world. The company’s been around since 1962, sailing to destinations in Scandinavia, Germany, Poland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The ship we boarded had enough room for cars, motorcycles, and even container vans.
The ferry crossing took around three and a half hours. Upon arrival at Fredrikshaven, we got on our motorcycles once again and drove for an hour towards the town of Skive.
Days 2 and 3: Out and about in Skive, Denmark
The town of Skive is our first stop in Denmark. We stayed there at a friend’s place for a couple of days. Skive is a lovely town sitting at the mouth of Karup River, with Skive Fjord close by. It is the main town in the Skive municipality and, therefore, the seat of its municipal council.
What’s there to see in Skive? There’s actually so much to see in the area. These sights are what we loved best:
- Daugbjerg Kalkgruber
The Daugbjerg Limestone Mines were the oldest and largest limestone mines in Scandinavia. The limestone mined here was used for building churches when Denmark was in a church-building boom in the Middle Ages. Today, Daugbjerg is known for its twisty passages, which provide delightful adventures for thrill-seeking kids and kids-at-heart. Daugbjerg is also one of Denmark’s largest winter hibernation spots for bats.
- Krabbesholm Manor
Krabbesholm Manor was a farm estate established in the 15th century. It was named for Ivar Crabbe, who inherited it from his wife Magdalene Banner. The Manor was then transformed into a high school for the arts in 1885 and remains so to this day. You won’t be able to visit the Manor itself but you’re free to stroll about in its parks. The Manor is home to Four Boxes Gallery, which exhibits works of the Manor’s resident students as well as invited artists.
- Mønsted Kalkgruber
Like the Daugbjerg Limestone Mines, the Mønsted Limestone Caves used to be a major source of limestone used for building churches in Denmark. Now they are famous for their cave trails and their huge population of protected bats. Cheese is also aged in these caves, and these cave cheeses are a popular treat in Germany and other parts of Europe.
- Roslev Church
Roslev Church may not be your idea of a towering medieval Gothic church, but it’s impressive in its own way. It was built in the 13th century. One of its most distinct features is its Renaissance-style altar.
- Skive Art Museum
The Skive Art Museum is a gallery filled with fascinating and thought-provoking collection of contemporary Danish art. The museum also features works by local Skive artists, most notably those of Christen Dalsgaard. Dalsgaard was born and raised in Krabbesholm Manor in 1824.
- Spøttrup Castle
Considered to be one of the best preserved medieval castles in Europe, Spøttrup Castle is now a museum showcasing what life in Denmark during the Middle Ages must be like. Aside from exhibits, it also hosts various festivals and events celebrating medieval life. Spøttrup Castle also features a medicinal herb garden and a fantastic view of Spøttrup Lake.
- Stone Age grave mounds
The area surrounding Skive is full of grave mounds dating back to the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. Many of these grave mounds are well-preserved, such as the mounds of Bjørnshøje along Kildeborgvej and the Ginnerup gallery grave. You can even crawl through the Ginnerup grave mound if you feel daring enough.
- Vor Frue Kirke
Von Frue Kirk (Our Lady’s Church) is a medieval church famous for its murals. It is the oldest church in Skive, built in the 1200s.
The Skive town centre itself is alive. Filled with quaint shops and restaurants, it is a great place to hang out and meet a new friend or two.
- Skive Marina
Our family friend who lives in Skive come from a sailing family and like me, they love the water. So of course, we also visit the Marina. A great place to look at different sail boats navigate in and out of the port. They also have a diving center if you are a diver like me.
Day 4: People-watching at Skagen Harbour
After two days in Skive, we said goodbye to our friend and drove our motorbikes to Skagen, Denmark’s northernmost town. Skagen is quite a small town compared to other European cities we’ve seen, but it’s charming and full of life. This town is the centre of Denmark’s fishing industry. It’s also famous for its marvellous harbour and its breathtaking seascapes. The beauty of Skagen has drawn artists, celebrities, and even royalty from all over Europe.
Upon arriving at Skagen, we checked in at Skagen Hotel. It’s a small hotel with a lovely location overlooking the sea. The room we got was larger than what we expected. We love that even though Skagen Hotel is close to the town’s centre, the hotel itself is quiet and comfortable. It is a nice refuge after a day of adventure.
We spent the rest of that day at Skagen Harbour. The Harbour is the lifeblood of the town. This is where fishing boats land with their catch. The Harbour is also a port of call for many cruise lines serving Scandinavia and northern Europe. Lined with cosy cafes and restaurants, the Harbour is a great place to relax, have a coffee, and watch people. It’s also an awesome place for a stroll. There’s also a pier where you can find folks with their fishing rods, leisurely waiting for fish to bite their baits.
One of the things we loved about Skagen is all the noteworthy sights are within walking distance of each other. We didn’t have to take our motorbikes with us on our Skagen Harbour jaunt. We simply dropped our gear and luggage at our hotel room, parked our bikes there, and walked.
Day 5: Riding the sandworm to Grenen
Chilling at Skagen Harbour is a real treat. It’s something you definitely must do if ever you visit the northern reaches of Denmark. But as awesome as it is, it’s not the only reason why we drove to Skagen in the first place. The real reason is this: We wanted to check out the sandworm to Grenen.
What’s this sandworm? Don’t worry – it’s nothing scary or something that crawled out of a science-fiction movie. The sandworm is actually the Sandormen, a large bus-like vehicle pulled by a tractor. This ride is the only way you’ll get to Grenen, the northernmost point of Denmark and one of the most fascinating places on the planet.
Grenen is a sandbar created by the waters of the Kattegat crashing and colliding against the waters of the Skagerrak Straight. These waters are part of two different seas. The Kattegat separates Denmark and Sweden, while the Skagerrak Straight is part of the North Sea. The densities of these waters are different, something you’ll be able to see clearly when you’re standing at Grenen. A visible line forms where these two waters meet.
The crashing and colliding of these two bodies of water make Grenen a treacherous place to swim. But it’s the one of the few places on the planet where you can actually say you have your feet dipped in two different seas. Plus, watching the waves of these two waters break against each other can be mesmerising. Don’t just take my word for it. Check out the videos I took and see how amazing these waves are.
So we rode the Sandormen and watched the waves at Grenen. After that, we went to see Den Tilsandede Kirke, otherwise known as the Sand-Buried Church. Den Tilsandede Kirke used to be the largest church in Skagen. It’s also one of the oldest, built in the 13th century.
However, by the 16th century, sand from the surrounding dunes began to sink the church. The congregation had to dig a way through the entrance before services could begin. Eventually, the church was abandoned and demolished. Only the tower, with its distinct crow-stepped gable, remains visible and rising from the sand.
Day 6: Back to Fredrikshaven
After all that action and adventure in Skive and Skagen, my hubby and I agreed that we need one day devoted to just relaxing. So, on the penultimate day of our Denmark holiday, we drove back to Fredrikshaven and spent the day doing exactly that.
Upon arrival at Fredrikshaven, we checked in at Scandic The Reef Hotel. The Reef Hotel distinguishes itself by creating a tropical Caribbean vibe so unexpected this far up the Northern Hemisphere. When you go for a swim at one of the pools, you’re sure to hear natural sounds from the tropics, such as tropic thunder and birdsong. The hotel is also family-friendly, a great place to have fun with your kids. It even allows pets in selected rooms. Don’t forget to play with the resident hedgehog while you’re there.
So, how did we spend our chilling day at The Reef Hotel? We swam to our heart’s content, in both the indoor and the outdoor pool. We spent time sweating at the sauna. And we tried out the spa. When we got hungry, we indulged in easy, good food at the hotel’s restaurant. Our overnight stay at The Reef Hotel is definitely an awesome way to end our motorcycle tour of northern Denmark.
Day 7: Ice cream at Gothenburg
It’s the last day of our trip, and back to Halden we went. Again, we took the Scandic Lines’ ferry crossing back to Gothenburg.
But we didn’t head directly home upon arriving at Gothenburg. We strolled around town and snacked on the tasty ice cream that Gothenburg is famous for. This Gothenburg mini-adventure is another story for another blog post. Please stay tuned for that.
After indulging in all the ice cream we can eat, we hopped back on our motorbikes and drove back to home sweet Halden.
There’s really more to Denmark than just Copenhagen. We’ve only touched the northern tip of the country, but there’s so much more to see. I’m looking forward to getting to know more of Denmark the next time I visit the country.
If you are going to Legoland, you may want to read my blog post about it as well:
Til next time.