Feel the bloom in tulip fields around North & South Holland
It’s happening. Can you feel it? It’s springing up all over Northern Europe. Where you are too? Phew. We made it. Or at least I did. Even when armed with the tools for some cozy Danish hygge to help survive the dark days, I am always happy to see the first harbingers of spring when they happen. Here, it is the tiny white blooms of vintergækker, or snowdrops, that appear first on the scene. Even when surrounded by sprinklings of snow, I know that the rest of spring is blooming soon.
The peak of the spring season in Northern Europe brings blue skies, blooms, buds, and blossoms. In the Netherlands, this means Dutch tulips. Whether you call them tulips, two-lips, chew-lips, tulipes, tulipaner, or tulpen – they will soon be pushing up pretty all over the Netherlands. Between the end of March through mid-May, it is tulpomania further south in the Netherlands. And as there are wide, many different varieties of tulips; there are as many ways to enjoy them.
Original post written in 2017, but updated with current dates, opening hours, and prices as of January 2023.
How to Find a House to Hygge in when you visit Denmark
(Originally posted in 2017, updated 2021)
Want to know how the Danes do summer? Simple. Seek out a summer house. And find your own hygge. That communal sense of slowing down and focusing on being together in a comfortable place with your family or friends. You’ll be grateful once you find it. But know that there are rules about how to hygge in a Danish sommerhus. But what if you don’t know the rules? Don’t worry. I’m here to help. And give you some tips on how to find one.
The Danish summer house is simple. And cozy. Not lavish or large. A cottage. A home. Near the sea. Clean and concise. Like the Danes. And dare I say it – darn hyggeligt. You may have heard this Danish word hygge. Lots and lots of posts and books and articles have been written about it, how the Danes have it, how it makes them happy. How you need it in your life. How to get it in your life. Danes also love that hygge is untranslatable. Somehow that makes it theirs alone. And while I appreciate that much of the Danish language feels untranslatable, I don’t believe this is true. You too can feel hygge. You don’t have to be Danish. And a sommerhus is a wonderful place to try.”
Come to Copenhagen she said. In fact, I say it all the time. But don’t stay here for your entire visit to Denmark. There is so much more to this country than the capital. And much of it is along the coast. Did you know that there is no place in Denmark that is more than 52 kilometers from the water? And there are so many charming villages and towns to see along the seaside. Heading for a break near the water is a very Danish respite. And most likely it happens in a summer house. A Danish sommerhus.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #1:
Find a place to unplug near nature.
WHERE TO SUMMER HOUSE IN DENMARK
The “Danish Riviera” stretches across the northern part of Sjælland from Helsingør to charming towns and beautiful sandy beaches starting in Hornbæk, Gilleleje, Tisvildeleje, and Liseleje. Or roll through Roskilde and head out towards Odsherred area and Rørvig. Further south, look to the island of Møn for gorgeous hiking and dark skies. On Falster, look in the beach community of Marielyst Strand.
On the northwest coast of Jutland, summer house communities began developing around stunning Skagen at the top of Denmark as well towns like Løkken and Blokhus along the North Sea coastline. Check out “Cold Hawaii” near Klitmøller and the beautiful Thy National Park. Or explore the fishing and oyster hunting prevalent in the enormous Limfjord area. The wild west coast offers huge beautiful beaches and water sports. Further south, the beautiful Wadden Sea National Park offers wide beaches and wildlife – look for spots on the islands of Fanø and Rømø. On the east side of Jutland, check out the charming summer villages like Ebeltoft and Grenaa.
Pick an island, any island – Denmark has plenty. Popular ones for summer holidays are Samsø, Anholt, Læsø and Ærø. And don’t forget Funen, Denmark’s island region in the middle. We loved Helnæs and Faaborg – which is a great jumping-off point for the archipelago of islands that litter Fyn’s southern shore. Look for spots on Æro or around Helnæs.
But the best place, I now believe, is Bornholm. An island off the coast of southern Sweden, Bornholm is a beautiful Danish microcosm of cozy. There are so many opportunities to discover summer house hygge here.
You can find listings via Airbnb, but you’ll be missing so many potential spots. Every local tourist board has links to summer houses for rent in their region. The following booking sites have the largest selections across the country and can help you find that special place to bring your people together and create those hygge memories.
Dansommer has one of the largest online collections of summer houses in Denmark. Here you can search for houses based on your specific needs, wants, and desires. I love that you can filter for homes that are energy efficient and by their distance to the water.
Sol og Strand, or “sun and beach” in English, is a Denmark-specific summer house agency and prides itself in knowing and helping with not only the vacation rental but activities and sights near your rental. They have 5800 rental properties and strive for quality over quantity.
Specializes in holiday homes and summer houses on the wild west coast of Jutland, Denmark. Find specialty spots for stays in the charming and quirky Tyskerhavnen in Hvide Sande here.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #3:
Make it comfy.
BRING YOUR OWN SHEETS:
The easiest way to get comfy is carrying along your own linens. It is standard for Danish summer houses to provide duvets and pillows, but you will need to bring your own covers, sheets and towels.
Visiting Denmark from somewhere else? Don’t have space in your hand luggage for all that? Don’t worry, you can rent a linen package from most of the different rental agencies. Check ahead.
Linen Package usually includes:
Duvet/pillowcase, sheet for 1 person, 1 towel, 1 big bathing towel, 1 kitchen towel and 1 cloth. Costs around 100 DKK per person.
Doesn’t seem as cozy to borrow sheets? You can get comfy by bringing casual clothes to curl up in with your closest friends.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #4:
Share good food.
FOOD AND DRINK
Find the local fish shop or smokehouse (røgeri in Danish) for local delicacies. Support the nearby farm stand and buy some new potatoes or fresh rhubarb and strawberries. Pick ripe red currants, known as ribs in these parts. Cooking together and eating definitely together ups your hygge factor.
And don’t fret, all Danish summer houses will have dishes, utensils, cookware, and glasses for your use. Basic appliances like coffee maker, toaster and sometimes microwave may be available. If it is important for your holiday stay, make sure to clarify before booking. Any and all food and drink will be yours to bring or buy along the way.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #5
Turn down the lights.
ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION IS EXTRA
It is normal and expected that you will be responsible for paying for how much electricity you use during your stay. (And sometimes water.) When you pick up your keys, you will receive a sheet to denote the starting meter measure when you arrive at the house. You can ask ahead what average consumption prices are for each specific house before renting.
Since you are paying for it, use less of it. Unplug and turn down. It’s greener AND more hyggeligt. Light some candles. Make a fire if there is a wood stove or a fire pit outside. Roasting marshmallows together or as the Danes do, cooking bread on a stick (snobrød) is a great way to hone some collective hygge.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #6
Everyone pitches in.
CLEANING AT THE END
In Denmark, you take your shoes off when inside. Doing so will help when it’s time to clean at the end. Summer houses need to be left in tip-top shape and the cleaning is your responsibility unless you book a final clean service with the rental agency. This can be booked beforehand or at the time of arrival. Final cleaning fees vary depending on house size but can add up to 1200 DKK on the total price. ($180 USD, €160)
Care to clean it yourself and save some kroner? Bring your own vinegar and baking soda or purchase at the local market. And make sure everyone pitches in. Hygge is about equality. There are no tall poppies here in Denmark and tasks should be shared. An egalitarian “many hands make light work,” ensures everyone contributes for the good of the group.
DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULE #7
Hygge makes you happy
Slow down. Get comfortable. Be casual. No drama. Play games. Eat food. Be together. Turn off the phone. Set aside some time each day to come together and consciously be together. Find when it best suits your peeps. This is your place to feel peace. With each other. With yourself. This is hygge.
MORE SUMMER HOUSE TIPS:
IMPORTANT TO NOTE:
Normal Danish summer house rentals run one week from Saturday to Saturday.
Check-in time is between 14:00-19:00. After hours arrivals need to be arranged ahead.
Keys are normally picked up at a central location, not the house itself.
Consumption of electricity is paid at the end.
Check-out time is 10:00.
Peak rental time is during the Danish school holidays between weeks 26-31 (late June to early August).
Renting a summer house off-peak is cheaper and can be even cozier.
FACTS ABOUT DANISH SUMMER HOUSES
55% of all foreign tourist stays in Denmark are in a summer house.
There are over 200,000 summer homes in Denmark. About 40,000 of them are available for rent.
90% of all Danish summer home rentals are members of the Danish Association of Holiday House Letters.
Since 1973, when Denmark joined the European Union, foreigners have not been allowed to buy a Danish summer house.
If you have special connections to Denmark or a specific house, you can apply for a limited number of exceptions to the above rule each year.
Denmark saw a huge summer house building boom in the late 1960s and 1970s when the Danish economy was growing.
All of the building prompted a law in 1977 that forbids building on the seafront and requires a 3 kilometer set back from the beach, making it difficult to find a waterfront property to rent.
You are not allowed to live year-round in a summer house unless you are a pensioner (retiree).
Being outside with your littles communing in nature can be magical. Add in the mystery, giddy anticipation and energy generated when following a treasure map to find real live GIANTS in your midst – and that magic goes next level.
The 6 Forgotten Giants
An Open Air Sculpture Treasure Hunt
Danish artist Thomas Dambo and a merry crew of volunteers have hidden six epic sculptures in the woods south of Copenhagen. Who wouldn’t be merry while creating such magic? Thomas uses reclaimed and recycled wood to assemble the giants that you will find. And while they may not be breathing themselves, they will surely breathe life into your littles. And not so littles. Fun for all ages. And what joy to discover.
Last weekend, we set out to find some. We started in reverse order driving to the farthest one from Copenhagen first. You will need a car for this trip, or much more time. Only two of the giants live near each other. And while part of the fun is seeking and finding, admittedly the artist’s maps are really quite vague. I don’t want to ruin the fun and divulge all the secrets. But maybe offer just a few tips to start you on your own giant trek.
Teddy is a perfect place to start. He was the easiest to find and a fun friendly giant. Set along the lake at Hakkemøsen in Høje Taastrup he offers his arm to help you across.
Hakkemøsen Hakkemosevej 6, 2630 Taastrup
30-minute drive from central Copenhagen
At Hakkemøsen, park your car in the farthest parking lot, after you have entered the park. Take the trail towards the lake at the end of this parking lot. Follow the trail around to the right and curve around the lake. You should find Teddy waiting for you in under 5 minutes.
NOTE: Hakkemøsen park has a fun adventure course for kids, as well as fishing, camping and fire pits. You could make a day out of an adventure just here alone.
#5 THOMAS PÅ BJERGET | Thomas on the Mountain | Vallensbæk MOSE
Thomas was the most difficult to find, hiding on the backside of a hill in the Vallensbæk Mose. We had to ask a few fellow giant hunters for tips and finally found him lounging with his long legs stretched out down towards the valley below.
#4 LILLE TILDE| LITTLE TILDE | VALLENSBÆK MOSE
Little Tilde was a group favorite. What a sweetie with her not-so-little tail curling out behind her as she stands watch across the lake.
Take the Vallensbæk exit off Route 21 and then left onto Vallensbækvej. Follow it straight across to Rendsagervej and enter the parking lot for Spisetedet Mosen. Park here.
Vallensbæk Mose is beautiful and scenic setting with both paved and wooded paths. Grab food or slow down for lunch from the Spisestedet Mosen near the parking lot. Or maybe an ice cream reward once your hunting is done! No other options for food and water out in the park. Keep an eye out for baby geese and friendly goats.
SPOILER ALERT: Someone has geolocated Lille Tilde and Thomas on the Mountain on Google Maps for you.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Plan on an about an hour per giant. Especially if you don’t take the Google hints. It took our group with littles in tow about three hours to find Teddy, Tilde and Thomas. Take it slow, enjoy the journey.
These are tried and true ways to rock travel with teens in tow.
IT’S A GREAT AGE TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR KIDS
Oh. My. Gawd. Seriously. Mom. Stop. Stop it.
Eyes roll. Shoulders shrug. Backs turn. Feet shuffle. A few paces away. I do not know you. I am not related to you. Maybe even hoodies pull a little lower over faces. Or beanies down. Heads definitively away. Buried in phones perchance? Anything to disassociate themselves. From YOU.
Traveling? With teens in tow? Ever felt like you are suddenly the most embarrassing person on the planet to your teens? Uh. Every day. Oh! You too? Welcome to the club. It’s fun here. Especially when you put teens in a situation that takes them ever so slightly outside of their fragile comfort zone. Immediately that propensity by parents to perpetuate gross affronts escalates. Like instantaneously. Upon landing. (Sometimes even while you are still in the air getting there.) Anytime you maneuver your offspring outside your bubble, there is potential to exasperate. Both you. And your teen.
BEEN THERE DONE THAT
Stop trying to speak the language mom. Stop pretending that you know where you are. Stop taking pictures of me. I mean it. STOP. NOW. Stop telling everybody everything about us. I just told them we live in Denmark, not our social security numbers. MOM. They don’t care.
Um. But I do. I’m engaging here. Interacting with the locals. They asked anyway. And they can decide if they don’t want to make small talk with me by their own selves. Just like you. My dear teen.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not always like that. But it definitely has been. On occasion. Or two. Or more. Who’s counting? Not me. But here’s my math. (Maths if you’re British.) Currently living under my roof are two full-fledged teenagers and one trying to keep up full blooded tween. I will have a good five to six years in this zone with all three smack in the middle of this age group. And a good five years after that until they’ve all graduated through teendom. Yay me! How ’bout dem apples.
(P.S. I love my teens. And my tween.)
REASONS TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR TEEnAGE CHILDREN
A million and one posts have been written advocating travel with your children. Start them young and I concur. It’s cheaper. They take up less room. They’re somewhat containable. They don’t have opinions yet. Terrible two’s don’t count. It’s a great time to travel with your littles. When they are just that… little. You know, soooo – by the time they are teens turning into young adults, they will be perfectly compliant, capable and confident traveling companions. Right? Wrong. Sorry.
Take your teens traveling and you can accumulate a million more ways to irritate and otherwise aggravate your humans in their already volatile state. Those humans that you brought into your own hearth and home. Hormones are real people. Learning to navigate their effects while outside your comfort zone can be chaos. But for all the potential pouty faces, mood swings, general apathy and outright egregious offenses to their newly emerging independent identities – I’m here to tell you that traveling with teens can be amazing. I promise.
TASTE THE RAINBOW – TAKE YOUR TEENS TRAVELING
Teens are interested. (When you figure out what interests them.) And interesting. Truly. Teens have enough life under their belt to be able to make comparisons and understand contrasts. Teens are smart. They know things. They know A LOT OF THINGS. You don’t need to tell me mom. And when they share those things – when you let them – you both can learn.
Teens notice things. When you encourage them to look up from their screens. And it’s probably not the same things that you notice. It is fun seeing the world through their eyes. Through their filters. You, as the ever protective parent, will still be surveying the area like a ninja anticipating all potential threats, danger zones and subway gaps. They, on the other hand, will be the first to notice the cool guy with the colorful hair and anywhere that sells ice cream. Oh! Yeah. That is cool. I will continue to advocate travel with your potentially temperamental teen. But there are ways to make it easier. For you. And your teen.
10 Tips to Make Traveling With Your Teen Amazing
I can assure that all of the following tips on how to enjoy traveling with your teen have been field tested. Thoroughly. We have experienced lots of trials. And errors. Every moment of every trip has not gone swimmingly. But that’s just life with a teen. And tweens, to be honest. It’s a gentle balance of lowering expectations while raising them at the same time. Let me explain.
1 | Engage them in Travel planning
From the very beginning. Gone are the days that you can pick, plan and push your own agenda and expect perfect happy compliance. Believe me. I learned the hard way. Ask them where they would like to go. Make a list. A family travel wish list. Make sure to include potential activities that might interest them while in each location. Give them an idea of budget. More often teens have grandiose ideas of what travel means – being honest about costs can keep expectations in check. Let them suss out what costs what and then prioritize which activities hold highest interest. To them.
2 | Keep them up to date on travel plans
Once settled in on a setting and some activities to pursue, keep them posted on what is happening when. If your teens are like mine, surprises can be upsetting. And they get a little suspicious. Wait, wait. Woah mom. Where are you taking us? Is this another one of your just one more block to see some old painting? Where are we going? Mom?! I hear that one a lot.
Let them know the plan for the next day and what is set and where there is wiggle room for improvising. I am not a scheduled person per se and travel with much more free flow without kids along. But I have found from first-hand experience that meandering seems meaningless to teens, without some sort of structure.
3 | Balance between cultural and physical activities
My kids’ eyes start to glaze over when I mention the idea of stepping inside one more beautiful church. True story. I was literally told – after four days traipsing all over Rome, upon arriving in Florence – that I was allowed to take them to one church that day. One. OH, THE PRESSURE. (Side note – did I tell you I studied Italian Renaissance art at uni? I did? Then you understand how difficult that ultimatum was.) But I give. They give. It’s a balance. And just as I’m not interested in (or able to afford) ziplining through the jungle or scuba diving reefs every day, one church it is.
4 | KEEP THEM FED
This seems simple. You’re a parent. You have always worried about providing well-balanced meals to help your children grow up healthy and strong. Don’t forget this on vacation. I’m serious. It’s easy to do. You get carried away with what to see, how to get there, what you are doing (having a great time of course because you have engaged your teens and kept them informed) that you forget to eat.
You are ok. You can handle it. Even if you feel a little famished, you don’t let it influence your perception of a place. But they do. Low blood sugar in hormonal teens is a very bad combination. Keep healthy snacks in the day pack to bridge gaps between meals. Everyone will be more receptive to that medieval castle’s display of gilt chalices that you are dying to get to. If they aren’t hungry. Don’t make your teen hangry. It’s not pretty.
5 | Work With Their BiorHythms
Make sure they get enough sleep. My teens are notorious night owls. And they definitely sleep in. I programmed them well. From the beginning. Or maybe it’s genetic. Who me? *Wink, wink. But sleepy teens are about as much fun as hangry teens. Again. This seems straightforward, but if your teens naturally sleep in, don’t plan to take the first tour across town. Resistance. Push back. Humphing. Nobody likes humphing. Let them sleep. Go get a coffee with your partner, pick up some healthy snacks. Come back and then start the day. Less humphing. Usually.
6 | Let them connect
Living in Copenhagen, my children all have phones. In Denmark, and Europe in general, children are afforded a greater independence and autonomy. My children make their way to school and activities on their own. I feel safer that they have a phone with them. With the phone comes social media applications. Kids want to connect. Let them. Not all the time while traveling. But give them some space and time to share their experiences with their friends.
When you are traveling together in close confines with the entire family jammed in a rental car or sharing a hotel room, that private space that teens crave can be lacking. Make sure your accommodations have wifi, or that you have a huge bank for data. Giving our teens some time each day to plug in and tune out or snap with friends seems to recharge everyone’s batteries.
7 | Use technology to enhance travels
For teens who can’t live without the tether of their technology, give them a task. Download site specific apps and put them in charge. Many cities have apps that make public transportation tolerable. Download before you go and let them help with train routes.
Encourage them to search for what interests them and guide you to it when in town. Do you have a sneaker-head in your house? Have him look up where the local shops are and save them in Google Maps. (You can download specific areas to use offline.) Then let him take you on a tour to find them. We saw parts of Paris that I have never seen this way. He felt empowered. We enjoyed the enthusiasm.
8 | Don’t ask for a selfie
But let them Snapchat away. They don’t want to associate with you – remember? This tip applies to photographing your teen anywhere in public in general. Nothing annoys my teens more than – hang on wait – let me get a picture of you guys! Wait, let those people leave, no, move over, stand this way, hang on, right…. THERE! In bodies that are changing and growing and taking up more space, being singled out and made to feel even more conspicuous as you attempt your perfect family Christmas card shot can feel like their seventh layer of hell. If you have a selfie taker and they are willing to take selfies with you – then, lucky you! If you don’t – don’t force it.
9 | Arm them with cultural information
Teens can feel massively conspicuous in their own skin. Bodies growing at exponential rates, voices changing, hormones raging. Taking them to a foreign country, or even to a different city or state, can make that feeling grow by a factor of ten. Helping them blend in by understanding some background about where you’re headed will help. Give them a few phrases in the local language. Yes. No. Please. Thank you. No thank you. Excuse me. Start there. Helping them respect the culture you’re visiting will make them feel more comfortable and open to experiencing.
10 | Respect their perspective
Your teens aren’t you. What? I know. Hard to believe. But get over it. They aren’t. They have opinions and feelings and approaches to life that you may not understand or even agree with always. I have to consider three very different approaches from my three very different kids. What is deemed a parental offense by one, may not bother the other. What one is willing to try, may mortify the other. Trying to be conscious of these differences is important. Challenging. But important.
Hilary is a blogger currently living in Southern California with her two teen boys. She has taken them across Europe and Asia and has learned her own ways to engage them when traveling.
We all know teens can be a fickle bunch, so how do I get my 14-year-old to go with the program when traveling? Of course, every teen is different, and it changes by the hour, but here are a few of the tricks up my sleeve. Empower them! Give them the guidebook and ask them to choose three ideas that specifically interest them, then make sure to actually do one of them. Teens love their phones, ask them to use Yelp or other Internet tools to locate a good restaurant in the area, find out when the train is leaving or look up other information related to the day’s agenda. Visit somewhere related to their current studies! It’s always fun to be able to say, “Hey! I’ve been there!” when they return to school. When all else fails, appeal to their childish nature… Good Luck!
Phoebe has been traveling the world since she was 10 days old. Since then she has lived in 9 countries and traveled to 65. She has been taking her children along traveling since they were young and her 17-year-old has now been to 32 countries and her 11-year-old to 26. They have spent time on four continents and currently live in the Côte D’Azur, France.
Travelling with teenagers can be lots of fun, honestly, you just have to have the right expectations and work around their rhythms whenever possible/practicable, while taking into account the rest of the family too of course.
Here are some of the things we do in our family to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Take a friend! Friends are so important to teens, way above family, that bringing along a friend if at all possible, changes everything (we do this a lot for day trips or weekend breaks).
Accept that the mobile phone will be omni-present and don’t fight it (too much!)
Try not to plan too much in any one day, allowing for down time in cafés with wifi, parks to lie in the sun etc.
Try not to have too many early starts – but when unavoidable accept that the teen will sleep on the tour bus/in the train and will not look out of the window marveling at the view but will therefore be on form for the actual visit/event later.
Allow independence, whether this means leaving the teen at the hotel/apartment for some time alone or letting them go to eat/shop without adults every so often.
Eat a lot! Teens are always hungry and get as grumpy as a toddler if not satiated. Accept that you can go to less “authentic” restaurants every now and then such as a burger chain, don’t get hung up on always having to eat local. After all eating MacDonalds on the Champs Elysée in Paris is an experience in itself even if it’s not one you’d ideally have!
Try and avoid queues – pay the extra for fast passes or research ahead of time the best way to avoid long lines as teens and waiting do not go well! Remember it’s their holiday too and hopefully it’ll be a great success.
Clare is a former travel writer for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph in England. Although her adventures may no longer include backpacking for six months in India, she believes strongly that traveling and culture with kids can be fun. Her two boys are just entering the teen zone, but Clare realizes the importance of engaging them from the beginning when talking travel.
My tip for travelling with teens is to get them as involved as possible with the planning so that they feel included when choosing where to go and what to do. Get them to do their own research about your destination and ask them to suggest places they’d love to visit – whether it’s a tourist attraction, a restaurant or a specific shop. When you’re there, let them take control by guiding you to their chosen sights and explaining what’s so special about it.
Downtime is really important to teens so always factor in enough time for them to flop in your hotel or appartment before heading off on another family activity. And finally, try not to get too wound up when they revert to stroppy teen mode when they’re tired or hungry!”
I hope this list helps and encourages you to take your teens traveling. Been there done that? Have other ideas to engage and interest kids in this age group? I’d love to hear. Please share in the comments below!
Know someone who is about to tread in this teenagedom territory? Tell them about these tips.
Fun underwater discovering Scuba with Blue Planet Dive Center | Dubrovnik Croatia
Come under the sea. The Adriatic Sea with my family and me as we discover Scuba Diving for the first time, all five of us together. What a perfect first experience for our two youngest. My husband and I have been certified for many years, it was kind of a requisite entry card to be part of my family at the time. My parents liked diving and took us many wonderful places in our young adulthood. I have wanted to share the mystery and amazement of the underwater world with my children for awhile. As lovers of snorkelling, they were ready and eager.