Experience a summer's day the Danish way

Nobody does 'summer' quite like the Danes. While many northern Europeans opt to fight for space each summer in one of the Mediterranean's crowded and over-priced beach resorts, the Danes have long perfected the concept of the 'staycation'.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

As soon as summer arrives, there's nothing they love more than to head to the beautiful Danish coastline for a civilised, laid-back and thoroughly relaxing holiday that's the very antithesis of the crush on the Costas. Consequently, the Danes have developed a fail-safe approach to holidaying at home - but then, when you live in a country that's blessed with more than 4,000 miles of staggeringly unspoiled, white sandy beaches, why go anywhere else?

Denmark's beaches are a hive of activity in summer. With options ranging from empty stretches of pristine sand to busy resorts featuring every activity under the sun, the country’s beaches are perfect for families, nature lovers, sports enthusiasts and just about every imaginable kind of summer holiday. Danish summers are generally blessed with wonderful weather, too, so whether it involves swimming, cycling, kite-flying or even just a picnic in the dunes, the Danes really know how to get the most out of a day at the beach.

These days, an ever-growing number of British holidaymakers are discovering the appeal of a Danish coastal break - and how to enjoy the experience to the full, in true Danish style. The perfect summer's day would commence with a simple breakfast of yoghurt with berries, or healthy rye bread with cheese, before decamping to the nearest stretch of sand and settling in for the day. Summer temperatures generally hover around the 25-30° mark, so there's always plenty of opportunity to work up a tan.

Beach activities

Stretching out all day on the sand, however, may not be to everybody's taste. Luckily there are plenty of distractions that are easily accessible from many beaches. Cycling, for example, is hugely popular in Denmark and there are continuous cycle routes through heaths and meadows along large stretches of the coastline. Keen horse riders of all ages may enjoy a guided hack on an Icelandic pony through the pristine coastal scenery, while those who prefer their fun that little bit wetter will appreciate wave surfing. At Klitmøller (also dubbed "Cold Hawaii"), one of Europe's best windsurfing spots, you’ll find a surf school offering coaching for beginners and experienced surfers alike, with wetsuits and surfboards available for hire. Searching for seashells is always a popular pastime, while in some areas the more sharp-sighted beachcombers may even be rewarded with genuine pieces of treasure in the form of nuggets of golden amber.

Kids of all ages enjoy fishing for crabs at the many marinas that dot the Danish coastline. It's both easy and enjoyable (all you need is a stick, some string and a small piece of tasty Danish sausage as bait - and it's fun to engage in crab races along the beach before letting the creatures go again), plus of course there are countless opportunities for more grown-up forms of angling all around the country. Other child-friendly coastal capers include summer camps where kids can learn football, sailing and a host of other activities; while a visit to the World Sand Sculpture Championships at Søndervig (where international artists create huge sculptures in the sand) makes for a great family day out. This unique event starts on 1 June and runs until 26 October, 2014.

Sample Danish summer delights

All these activities tend to generate healthy appetites, so most people pack hefty picnics to fuel them through their day at the beach. Traditional Danish smørrebrød (open faced sandwiches) are a popular picnic staple and are often followed by a soft ice-cream as a special treat. The Danes' favourite brand of ice-cream is Paradis, which is a low-fat variety made with all-natural ingredients that are available (and immensely popular) all over the country. Another favourite treat to help beat the heat of a summer afternoon is 'Koldskål', a sweet, chilled confection made with buttermilk, eggs, sugar and cream.

As the long summer days begin to draw to a close, people return to their holiday accommodation to enjoy another highlight of the Danish summer. Most holidaymakers stay either in tents or cosy chalets located in extensive, beachfront holiday centres (many of which have excellent facilities such as swimming pools, spas, sports equipment and activities such as horse riding). These can be found all around the coast and range from the fairly basic to the extremely well-appointed. Here, the Danes tuck into 'Rødgrød-med-Fløde', a stewed fruit dessert made with strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and other berries and served with cream. Foreigners may struggle with pronouncing its name, but it is nevertheless a delicious dish that's an essential element of the Danish summer's day.

As night finally falls, the Danes enjoy an evening by the camp fire. As the fires die down, they become perfect for the baking of 'sno-brød', otherwise known as 'campfire bread', which is made from dough wrapped around the end of a long stick and baked over the hot embers. Once baked, the bread twists can be eaten with jam, cheese, ketchup, mustard or even on their own, when the smoky taste can really be savoured. Then it's time to retreat to the comforts of the campsite to fall asleep to the sounds of the sea, before a fresh day dawns and you can do it all over again.

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Getting There

DFDS Seaways provides a overnight ferry crossings 2 to 5 times a week (depending on the time of year) between Harwich and Esbjerg in West Jutland, with prices starting from £117 per person, based on two people and one car travelling one way with a sea view cabin.

Under two hours flying time, Denmark has an excellent selection of flights from the UK to all its major airports. With Billund and Aarhus airports served from the UK by Ryanair, Aalborg served by Norwegian and Copenhagen served by both Norwegian and easyJet this means it's both easy and affordable to plan a route.


Novasol has a large choice of self catering houses all along the coast and with the Danish school holidays following a slightly different pattern those in the UK, it's possible to make significant savings during this otherwise peak period, when prices in many other European destinations can be sky high. The spacious house sleeps 8-10 people and facilities including a whirl pool, sauna and wood burning stove with views out over the heath land and dunes and free access to the local water park.

Small Danish Hotels offers a selection of 100 beautiful inns, modern hotels and fairy tale castles dotted throughout the country side.

Alternatively, choose a campsite or cosy chalet which also benefit from excellent facilities and low prices with swimming pools, spas, sports equipment and activities such as horse riding.


Additional information

Click here for more insipration on how to spend your summer holiday in Denmak.

Circle Bridge Copenhagen

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