Road trip favorite: Denmark
Scratch planes, trains, buses and bikes – when it comes to my favorite mode of transportation on a trip it’s a car. Not just any car of course, but the one that will be a steady companion throughout your journey. I am talking about: the road trip.
Many of my fondest travel memories include epic road trips through Italy, down the California Coast, from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas and most recently to Denmark. In all fairness Denmark had not exactly been on my list for road trip compatibility. I had heard of Roskilde and I had once been to Copenhagen, without a doubt one of the coolest capitols in Europe, but other than that my insight on all things Denmark was 0. I was told there would be a beach and that driving would be easy since Denmark is completely flat (massive selling point for someone as scared of driving on mountains roads as I am) and that was quite enough to make me want to visit.
It all began with a rental car service. For a surprisingly affordable €290 my friend Matt and I got a nice Mercedes for a full 7 days at our free disposal and as soon as we got in we hit the road up North. Our destination: Hvide Sande, a sleepy coastal town and favorite holiday mekka on the West coast of Denmark. The 6-hour drive from Berlin went by in no time and we arrived at our charming holiday home in the late afternoon. The neighborhood was quiet, with only other holiday homes around, each of them enjoying a nice garden setting, many had a swing (yey swings!) and all had a BBQ grill and a set of chairs around a table where one could easily imagine the long summer nights people sit and chat over wine and burgers.
Just a few steps from our house was the beach, and while I love pretty much all beaches this one was hands down one of the most beautiful ones I have seen. A perfect place for going running in the morning and watching sunsets in the evening with hardly anyone in sight. Think about the last time you’ve been to a really gorgeous beach with no one around. Doesn’t happen much, right?
I had no idea how relaxing it would be to not have to check in with a receptionist, to not stand on a balcony overlooking a busy square, to not have to spend hours online just to figure out how to get to the one million spots of interest in whatever city I was visiting. Instead, our itinerary consisted mainly of long walks on the beach, expansive breakfasts on the sunny terrace, lying on the couch reading, occasionally getting in the car for a casual drive to a place that would rent out water sports or fishing gear and drinking wine.
Traveling can get stressful at the best of times and this was a place where it felt like we were getting away from it all for a while. Actually away! Without a million shops to shop in, a thousand people to meet or a load of places of interest to explore. It was nice coming back to a home away from home every night, especially one so beautifully decorated with loving little details like hand-drawn porcelain mugs or personal photography on the walls.
We stayed in Hvide Sande for 3 nights but it’s not unusual for holiday homes to require a minimum stay of 7 nights. A lot of people come here with their dogs, families and friends and many of them are Germans, after all the German border is less than a 2 hour drive from Hvide Sande. I was surprised at how many Danish spoke absolutely perfect German but most of them are just as good at speaking English.
The first thing to do when staying at a holiday home is to fill the fridge and I’ve been told that many people will arrive with the trunk full of food and drink. Of course the supermarket by the centrally located harbour will help out with anything you did not bring with you. If you don’t feel like cooking all together there are some fine restaurants worth going to, most notably Sandgaarden in Søndervig or Under Broen at the small harbour in Hvide Sande. Both serve delicious meat and fish dishes and reservations are recommended.
A great option for an ideal Danish lunch is the popular Cafe Kræs in Ringkøbing where you can snack on amazing sandwiches or the highly recommended “Between sea and fjord” lunch special, for all those who like fish. Nice added perk: the view over the harbour which makes for a pleasant stroll after lunch.
The best way to spend the afternoon after a lazy lunch in the sun is to go rent some fishing gear at Kott Fritid in Hvide Sande (Nørregade 2), pick a comfortable looking stone by the lock and waste away a few hours with your fishing rod in the water. Going in we were quite confident that we would catch buckets full of fish but reality hit us quickly and in the end we gave up much sooner than we had intended. The good news is that there is a ton of fishermen around the lock, decidedly the best place to catch fish, many of whom will be happy to show you how to throw out a fishing rod the right way.
Pretending to be fishing is fun but not as fun as stand-up paddling, a sport where you stand on a type of surfboard (heavier and broader than the real thing) and paddle to move forward. The best place to practise is a lake or a quiet ocean, when the water is choppier it can be a bit of a challenge to keep your balance. The best tip here is to go as fast as possible, not so easy though when you’re busy enough trying not to fall off! I admit I am much worse at this than anybody else I’ve seen doing it, so chances are you’ll find it pretty easy. And mind you, it’s still a lot of fun. A great spot to rent some gear and get out in the fjord is West Wind in Hvide Sande from where you can easily paddle to a nearby cafe for a cappuccino break. You can rent a board from about €14, a whole day rental will cost you about €47.
If you’re a fan of water sports like myself you can do a whole bunch of them all day long if you wish. Chat to the people at West Wind about all your options like surfing and windsurfing (they provide surf classes!), kite-surfing, stand-up paddling and kayaking. A list of options and prices for rental are on their website.
The best place to kayak is an area called Bork, admittedly quite touristy but the waters here are beautiful and ideal for a lovely few hours spent in a kayak. West Wind also has a location in Bork and will help you with the necessary equipment. A great thing to do is to kayak across the fjord to a small river leading up to the Viking Museum which opens in summer and provides family-style entertainment and a fun bit of time traveling down Denmark’s Viking past.
While Bork may not be the place to be for anyone over the age of 10 or younger than 50 its harbour does host the decidedly coolest house boats I’ve come across. Sadly, these stylish holiday homes do not have engines and therefore cannot be moved, but perks like the whirlpool, a fireplace and BBQ grill certainly make up for that. And besides, who needs to move around when they can overlook this:
For more info on these houseboats click here.
In case you haven’t already opened your browser to book a holiday home in Denmark this summer, these next few photos will probably make you do just that because the best part of a trip to the Danish West coast are the incredible sunsets by the wide, clean beaches. Simply put your blanket on a free spot in the dunes for optimal viewing, and enjoy the sky turn orange as you sip on a glass of red wine, feel the gentle breeze in your face and brim with gratitude over witnessing something ever so breath-taking.
During our trip in April it was too cold to actually go swimming but I can only imagine how nice it must be to actually spend a hot summer’s day lounging away on the beach, your holiday home always in close proximity, so that you can easily walk home for snacks or to cool down for a while. If you have been to other destinations in Denmark we would love to hear about them, after all we are already looking forward to going back soon and seeing a whole lot more of this lovely little country.
A special thank you goes to Maren Tamoschat from Visit Denmark for arranging and helping us with our trip and to Anders Thygesen from Esmarch to providing us with such wonderful accommodation in Hvide Sande. Finally we’d like to thank Michael Lund from Hvide Sande Tourism for being such a fun and competent teacher in stand-up paddling and and Lykke Nielsen for giving us so much inspiration on things to do in Hvide Sande. I look forward to returning soon!