As much as I love living in Copenhagen, sometimes I just want to escape the city for a little bit. Only for a day or so, though; after that, I begin to miss it.
For the first nine months or so after moving to Copenhagen, the pandemic confined me to travelling almost exclusively within Denmark.
Whenever I had visited in the past, I hadn’t ventured far away from Copenhagen. And when I did, it usually involved heading over to Southern Sweden for the day. With the border closed, though, I took it as an opportunity to see what Sjælland – and the rest of Denmark, for that matter – had to offer.
Having now seen more of this intriguing country than the average traveller does, I feel like I can put together my top recommendations. And so, without further ado, here are five of the best Danish day trips from Copenhagen.
Around three hours away from Copenhagen by train, Aarhus is Denmark’s second-largest city and proudly flaunts everything that makes this country such a great place to live. Known as the “City of Smiles”, this student hub is easy to explore and boasts countless cultural activities.
Like everywhere else in Denmark, nature is never too far away. If you happen to visit on the rare occasion that there isn’t a cloud in the sky, head down to Ballehage Beach or one of the many others in the area. Is hiking more your thing? No problem – the Aarhus Region boasts countless forests.
Friendly, fun and compact, the truth is that you should dedicate more than a day to Aarhus if you can. But if that isn’t possible, you’ll have more difficulty cutting things out of your itinerary for the day than trying to fill in gaps.
Tisvildeleje Strand and Troldeskoven
Tisvildeleje is a seaside resort at the top of Sjælland, the island which Copenhagen is located on. You’ll find plenty of sunbathing opportunities during the summer on the beach.
But even if the weather doesn’t play fair, you don’t need to skip Tisvildeleje. Beyond the cute wooden huts that like the beach area, you’ll find a large forest behind it that is waiting for you to explore. If you’re lucky, you may spot a few deer while on your ramble.
Before heading to Tisvildeleje Strand, consider stopping in nearby Gilleleje. In this cosy fishing town, you can fuel up with freshly caught seafood before continuing your journey.
Tisvilde is just over an hour away by train from Copenhagen. If you would rather drive, you can get there by car in around 45 minutes.
Helsingør is so close to Sweden that you might notice your phone changing from a Danish network provider to a Swedish one. Obviously, though, it has a lot more to offer than that.
One of the most popular day trips from Copenhagen, Helsingør is best-known for Kronborg Slot – the castle in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Well worth a visit, you can also walk along the waterfront and enjoy views across the Øresund Strait to the Swedish city of Helsingborg.
Away from its castle, Helsingør also has a range of streets lined with pleasant architecture and a maritime museum for you to explore.
Getting to Helsingør from Copenhagen is easy; one train from the city centre will get you there in roughly 50 minutes.
Surprisingly easy to get to from Copenhagen, Dyrehaven – also known as Jægersborg Dyrehave – is a large nature reserve just north of the city. Hit by that trademark crisp Scandinavian air, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world.
In Dyrehaven, you’ll almost certainly bump into the many deer that call this reserve their home. Unfazed by humans, you can get surprisingly close to them compared to many other places. Beyond that, you’ll find a palace and acres of forests.
Another popular attraction in the area is Bakken, which is the world’s oldest functioning theme park.
To get to Dyrehaven from Central Copenhagen, take a train north to Klampenborg, and you’ll get there in just over 20 minutes.
Some (i.e. me) might argue that Frederiksborg Slot is even more impressive than its counterpart in Helsingør. The castle is located in Hillerød, which – fun pub quiz fact – is the administrative seat for Denmark’s Capital Region.
Frederiksborg Slot is built in a Dutch Renaissance style and wouldn’t look out-of-place in Belgium’s fairytale town Bruges. You can walk around the courtyard for free and also have the option to purchase tickets to explore its interior if you wish to.
Behind Frederiksborg Slot, you’ll find a large forest to stretch your legs in too. And Hillerød itself is a pleasant town with both shopping and eating opportunities.
To get to Frederiksborg Slot, take a train from Copenhagen to Hillerød; the journey is just shy of 50 minutes. From Hillerød station, the castle is a 15-minute walk away. The route is signposted.
For day trips in Sjælland, buy the Large City Pass for public transport. This costs 160 Danish Kroner (DKK) and offers unlimited trips on trains, buses and waterbuses for 24 hours in the Capital Region.
You can buy a city pass either on the DOT Mobilbilletter mobile app or at any train station.
If you’re visiting Aarhus, you’ll find big train discounts if you book in advance. To buy tickets, visit the DSB website or download its app.