From hands-on foraging adventures and rich food traditions to vibrant markets and Michelin-starred restaurants, West Denmark is a gastronome’s dream come true. On this trip, you’ll dig into the region’s many diverse dishes and explore lesser-known culinary adventures that remain undiscovered by many travelers. Dine in the nation’s oldest national park on a locally-sourced lunch of fruit, fish, and wild clams from the North Sea. Learn some slow cooking skills, Viking style, in Scandinavia’s oldest town. Fill up on a traditional South Danish kaffebord of 21 different cakes at a 16th-century castle. While we suggest around 4-6 days to get a true taste of the culinary scene (which pairs perfectly with a stopover in Amsterdam for a dreamy European trip), you could—and probably will want—to spend a lifetime savoring West Denmark’s flavors.
Itinerary / 6 DAYSPLAN YOUR TRIP
DAY 1Arrive in Aalborg
Start your day with a visit to the Utzon Center. A must-see for architecture and food fans, it’s the final masterpiece by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who designed the Sydney Opera House. In addition to exhibitions about architecture, design, and art, you’ll find a critically acclaimed restaurant, Restaurant Jørn. Pause for a lunch of roasted herring or pulled pork with spectacular views over the Limfjord, the scenic, shallow channel that runs through Aalborg, and linger awhile to enjoy the social experience like Danes do.
You may also want to see the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, designed by famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The recently renovated museum displays modern and contemporary pieces from around the world. Brasserie Kunsten, which overlooks the museum’s sculpture garden, is an idyllic spot for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Later, go by Hjelmerstald, one of very few preserved neighborhoods in Aalborg. Its charming cobblestone streets lined with colorful crooked houses are a picture perfect example of “hygge.” Continue your stroll along the revitalized waterfront to Restaurant Tabu, where you can enjoy a taste of New Nordic Cuisine, a movement that takes the concepts of seasonal and farm-to-table to the next level with a focus on “purity, simplicity, and freshness.” Take a culinary tour of the region through fresh local ingredients like apples from plantations in North Jutland, cheese from Sønderhaven, and oysters from Limfjorden.
DAY 2Journey to Skagen
Once you arrive in Skagen, notice the postcard-worthy yellow houses and ample natural light that have inspired a thriving artist colony since the end of the 19th century. Denmark’s northernmost point, Grenen or “land’s end,” marks the top of the country where you can stand with your feet in two different seas: Skagerrak and Kattegat. This is also where you’ll find Denmark’s northernmost restaurant, Restaurant De 2 Have and its ocean views.
Enjoy a classic Danish lunch of dishes like warm shrimp with lemon, homemade fresh bread, and aioli or herring with pickled onions, hard-boiled eggs, and homemade mayonnaise and rye bread. Afterward, explore the harbor, where the former red fish warehouses have been transformed into dining establishments, such as Restaurant Pakhuset, and shops. Try a local organic beer at Skagen Bryghus, a vibrant pub with live music.
DAY 3Explore Råbjerg Mile and Thy National Park
One building that did not survive is the St. Laurence Church (now known as The Sand-Covered Church). Built in the second half of the 14th century, sand migration began to reach the church at the end of the 18th century. The congregation had to dig their way into the church when they wanted to attend services. The struggle continued until 1795 when the church was closed by royal decree. Today only the tower stands as a reminder of mother nature’s force.
Afterward, head further south (about two hours) to Thy National Park, Denmark’s oldest national park containing some of the country’s wildest land and traditional seaside villages. But first, stop at Stenbjerg Kro for a fresh lunch based on the nature that “lives and grows by the North Sea,” including the area’s natural supply of fruit, fish, and wild clams.
In the afternoon, get your fill of thrilling outdoor activities. Thy National Park has it all; wander windswept forests and untouched dunes by foot or bike—pausing to dip your toes into Øsrum or Flade Lake—or saddle up for an exhilarating horseback ride along the beach. Surfers also flock to this area, aptly named Cold Hawaii, for its excellent waves.
Tonight, stay at Svinkløv Badehotel, set right on the dunes. Having recently undergone a stunning renovation, the historic hotel features warm, inviting rooms that open onto the sand, the forest, and the North Sea. Svinkløv is also home to one of the world’s best chefs, Kenneth Hansen, winner of the Bocuse d’Or in 2019. The menu changes day-to-day, using the freshest organic ingredients available from local purveyors in preparations that “present them in their simplest and most natural form on the plate.” You’ll savor unpretentious-yet-refined dishes like grilled sole and fish cakes with a view of the sea.
DAY 4Check out Wadden Sea National Park, Mandø Island, and Ribe
Wake up early to explore Wadden Sea National Park, which features the largest unbroken system of tidal flats in the world. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park’s diverse ecosystem serves as breeding ground for birds and seals. In the spring and fall, millions of migratory birds, including mallards, lapwings, and European golden plovers, use the North Sea’s coastal wetlands as a roosting and feeding area. Be sure to visit the Wadden Sea Center whose thatched roof and timber siding pays tribute to the traditional craftsmanship of the area.
Afterward, head to Mandø, a small island in the Wadden Sea that’s only accessible during low tide via a road that is placed on the very bottom of the sea. This ranks as the best place for oyster picking in Denmark. Strap into some waders and learn how to pluck oysters from the seabed and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Or, if you prefer earthier culinary delights, arrange a guided walk with Vester Vedsted Vineyard on the island of Rømø where you can learn about local foraging.
Next, drive three hours to Ribe for an evening in Scandinavia’s oldest city. Walk along the cobblestone streets lined with half-timbered houses and soak up the fresh air and charming, vibrant ambiance of the area’s Viking past. Climb to the top of the Ribe Cathedral—an architectural marvel and the first Christian church in Denmark dating back to 1150—for breathtaking views and go by Ribe VikingeCenter to learn some medieval cooking like baking flatbread over an open fire or brewing skills or all about Viking herbs. Finish up with a pint at Ribe Bryghus, which continues the long Danish tradition of brewing artisanal beer and where you can sample everything from a Viking-inspired red bock to a lager made using flowers and berries from the Wadden Sea area that you visited earlier in the day.
DAY 5Experience Odense
Next, continue to Odense where you will explore the new H. C. Andersen’s House. Step inside your own fairytale, wander through whimsical gardens, and see the original birth home of the author of beloved stories like The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling. Later, follow in the great writer’s footsteps and try a hindbærsnitte at a local bakery—these raspberry bars were his favorite sweet. While you’re there, be sure to also taste the brunsviger cake, a local delicacy baked with brown sugar topping.
Tonight, keep it casual at one of the city’s food markets, Storms Pakhus or Arkaden Food Hall, where you can dig into duck leg confit, samosas, dumplings, falafel, and more. Of course, a trip to Denmark is not complete with sampling smørrebrød, open-face rye sandwiches piled high with pickles, meat, fish, or eggs.
DAY 6 Discover Aarhus
In the afternoon, book a driver to take you outside the city to visit Ebeltoft Gårdbryggeri, a local brewery that handmakes craft beer and fruity sodas. If you prefer wine, you can opt for Cold Hand Winery instead. Produced with high quality apples, cherries, pears, blackcurrant, and plums, these complex, prize-winning bottles sell to top restaurants throughout Europe—a far cry from your typical cider. With a driver arranged to bring you back to your hotel in Aarhus, you can indulge without worry. Get a good night’s rest—tomorrow, you catch your flight home at Aalborg Lufthavn.
For this itinerary and other wonderous West Denmark trips, let the trusted travel advisors at Exeter International plan your journey. Book now.