Explore the Hidden Treasures of Northern Denmark and Southern Norway

Get to know the lesser-known heroes of two countries in one trip, taking in the dazzling scenery of southern Norway’s coastal communities alongside the cultural gems of northern Denmark.

Aalborg’s harbor in Northern Denmark

Aalborg’s harbor in Northern Denmark

Courtesy of Destination Nord

This 10-day tour of northern Denmark and southern Norway covers local culinary delights and off-the-beaten-track experiences that help you get under the skin of this beautiful part of Europe. Discover dramatic waterfalls and churches hidden under the sand, sail across fjords, and hike to the Trolltunga, a stunning rock formation that juts out over a lake in Norway. From jaw-dropping scenery and cozy fishing villages to world-class eats, these under-the-radar destinations are an ideal way to travel deeper in the Nordic countries. Turn to 50 Degrees North for even more travel advice.

Image Option 3 - The Bolder Lodges.jpeg

Trip Highlight

Bolder Lodges

Immerse yourself in Norway’s natural world with these designer cabins, built to maximize the views over the Lysefjord with a taste of Nordic luxury. The cabins include stylish kitchens by Danish brand Vipp along with Mid-Century Modern furniture by Eikund, bringing together what are perhaps the region’s two most appealing aspects, nature and design.

Trip Designer

The Nordics

The Nordics—a cooperative of the countries of Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, and co-funded by the European Union—invite you to enjoy their distinctive Nordic perspective and values, and a culture that stems from a rich shared history.
The Alvar Aalto-designed Kunsten Museum of Modern Art

The Alvar Aalto-designed Kunsten Museum of Modern Art

Courtesy of Destination Nord

Day 1Explore Architecture and Design in Aalborg

Start your Nordic adventure by flying into Aalborg, Denmark’s fourth-largest city which is easily explored by foot or bike. The home of architect Jorn Utzon, who designed the Sydney Opera House, this destination is a hub for architecture and design.

Stay at the Comwell Hotel Hvide Hus, considered one of the city’s architectural landmarks, close to the city center and next to the leafy Kildeparken Park where you’ll find The Singing Trees. This collection of trees celebrates the musicians that have visited the city, from Guns N’ Roses to Elton John.

Explore the city’s extraordinary design and architectural heritage beginning at Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, designed by Alvar Aalto. The collection includes works by major Scandinavian artists Asger Jorn and Per Kirkeby, along with a sculpture park that welcomes musicians, pop-up events, performances, and more on Wednesday evenings during its Summer Lounge series.

You can also go on a guided walking tour with Aalborg Tours and check out the city’s surprising modern street art and an underground monastery. Be sure to stop by the harborfront where you’ll find the Utzon Center—don’t miss its restaurant, Restaurant Jørn, for local smørrebrød—the stunning silver House of Music, and a well-deserved ice cream at the marina.

An optional day trip could take in Regan Vest, to the south of Aalborg and recently opened to the public. The underground museum was designed to house the Queen and Danish government in the event of a nuclear war.

Take your pick from Aalborg’s many restaurants in the evening. At Restaurant Bühlmann you can relax in the garden or conservatory. Restaurant Tabu, the town’s top gourmet restaurant, offers a sublime tasting menu. Round off your first day with an evening drink at your hotel, Bar V at Comwell Hvide Hus.
Skagen’s yellow houses

Skagen’s yellow houses

Courtesy of Destination Nord

Day 2Discover the Painter’s Colony of Skagen

Depart early for Skagen, Denmark’s northernmost town and known for its white-sand beaches and the Skagen painters, a group of 19th-century painters attracted by the light in this harborside town. P.S. Krøyer and Michael and Anna Ancher are just three of the artists who rose to fame here.

Check into your hotel—take your pick from classic seaside hotels Color Hotel Skagen, Brøndum’s Hotel, or Ruth’s Hotel—before visiting the town’s museums. Book a guided tour of Skagen’s Museum and Anna and Michael Ancher’s House to see what the artists created. The evocative scenes of life in this fishing town more than 100 years ago give an insight into its history and culture, from beach life to working-class life.

Follow the theme with lunch at Skagen Fiskerestaurant in Skagen Harbour, where fish have been brought in since the early 1900s, or take a trip to Restaurant BLINK at Skagen Lighthouse for dishes created with herbs and seaweed foraged by chefs on the beach.

In the afternoon, the quintessential Skagen experience awaits, a trip on the Sandormen (literally “the sandworm”) tractor across the sands at Grenen, the very tip of Denmark, where the Kattegat and Skagerrak seas meet. The waves overlap in a fascinating pattern here at the furthest reach of continental Europe.

Soak up the atmosphere of Skagen in the evening with a glass of wine before dinner at Ruth’s Hotel, renowned for its French flair and beachfront view. Enjoy dinner at Brøndum’s Hotel, famous for its seafood, and relax with a view of the late evening sunset from the beach.
The Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse

The Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse

Photo by Daniel Villadsen

Day 3Uncover the Secrets in the Sands of Råbjerg Mile

Rent a car to explore north Jutland. A short drive out of Skagen you’ll find the Sand Buried Church. The 14th-century church was closed in the 18th century thanks to drifting sand dunes that blocked the road and the cemetery. All you can see of it today is its whitewashed tower.

Follow your sandy excursion with more sand at Råbjerg Mile migrating sand dune. A 15-minute drive from the church, this nature reserve is the largest moving dune in Northern Europe, traveling around 60 feet east every year.

Shake out the sand and take a cross-country drive to Lønstrup, an hour away, for check-in at Hotel Villa Vest. One of Denmark’s beloved beach hotels, it’s renowned for its timeless quality, classic design, and excellent food—its restaurant, Restaurant Villa Vest, won a Michelin star in 2023.

Enjoy a local lunch and explore the galleries and craft shops including Keramoda ceramics and Giebelhausen ceramics, where you can find distinctive souvenirs to take home. From here, rent a bike from the local tourist office to explore Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, which was recently moved inland to save it from the sea after perching on the edge of the cliff for 120 years. Spend the evening at your hotel after an exceptional dinner at Villa Vest, where dishes feature the fresh fish brought into Hirtshals fish market in the morning.
North Shore Surf

North Shore Surf

Courtesy of VisitNordvestkysten

Day 4Explore the Beach Towns of Denmark’s West Coast

Today, explore the seaside town of Løkken and its sandy beach. Leave your luggage at the small and charming Hotel Løkken Strand before you set out. Rent surfboards on windy days at North Shore Surf (or paddleboards if it’s calm) and find out how much fun you can have on this part of the North Sea. A Danish spa experience is also on offer from the same company, including an outdoor hot tub and barrel sauna with a view of the sea.

Enjoy lunch at Huset Havs (pro tip: reservations are a good idea) and explore the town of Løkken at your leisure. Or take a drive down the coast to the popular seaside town of Blokhus where you can dine at the Blokhus Beach Hotel, known for its fish, before driving back up the coast to Løkken for the night.
Fiskebrygga in Kristiansand

Fiskebrygga in Kristiansand

Photo by Victoria Nevland/Visit Sørlandet

Day 5Welcome to Kristiansand, Norway

After a classic Danish breakfast, say goodbye to Denmark and hello to Norway. Transfer to Hirtshals, about 30 minutes away, to catch the Color Line Ferry to Kristiansand in southern Norway. The ferry crossing takes 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Check into the modern Hotel Radisson Blu Caledonien Hotel in Kristiansand, a design hotel and a short taxi ride from the ferry terminal. Head to the Fiskebrygga, the fisherman’s wharf, for a typical Kristiansand dinner in a local restaurant where you can choose fish from the tanks. (Hos Moi is particularly recommended and is lauded for its wine.) On summer evenings, the area comes alive with live music and a festival-like feel.
The Lindesnes Lighthouse, Southern Norway

The Lindesnes Lighthouse, Southern Norway

Photo by Peder Austrud/Visit Sørlandet

Day 6Explore Mandal and More Along Norway’s Southern Coast

Follow a classic Norwegian breakfast at Fiskebrygga with a road trip south in a rental car for the next few days starting with the coastal town of Mandal, known for its picturesque wooden houses and white sandy beaches. If you’re lucky enough to arrive in mid-August, you might find the area’s shellfish festival in full swing. After a stroll around its pretty pedestrian center, grab a picnic and take it to Sjøsanden, the city beach and its best-known spot, for an impromptu picnic and people-watching. We recommend the smoked mackerel and locally baked bread.

The drive continues in the afternoon as you head to Lindesnes. You’re now at the southernmost point of mainland Norway. Visit the historic Lindesnes Lighthouse and hike along the scenic coastal trail. If you’re in the mood for the most extraordinary dinner of your life, book a reservation at Under, Lindesnes’s gourmet restaurant located 18 feet below the surface of the North Sea, where the set menu includes plenty of the sea life you can see from the dining room.

Alternatively, drive to the town of Flekkefjord, the westernmost town in southern Norway, and eat at Café Albert. Stay at the historic Grand Hotel Flekkefjord in the Dutch quarter of town or in the central Maritim Fjordhotel, overlooking the water.
Sogndalstrand, Southern Norway

Sogndalstrand, Southern Norway

Photo by Christine Baglo/Visit Norway

Day 7Norway’s Otherworldly Scenery

Drive through the stunning south Norway landscape to Sogndalstrand, one of the most famous towns in the region, thanks to its historic wooden buildings and the salmon river that runs through it. Check into the cozy Sogndalstrand Kulturhotell, a hotel in a collection of 11 charming houses dating to the 1700s, for the full local experience. A mid-morning coffee in its cafe will set you up for the next leg of the trip, fjord Norway starting in lovely Egersund. Stroll the medieval old town and follow the historical trail to find out what life was like 600 years ago in this harbor town.

The next step of the journey plunges you into the awe-inspiring Jøssingfjord, where you can spot waterfalls, go fishing, or simply admire the views. This area of dramatic mountainsides and plunging drops gives you a taste of life in the fjords of Norway, complete with two exceptional houses at Helleren, sheltered by a dramatic overhanging cliff. The area is part of the Magma UNESCO Geopark, a region carved by glaciers. Many of the rocks found in the area only exist in one other place—the moon.

Finish this monumental day of nature with a dinner of traditional Norwegian food (try the local salmon and the crayfish) at Sogndalstrand Kulturhotell and a drink in the Old Prison, one of the hotel’s houses that’s been turned into a bar.
Preikestolen in Stavanger (Pulpit Rock)

Preikestolen in Stavanger (Pulpit Rock)

Photo by Casper Tybjerg/Visit Norway

Day 8Stavanger and Beyond

Take a scenic drive 1.5 hours north to the city of Stavanger, known for its oil riches and fantastic food. Historic colored wooden houses and Viking culture rub shoulders with modern street art, sidewalk cafés, and Michelin-starred restaurants in this vibrant destination. Get to know it with a guided food tour through the cobbled streets, visiting local eateries and trying matchless delicacies, including brunost, a sweet brown cheese, and multiple seasonal delights.

Later, take the ferry across the fjord to the gorgeous Ryfylke region, where the drama of southern Norway reaches its peak. Along the Lysefjord, you can drive through the mountains and see awesome views along the way. Pulpit Rock, the most famous landmark, is a 40-minute drive from Stavanger, and you’ll find plenty of lesser-known spots too, including waterfalls and architecture, as you drive the Norwegian Scenic Route.

Take a drive as daylight stretches into evening to reach Sauda, a small fjord town that was once home to the Vikings. Stay at the Sauda Fjordhotellet, a grand white hotel surrounded by manicured lawns that dates to 1914, and savor a traditional Norwegian dinner in its historic restaurant to round off your day.
Trolltunga, Southern Norway

Trolltunga, Southern Norway

Courtesy of @kaptenhall/Trolltunga Adventures

Day 9Norwegian Nature

From Sauda, after a hotel breakfast, the trail continues to the small town of Røldal, an hour’s drive through more dazzling mountain scenery. Røldal is known for its stave church, one of the oldest remaining wooden churches in the world—it’s also among the most beautiful landscapes in the region. A popular ski resort in winter, it’s surrounded by pastures with views over a lake and the mountains in the distance in summer.

A 40-minute drive takes you to the town of Odda, the hub for all adventurous activities in the area, including the more than 10-hour hike to the Trolltunga viewpoint. This rock formation seems to float nearly 2,300 feet above Lake Ringedalsvatnet. It’s advised to go with a guide and to allow two days to complete the adventure. Trolltunga Active offers a two-day sunset/sunrise overnight adventure including a stay in a transparent dome.

Begin your drive back to Stavanger but don’t say goodbye to nature just yet. Stop and stay at the Bolder Lodges, extraordinary off-grid cabins designed by Snøhetta focused on back-to-nature experiences with the best views of the area. Self-catering is an option—pick up some local food from the towns you’ve passed through—or you can book a private chef. If you choose to drive straight through to Stavanger, opt for the central Radisson Blu Atlantic Hotel, a city landmark, where you can dine at its North American–Nordic restaurant, FireLake Grill House.
Tre Sverd, Stavanger

Tre Sverd, Stavanger

Photo by Brian Tallman Photography

Day 10City Life in Stavanger

Delve deeper into Stavanger, where you can discover friendly bakeries on the colorful Fargegaten, and stock up on brunost and licorice to take home with you. Take a trip back in time at the more-interesting-than-it-sounds Norwegian Canning Museum, which lists 35,000 labels in its collection; Viking House, a virtual reality take on the ancient mariners; and the Norwegian Petroleum Museum, dedicated to the black gold that made this city rich.

Make sure to visit the famous Sverd i fjell (Swords in Rock) monument, a sculpture created to commemorate the unification of Norway in 872 C.E., and follow it up with lunch at Fisketorget, a stylish seafood restaurant serving the catch of the day from local suppliers.

For your final night in Norway, head to Pedersgata. This street was formerly where harbor workers lived in close quarters and today it’s a vibrant foodie hub, where Indian restaurants sit beside bao bun bars, Mexican cantinas, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and buzzing bars. Toast to a great trip at the local brew pub, Lervig Local, before your return journey the following day.
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