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Discover the Danish Riviera: Denmark's North Zealand Coast

Updated: 5 days ago

North Zealand, not to be confused with New Zealand, is the name given to Denmark's northern section of the island "Zealand". Within an hour of Copenhagen, North Zealand is rich with Danish history, charming thatched roof houses, waterfront vistas, restaurants, and several palaces and castles from Denmark's past. Earning the name of "Danish Riviera", relaxed time can easily be spent here as a day trip from Copenhagen or a long weekend full of fun.

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Driving along the North Zealand coast near Tisvildeleje
Driving along the North Zealand coast near Tisvildeleje

Wander Gardens at Frederiksborg Castle

Frederiksborg Castle sits mighty beside the town of Hillerød in Denmark, some 30 minutes south of North Zealand's ocean towns. Here you will find sprawling gardens, fountains and renaissance views.

Frederiksborg Castle Gardens in North Zealand, Denmark
Frederiksborg Castle Gardens in North Zealand, Denmark

There is also a boat ride you could take to and from the town, instead of parking in the primary parking lot near the castle entrance, and for a small fee would have been a lovely one mile ride on a less windy day.

A path winds visitors through ponds and hedgerows mazes, leading you along lengthy terraced grounds towards the castle's hidden cafe restaurant. With photo ops a-plenty, I was surprised not to see young couples bending the knee in proposals at every turn.

Dine in the Castle Garden's Restaurant at Cafe Havehuset

Nestled among the trees diners sit happily in the garden's hidden restaurant, Cafe Havehuset.

Smorsbrod offering in North Zealand, Denmark
Smorsbrod offering in North Zealand, Denmark

The menu is simple and includes options for 2 or 3 open face "smorsbrod" sandwiches, which you choose from a set list.

For about $20 a glass of wine or beer is included, and save room for cake or pastries for dessert.

Counter service, you must go inside the thatched house that looks like Snow White may have lived in, and English is readily spoken.

Stroll an Open Air Museum in Lyngby

Like stepping back into the past, this museum was more of a nature park. Visitors walk along pebbled pathways and can see the homes, farms, gardens and barns of those who once lived there hundreds of years ago.

I greatly enjoyed the memorabilia from each family home, alongside the stunning painted walls and ceilings, and tiny beds they had to squeeze in. It felt like you were walking into town as barns and farm lands turned into a small village with timbered homes and more modern conveniences.

There were windmills, a horse and carriage ride (not in operation the day we went), and some lovely spots for children to have a bit of play time. All in all it was a wonderful few hours in the country.

Set Sail in Helsingor

Whether you are just visiting the infamous Kronborg Castle or you've got an itch to see Sweden, take the fast ForSea ferry to or from Helsingborg, Sweden while you're so close. A 20 minute ride is just enough time onboard to grab a signature hot dog covered in fried onions and enjoy views of Hamlet's Castle.

Classic hot dog in North Zealand, Denmark
Classic hot dog in North Zealand, Denmark

Make it a round trip and just enjoy some drinks or, as time permits, I suggest adding a night in Sweden to visit the IKEA Hotel and Museum before circling back to Copenhagen by way of the Øresund Bridge.

The ForSea ferry from Sweden to North Zealand, Denmark
The ForSea ferry from Sweden to North Zealand, Denmark

Spend The Night On The North Zealand Coast

With so much nature to explore, spending the night is a great way to see all of the small villages and things to do in the North Zealand area. Some of the popular towns to see include:


The town of Gilleleje could be walked end to end in minutes, but within you can find boutiques, fish shops and restaurants, all with a magnificent view of the ocean.

What To Do

  • Take a walk along the waterfront

  • Stroll the town shops and boutique

  • Walk along the beach

  • Go for a bike ride

Where To Eat

We enjoyed "Far Til 4", a beautiful red-checkered tablecloth restaurant overlooking the ocean. With a nautical theme, they also pride themselves in being a family restaurant with affordable prices. The portions were large and absolutely delicious.

^ Far Til 4 has a killer view, great food and cozy vibes

Another popular spot in town, Adamsen's Fisk doles out fish market fare on picnic tables overlooking the marina and harbor.

Where To Stay

Gilleleje is a great choice for a two or three nights in North Zealand. With a walkable town full of shop and restaurants and a very convenient large grocery store along the main road, visitors can happily set up for a weekend of cooking al fresco, walking to the beach, or simply enjoying the seaside.

These properties in Gilleleje are oozing with charm:

This thatched roof home sleeps 2 and is a quintessentially decorated place to set roots for your time in Gileleje.

Sea views in North Zealand, Denmark
Sea views in North Zealand, Denmark

Enjoy everything on foot or on a pleasant bike ride from this adorable thatched home walking distance to town.

This modern rustic cottage sleeps 4 and is begging for overnight guests to whip up a backyard dinner.

Or, if you want something more contemporary and modern, this all white interior home screams of class and drips in luxury just 250 feet from the beach. Make a backyard feast and enjoy the typical black exterior painted home, common of the area to absorb the sun's warmth in the cold winter months.


What summer beach towns are made of, Hornbaek has all the vibes for a night or two on the coast.

What To Do

  • Hit the beach

  • Surf or wind surf

  • Explore the town shops and marina

Where To Eat

Ask any local in the warm summer months and they'll point you to the food truck park at Det Fedtede Hjørne. With live music, half a dozen food stalls to choose from, and all the laid back summer vibes you need - this is definitely something to add to your list.

Where To Stay

This simple but super cute apartment overlooks the ocean. For a very affordable price, enjoy a small balcony and easy access to town.

This mammoth cottage sleeps 8 and has a great patio for grilling or hanging out with friends, just steps from the food truck park and the center of everything.


What To Do

Like all places along the North Zealand coast, this area offers stunning seaside strolls and vistas, and a place to relax away from the chaos of the bigger cities. The big draw for me, I think, is the FOOD!

Where To Eat

  • Stop for an afternoon pastry and coffee at Brod & Vin Cafe

  • Kongernes for an upmarket meal in cozy environs

  • Strandkiosken Tisvilde for beachside drinks and snacks

  • Il Terrazzo Heatherhill for pizza and drinks at a park near the beach (pro tip: take your wine and pizza to the beach for a picnic!)

Where To Stay

Sleeping 6, this clean and quaint home is a great home base for your North Zealand stay.

This simply furnished home features vibes of a log cabin interior and a large deck overlooking the ocean and sleeps 6.


Connecting the north eastern part of the North Zealand coast to the western half, Hundested's harbor town is best visited for an afternoon at the brew pub, a stop for some ice cream, or for watching the fishing boats come in at the harbor.

What To Do

  • Take the ferry to Rorvig, another quaint town for kid's to net some crabs at the docks or to connect to lighthouses and other coastal pursuits

  • Walk the harbor

Where To Eat

Halsnæs Bryghus is a brewery and gastropub well situated along the waterfron in Hundested. It offers a great place to enjoy some local cuisine or live music, and a good opportunity to grab a pint before the ferry ride to Rorvig.

Where To Stay

Cozy and warm, this charmer of a rental sleeps 5 and is an excellent option for a family with children.

This affordable summer house with room for 7 people offers a lovely sun room, large open floor plan kitchen, a wood burning stove and all the space you need to relax on the North Zealand coast.

No Car? No Problem

Take this pre-packaged tour from Copenhagen. For less than $200 per person, spend 5 hours exploring the castles and countryside of North Zealand on a private tour.

Spending A Day Or Two in North Zealand Is Worth It!

Spend a day or spend a week - with the slow pace of seaside life in the northern coast of Denmark's Zealand island, visitors are sure to find something to love. Learn more at Visit North Sealand's official tourism website.