North Zealand, or as most people call it, ‘The Danish Riviera’, is the part of the country that combines stunning landscapes of endless sandy beaches with some of the most significant cultural sites and museums every tourist must visit. Being home to three of the most stunning castles, North Zealand seems to have always been a favourite spot for the Danish elite and still preserves its beauty.
Zealand is Denmark’s biggest island and is where Copenhagen is proudly located. The island’s northern part has rightfully become a quite popular tourist destination either for one-day trips from the capital or as the main destination for those who want to explore the Danish culture while at the same time enjoy the coastal landscapes and scenic fishing villages. Gilleleje, Helsingør and Hillerød are definitely the ‘stars’ of the island’s northern region and each one of them has its own style and beauty.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
So why is North Zealand the Danish Riviera?
Three of the country’s most spectacular castles are nestled in the island’s northern spot and each one of them has its own stories and legends about the queens and kings who once lived there.
Frederiksborg Castle is the first castle you’ll see on your way from Copenhagen to the north. The majestic 17th-century castle is called Denmark’s Versailles and for good reason. Not only is it the largest Renaissance castle in Scandinavia, but it’s surrounded by the impressive Frederiksborg Palace Garden.
Less than 15 minutes away from Frederiksborg Castle stands another spectacular building – the baroque-style Fredensborg Palace. Even though Fredensborg is still used as a residence by the royal family, visitors can take a stroll at the Palace Gardens, the Baroque Gardens and the Valley of the Norsemen all year round and to the Private Gardens in July and in August.
Perched on the tip of Zealand is Kronborg Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site widely known for being the set of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is a place of great history, though it’s unknown whether the English poet ever actually visited the castle. But the stories and legends about the inhabitants of the castle reached all the way to England and inspired him to write one of the most known plays of all times. Nowadays, visitors to Kronborg Castle can take a guided tour into the dark cellars and vaults and listen to the same stories that four centuries ago inspired the renowned writer.
Aside from the three magnificent palaces that are a real testimony of the history of Denmark, North Zealand’s cultural scene has even more to offer. A stone’s throw away from Kronborg Castle stands the Maritime Museum of Denmark. The modern architecture building offers a unique experience to its visitors, who have to go underground in order to roam the several exhibitions and installations that present the story of Denmark as one of the leading maritime nations of the past.
Moreover, the country’s most visited museum, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, is situated on the northern coast offering a great view over the Øresund strait. The world-class museum displays artworks by renowned Danish and international artists of the modern art scene with both permanent and temporary exhibitions, while its unique location is a reason on its own to visit the museum.
What about North Zealand’s landscape?
What makes North Zealand a real favourite not only among art lovers and history buffs but for all kinds of travellers, is that all the aforementioned cultural sights are situated among stunning landscapes of coasts, forests and lakes. Some of the country’s most popular beaches like Tisvildeleje Beach, Dronningmølle Beach and Gudmindrup Beach span the northernmost coast while Gilleleje, the picturesque fishing village with the narrow streets, is home to a number of beaches, most of which are suitable for kids. Esrum Sø, Denmark’s second-largest lake, surrounds Fredensborg Castle and creates a unique scenery, and Hornbæk Lake in the homonymous city are also two of the most beautiful gems in the region every nature enthusiast should visit. Hike at Grib Forest (Gribskov), Denmark’s fourth-largest forest, and discover the hidden paths at Troldeskoven, the vast forest with the peculiar trees.
All over North Zealand, you’ll find plenty of choices for active holidays as well as numerous spots for relaxing and soaking up some sun while the scenic cities brim with local eateries that will introduce you to the local cuisine with some real traditional Danish delicacies.
North Zealand isn’t just like any other Riviera
Even though the term ‘Riviera’ is often linked to the words ‘glamour’, ‘expensive holidays’ and ‘luxurious resorts’, the Danish Riviera refutes this theory. Of course, those who want to give themselves a special treat will find plenty of options but that doesn’t mean that the island’s northern region is an ‘unapproachable territory’ for those who are travelling on a budget.
Unlike the French or the Italian Riviera, for example, North Zealand isn’t as touristic so prices haven’t hit the roof yet (not even in Helsingør – the Danish Riviera’s most modernized city) and most of its towns still preserve the authentic atmosphere. Moreover, its long sandy beaches never feel packed, even though they attract a great number of tourists and locals, and there is always the choice of finding a quieter place away from the crowd.
Finally, while most people choose to travel to a European Riviera for soaking up the sun and taking a dip, northern Zealand has become so popular because it features some of the country’s most significant cultural sites.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.