I love a Cinderella story. I like to cheer for the underdog. And while I live in the big, modern Danish capital and really do love it, I often seek out the simple. The slow. The little and quaint. For a bit. For the balance. And Denmark can do that. Charm you and court you with lots of little tiny town choices. What does it take to be the most darling Danish town? It depends.
A Danish village comes complete with cobblestone promenades and half-timbered houses. Colorful facades and maybe a fancy castle. Some sit near farms that are plum full of fresh produce. For me, it’s perfection if they are situated near water. But you if you’ve been reading along, you know that. So let’s take a look. These are the best. Don’t ask my teen, for he may disagree. But these are the towns that do it for me.
Let’s start on the west side of the country and work our way east towards the capital. I’m jumping to Jutland.
JYLLAND | JUTLAND
Gem of Djursland, Ebeltoft sits on the west side of Jutland. Chock full of cobblestoned charm, little Ebeltoft is the perfect gateway to explore nearby Mols Bjerg National Park which lays claim to the highest hill in Denmark. That’s saying a lot around here. Half-timbered houses and purveyors of ice cream will surely make you happy after you’ve been swimming in summer.
- Put on your hiking shoes and make your way to Mols Bjerg National Park.
- Check out the ancient castle ruins in nearby Rønde; Kalo Slotsruin.
Lovely little Løkken sits on the northwest coast of Denmark. It is rugged and windswept with wide sand beaches. But don’t worry, this adorable wee village sits snug and calm behind the dunes with coffee shops and cafés and candy to create.
- Learn to surf at North Shore Surf or just sit in the sun at their seaside cafe.
- Climb to the top of the abandoned Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse and then run down the dune.
- Make your own candy at Bolcheriet.
Sitting at the very tippy top of Denmark is Skagen. But don’t say SKA-gen. It’s more like Skā-en, minus the g. However you say it, you’re sure to be swayed by the beautiful light and little yellow houses. This fishing village is famous for its painters and you can see why. It’s beautiful here. See where the North Sea and the Baltic combine.
- Take the Sandormen, the “Sandworm” tractor ride out to where the Baltic and the North Sea meet.
- Climb up inside the Tilsandede Kirke, the (not-so) sand covered church.
- See the Danish masters and meet their fisherman muses at the Skagen Museum.
- Play in the surf at Gamle Skagen.
FUNEN | FYN
Find your way to Funen, the oft-overlooked island that sits in the middle of Denmark. While Fyn may be tired of her big sister Marsha, er I mean Copenhagen, she has plenty to offer. With fields full of rye and poppies and fewer people, you’ll find wide open spaces here to explore. We love quaint Kerteminde right on the water. It is a perfect base to explore the area and try the produce.
- Find your way to Fyns Hoved and smell the sea air with views over the Odense Fjord.
- Meet the sea creatures and seals at the Fjord & Bælt Museum.
- Fish for Seatrout in the early summer as the pass close to shore.
- Buy fresh produce from a farm stand. Pick apples in fall.
- Explore a Viking ship burial in nearby Ladby.
SJÆLLAND | ZEALAND
Dragør was my first and definitely still my favorite darling little Danish village. Don’t you know about Dragør? You might want to drop everything and drive right on over. It’s adorable and so close to Copenhagen.
- Wander through the old town and out to the harbor.
- Share yummy brunch with your family at Fru Munk.
- Take a dip in the warm Øresund with views out to Sweden.
Take the regional train from Copenhagen or the ferry from Sweden and head up to Helsingør. Here you will find Hamlet. Or his castle that is. So say the Danes. Kronborg Castle sits on the water majestic and magical. Time your visit in summer and see Shakespeare come alive with actors and action. Plenty of places to pause for a bite along the old town squares.
- Looking for the ghost of Hamlet at Kronberg Castle.
- Finding Holger Dansk waiting to be woken in the basement.
- Sail into the Maritime Museum.
Here in Hillerød, you will find the fabulous Fredericksborg Castle. This is different than the Frederiksberg Slot in the Frederiksberg neighborhood of Copenhagen. Believe me, you aren’t the first to be confused. Take the Line B on the S-togs to the terminus in Hillerød. Trek towards the cute town and out to the castle.
- Get your regal glamour on at the fab Fredericksborg Castle and National History Museum inside.
I don’t need to toot too loud my love for Hornbæk, pearl of the Danish Riviera. With wide swaths of beach and forested trails, it pleases many. Add in fresh fish markets, antiques to peruse, boutiques to shop, cozy coffee shops for hygge and Hornbæk ticks all the boxes for most darling Danish town.
- Wade in the water and wiggle your toes in the wide golden sand at Hornbæk Strand.
- Linger along the lush green paths that lead through the trees in the Hornbæk Plantage.
- Take a hygge break at Albi’s Kaffebar and Second Hand Shop in town.
Roskilde rocks even when the world famous music festival isn’t on. This city has ancient roots with both Vikings and Royals. And it really is darn right cute to boot. Run, don’t walk, but I’ll allow you to rock right on over to Roskilde.
- View Viking vessels dredged up from the nearby Roskilde Fjord at the well done Viking Ship Museum.
- Visit the stunning Roskilde Church and feel the spirit of the Danish royals buried therein.
- Rock out at Ragnarok, not the Viking apocalypse, but the museum dedicated to the music and culture that dominates the Roskilde Festival.
10. SJÆLLANDS ODDE
Most people drive right through here on their way to the ferry, but they would be amiss. Stop. Slow down and please try the fish. Odde’s not odd, but super quite delightful. Fishing boats and fish shacks add color and charm.
- Toodle around Odde Havn, the harbor.
- Wait with the locals for delicious smoked fish at Odden Fisk.
Did I do it? Did I tempt you? Do you know of these towns? Did I miss one? Do tell me. Here’s what left on my little town Denmark wish list:
UP NEXT: Svaneke and Gudhjem on the island of Bornholm.
WISH LIST: Ribe and Fanø