Despite Sarah Lund and her Viking forebears’ best efforts to prove otherwise, Danes are generally a friendly bunch, and that warm welcome most certainly extends to children.
From Legoland to Tivoli, the country is packed with child-friendly activities, although they aren’t just to be found in theme parks. From Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid to the UNESCO listed Royal Jelling Viking monument, and the gloriously wide white beaches of Jutland, the weather might not be much to write home about but there’s lots to love in Denmark.
The capital, Copenhagen, is the first stop for most visitors, and here families will find plenty to keep them busy. Start with the quaint district of Nyhavn; where bright rainbow-coloured homes clash prettily with the equally colourful boats in the harbour below. Children’s writer Hans Christian Andersen lived at 20 Nyhaven and wrote his first fairy tales there in 1835. Down the road is Edvard Eriksen’s bronze statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid that looks out over the harbour.
The lovely walk along the Langelinie Marina to the statue is worth the trip by itself and takes you past the magnificent Gefion Fountain.
Away from the harbourside, head to the world’s longest pedestrian street, Strøget, for lunch and a spot of retail therapy. Starting at Rådhuspladsen, it ends in the pretty Kongens Nytorv – home to the Charlottenborg Palace and the Royal Danish Theatre.
If all that sounds too much for your brood, a tour of the Tivoli Gardens are a alternative. With a enchanting combination of fairground rides and pretty pleasure gardens, Tivoli is great for a relaxed walk and a rollercoaster ride or two during the day – but is best at night when it’s lit up by miles of twinkling fairy lights.
After the capital, the next stop for most families is Legoland in the new city of Billund, where you’ll find all the sights of the capital replicated in Lego. Along with the mini Copenhagen, Legoland has rides galore, a 4D cinema and a Duplo section for smaller children.
Top tip: For those who want to stay onsite, there is also a Lego hotel, which recently had a pirate-themed makeover. Billund, and Legoland, is also a good base for exploring the gorgeous surrounding area, which includes the UNESCO listed heritage site, Royal Jelling. Raised by the Viking king Gorm the Old and completed by his son, Harald Bluetooth, it is more than 1,000 years old and marks the point when Christianity came to Denmark.
Don’t miss: The nearby town of Veije is also not to be missed, while the Billund area is also known for its beaches, including the vast golden Grene Sand. The North Sea waters aren’t the warmest but there’s plenty of space for building sandcastles. Further south, there’s more Viking fun to be had in Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark.
With over 1000 years of history, it boasts a recreated Long House, complete with Viking artefacts and food to sample. Round off your Viking adventure with a short voyage on a replica Viking ship along the North Sea beaches from Ribe to the tiny Wadden Sea Island of Mandø. The route takes you past huge banks of sand still rich in wildlife and little changed since the days of Gorm and Harald. Boys in particular won’t ever want to leave.
Travel time: 1 hour and 50 minutes flight time.