Day Out in Denmark | Get to Know Little Gilleleje on the Danish Riviera

Head to the gorgeous Danish coast of North Zealand 

Get thee to Gilleleje, a sweet little Danish fishing village an hour’s drive north of the capital Copenhagen. Or take the train to experience a little slice of summer life along the Danish Riviera. Pack the swimsuits and towels and a healthy appetite.

With a safe and clean Blue Flag awarded beach nearby, it’s time to swim in the cool waters of the Kattegat offshore. Then find your fill of fresh seafood plucked daily from the cute harbor full of fishing boats with names like Mette and Thor. It was from right here in this quiet harbor, on vessels similar to the ones you see today, that the last group of Danish Jews was shepherded to Sweden and safety during WWII. Now a calm and cozy spot to get out of the city, come see what cute little Gilleleje has got going on.


Gilleleje sits at the northernmost point of Zealand. Here you’ll find one of over 200 Danish Blue Flag awarded beaches. Having passed a demanding set of criteria, Blue Flag Beaches are some of the best in Denmark. Here you can rest assured that you’re swimming in clean water, with environmental protections for the beach. Information about the area, first aid facilities and systems for visitors to remove waste or recycle all help keep your troops healthy and safe at a Blue Flag beach.

The Veststrand beach in Gilleleje will sport lifeguards on duty during the weeks when Danish schools are on summer break. This summer, that will be from 24 June to the 11th of July. Look for the pretty light blue lifeguard stand to get daily posted updates on water temperature, quality, and wind speed from their placards on the beach. Swim between the flags to keep your littles secure. 

Blue Flag beaches are also famous for offering educational opportunities for environmental stewardship. Sounds a bit too heady? When school’s out of session? Your littles won’t realize when they get to pet a plaice or carefully pluck a crab from the sea during one of the organized learning sessions onshore. Want to know what’s on before you head out? Check the Danish Blue Flag website here. In the drop-down menu, search from the Hovedstaden region and Gribskov kommune for what’s on when in Gilleleje.

Come and catch the small animals and seaweed on the shallow water. There are crabs, snails, shrimp, seaweed, small fish, seaweed, and other things that can easily be caught with racket nets and shrimp hooves. Build your own crab catcher, try a few waders or look at life in the shallow water through binoculars.” –

Gilleleje Veststrand
Fejlbergsvej 10, 3250 Gilleleje Denmark
Lifeguards for the summer season between 24 June and 11 August 2020

Gilleleje Veststrand Blue Flag Beach
“Thanks for today, leave only your footprints in the sand.”


For those who would rather paddleboard than do a dip in the sea, Gilleleje Surf offers SUP rentals all year long. Pick up a board, paddle, and even wetsuit and water shoes. Prices for SUPs for two hours at 200 DKK or the whole day for 300 DKK. Make arrangements via their website


On the best days in Gilleleje coming soon in midsummer, temps up here average 20-22°C (68-72°F) with water temperatures about the same. With 17 hours of daylight in summer months, there is plenty of time to enjoy the sunny Scandinavian season. 

Pack your own or pick up some takeaway to enjoy at the picnic tables just beyond the beach

One of my favorite parts of coming to Gilleleje is for tasting fresh fish. Right along the little harbor, you’ll find several seafood purveyors. Don’t miss the smoked fish. A røgeriet is a Danish smokehouse and they sprinkle Denmark’s coast. For me, it’s not a day out to the Danish shore if you didn’t get smoked fish. Or pick up a plate of peel and eat shrimp. For an easier entry into the local cuisine, try the fried flatfish with plenty of fries on the side. For those who don’t prefer seafood, there are Danish hotdogs and burgers for you. Or you can always find a classisk summer treat – cold, creamy soft serve, or softis in a waffle cone or a cup. We like to pick up fresh fish as we head out of town to take a little taste of the sea back home for dinner.

Adamsen’s Fisk
Havnen 2, 3250 Gilleleje Denmark

Fiskernes Deli
Kanalvejen 13e, 3250 Gilleleje Denmark

Fiskehuset Gilleleje
Havnen 4, 3250 Gilleleje

Fiskehuset Gilleleje | Delicious smoked fish

Fish fillet plus peel and eat shrimp


Pick up one of the funny little “pig trains,” or grisen from Hillerød to Gilleleje. Look up the Gribskovsbanen Local train 950R to find the schedule.  You can take an A-line S-tog from Copenhagen to Hillerød. It should take about an hour and fifteen minutes by train. No seat reservations are required for the local trains up north, but there are still recommendations to safely keep distance. 

“Grisen,” or the pig as the local trains are called up north.

While there are many lovely spots to explore across the Danish Riviera region, don’t miss a day out in darling little Gilleleje. For those looking for a more in-depth read about the town’s part in WW2 escape of Danish Jews, read here

Or spend a few days up north and pop from village to village. Nearby Hornbæk holds its own charms. Book a summerhouse and experience the bliss of a slow Danish summer life.


Can’t come to Denmark right now? Save it for later and pin the post now. Cheers from here. 

4 thoughts on “Day Out in Denmark | Get to Know Little Gilleleje on the Danish Riviera

  1. Jens

    Another option to get to Gilleleje is by regional train on the coast line to Helsingør and then the local train 940R to Gilleleje. Also a pig 🙂

    The term “pig” for the private railroads probably originates from the 1920s where the first motor cars were built more or less like passenger coaches with an engine and radiator extending from the front like a snout. The resemblance to a pig is (imo) striking and the term has simply stuck through the years.

    At the north coast you’ll find more small towns with the name ending in -leje, such as Rågeleje, Liseleje and Tisvildeleje. The term originally means berth … for the fishing boats.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      So very cool Jens – thanks so much for sharing. I had heard that the squealing breaks of the train trains also helped with the name of “grisen.” I’m working up more posts about the rest of the Nordsjælland coast – thank you for the tip on the town names. Cheers.

      1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

        Love the link for the historic trains – they really did resemble pigs on wheels!

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