Fairy tale villages, castles and manors, and traffic-free biking across moors and bucolic farm lands on bike-only "interstates". Island hop on Baltic ferries, crowd into jovial fishermens' pubs for an evening game of pool... stops in Denmark's two biggest cities round out a magical week.
Day 1: Welcome. Yåwn. We meet in Odense (if you are coming from the south, you will arrive via a night train). The city, capital of the island of Fyn, is beautiful, and we shall return to prove it. But there is no time now. Outfit your cycle and head for the (lack of) hills! Our first day familiarizes us with Denmark’s interstate system of bike paths, which we will continue to use all week (pay attention, there’ll be a quiz...). Off the island (confirmed riders can do this by bike, others will prefer a short train trip), and to the continent, which we reach at Fredericia. Built as a fortress, her grass-planted earthen ramparts date from 1650. The grass idea was that approaching armies would not even know there was a town there. But we figured it out! There’s this huge railroad station, see, and we knew there had to be a reason.
Cycle along the Vejlefjord (yes, a fjord) to the town for which it was named. Then up the Grejsdalen (yes, a gorge) to Jelling, emblematic of ancient Denmark. Gorm the Elder and Harald Bluetooth federated the Norse kingdom and buried a lot of stuff here, including the Queen, under huge piles of dirt. Runic stones abound, Wends maraud, and the whole business is somehow linked to early Christianity, at least if you believe Christ was a Viking. (40-135km)
Day 2: A great day on Interstate 3. Interstate bike path, that is. We head north across moors and farmlands, detouring through towns from time to time to shoot a game of pool and enjoy a Carlsberg.... Wildflowers fill the fields, herons perch in marshes, and our athletic ride ends on a beautiful forest bike path laid out along an old railroad grade. Lively Silkeborg is at the center of one of Denmark’s prettiest regions, the Lake District. (60-70km)
Day 3: Lake shores and country lanes are today’s fare, through charming villages of thatch-roofed houses. Århus, our destination is an important port (Denmark’s second city) and the location of the royal family’s summer “cottage.” You won’t be able to visit, since they’ll be in residence at this season, so content yourself with the charming “Old City,” the longest cathedral in Denmark, a Viking museum, and an entire reconstructed 18th century town in the middle of a city park. (40-70km)
Day 4: Today we leave continental Europe, and return to the island of Fyn, where we first met. The bridge crossing is pretty impressive, if the wind doesn't blow you off. Actually, it is even more impressive if it does. Across Fyn, past manor houses and farms, and to Odense. Odense was the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. Visit his home, or any of the many post card stands erected in his memory. The evening is more fun: spend it exploring the plethoric and animated cafés and bars in the town center, where the Danes work to earn their reputation as the latins of Scandinavia. (60-90km)
Day 5: Today we cross half the other half of Fyn, to the south coast and the Baltic Sea. Stop in Egeskov, whose castle was an inspiration for Victorian adventure (Prisoner of Zenda), and whose gardens take their inspiration from Versailles. Then continue to the port of Svendborg an age-old fishing and commercial port, which boasts excellent seafood restaurants, and more bars (and billiards tables) than full-time residents. Something to do with the sailors, we guess. (60km)
Day 6: A morning ferry escorted by sea gulls brings us to Æroskobing, a most delightful place. Mispronounce all of those øs, æs, and ås. Wander in streets of lilliputian houses and poke your nose into charming shops. It is easy to see where Andersen got the inspiration for his fairy tales... Then set off on your cycle around the island. Beaches, craggy coastline, a ship museum at Marstal, mini-golf.... Everything else here is mini, why not golf? Back to the mainland at the end of the day. Are those the same sea gulls? (60km)
Day 7: More island biking, but there can never be too much. Today we travel along the eastern coast of Fyn, past inviting sandy beaches and more viking burial mounds. Nyborg, on the east coast of Fyn, and a short train ride from Copenhagen, is our final biking destination. (60km)
Day 8: Those flying out head for the airport. If you’re going on to Norway, you have the day to explore Copenhagen. In the evening, a shuttle train takes you over the bridge to Sweden, where a sleeper train will carry you on to Oslo. Wake up in Oslo on Monday morning, and continue to mispronounce names.
- Can connect to our Norway Fjords & Glaciers trip.
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