This post is long overdue considering the fact that I visited mainland Denmark in 2017 but better late than never. Prior to that, I'd been to Copenhagen several times but you haven't really seen a country until you venture out of its capital, right?
So, that's what I did last year. I based myself and my parents for a week in Aarhus and we went on to explore Aalborg, Odense and Ribe from there. Needless to say that I got to know a different side of Denmark on this trip and learnt SO many things about the country that I didn't know before!
Did you know that Denmark...
1.)... has fjords?
Norway might still be THE country of the fjords but did you know that Denmark also has a few (okay, 16 actually) fjords to offer? You might think that fjords are characterized by mountains as that's what you get in Norway but that's actually not entirely true.
A fjord is created by glacial activity and is characterized by being closed off on 3 sides with one side being open to the open sea.
This is the case at a few spots in Denmark, for example at the gorgeous Limfjord (also known as Langerak and as of 1825 technically only a strait but the name remains) which crosses Aalborg, or at Vejle Fjord halfway between Aarhus and Odense!
2.)... consists of ca. 10000 islands?
You might have noticed how I described visiting Aarhus as visiting the "mainland" of Denmark, meaning that the country consists of several islands. Roundabout 10000 to be precise.
Most of these are tiny and uninhabited but even if you don't count those, you're still left with over 400 named islands and 70 populated ones!
There are big islands such as Fyn (where Odense is located) and Sjælland (where Copenhagen is located), but also lots of smaller ones that are popular summer holiday destinations such as Bornholm (which actually sits closer to Sweden than Denmark), Samsø (close to Aarhus) or Rømø (in the North Sea close to Ribe).
3.)... is the country of the Vikings?
Admittedly, this might be due to the fact that I've been living in Norway for so long now but I wasn't aware of the extend that Denmark celebrates its Viking heritage before visiting Aalborg and Ribe.
While the Norwegian Vikings played a big role in discovering Iceland and Greenland and unifying the country into one kingdom right off my doorstep at the famous Hafrsfjord, it was the Danish Vikings who left their mark on England and France.
There are Viking museums and heritage sites all over Denmark (such as the burial mounds found in Aalborg or the Viking Museum in Ribe) and it even was a Danish Viking who gave our Bluetooth technology its name and (runic) symbol - Harald Bluetooth Gormsson who introduced Christianity to Denmark in the 10th century.
4.)... once was the centre of European trade thanks to the small town of Ribe?
Ribe is the oldest town of Denmark and was founded in the Iron Age (the 8th century to be precise). It had been an important trading town even long before its official foundation but only grew and became more important during the Viking Age and then later in Medieval Times.
The town, which today has ca. 8000 inhabitants and is situated in Southern Denmark, served as a vital trading point midway between the Hanse region of Germany, the Netherlands and Co., and the rest of Scandinavia.
Even though a fire destroyed many of the old buildings in town in 1580, you can still admire the town's cobble-stoned alleyways, its cathedral and ca. 100 protected houses from the Middle Ages today.
5.)... offers a real-life fairytale town called Odense?
Do you still remember the fairytales of Hans Christian Andersen? Fairytales like "The Little Mermaid", "The Ugly Duckling" or "The Emperor's New Clothes"? Then you'll want to visit Odense on the island Fyn!
Andersen was born in the city in 1805 and even though he only spent his childhood in the city and moved to Copenhagen later, Odense still celebrates his most famous former citizen and has a museum dedicated to Andersen, which I can only recommend you to visit!
Even if you're not a fan of museums, though, Odense definitely looks and feels like a fairytale town itself and you can totally feel the spirit of Hans Christian Andersen when strolling around the countless cobble-stoned alleyways.
6.)... is where you can see a preserved bog body from the Iron Age?
The so-called "Grauballe Man" is a bog body from the 3rd century which was found and preserved in the 1950s. The man died by having his throat slit - probably as some sort of ritual sacrifice - before being dumped into a peat bog, 40km of today's city of Aarhus.
The entire body has been preserved (Grauballe Man is the first bog body which you can still see in its entirety) by turning it into leather, and is now exhibited at the archaeological and ethnographic Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus.
7.)... has so much more to offer than just Copenhagen?
If neither one of the prior 6 points have managed to raise your interest for Denmark beyond Copenhagen, I guess, nothing will!
I mean, Copenhagen still is (and will probably always be) my favourite big city in all of Scandinavia and the Nordic countries but Denmark really has so much more to offer than just its capital. So, for your next trip to the country, why not venture outside Copenhagen - even if just for a day?
Remember, Denmark is quite a small country and it's super easy to get around by train and bus! It only takes 1 1/2 hours to get to Odense from Copenhagen's Central Station and only 3 hours to get to Aarhus!
Are you curious to learn more about denmark?
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*Header image by LEMUR on Unsplash