Denmark is compact enough to make travel convenient when you’re short on time, and the country’s mainland, Jutland, home to dramatic windswept landscapes, impressive geological formations and idyllic historical villages, is ideal for a road trip.
In striking contrast to the cosmopolitan city of Copenhagen and the islands surrounding it, Jutland offers visitors a chance to get to know a different side of Denmark. Shaped by weather, farming and fishing, the Danish mainland welcomes you with a certain old-fashioned hospitality, making the region a must-visit.Car hire copenhagen
Head west across the island of Zealand from Copenhagen, over the Great Belt Bridge to the island of Funen and across the small stretch of sea. Within a few hours, you’ll find yourself in the south of Jutland. At 1,300 years old, Ribe, situated on the south-west coast of Jutland, is the oldest town in Denmark.
The city’s medieval history is ever-present in the half-timber buildings and rich Viking heritage. Wander the cobbled streets of the oldest parts of Ribe, making a point to visit the cathedral, which towers 52 metres above the city.
On your journey from Copenhagen, a pleasant stop to break up the 3-hour trip is Odense. The enchanting city, famed for being the birthplace of famous fairy tale writer, Hans Christian Andersen, is still under the radar of most travellers.
Just a short distance from Ribe is the spectacular Wadden Sea National Park. Complete your first day of travels in Jutland by exploring the UNESCO World Heritage site, which is home to a unique array of life above and below the surface. More than 30 islands form the National Park and provide an important resting spot for migratory birds.
If you’re making a pilgrimage to the park, spring or autumn will give you the best chance of experiencing Denmark’s famous ‘black sun’, when tens of thousands of starlings take to the skies together, forming brilliant dark patterns.
Twice a day, every day, an astounding one billion cubic metres of water moves through the tidal flats, which are best explored by a mix of transport, from car to bike, while traversing the dunescapes by foot is recommended.
Make your way north through central Jutland to reach Limfjord. The body of water separates North Jutland from the Danish mainland and is blessed with picturesque natural landscapes consisting of small islands and sandy beaches. Explore impressive geological wonders on the fjord’s islands of Fur and Mors with the freedom of stopping where you please with a rental car.
With some of the world’s best oysters coming from Denmark, it’s worth joining a 2-hour oyster safari to learn more about some of the last remaining colonies of wild oysters.
Families will enjoy a stop at Legoland near Billund, just an hour into the journey from Ribe. Dedicated to the colourful bricks that have become a family favourite, the original Legoland park will be a hit with the kids.
Jump back in the car and drive 50 minutes west from Limfjord to the sand-swept landscapes of Thy National Park. Skirted by the North Sea, the national park is the wildest of those in Denmark. Twisted forests and unspoilt dunescapes are punctuated by seaside villages that have long held traditions shaped by the power of the North Sea.
Easily visited in a day, the rugged terrain of the park is full of hiking and bicycle trails perfect for exploring the windswept contours of the land. The oldest of the Danish national parks, Thy is full of authentic experiences a world away from the Scandinavian cities Denmark is so well known for.
A fishing trip with local fishermen will introduce you to the natural rhythms of the park, and you’ll see first-hand how they’ve come to thrive in a place shaped by wind and water. Essential stops in Thy National Park are Cold Hawaii and the fishing village Stenberg.
Your excursion through Jutland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Aarhus, halfway between Thy National Park and Copenhagen. Denmark’s second-largest city is emerging as competition for the capital, with more and more visitors drawn there to explore the Viking city.
Meander the beautiful pedestrianised streets of the Latin Quarter, visit Denmark’s largest church, see the city from above at ARoS Aarhus Art Museum and take a look at traditional Danish life at Den Gamle By. Taking the titles for European Capital of Culture and European Region of Gastronomy in 2017, Aarhus is full of possibilities and the perfect place to round off your Jutland road trip.