Driven to attraction in Denmark's beautiful lake district
Gallery reference view
The lake district near Silkeborg in Denmark
One of the many idyllic inns in Denmark
Canoe on lake near Silkeborg
Bonnerup Beach north of Silkeborg
Green hills of Jutland
A moment of relaxation on lake in Denmark
At its heart and straddling the banks of Denmark’s longest river - Gudenåen, Silkeborg city offers a wonderful introduction to this picturesque region combining outdoor activities such as canoeing, cycling, angling and swimming with a fascinating cultural past, thriving artistic community and vibrant restaurant scene.
Owing much of its past prosperity to the establishment of a paper factory on its banks in 1846, the city today offers something for everyone. Visitors can choose to cruise on the world’s oldest coal burning paddle steamer The Hjejlen; be enthralled by the 2,400 year old remains of the perfectly preserved Tollund Man and other iron age finds housed in the city’s oldest building - Silkeborg Museum; delve into Denmark’s colourful artistic past at the Silkeborg Museum of Art, take a more contemporary view at the Art Centre Silkeborg Bad and admire local artisans at work studios; revitalize with some old-style wellness in the city’s historic spa, Silkeborg Bath anno 1920; or more simply just watch life drift slowly by from one of the lovely riverside cafes.
Venturing into the countryside, small neighbouring towns and exquisite watery surrounds provide a diverse natural playground for a plethora of activities.
Only a short drive, hidden in a ravine between Silkeborg and Nørre Snede, lies the town of Bryrup where Christianity was first introduced to Denmark. As an old station village on the former Horsens-Bryrup-Silkeborg railway, it was also known for having the most beautiful railway journey in the country. Reliving a part of this glorious history, avid trainspotters can travel through valley landscapes created by ancient ice age upheaval with stunning lake vistas on a vintage steam train ride along five kilometers of restored track. Bryrup also has one of the country’s largest modern art centres - Midtjyllands Kunst Center.
Venturing north towards Viborg between the old main road of Jutland Hærvejen and the Gudenåen river is Kjellerup. Cultivated from the middle ages, the area is rich in history with numerous churches, monasteries and manor houses to explore.
Also not to be missed is the highland area around the towns of Gjern, Voel and Svostrup - the Gjern Bakker hills. With extensive hiking trails offering exceptional views from Store Troldhøj, Solhøj, Lille Troldhøj and Randers Høj lookout points, weary walkers are regally rewarded with a delicious meal at the old historic Royal Privileged inn ‘Svostrup Kro’ or in the village of Gjern overlooking the Gjern Å river. Car enthusiasts will also enjoy a stop in Gjern to examine Scandinavia’s largest collection of vintage cars and motorbikes at Jysk Automobilmuseum.
Another definite high is Himmelbjerget. 147 metres above sea level overlooking Lake Julsø, this glacial hill offers the most breathtaking panorama of the area. With the 19th commemorative Himmelbjerg Tower majestically providing a commanding landmark over the surrounding beech forests, hills and lakes, it can be easily reached on a spectacular river cruise from Silkeborg or by car.
For more unusual pickings, take a diversion to the Energi Museet (Energy Museum), next to the country’s largest power station, for a high voltage ride back through time; call into the Blicheregnens Museum, an old parsonage dedicated to the well-known Danish poet St. Blicher containing a fascinating collection of stuffed animals and birds; or go underground at the Silkeborg Bunker Museum with its exhibition on the German occupation.
Taking advantage of the area’s many natural attributes, short drives and sightseeing are easily punctuated with refreshing dips in one of many unspoiled lakes such as Almindsø, Slåensø, Thorsø, Hinge Sø and Bryrup Langsø; rambling through heath and woodland to well-known landmarks and out of the way places; cycling on lush meadow river valley trails rich in wildlife; galloping along leafy forest and lakeside bridal ways; setting sail to navigate one’s way through the extensive River Guden waterways; and angling in an idyllic river or lakeside spot.
With numerous festivals and events throughout the year, visitors are always welcome to partake in the festivities. Some of the highlights include the Riverboat Jazz Festival (22 – 27 June 2010) with its steamboats, pumping New Orleans sounds and line up of international artists; the 25th Country Music Festival (5 – 8 August 2010) which attracts over 10,000 international guests annually; the Tange Sø Folk Festival (21 August 2010); Automania - Silkeborg Car Festival (27 – 29 August 2010) showcasing some of the finest classic cars around ; the triennial Ildfest Regatta (17 – 20 August 2011) an impressive and atmospheric festival of fireworks, light and partying on and along the Silkeborg lakes which has taken place since the 19th century; and the fantastical Silkeborg International Puppet Festival (10 – 13 November 2011).
Complementing a driving holiday in the Silkeborg area with excellent Danish hospitality and gourmet dining, visitors can plan their journey around accommodation in a ‘kro’, one of the uniquely charming and individually owned inns that can be found all over the country. Particularly worthy of mention is the Lake District’s oldest royally licensed Låsby Kro & Hotel. Decorated with old paintings and antiques reflecting its historic past, it oozes romance and atmosphere and costs from £92 (DDK 785)/person/night including breakfast. With an enviable position on the banks of the Gudenåen river, the beautifully restored former bargemen’s Kongensbro Kro offers warm hospitality and delicious fare with a weekend stay including coffee and cake on arrival, three course luxury dinner, accommodation and breakfast costs £104 (DKK 885)/ person. Dating back to 1801 and voted one of Denmark’s top 15 kro in The Danish Food Guide, Nørre Vissing Kro is a must for foodies. Set within lovely gardens surrounded by hills, forests and lakes, it serves seasonal superbly prepared cuisine with short stays costing from £82 (DKK 699)/person/night including an aperitif, two-course menu, accommodation and breakfast. For more information, on these properties and others throughout the region, contact Small Danish Hotels.
DFDS Seaways offers a regular service of overnight departures between Harwich and Esbjerg, with prices starting from £232, based on two people and one car travelling one way with a sea view cabin. The drive from Esbjerg to Silkeborg takes less than two hours with many popular attractions easily explored on route.