While Copenhagen may be the poster child for Danish tourism, North Jutland, in the northernmost corner of the country, offers a refreshing alternative. This picturesque region is a chance for travelers to discover a lesser-known side of Denmark’s personality, filled with welcoming locals, pristine landscapes, incredible culinary adventures, and fascinating cultural attractions. From the friendly ambiance of Aalborg, to the artistic haven of Skagen, here’s a five-day itinerary for the perfect road trip adventure through North Jutland, Denmark’s best-kept secret.
Day 1 & 2: Aalborg
Explore: The Kunsten Museum of Modern Art is a cultural standout that is sure to leave a big impression on art enthusiasts (and even art amateurs). It has a wonderful collection of contemporary and modern art, including works by Danish and international artists. With its dazzling architectural design and inspiring art, Kunsten is guaranteed to stimulate the senses. The Utzon Center is a must even for those who know nothing about architecture. The center showcases intriguing architectural exhibitions, workshops, and events that promote forward-thinking design. Best of all, this dynamic center is also ideal for families with kids. In line with its mission to show that ‘Architecture is fun,’ it includes kid-friendly activities that include building with LEGO.
Stay and Eat: Restaurant Emil offers a fresh and innovative approach to dining, with a focus on seafood and local produce. The mission of owner and chef Emil Thaarup is to introduce fish in new and delectable ways (and boy does he succeed!), emphasizing sustainable sourcing whenever possible. Pier 5 Hotel, set on Aalborg’s waterfront, offers modern, beautifully renovated rooms for a top-notch stay. The mouthwatering breakfast buffet is one of the tastiest in the entire region.
Day 2: Thy Region
Explore: Arguably one of the most fascinating (and not just a little disturbing) museums in Denmark, if not all of Northern Europe, is the newly opened REGAN Vest. It was built in the 1960s as a secret sanctuary for the government and the royal family in the event of a third world war. Hidden nearly 200 feet beneath the forest floor, this underground city is mesmerizing and is a one-of-a-kind window into the past. The museum also has incredibly thought-provoking displays and interactive exhibits that highlight the terrible destructive force of a nuclear war. You must book a tour online.
Stop in Klitmøller, a quaint fishing village known by locals as “Cold Hawaii,” it’s renowned for its vibrant surfing scene and laid-back ethos. Just a 15-minute drive away is the National Park Center Thy, which offers valuable information on Denmark’s oldest national park. Before you set off on a hike through the park (which is a must!), power up with one of the best fried fish cakes you’ll ever taste in your life at nearby Fiskercompagniets.
Stay, Drink and Eat: Thy Whiskey Distillery takes visitors on an engaging journey through the whiskey-making process, so you can see for yourself the craftsmanship that goes into each lovingly brewed batch. Vorupør Badehotel, located in Nørre Vorupør, offers a delightful seaside escape. This lovely beach hotel boasts seven rooms with colorful details and exposed wooden beams. Additionally, their onsite restaurant, Bistro 123, exudes a classic bistro ambiance and serves delectable French cuisine, making it an excellent choice for a memorable dinner experience.
Day 3, Løkken
Explore: The Lighthouse in Hanstholm offers spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and sea, and gives visitors the chance to explore the region’s maritime history. Then, head north to Løkken, a beautiful coastal town with a stunning, wide sandy beach, ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and long walks. Tap into the artistic side of the town at Kaosfabrikken, where you can grab a delicious cup of coffee and listen to live music in the evenings. For adventure seekers, Outnature offers thrilling outdoor expeditions that showcase the breathtaking landscapes along the West Coast. Possible activities include a UTE sand dune safari, kayaking and snorkeling. The Museum for papirkunst (Museums of Paper Art) is a whimsical journey into the magic and beauty of paper.
Eat and Stay: When in Løkken, be sure to include a stop at RARTSTED for an unforgettable meal. The restaurant’s name, literally means “Nice Place” in Danish, and it lives up to its name in every sense. Owned by the incredibly talented and convivial duo, Stephen and Thomas, this enchanting establishment offers a blend of Danish and international flavors. A standout feature of the restaurant is that the owners take great pride in crafting many of their ingredients in-house (some of which you can buy to take home, including tasty jams, spice and tea blends, and even delicious hand-crafted gin and limoncello). RARTSTED is truly a gastronomic high point of any trip to North Jutland.
Hotel Lokken Strand this modern seaside retreat offers an impressive combination of comfort and natural beauty. The hotel’s welcoming atmosphere, modern amenities, and friendly owners ensure a relaxing escape. The hotel’s outstanding feature is its restaurant, VANDret. It offers a delectable culinary journey that celebrates the town’s rich seafood traditions and showcases the chef’s gift for crafting innovative dishes that are not only visually stunning but also a delightful feast for the taste buds. Yet another culinary standout in Lokken.
Day 4: Læsø
Explore: You simply can’t visit Denmark’s North Jutland region without a stop on the captivating island of Læsø. Visit Læsø Saltsyderi, a historic salt factory that dates back to the 12th century. Visitors can explore the ancient salt pans, where seawater is evaporated to yield the pure, highly prized Læsø salt.
You’ll also be wowed by Læsø’s famous seaweed roofs. Made for centuries from a layer of locally harvested seaweed, they are not only visually striking but also highly practical, providing excellent insulation and protection against the island’s harsh coastal climate. Discover that seaweed isn’t just good for roofs, it also tastes delicious at Læsø Tang Farm Shop. This charming little store offers a wide range of seaweed-based products, from seasonings and snacks to skincare items.
Eat: Seafood lovers won’t want to miss the chance to eat at Læsø Mejeri, Cafe & Vinbar. Here visitors can savor a wide array of seafood delights (order the plate of fresh “jomfruhummer” (scampi or European lobster) for a simple yet sublime meal). Additionally, the cafe offers a well-curated wine selection, so you’ll always have the perfect vintage to pair with your food. (And if you’re really lucky, you may be invited to a wine tasting in the genial proprietor, Peder Nielsen’s, wine cellar.) Another good option for a bite is VesterØl. The restaurant, located just steps from where the ferry docks guarantees an exceptional culinary experience. A popular dish is the fried pork belly with potatoes and parsley sauce.
Day 5: Skagen
Explore: Skagen, located at the northern tip of Jutland, is a picturesque coastal town famed for its stunning natural beauty and artistic heritage. It sits at the convergence of the Skagerrak and Kattegat seas, where two opposing currents meet, creating a unique and ever-changing seascape. Ride Sandormen through the picturesque dunes, to reach the exact point where the two seas collide. Visitors can also take a guided tour of the town, explore the charming yellow-painted houses and enjoy the pristine beaches.
Skagen’s watery charms and extraordinary light quality havw also attracted renowned painters for generations. See these famous works firsthand with a visit to the impressive Skagens Museum. Visitors can explore the vivid landscapes and seascapes that inspired artists like P.S. Krøyer and Anna Ancher, gaining insight into the creative process and the unique charm of Skagen’s natural surroundings.
Eat and Stay: Brøndums Hotel houses one of Skagen’s best restaurants, with a menu that includes dishes inspired by Madam Brøndum’s 19th-century recipes. The restaurant is especially famous for its open-faced sandwiches (smørrebrød) and the delectable fish soup. For the most requested room in town, look no further then Ruth’s Hotel. This historic 5-star boutique hotel cleverly manages to combine old-school elegance and modern comfort. The hotel’s culinary offerings are equally as acclaimed. The property boasts Okê, an award-winning gourmet restaurant, as well as a French-inspired eatery, Ruths Brasserie (with spectacular moules et frites. Be sure to ask the talented servers for thoughtful wine recommendations).