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4 Charming Things to Do in North Zealand Near Copenhagen, Denmark

Updated: 7 hours ago

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1) Spend the Night on the North Zealand Coast

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.

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

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

If you go:

AirBnB's are plentiful in this region. Check out the town of Gilleleje.

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

2) Wander Gardens at Frederiksborg Castle

Not quite in the country, Frederiksborg Castle sits mighty beside the town of Hillerød in Denmark, some 30 minutes south of the ocean towns. Here you will find sprawling gardens, fountains and renaissance views.

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

There was 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.

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

Dine in a Fairytale 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.

3) 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.

4) 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

Honorable Mentions

Although we barely began to discover all that North Zealand offers in this Danish dreamland, we found that the beauty its shorelines held were well worth a return. I recommend anyone visiting Copenhagen add a few days to their itinerary to see the real Denmark and it's seaside charms.

Hornbaek - stop at the food trucks if they're open

Tisvildeleje - stop for an afternoon pastry and coffee at Brod & Vin Cafe

Strandkiosken Tisvilde - beachside drinks and snacks

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

Hundested - stop at the brewpub or take the ferry to another cute seaside town called Rorvig

Adamsen's Fisk, Gilleleje

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