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Visiting Denmark

Vikings are what most people think of when you mention Denmark, even though those seafarers existed for only a few short centuries well over a thousand years ago. But before we look at what there remains of the Viking era today in Denmark, let's talk about the coastline.

Danish Coastline

The one fact you may not know about Denmark is the length of its coastline. At 7400 km, it's longer than the coastline of India and almost equal to Brazil's. What that fact means is that Danish beaches are never more than a short walk away, no matter where you are in the country. Of course, part of the reason for that long coastline is that Denmark is mostly islands, over four hundred of them. The European mainland of Denmark, stretching north away from Germany, is a short peninsula called appropriately enough Jutland. However, forty per cent of the Danish population lives on the large island called Zealand. The rest of the population is spread over Jutland, another large island named Funen and seventy-two other smaller islands. That leaves over three hundred uninhabited Danish islands to explore.

Visiting Denmark - Copenhagen

Denmark and Ferries

Denmark depends on ferries to move both its own people and tourists - there are fifty-five ferry routes in the maze of Danish islands in the Østersøen Sea between Sweden and Denmark. Even the smallest ferry line in Denmark follows the country's strict safety regulations. Denmark also has the only route into Scandinavia out of the UK, the Harwich to Esbjerg ferries run on the DFDS line.

Denmark by Car

Traveling by car through the countryside of Denmark is convenient and easy. If you're visiting any of the cities, it's best to park on the outskirts and enter via public transport or take a taxi or bicycle or walk. When you're back out in the countryside, look for the white flower symbol on maps and on brown roadside signs - it's the Marguerite Daisy designating the Margueritruten, 3500 km of scenic roads that take you near over one hundred Danish destinations.

Legoland

One of the attractions you must visit is Legoland in the town of Billund in Jutland. Lego was invented in Denmark years ago and we all know how popular this toy has become all over the world. The company headquarters and factory are there too. Go buy some Lego bricks at this theme park and show them off, saying you got them at the source.

Copenhagen

On the islands of Amager and Zealand lies Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark and a lively metropolis. The Tivoli Gardens opened in 1843, making them the world's second oldest amusement park - the oldest is the nearby 17th century Dyrehavsbakken or "Deer Garden Hill" in Klampenborg north of the city. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, just north of Copenhagen near Øresund, sits atop a cliff overlooking the ocean - wander the sculpture garden full of large works by Alexander Calder, Max Ernst and Henry Moore.

Copenhagen's National Museum has many Viking artifacts, but two other fine Viking museums in the town of Roskilde are only a few hours drive from Copenhagen. The Viking Ship Museum has several well-preserved Viking craft, while the Lejre Experimental Centre will fascinate you with their recreation of an actual Viking village. Also on the island of Zealand, in Slaglse, you'll find recreations of Viking long houses and the ruins of the Trelleborg ring castle.

Copenhagen

Around Denmark

Aarhus in Jutland is the second largest city in Denmark - visit the Open Air Museum there to see the way Aarhus looked in the 19th century. Aalborg is also in Jutland, home to the Jomfru Ane Gade, a neighborhood of discos, cafes and nightclubs that becomes a party street every night after 11 PM.

In Jutland, Herning is the gateway to the beaches on the west coast and Esbjerg is the terminus for the ferry from the UK and the commercial fishing center for Denmark - you'll see the giant Men At Sea monument as your ferry enters the harbour. A bit further south, visit Jelling, home to some massive 10th century runestones carved with the words that mark the Danes' conversion to Christianity, a milestone that marked the end of the era of Vikings.

The island of Funen has Odense, the third largest city in Denmark. It's best known as the birthplace of famed storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, but it also has the Egeskov Castle, a well-preserved Renaissance castle, and the Funen Village, an open air museum that depicts 18th century farm life.

On the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, you'll find the city of Rønne and its spectacular Hammershus castle ruins. Get your picture taken in front of one of the many round churches that are still part of daily life in the old-fashioned villages on the island.

Nykøbing Falster lies in the Baltic Sea far to the east on the island of Lolland. There's natural beauty to be seen in the gorgeous fjord and the Møn chalk cliffs, but you can also explore the old castle or the ruins of the abbey.

Traveling through Denmark will be a mix of driving and ferry rides. Be aware of the departure schedules for the ferries, though you may not mind being left behind for an extra day or so on any one of those beautiful isles of Denmark.

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