Beyond Copenhagen, the area of North Sealand is an easy addition to a holiday offering fascinating castles, historic monasteries, world class museums, picturesque fishing villages and some of the finest white sandy beaches along the coastline that is known as the ‘Danish Riviera’. Using its very efficient infrastructure of trains, cycle paths and quiet country roads getting around is as easy going as the Danes themselves.
One attraction worth visiting is the M/S Maritime Museum in Elsinore. Elsinore is located 45 minutes north of Copenhagen by train and the museum, which is between Kronborg Castle and the Cultural Wharf, has been designed using sloping bridges that spiral downwards in a seashell shape inside the old dry dock. On entering the underground museum visitors will feel like being under the water. The museum will tell the story of Danish maritime tradition through ships models, paintings and photographs, while other parts of the museum include a knowledge centre, workshop facility and a café. The state of the art museum will also have many interactive attractions, including the opportunity to try navigating a ship using the stars.
Next to the Maritime museum the UNESCO listed Kronborg Castle is rich in history and drama. For the first week of August each year, in a tradition dating back 200 years, a series of Shakespearean plays have been performed by international artists. 2016 will see the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and to mark the occasion HamletScenen, the organisers of the annual Shakespeare Festival at Kronborg Castle in Denmark are planning a three-week long festival of theatre, cinema and concerts from 1st August 2016. A major highlight will be the production of Hamlet (to be performed in English) and for families, there will be the annual Shakespeare Puppet theatre performances each day during July with 30 minute long wordless interpretations of Shakespeare’s classics created by some of the world’s most prestigious puppet theatre companies.
Half way between Elsinore and Copenhagen the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is the equally compelling must see attraction of the region. Combining art and architecture with parkland and beautiful natural surroundings, its permanent collection is the largest in Scandinavia and includes major works by artists such as Picasso, Warhol, Bourgeois and Jorn. Every year, it hosts major international exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, photography and design. The building sits among a sculpture park with an incredible panoramic view of Øresund and the sea, creating a connection between art, nature and architecture.
More artworks are on display at the beautiful Renaissance Frederiksborg Castle, which is surrounded by a stunning Italianate Baroque garden at Hillerød. The impressive red brick castle was built as a symbol of King Christian IV’s power and today houses the Museum of National History, recording 500 years of Danish history, with a large collection of royal portraits. Within the collection are a number of contemporary pieces such as an Andy Warhol portrait of Queen Margrethe II, and a portrait of Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, which has been woven from newspapers.
Near to Frederiksborg, on the banks of Lake Esrum, the elegant Fredensborg Palace has throughout history hosted many heads of state and there is a long running tradition that these state leaders inscribe their names in one of the palace windows with a diamond pen. The palace grounds also provide the perfect summer setting for open air events and concerts. Visitors can even sail from the palace garden across Esrum Sø, Denmark’s second largest lake. Just north of Esrum Lake stands the impressive Esrum Kloster & Møllegård dating back to the 12th century. It was an important centre for monastic life in Denmark for many centuries and is on the North European Pilgrimage Route. Today the abbey houses a permanent exhibition to its history and still maintains its large garden, growing much of its own produce which is then used in the production of beer, salt, vinegars and honey, for purchase in the Abbey’s shop and Café Daniels Kilde.
Heading out to the coast the natural landscapes of the North Sealand and its 1,700km of beaches offer some of the best bathing spots in Denmark with clean, clear water and sheltered sandy beaches.
Known as the Danish Riviera, the string of popular seaside towns include Tisvildeleje where white sandy beaches are backed by the nearby forest of Tisvilde Hegn and hidden among the large sand dunes are hundreds of colourful beach huts, which have become symbolic of the town. There are plenty of activities for visitors, such as crab fishing, kayaking, mountain biking and shopping, with accommodation available in a classic seaside hotel, such as the Helenkilde Badehotel or the Tisvildeleje Strandhotel.
At the neighbouring town of Liseleje the shallow waters are perfect for swimming and every August, the annual Kattegat Kite Festival takes place along its beach. Visitors can join in by building and flying a kite, or just sit back to marvel at the spectacle. Close by it's possible to rent a holiday cottage, stay at a bed-and-breakfast or even sleep under the stars at a campsite. One of the best ways to take in the area is from a little wooden carriage on the Veteran Train. Linking many of the towns along the northern coast during the summer months this lovingly restored vintage steam locomotive takes passengers on a scenic journey with views of the sea and the peaceful North Sealand countryside.
There are plenty of flights from the UK to Copenhagen. SAS (www.flysas.co.uk) operates from Aberdeen, Birmingham, Heathrow, Newcastle and Manchester. Alternatives include British Airways (www.ba.com) from Heathrow; EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) from Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and Manchester; and Norwegian (www.norwegian.com) from Edinburgh and Gatwick.
Accommodation is available in a variety of hotels, hostels, B&B’s and campsites and private houses. For more details click here.