Travelling with a 4 year-old: Denmark (and a little bit of Sweden)

The summer holiday of 2010 was the first trip we’re experimenting with renting summer houses. I don’t remember exactly how we got interested with Denmark initially, but I’m sure looking at listings of cute summer houses dotting Denmark’s unspoiled countryside sealed the deal with us.

We were doing it as a road trip with two base camps; one week around Vejle Fjord in the Juttland peninsula, and another week in the island of Zealand (not to be confused with Zeeland in Netherlands and New Zealand), on the Roskilde Fjord. On the way home, we’re looping the trip down south, taking the ferry to cross back to Germany, and spending a night in Hamburg.

The first leg of the trip took us from Amsterdam, to the Vejle Fjord, in the vicinity of Fredericia, via Germany, where we stocked up on groceries before we reached the Danish border (groceries and petrol are cheaper in Germany compared to the Netherlands and Denmark). A week later, we would drive the shorter distance from Vejle Fjord, across the island of Funen, to the north end of Zeeland, where our second summer house was booked. This time, the Oma and Opa (granny and grandad) were joining us.

Where we stayed:

Being a city kid, we believe it’s important for the Kid to get the chance to have a safe environment to run around freely, climb trees, chase bugs, and basically let loose in unstructured play to discover things on her own outdoor. For this reason, we were looking for a house with generous outdoor space, preferably close to the beach, with some climbable tress. The first house we rented by the Vejle Fjord had it all, with the extra bonus of a small play structure.

Our little wooden house by the Vejle Fjord was a cute and snug cabin with two bedrooms. It was situated deep in the countryside that we couldn’t even get cellphone reception, but it was gloriously surrounded by miles and miles of wheat fields, apple trees, berry bushes, wild flowers, and the beach was a 30 seconds walk away (the water was too cold for swimming, though).

Our second house by the Roskilde Fjord had a big lawn backyard and a direct access to a shallow beach. It was bigger than the first house (which is why the grandparents could came along), and it was a great place to pitch up a small tent by the lawn, and to spend the evenings sitting by the beach, wrapped in blanket, watching the clear starry sky.

What we ate:

Since we stayed pretty far from any towns/villages, we mostly made our own food, from the supplies we brought. Sometimes we got to buy fresh potatoes and produce from local farmer. The farmers usually set up an unmanned stall by the road side and put whatever they wanted to sell, with a sign stating how much things are, and a box to put the money in. We became quite dependent on their potatoes after a while, since they were so fresh and delicious, and we could always come and pick them up at any time of the day (provided the stall hadn’t run out of it). We usually made them into German style bratkartoffeln (pan fried potatoes) mixed with Danish bacon. The houses also came with a barbecue set, which we frequently used. It’s a quaint way of feeding the family, and we love it more for it.

For breakfast, of course the Danish is famous for their pastries. Away from real town center, the closest option we got to get pastries was the petrol stations, but even then they are pretty good, and they make nice road trip snacks as well for the Kid when we went on day trips.

Generally, eating out in Denmark is expensive and options are not that great (except in the bigger cities like Roskilde and Copenhagen). The typical lunch you get is the open sandwich, Smørrebrød, which is a piece of rye bread topped with anything you can imagine, but both the Kid and I, preferring warm lunches, are not so keen on them.

What we did:

The Danish countryside was the perfect place to simply let go, enjoy the surrounding, and do nothing in particular. We taught the Kid to climb trees, we went and collect wild berries, with raspberries seemed to be in perfect season to pick. We ran around outdoor and rolled around on the lawn, hung out by the beach, collected pebbles and shells, observed insects, and walked around the surrounding farms watching farm animals and identifying crops and fruit trees. It’s basically summer camp for the whole family.

But Denmark also offered plenty in terms of opportunity to go out and do something more organised with the kids. Our favourites:

  1. Legoland! Located in Billund, it wasn’t far from our house in Vejle Fjord, and when we arrived there, it was a bit rainy and not really as crowded as we thought it would be. It’s a nice theme park; good sized, but not unwieldy, and provided plenty of rides for the younger kids. It’s a bonus to see all the miniature world made of Lego.
  2. Egeskov Castle. It’s in the island of Funen, southwest of Odense. Egeskov Castle has everything for everybody. The castle itself is authentic and well maintained, where you could see the collection of original furniture and decorations, including toy collection and the magnificent doll house “Titania Palace“. On the castle ground, there were flower gardens, two labyrinths, Veteran car museums, horse carriage ride, and so many more things to do that we didn’t get the chance to see them all. Our favourite was the Tree Top Walking, where they suspended walking trails on giant birch trees, 100 meters above the ground.
  3. The Viking Museum in Roskilde. It’s a must go for any Viking enthusiasts. Kids could also make necklaces from Viking-style beads, learn to tie knots, and learn what makes the Viking ships difficult to overturn, or to take a boat ride in one themselves.
  4. Experimentarium in Copenhagen. A hands-on science museum for kids with lots of interactive things to do and try. Parents might learn new things themselves.

We also spent a day crossing over to Sweden, from Helsingor to Helsingborg by ferry, driving along the coast all the way to Ängelholm, stopping by harbour towns, and went back to Denmark taking the impressive Øresund Bridge.

We were very lucky that the weather was close to perfect all two weeks we were there, and also on the way back home where we did an overnight stay in Hamburg. It was not an exotic trips, but it’s one of those trips where we felt so free because we only had to make minimal planning, but were left to our own feel of the day to decide what we wanted to do and where. And we got lots of delicious doing nothings in between.

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3 thoughts on “Travelling with a 4 year-old: Denmark (and a little bit of Sweden)

  1. I didn’t expect much of it but as a true nature and water lover, interested in history, Denmark was just soooo nice. Now that I think about it…its actually one of the trips we made that i have the most fond memories of. Its lovely there and I would love to go again. Perhaps next time by boat…

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