These tiny Danish towns are chock full of charm.
EXPERIENCE AUTHENTIC DENMARK IN ONE OF THESE LIKEABLE VILLAGES
Come to Denmark, she said. But expand your Danish experience outside the capital Copenhagen. Try a slice of little village life in one of these idyllic spots across the country. It can feel like a step back in time to wander the medieval centers filled with cobblestoned charm. This is my second list of darling Danish towns – adding ANOTHER 10 places to put in your planning when visiting Scandinavia.
Want to see the first? Read it right here. But don’t think those are better and these towns second-tier. To be honest, it’s just the order in which we had the opportunity to visit. With twenty little adorable Danish villages to choose from – where do you start? Maybe by region.
I’ve included a map for this list, as I’ve done in the first post – the 10 Most Darling Danish Towns You Don’t Want To Miss. Have you been? Did I miss your Dansk favorite? Share it in the comments. But for now – let’s get started. We’re beginning on the west coast and working our way towards Denmark’s farthest point east. Each little spot has a special old-world appeal, take a look. You’ll see. Come to Denmark, she said.
Note: This post contains affiliate links, read my full disclosure here.
JYLLAND | JUTLAND
1 | Ribe
As the oldest town in Denmark, Ribe has some serious Danish roots and makes a pretty good place to start this specifc list. Archaeologists, historians, and scientists all concur that this town was the trading (and raiding?) base for the Vikings as far back as the 800s. In its heyday, Ribe was Denmark’s early medieval center.
Now? It’s a cute cobble of streets and little colorful slanty houses. Pay to climb the tower and gawk at the views from the top of the Ribe Domkirke (Cathedral). If the weather permits, you can spy out to the Wadden Sea National Park, one of Denmark’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Little Ribe is a perfect spot to explore your Viking heritage and soak up the surrounding natural scenery.
- Scale the stairs to the top of the Ribe Domkirke (Cathedral) for 360° views.
- Discover the town’s Viking heritage at the Ribe Vikingcenter.
- Explore the Wadden Sea National Park and take an Oyster Safari or Bird watching tour from the Wadden Sea Center.
WHERE TO STAY IN RIBE:
- Danhostel Ribe – family-friendly hostel accommodations just outside of town.
- Den Gamle Købmandsgård Bed & Breakfast – vintage stay right in old town.
- Hotel Dagmar – perfectly situated in a 16th-century building facing the cathedral.
RELATED: SO YOU WANT TO BE A VIKING?
2 | Nordby on Island of Fanø
Moving a bit north up Denmark’s west coast are two more island gems on the fantastisk island of Fanø. That’s Danish for fantastic. Take the short 12-minute ferry from the industrial port of Esbjerg to the idyllic little port town of Nordby. But don’t call it “nord-bee” – it’s more like “nor-bu” in Danish. Plan time to poke around the charming and cobblestoned pedestrian-only center. Lots of shops to meander proffering wares from local artisans and makers.
Fanø has a remarkable and unique culture as the Danish home of explorers and sailors. Look in windows for the iconic Faience ceramic dogs strategically placed to notify lovers if their captains were home.
- Dive into the island’s unique maritime history in an old skipper’s house, now Fanø Museum.
- Devour a delicious lunch in the cozy garden at Haven Fanø.
- Indulge your seasonal sweet tooth al fresco at the popular Pankagehuset Fanø.
- Sip the tasty craft beer at Fanø Bryghus.
- Bring your own or rent bikes to ride right on the sand under enormous floating kites.
WHERE TO STAY IN NORDBY
- Haven Fanø – an adorable 3-room inn with a cozy garden café in the historic old center.
3 | Sønderho on Island of Fanø
Sønderho is Nordby’s southern island sister and even quieter and quainter than the Fanø ferry port town. On this side of the island every thatched-roof house is cuter than the next. For a slightly more luxe but classic Danish experience, book a room or even just lunch at the Sønderho Kro – a well-regarded inn. Step inside the preserved Sønderho windmill to see how flour was ground back in the day. Or learn about sea-faring rescue missions by those who paddled out to sea at the little local lifeboat museum.
- Step inside the historic Sønderho windmill to see how local grain was made into flour.
- Marvel at the bravery of the rescuers at the Gamle Redningsstation (Lifeboat Museum).
- Cool off with smoothies, iced coffees, or ice cream from the littlest café on the island – Tre Søstres. (Three Sisters.)
- Sample the smørrebrød and hygge at the iconic Sønderho Kro.
WHERE TO STAY IN SØNDERHO:
- Sønderho Kro – a classic Danish inn full of low-timbered ceilings and tiled walls.
FUNEN | FYN
4 | Ærøskobing on Island of Ærø
In the south Fyn archipelago sits the uber-cute island of Ærø. So cute in fact, it sets a record for hosting the most weddings and marriages. For visitors from all over Europe. You can find t-shirts, prints, and cards that state “I got married on Ærø.” As you can imagine, this little island is flooded come summer. But visit off-peak and you can still reap the charms of the cobblestoned streets of the main village Ærøskobing.
Take the ferry from Svendborg (which has its own appeal) and just wander the lanes of this half-timbered house haven. Warm up with coffee and varme chokolade while you peruse the local products and wares in Den Gamle Købmandsgaard on the town’s main square. Imagine this cuteness all decked out for Christmas.
- Delicious lunch and local goods at Den Gamle Købmandsgaard.
- Taste the whisky at the Ærø Whisky Distillery, conveniently next door.
- Embrace the Christmas season at a Julemarked come late November and December.
WHERE TO STAY IN ÆRØSKOBING
- Hotel på Torvet – old school class right on the main village square.
- Arnfeldt Hotel – pretty upscale rooms with views of the harbor.
SJÆLLAND | ZEALAND
5 | Gilleleje
Moving east across Denmark to the Region Sjælland. When in Zealand, get thee to Gilleleje. A pretty little harbor town that sits along the northern coast. Just an hour or so by car or train from the capital Copenhagen. It’s doable as a day trip but better for a weekend. With a blue flag-rated beach, it’s popular come warmer weather.
Seafood lovers have a myriad of choices to enjoy fresh catches with views of the harbor. I can almost smell the smoked fish. Or take yours away to enjoy a picnic at the beach. Cozy picnic tables in the dunes tucked above the sand. It’s one of my favorites.
- Eat some fresh seafood with views of the harbor.
- Swim in the sea at the safe and clean blue flag beach.
WHERE TO STAY IN OR NEAR Gilleleje
- Hotel Gilleleje Strand – classic beach hotel near the harbor and beach
- Gilleleje Bådhotel – elegant cliff-top hotel with spa and restaurant
6 | Tisvildeleje
Tisvildeleje is a sort of sister village to Gilleleje – dotting the coast nearby. You could do a tour of Denmark’s Riviera and throw in a stop at Rågelej Strand for a lovely day out. Tisvildeleje has another amazing blue flag beach – celebrated by swimmers and dippers all year round. Windy days bring kite surfers to the cool Kattegat waters offshore.
Cute shops in the town invite perusing and cafes offer coffee, kage (cake), pølsers (hotdogs), is (ice cream), and more. A little posher than other spots on this coast. There’s a reason it’s known as the Whisky Belt up here.
- Classic Danish cuisine at the Tisvilde Kro
- A giant cone of softis with sprinkles from the Strandkiosken
- Meandering the green space paths of the Tisvilde Hegn nature preserve
WHERE TO STAY IN TISVILDELEJE
- Danhostel Tisvildeleje – family-friendly cabins and hostel with fire pit
- Helenekilde Bådhotel – serene upscale hotel with renowned dining and views of the sea
- Tisvildeleje Strandhotel – classy accommodations in a historic house, closest to the beach
7 | Nysted on Island of Lolland
This time, we’re headed south of the Danish capital to Denmark’s 4th largest island. Nysted is a pretty fishing town on the island of Lolland. Lucky for you – no ferry is required to reach here. Unless you’re coming from Langeland in the west – then drive aboard and float across. But it’s easy to get to Nysted from Copenhagen. From here you can explore all the hidden gems of Lolland. Or embark from these docks on a seasonal seal safari. But not before lunch or giant ice cream right on the water.
- Enjoy the fresh seafood at renowned Restaurant Ö (which means island.)
- Take a seal safari to meet the local colony – in warmer seasons.
- Top your softis with guf and a flødeboller – as the Danes do.
- Bring along some cash to pick up local produce at honesty stands along the route.
WHERE TO STAY IN NYSTED
- Hotel Nysted Havn – perfect base right on the harbor before or after your seal safari.
READ MORE: DISCOVER THE HIDDEN GEMS OF LOLLAND
8 | Stege on Island of Møn
The Danish island of Møn is well known in the region for walking paths atop dramatic white chalk cliffs. And visit them at Møns Klint – you should. But pop through cute little Stege before or after you do. Especially lovely frocked and twinkly for Jul. Delicious craft beer and good eats at the cozy Den Gamle Bryghus, tucked back a little alley in the old city.
- Good eats and craft beer in a unique old courtyard at Den Gamle Bryghus.
- Walking the paths down to the rocky beach for views of Møns Klint cliffs.
- Go bird-watching at the nearby Nyord Bird Reserve.
WHERE TO STAY IN NYSTED
- Hotel Residence Møen – right in Stege town and 12 miles from the cliffs.
ISLAND OF BORNHOLM
9 | Gudhjem
Gudhjem translates to God’s home. Whatever your religion, this little village on Denmark’s easternmost island of Bornholm is one of the cutest. Take a ferry from Sweden (yes Sweden) to spend a few days in idyllic Bornholm. It’s Denmark in a nutshell. A tasty, beautiful nutshell. If you like fish. There’s a saying in the smokehouse here in Gudhjem that – “Fiske skal svømme!” Fish must swim – wash yours down with a toast of local Bornholmer akvavit of course. Not a fan of smoked seafood? You can take on Gudhjem Is’ monstrous special – a tower of soft serve and hard scoops with toppings, sprinkles, and cream buns – called flødeboller upside down on the top.
- Try the island’s iconic dish named after this town – Sol over Gudhjem – smoked fish with raw egg – at the Gudhjem Røgeri.
- Attempt to eat a monstrous tower of softis, hard scoop ice cream topped with Danish flødebøller from Gudhjem Special.
- Take the ferry to petite Christiansø island offshore, famous for herring.
WHERE TO STAY IN GUDHJEM
- Melsted Bådhotel – a lovely hotel on the water outside town that offers free bikes and a garden.
10 | Svaneke
The village of Svaneke also sits on gorgeous Bornholm, a bit bigger than Gudhjem, but more shopping to be found. Especially in the old town just off the pretty main harbor. Of course, there is a røgeri or smokehouse here as well. Or enjoy delicious fish and chips while procuring your special marinated herrings from Christiansøpigens little harbor spot.
- Grab a bag of fresh fish and chips (and even the marinated herring) from Christiansøpigens Sild with views of the unique rocky waterfront.
- Smoked fish lovers should plan lunch at the Svaneke Røgeri with its iconic white smokestacks and traditional preparations.
- Enjoy ice cream in the cute garden of Bornholm’s Ismejeri.
- In the summer, make your own slikkepind (lollipop) at the famous candy shop Bolcheriet.
WHERE TO STAY IN SVANEKE
- Hotel Siemsens Gaard – set in a 17th-century merchant’s farm right on the Svaneke harbor with a gorgeous center garden teeming with roses come summer. Open 1 April to 31 October.
Are hotels not your cup of tea? Prefer to soak up Danish village life in a holiday home? Read more here about finding your own hygge in a decidedly Danish summer house.
READ MORE: SUMMER HOUSE HYGGE
RELATED: DANISH SUMMER HOUSE RULES
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