Denmark is home to one of the most celebrated restaurants in the world, chef René Redzepi’s noma, recipient of three Michelin stars, and universally hailed for its unconventional and revolutionary approach to New Nordic Cuisine, utilizing foraged and locally sourced ingredients long before “farm to table” became the new norm in fine dining. But there’s far more to Denmark’s wondrous culinary charms to explore outside of the country’s robust food scene in Copenhagen. West Denmark offers no shortage of palate-pleasing gastronomic thrills, for a wide range of tastes.
An easy destination for travelers from the US who crave the great outdoors and excellent cuisine after a stopover in Amsterdam, West Denmark is a quick, direct flight from Amsterdam via KLM, and it’s easy to see all the sights and culinary delights by rental car, as visitors hop from one fascinating town to the next. After the big city lights and well-known attractions of Amsterdam, a second leg of the trip in West Denmark offers a chance to get out into wide open spaces, immerse in nature and enjoy the thrill of discovery, as visitors soak up the culture and savor the local delicacies in this fascinating part of Denmark that’s ripe for discovery for American travelers.
Starting off in either Aalborg or Billund, visitors will enjoy a delicious, unexpected journey, where wonder is around every bend, whether traversing charming city centers or fabulous fjords.
Treasures of the sea
The world is your oyster in Denmark, where you’re never more than 33 miles from the coast at any point, ensuring a fresh catch of the day is always close by—no matter what town you’re in. For a truly unique expedition, book an oyster safari at the fjords of the Wadden Sea, where guests will don waders and pluck them straight from the sand and enjoy them right on the beach, with just a squeeze of lemon, or topped with onion or, for a more novel approach, strawberries.
Surrounded by the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, Skagen, the northernmost town of Denmark, offers a rich seafood scene, the harbor side being a must-visit for those who savor fresh seafood. Skagen Fiskerestaurant, for instance, offers fried fish cakes, smoked salmon with dill, and traditional fish pie, all served up in a former fish warehouse with picturesque views of yachts in the harbor
Award-winning fare and Michelin-starred meals
Denmark is world-renowned for its fine dining. But noma is just the tip. Adventurous and sophisticated palates will relish the 26 Michelin-starred restaurants throughout the whole of the country. Aarhus in West Denmark offers four Michelin-starred options alone: At Frederikshøj, Gastromé, domestic, and SUBSTANS, diners will be wowed by the new Nordic and French cuisine on offer, all presented in refined menus that manage a mix of classic, modern, and experimental all at the same time.
The gastronomic capital of Jutland, Aarhus also boasts several restaurants recognized by Michelin for offering excellent moderately priced meals (the Bib Gourmand award). And a visit to the coastal town of Slettestrand is a must for serious foodies: chef Kenneth Toft-Hansen, who helms the kitchen at Svinkløv Badehotel, a highly regarded beach hotel set along the shores of the North Sea in West Denmark, won the prestigious Bocuse d’Or (the biennial culinary Olympics, if you will) in 2019.
Sumptuously sustainable dining
Of course, a big part of the gastronomy scene in Denmark revolves around local and organic ingredients, with a strong focus on sustainability. Michelin has awarded nine Green Stars to restaurants throughout the country for sustainable credentials. Visitors can follow in the footsteps of noma’s chef Redzepi, who blazed the trail for the sustainable and foraged food movement years ago, and take a culinary expedition they won’t soon forget: At Thy National Park, guests will get an authentic taste of Thy, by hunting their own mushrooms, herbs and berries on a foraging tour.
Let them eat cakes—and cookies and danish!
They don’t call it a “danish” for nothing: the beloved breakfast pastry originated here, and the country has a way with dessert any time of day. For visitors with a sweet tooth, the decadent wonders in West Denmark can be found in South Jutland, where the regional favorite is a spicy honey cake that’s spread with apricot jam or buttercream. A trip to the historic Gram Castle is a must for dessert fans: there, they’ll relish the South Jutland cake table experience, where guests are invited to try 21 different varieties of cakes and cookies in one sitting.
Tasting traditional Danish food
The culinary traditions are ripe for discovery throughout West Denmark: For a taste of how real Danes snack, guests will want to try a smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich built on a slice of ryebread, and hot dogs. Yes, you read that right. They come loaded up with pickles, remoulade, onions, and ketchup—a perfect combo.
Aalborg and Aarhus both have great street food centers offering a more international approach, and street-corner bakeries for extra sustenance after time spent exploring the towns or nearby nature. Another delicacy to put on the must-try list: herring, packed with vitamin D, might just be one of the reasons why Denmark is considered the happiest country in the world.
Denmark is home to several wineries and breweries, spread across the country, as well as its international beer brand, Carlsberg. Ebeltoft, Ribe, and Fanø are just three spots to map out a mini wine and beer tour that will take visitors to charming, family-run small producers and microbreweries. Distillery tours will take guests around the stills and offer tastings, while several breweries and vineyards also have restaurants or cafés to pair locally inspired dishes with an elegant glass of wine or frosty mug of beer. Skål!