Copenhagen is by far the most popular Danish city among tourists. But if you want to dig a bit deeper into the Danish culture, it is essential to visit some of the smaller and lesser-known places.
Here is the ultimate guide to the best small towns and villages to visit in Denmark. From Skagen in the north to Ribe in the south – there are many great places to discover!
The northernmost city in Denmark is absolutely worth a visit. It is the city that receives the most sunshine hours of any place in the country. The weather is great in the summer, so it is no surprise that Skagen has become the party capital of Denmark in the summertime!
However, Skagen is much more than that. It has a grand history, as many famous artists (primarily painters) used to live here in the late 19th century. The architecture is also stunning, with the trademark yellow houses and red roofs. And don’t forget to visit Grenen, the northernmost point, where the seas of Skagerrak and Kattegat visibly flow into each other.
Løkken is a small town located by the northwestern coast. It has one of the best beaches in Denmark, and there are plenty of nice sights, such as the local church made with red bricks, the Miniby museum, the fishermen’s boats and the World War II bunkers.
MUST READ: Best things to do in Løkken, Denmark
When it comes to modern attractions, Løkken doesn’t dissapoint either, as it has the large Action House – a super cool arcade house with plenty of things to do for everybody. Among other things, Action House has the largest gokart track in Europe. Definitely worth visiting!
Another beautiful fishing town in the northwest. It has a port where you can see ships, it has old WW2 bunkers in the beach, and there are gorgeous natural sights at the coastline.
Hanstholm is not a large town by any means – it is probably closer to being a village – but it is always nice to visit. The wind is strong, and you can hear the ocean very clearly. The local museum is one of the main attractions in Hanstholm.
Fun fact: One of the most popular Danish movies of all time, Olsen Banden i Jylland, was partly recorded in Hanstholm.
One of the oldest cities in Denmark. Perhaps it shouldn’t belong on this list, as it actually is a city and not a town or village, but it does only have around 40,000 inhabitants. It’s the presence of a cathedral that classifies Viborg as a city.
When it comes to culture and education, Viborg is an important city. It is believed that the Viborg was founded around the year of 900. The current cathedral was built in 1864, but parts of it date back to 1125. Viborg Kunsthal should be visited if you are into art. In the center of the city, there is a large pedestrian street with nice opportunities for shopping. The gymnasium, Viborg Katedralskole, is one of the oldest schools in Denmark, dating back almost a thousand years.
Herning is the fourth largest town in the central Danish region. Historically it has been famous for its industry and for trading.
In modern times, Herning is mostly a town that is famous for its many sporting events. Cycling is incredibly popular. Giro d’Italia had a stage in Herning, and the Tour de France is going to Herning as well. The hockey team, Herning White Fox, is one of the best in Denmark. Along with the town of Ikast, Herning is home to FC Midtjylland, a team that has won multiple titles in Danish football.
The oldest city in Denmark. Ribe is one of the most historic places you can visit. The city has a very special cathedral and several classic sights.
In the past, Ribe was an important Viking city – something that is still visible to this day. Among other things you should visit Vikingecenteret – the center of Viking history.
Ribe has a small population, but it is very popular among travelers. A great place to take pictures and to learn more about the old Denmark.
The south of Denmark is a very interesting region. And perhaps there is no town that has as much of a southern Danish vibe as Sønderborg.
It is located very close to the German border. In fact, Sønderborg was politically a German town between 1864 and 1920, although most citizens, even at the time, were ethnic Danes. In the past it was an important city for trade, and to this day Sønderborg still has an active harbour.
There are many nice restaurants in Sønderborg, and it’s a perfect place to stay if you wish to explore Southern Denmark some more. Book a hotel room in Sønderborg, rent a car, and enjoy your visit to one of Denmark’s most historic regions.
Maribo is a small city with nearly 6,000 inhabitants. It is centrally located on the island of Lolland, and you can get there with a train or a bus from Copenhagen.
The town has some beautiful old houses, and a stroll around the streets can be very fairytale-ish. As one of few cities in Denmark, it has a cathedral. Once it also had a monastery. The city hall is one of the highlights, but be sure to also visit the museum Stiftsmuseet Maribo, and the 1:10 miniature version of the city, called Maribo Miniby.
In the northwestern part of Sealand, you will discover the town of Kalundborg. It is within close enough distance to Copenhagen to be a one day trip.
Kalundborg is an old town, as it was mentioned in 1231 by a Danish king as Kalundæburgh. While the current name in Kalundborg, it used to be Callundborg and before that, Kallingborg. It has had several different names throughout history.
The main reason to visit is the local architecture. Kalundborg has an impressive church, Vor Frue Kirke, and the old part of the town has a Middle Age vibe. If you’re a cultural traveler interested in history, you will enjoy Kalundborg.
Holbæk has a very unique location as it borders the small Isefjord. It’s a coastal town near the larger city of Roskilde.
In Holbæk, you can find several nice places to eat – one of the main reasons to go there. There’s a beautiful view by the coast. And furthermore, Holbæk is also a historical town: It has a small castle (Holbæk Slot), built by King Valdemar Sejr in 1236.
Since Holbæk is quite close to Copenhagen and Roskilde – cities you are very likely to visit on your trip to Denmark – it also makes sense to consider Holbæk, at least for a short day trip.
Helsingør is a historic city located on the northeastern park of Sealand. It’s an obvious place to visit for a couple of hours if you are traveling to Copenhagen – the train ride between the two cities doesn’t take long.
The main attraction in Helsingør is Kronborg Castle – a UNESCO World Heritage site. William Shakespeare was inspired by Kronborg when writing Hamlet. Today, Kronborg’s interior is well decorated with outstanding furniture. You can also see some art. One of the highlights is found in the basement of the castle – the statue of Holger Danske (Ogier the Dane).
Helsingør also has a beautiful port – from which you can sail to Helsingborg, Sweden with a ferry – and several cute narrow streets.
Rønne is the largest town on the island Bornholm. Many tourists visit Bornholm every year, so Rønne is not exactly a hidden gem or anything, but it is a town highly worth visiting.
With a location on the western part of the island, Rønne has a small harbour. This is a great place to see, as many of the town’s main buildings are located just behind the harbour. Rønne has some interesting museums, but simply walking around in the town can be a joyous experience: Its signature cobblestones give off a romantic vibe, and the half-timbered houses add to this feeling. There are several nice restaurants in Rønne, and it is the perfect place to go for a calm holiday, or if you need a place to stay while exploring the rest of the island.
You can sail to Rønne from either Denmark, Sweden, Germany or Poland as there are many frequent ferry connections.
As you see, Denmark is much more than just Copenhagen. It is full of surprises, so if you ever get the chance, you should absolutely do the full tour and visit some of these small towns and villages around Denmark.