Kings and queens have ruled the Kingdom of Denmark since the 10th century, making the Danish monarchy the oldest monarchy in Europe and one of the oldest in the world. Three of the country’s most impressive castles; Frederiksborg Castle, Kronborg Castle, and Fredensborg Castle are all located in North Zealand making it an ideal place for royal enthusiasts. While Frederiksborg Castle is the largest Renaissance Castle in Scandinavia, Kronborg Castle, best known from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is King Christian IV’s favourite residence. Fredensborg Castle, which is equally impressive is Queen Margrethe’s spring and summer residence.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark’s most visited museum, is located in northeastern Zealand in a spectacular location by the waterfront. Maritime Museum, just a stone’s throw away from Kronborg Castle, is both an architectural masterpiece worth a visit and an intriguing museum with great exhibitions unravelling Denmark’s maritime past. Finally, the house of Karen Blixen, the famous Danish author who wrote Out of Africa is open to visitors who want to take a walk in the rooms Blixen created in her beautiful stories.
A summer city break is even better when the city you’re visiting is surrounded by water allowing you to leave the urban scenery behind and head to a sunny beach in no time. North Zealand takes pride in being home to fishing villages and seaside towns where some of the country’s top beaches span for miles. Gilleleje, Tisvilde, Hornbæk and Espergærde Beach are among the most popular.
Even those who like city breaks can’t resist a walk in nature, and North Zealand is the ultimate place to combine both. Take a stroll in the middle of Gribskov forest and get a glimpse of the spectacular Esrum Sø, the second-largest lake in Denmark, as it unfurls in front of your eyes. To the east of Esrum lake, you’ll also find Arresø, the country’s largest lake. Hike one of the heather-covered hills and enjoy a spectacular view.
Helsingør is North Zealand’s cosmopolitan city. Here you’ll find gourmet restaurants, all kinds of shops and numerous classy hotels set against the city’s medieval scenery. In Stengade, the town’s main shopping street, visitors can locate fashion boutiques, Denmark’s oldest patisserie, and wine stores. As you continue to walk further down, you’ll discover design stores and delicatessen shops. Try the local recipes at Rådmand Davids Hus food or enjoy the view of the harbour at Kulturværftets Spisehus.
North Zealand has always attracted the elite of Denmark society, but at the same time, the cities still preserve the half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets that show the region’s past when the scenic seaside towns were vibrant fishing centres. Walk down the streets of Gilleleje, the area’s gem, visit the home of the late polar explorer Knud Rasmussen at Skansen, discover the preserved thatched houses in Kikhavn and explore some of the least-known parts of the country’s history.
Another reason North Zealand is a great destination for a city break is its location. It takes no more than one hour by car or train to get to Copenhagen from Helsingør, and on the route to the capital of Denmark, you’ll pass by beautiful landscapes including the forest park Jægersborg Dyrehaven, which is one of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Denmark.