Fine cycle touring: cycling round Denmark

We've now toured Denmark twice on our bicycles: an Esbjerg-Copenhagen loop of 450 miles, and recently an islands loop, again from Esbjerg, of 520 miles. Our next loop up to the North of the Jutland Peninsula will probably be in the late Spring of 2011. Jutland is 70% of Denmark's land mass and is reputedly its most rural and remote province, at a latitude level with Scotland. When that is done, we'll have cycled round Denmark in a trilogy of cycle tours as fine as anywhere in Europe.


Waiting to board the ferry at Harwich

Several things make Denmark special as a cycle touring destination compared to, say, France, Germany, Switzerland, or Spain. It's cycle-friendly in every way possible: cycling infrastructure, gentle terrain, unsweaty climate, long daylight hours, quiet roads, pleasant accommodation, no blackspots to bypass, and above all a national love of the bicycle. Denmark is a friendly country in other ways too. Its people are polite, the gap between rich and poor is the lowest in Europe, and a sense of contentment seems to pervade the nation.

Tour plan with map | Actual daily positions | Tour photos

Sandra and me went there for the first time last year. We landed at the port of Esbjerg with our bikes and set off to camp in the nearby town of Ribe, and the following day we headed East with the aim of getting to Copenhagen in five days or so. Our anti-clockwise loop then brought us back to Esbjerg via Hamlet's castle and a couple of ferry trips. We hadn't booked anything in advance and we had my brother's maps from the 1980s. It was good, but in a few places we'd been lucky to find accommodation. And we got lost a few times.

So this year we had hostels and B&Bs booked in advance, and a route that was planned to the very last turn and loaded onto a Garmin GPS. We didn't book campsites though, and again we were lucky. The woman on reception at Ribe Camping asked:

"Are you Vikings?"

"No, we're from England," said Sandra.

"Cyclings!" replied the woman, "On your bicycles?"

"Ah, yes," we said. "We camped here last year. Can we have a pitch on the open ground at the back?"

The woman marked a pitch on a plan of the campsite, but hesitated, saying it would rain overnight, then offered a cabin at a reduced price. A little while later we noticed all the pitches were actually full because, as it turned out, it was a public holiday weekend. Danish public holidays are something to watch out for as they turn an empty campsite into a full one. They aren't really campsites but caravan parks. The site at Ribe is good, with a large shop and a swimming pool.


Our camping cabin at Ribe

Danish campsites all seem to have shops, showers, kitchens, and a sitting room where you can dine or watch TV. A few we've been on have an area tucked away for tents but mostly you're amongst the caravans and cabins. It was still raining in the morning. We waited until about ten to see if it would stop, then set off cycling along the road to Tønder 39 miles away. Somewhere around Skærbæk we stopped for coffee and warm apple pie. It was still raining and now I know my Páramo Quito jacket is waterproof, but at Tønder the sun was out.

Tønder Danhostel is right next to the campsite. I did a quick tour of the pitches. The site was completely full of caravans. A couple of pitches were vacant but muddy, and it was cold even in the sunshine. The hostel was deserted so we booked in with the next day's breakfast. We went for a cycle along the river then looked in town for a place to eat later on. Returning to the hostel I suggested to Sandra she might like to see for herself how muddy the last remaining pitch on the campsite was and why the hostel was worth the extra money. The site was now empty! In the space of an hour or so the Danish caravaners had all up and gone.

Our route for day three went off South East deep into the countryside with no towns to pass through until after the forest West of Padborg. This is what we came for. Straight empty lanes under a big blue sky with puffs of white and a following breeze. There's a quietness you rarely hear in England – just the birds and the swish of the tyres on the road. After 20 miles or so I noticed a hatched area criss-crossed on the map of my Garmin and wondered if it was a 'no go' zone like a firing range. It came up to the hedge to our right and looked just a normal field. I mentioned it to Sandra. Then a line came up on the GPS marked 'Danemark' and I realised we were heading into Germany. No. We were in Germany.


The open road: Sandra en route to Sønderborg from Tønder

After Padborg we dipped into Germany again, at Kupfermüle before turning East in Denmark into another forest at Kollund where you run along the Danish coast with the German coast just across the water. This is sigificant. The campsite manager at Sønderborg suggested we visit a local castle full of old cannons pointing South at the Germans, saying: "1864. The last time we were beaten by Germany." Sandra thought he'd said: "The last time we beat Germany," but I've looked it up since, and he was talking about the Second Schleswig War in which Denmark was beaten by Prussia. There is also the small matter of World War II, but never mind.

After we'd pitched the tent he came up on a ride-on lawnmower and asked us to move it back three metres. Later, in the sitting room, a Danish woman caravaner said she didn't like him because of all his rules and how he kept telling her off as if she was a child. To be fair, the whole place was spotless and the schoolchildren staying in the cabins near to our tent fell silent at 22.00 hours.


The harbour front at Sønderborg

Day four began with 11 miles cycling North East from Sønderborg to the coast at Fynshav to catch the 10.15 ferry to Bøjden on the island of Fyn (pronounced Foun). Actually, day four began with a cup of tea and some rolls we'd ordered the evening before from the campsite manager, which we collected at eight in the morning. Our Hillberg Nallo 2 GT tent packs up quicker than the panniers. I took a few photos and we were off by by eight thirty, along the Garmin's wiggly line.

I love ferry ports, and even the waiting around. It's much nicer than waiting for a train. While Sandra got the tickets I watched a couple of workmen tamping some concrete with a small machine then one of them lifted a big steel plate onto a lorry with a mechanical digger. As the boat appoached from across the water we laid our bikes down at the front of the queue. Bicycles are always the first on board and Sandra was pleased there was no ramp to cycle up. The sun was beginning to break through a little, but over towards Fyn, an hour away across the Lillebælt, the sky was a very dark grey.

Our plan had been to cycle from the port at Bøjden to Faaborg (we'd stay at the hostel there on our return journey a week later), then on through Svendborg and across a bridge to a campsite at Vindebyør, involving a detour a few miles East of our main track. I'd also planned a pleasant detour on the way in to Svendborg in the form of a scenic route along meandering lanes by the coast. But all this had left us with a big day five, including another ferry trip from Spodsbjerg to the island of Lolland and a further 40 miles or so to a campsite at Guldborg – nearly 60 miles of cycling in all, plus the ferry. And if the campsite was full, it would be too late in the day to find somewhere else to stay, as Guldborg is a very small town.

Before we'd even got to my scenic detour Sandra was looking at her guidebook, thinking we should go all the way to Spodsbjerg. She reckoned the campsite there looked better than the one at Vindebyør, and if it was full there were others to choose from. Day five would then be easier as we'd be straight on the ferry.

On the outskirts of Svendborg my Garmin really came into its own. "This way," I'd say as we'd turn into a sidestreet.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes!" I'd shout back.

I think she found it irritating, as if we were somehow being cheated of the fun of finding the way. This may be true, but the fact is that the back lanes we cycled along brought us out exactly where you turn onto the bridge to the next island.

Sandra hates those high bridges and scoots across as quicky as possible, never even glancing sideways. Me, I stopped in the middle for a photo of my saddle two hundred feet above the water.


Causeway to Spodsbjerg

As we cycled across more bridges and causeways to the island of Langeland we began to run short of time. Reception on Danish campsites opens only at certain periods of the afternnon: 4 till 6, 5 till 7, 6 till 8, and so on. If you don't arrive by then you'll have no toilet key. With a few miles still to go before Spodsbjerg the main road became 'no cyclists' and a bicycle sign pointed off to the right into the country. I'd seen the absense of a cycle lane when planning the route on Google Earth in March but my Garmin's wiggly line took us off to the left, not the right. To please Sandra (she still didn't trust the GPS) we followed the bicycle sign instead, and wandered in all directions until we arrived at the campsite just as the office was closing.

Day five was bright and sunny with a following wind and gorgeous cycling across the island of Lolland between our landing port of Tårs and Maribo via the pretty town of Nakskov. As we drank coffee in the sunshine in the main square at Maribo we met a young Brian May lookalike English cycle tourist who, as lone travellers often do, told us his life story. Like us, he was heading North towards Copenhagen but he had no map or GPS. We told him he'd have to cross the small bridge at Guldborg, then the mighty Storstrømmen bridge to Vordingborg, and wished him bon voyage.

I'd already studied the Guldborg campsite on Google Earth. When we arrived it was bigger than I'd imagined, run by a pleasant elderly couple who didn't seem bothered by long grass.

"How much are the cabins?" asked Sandra.

"The cabins are cheap!" replied the woman.

We pushed our bikes over the daisies and buttercups to cabin number 5. Inside, it smelt of old clothes. The whole campsite had a run down feel but the toilets and showers were clean. It was full of empty caravans. There's a nice Marina at Guldborg, by the old bridge across to the island of Falster, and a café crowded with people eating beefburgers covered in mayonnaise. We wondered if we'd see Brian May cycling past. We took photographs in the lovely evening light by the water. At the cabin, as well as locking the bikes I put the cover over them. I'm not sure why.


Guldborg marina

We cycled over the bridge early the next morning, day six, and set off to the Storstrømmen bridge under a dull grey photogenic sky. After a few hundred yards I reached for my camera, which I carry slung over my shoulder. It wasn't there. I must have left it on the table outside the cabin. I shouted at Sandra to stop because I've left my camera and raced the mile back to the campsite, panniers and all. Before turning into the gate I looked back down the road and saw Sandra cycling towards me and immediately knew she'd packed my camera in her luggage. Mine and hers are identical cameras with identical cases. She'd found it quickly and called out to me, but I'd shot off too fast. Her speed as she'd cycled back along the road was as impressive as mine!

For me, cycling over the Storstrøm bridge (which crosses the Storstrømmen channel) was to be one of the highlights of our tour. It's over three kilometres long and carries a railway as well as a road. Unlike the nearby bridges at Farø, bicycles are allowed. It was actually a bit of a disappointment and in poor condition. As usual, Sandra didn't waste time getting over but I stopped a few times. The whole structure shook as a train came by en route from Copenhagen to Hamburg. Halfway over a man was holding a fishing line that trailed down to the water. On the Vordingborg side the Garmin led us through town and we were soon on the long straight highway North to Køge, where we aimed to enjoy the same delicious ommelettes as last year at the Café Vanilla.


Grey morning approaching the Storstrøm bridge

The rest of the way was a trudge. I liked it but Sandra didn't. We'd come to a long straight perhaps three miles long and rising gradually a couple of hundred feet, then over the brow we'd see the same thing again – down then up, then down then up for mile after mile dead straight. For Sandra's amusement I called out the altitude each time it changed ten feet. In the Café Vanilla we found that ommelettes are on the lunchtime menu only, but the sun was out on a pleasant evening, and Køge Danhostel is excellent.

On day seven we turned West into the prevailing wind towards Korsør on the opposite side of the island of Sjælland. Copenhagen, the Danish capital, is on this island. We cycled through it last year on the way to Hamlet's castle at Helsingør. There wasn't actually much wind on this day and the sky was blue. We stopped for coffee at Ringsted then cycled past our campsite at Sorø, another memory from last year's tour.

The landscape West of Slagelse as you approach Korsør is especially pretty, and you begin to catch glimpses of the magnificent Storbælt road bridge that links Sjælland with Fyn. This was the second public holiday weekend in a row so we expected the Storbælt campsite to be pretty full. We were offered a choice of the only two remaining pitches. We chose the one by the beach, where the view of the bridge is superb. This is an excellent campsite with more toilets and showers per capita than we've ever seen and a clientele of three generations of Danish families. In the evening we cooked pasta then cycled over towards the town. By 10.30 pm the campers were mostly in bed, but even if they hadn't been, we'd have heard nothing over the roar of traffic crossing the nearby bridge.


Another bridge: Storbælt (from Korsør)

Unfortunately you cannot cycle over the Storbælt bridge. You catch a train from Korsør station and get off at Nyborg. The train doesn't cross the bridge either, going the best part of the way through a tunnel. As we cycled out of Nyborg towards Odense it began to rain but day eight was going to be a short day. By early afternoon we were knocking on Mette's door. Mette's B&B is a pleasant annex in a garden through an archway. The room is on the ground floor, and upstairs is an open attic with large mirrors round the walls. There are plenty of mirrors downstairs too. The landlady is some kind of therapist and the place was quite sexy.

My brother likes Odense a lot but to us it was just another pleasant Danish town with the usual cobbled precinct and shops that never seem to open. In the centre are some Parisian-style street cafés that are nice to look at but a waste of time and money to sit in. Instead, we had warm apple pie in the sunshine outside an English-style pub, then a bit later went to Macdonald's. As we left in the morning I stole a small blue facecloth from Mette because I thought she'd skimped a little with our pricey breakfast.

Day nine was also supposed to be an easy day: 33 miles to Faaborg via Egeskov Slot, a major castle for sightseers. But near the town of Ringe my Garmin led us towards motorway number 9. This was a stupid mistake on my part when I'd planned the route. To make things worse, the cycle route signs outside the town made no sense. We cycled a few miles in the wrong direction, rode back, and Sandra got the map out. This worked. An elderly Danish couple stopped their car and asked if we were lost. They told us the way to the castle, where we then turned West into a stiff headwind the rest of the way to Faaborg.


Faaborg Danhostel (on the left)

As we'd learnt to expect, everything in the town was shut, including the hostel, but there's a nice marina – our fifth so far. Like the others it was full of German yachts and again, like the others, there was no-one around. Sandra managed to find some eggs and when the hostel opened she made some cheese ommelettes. Faaborg Danhostel is an olde-worlde collection of buildings with a lovely courtyard sheltered from the wind. The wind had begun to play a part in the progress of our cycle tour, blowing hard, as it was, from the North West.

The next day it rained, but it was another short ride – just 24 miles to Assens. The reason we were going to Assens was mostly the steak and chips we enjoyed there last year, just as we'd revisited Køge for the ommelettes. Would the café be open, we wondered? It rained hard in our faces but it was surprisingly pleasant. Somehow I could still see through my glasses and my head was dry in the hood of my Páramo jacket. Sandra put on her waterproof trousers. Our route took us close to the coast and we arrived in Assens by our sixth marina. We went straight to the café and booked a table for six-thirty. The hostel was empty except for a few migrant workers.

The hostels we've stayed at in Denmark have all been good, but some better than others. Last year at Assens Danhostel some Danish motorcyclists had told us about one of the best there is: a five star hostel up at Fredericia. We'd decided to try it, and day eleven was the day. It began with a scenic ride North up to the main road from Nyborg to Middelfart where you turn West towards the Brovejen bridge leading back to the Danish mainland. The section to Middelfart along this road wasn't much fun even in the sunshine. There was no cycle lane and the wind blew hard, head on. I fell into a ditch by the road and cut my hand. Going North again, over the bridge to Fredericia, was much nicer.


Sandra on the balcony outside our room at Fredericia Danhostel

Fredericia Danhostel resembles an expensive hotel. The only other guests were a few travelling tradesmen and a small group of students, and they were gone by 8.00 am. At breakfast we had the dining room mostly to ourselves. Day twelve was a good 55 miles to Varde on the far side of Jutland, cycling due West into the prevailing wind, and as soon as we'd arrived we'd asked at the desk for a weather forecast. Like today but better, with less wind, the woman had said. We'd already talked about what we might do had the weather been wet and windy as it was two days before. The downside of pre-booking places to stay is that you need to arrive. We'd probably have caught a train. But this was a beautiful day and a gorgeous cross-country route through farmland and forests.

The Garmin led us to Frisvadvej in Varde. Our B&B was somewhere in this street. We'd forgotten to bring the actual address but we knew the landlady's name was Kristen. I'd planned the route right to the front door, so I looked at the GPS map and rode to the house at the end of the wiggly line. Kristen opened the door.

It was a lovely room, with a mock orange tree in full bloom outside the window. I'd recommend it to anyone in need of accommodation close to the port of Esbjerg. Kristen's breakfast provisions were better than Mette's so there would be no need to steal a facecloth. Her website is here on I doubt if many foreigners visit Varde but it's a nice little town and a good place for a first night off the Harwich ferry.


The coast at Hjerting, a few miles North of Esbjerg

All we had to do on day thirteen was cycle 16 easy miles to Esbjerg and hang around in the sunshine for a few hours. First we hung around drinking coffee at Hjerting a little up the coast. Sandra dipped her toes in the sea and we watched our ferry coming in.

The coast down to Esbjerg is lined with bungalows overlooking the ocean. We both admired one in particular: a piece of modern architecture right at the end before you come to the massive quadruple statues called Man Meets the Sea. The Garmin was now redundant. We aimed our bicycles at the tall white chimney that dominates the Esbjerg skyline and is next to the ferry port. But before we made for the port we did what we did last year: Macdonald's in the main square then a pleasant couple of hours watching the Danes go by.

Tour plan with map | Actual daily positions | Tour photos

See also our 2009 cycle tour in Denmark »


Esbjerg ferry port from the boat

Cycling in Denmark

Despite being the most densely populated country in Europe, Denmark is quiet with little traffic on most of its roads. The population is concentrated around Copenhagen and the next largest cities – Odense and Århus – are small towns by UK standards. Except in residential streets (although often there too) there are dedicated cycle paths along one or both sides of urban roads, often separated from the road by a grass strip. Even in Copenhagen you can cycle right through the city without ever once sharing the surface with a motor vehicle.

Main roads between towns often have a separate cycle path running alongside, sometimes meandering off into woodland before coming close up again at the next junction. These cycle paths can be on both sides of the highway or on one side only with a dotted white line down the centre. If they are numbered with a blue bicycle sign, they are part of the official network of national, regional, and local cycle routes. Some of these routes go off into the country, through fields and forests, winding their way through beauty spots and places to picnic or sit beside a lake.

Not all Danish roads have a cycle path. Main roads sometimes don't and country roads generally don't until you come close to a village or road junction. But motorists in Denmark give cyclists a wide berth and the density of traffic is low, so a vehicle slowing down for a cyclist is less likely to back up drivers behind.

At roundabouts cyclists have priority over motor vehicles. In other words, when you cycle round (anti-clockwise), you have priority over drivers turning off the roundabout. This means that when you turn off it you must give a hand signal to let them know they can also turn off. The cycle lane on a roundabout is often painted blue. The priority system is something of a luxury for cyclists.


An urban cycle path in Denmark: priority for cyclists

When turning left (equivalent to turning right in the UK) you don't move to the centre of the road. Instead, you stay on the right and position yourself opposite the right lane of the road you want to turn in to, and wait until nothing is coming. Going straight on at a crossroads you have right of way over vehicles turning right. Even if they're ahead of you they must wait if they're in your way. At traffic lights you'll often find a separate set just for cyclists.

Danish towns all seem to have a cobbled precinct in the centre, where you are allowed to ride your bike, although the surface can be very bumpy for the tyres of a loaded tourer. In the evenings and at weekends, town centres are usually deserted except for the odd restaurant. Filling stations are the most reliable places to look for toilets and basic food and drink when everything else is closed. If you're caught short en route you're never far from a patch of woodland.

All young people in Denmark speak English, although it's worth asking: "Do you speak English?" before making the assumption. Older people often don't. We've tried to communicate with elderly people who don't understand a single word. Not even right or left. But they are unfailingly polite. It's hard to reconcile the image of the plundering Viking with the inhabitants of modern Denmark. It is the most peaceful and hospitable place imaginable and the perfect environment for touring on bicycles. For weather and relaxation, the month of May is the time to go.

42 comments on “Fine cycle touring: cycling round Denmark”

  1. louis wrote:

    I'm 55 yrs old and still a trip like that is only a dream to me. Thanx for sharing your adventure.

  2. Mary wrote:

    Wonderful story Patrick, you seem to have had a fabulous time out there. Wish I had the courage to give a foreign port a call. What GPS do you have? I have just got a Garmin Edge, but not sure on its power to plot a decent track, as it only has 100waypoints on it (pathetic in my opinion) but I am still learning how to use it.

    What a change you must of felt to not feel 'in the thick of it' regarding the cars. I am in the middle of organising my Tour to Norfolk, and the A46 is not going to be nice at all! Even the B&B offered to pick me up!

    Great BLog and as usual brill photos.

  3. Patrick wrote:

    Thanks Mary. My GPS is a Garmin eTrex Legend HCx. Mick F has a Garmin Edge 705. He wrote this Post about it. I think you need to take some time with these things to begin with. 100 waypoints is quite a lot, if you use them as waypoints. I don't ever use them. I just use tracks.

  4. Garry Lee wrote:

    I've a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx. I can tell you that there's more than a bit of learning in them. The ideal way to learn about something like this is to find someone's who's done it and get him or her to show you. I didn't have such a person!. I don't use it all the time, but I'm still getting the hang of it a year later!. It's a great bit of equipment though.
    This is a very good account of a tour. May I suggest an addendum which would be very interesting to me, as I've never gone cyclecamping, but fancy doing it? I'd love to know all about the camping kit, tent, sleeping bags, floormat, cooking kit etc., how much it weighs, how well you sleep, how long it takes to pitch and subsequently pack the tent etc.,

  5. Patrick wrote:

    Our tent is a Nallo 2 GT made by Hilleberg. It weighs 2.6 kg, sleeps 2 in comfort, and has an extended porch that easily fits eight panniers with space left over. It's one of the best tents there is for cycle touring. I carry it in a drybag on the rear rack between the panniers. The flysheet and inner are already connected together so all you do to erect the tent is shove three bendy poles into external sleeves on the flysheet. It takes about three minutes, then you bang a few pegs in. The pegs are titanium. Taking the tent down and rolling it back into its bag is also very quick. Sandra does that while I put the panniers on the bikes.

    My sleeping bag is a Vango Venom 300, which packs down to the size of a loaf of bread and weighs 810 grams. Sandra's is a cheap thing she bought from Tesco. We both use Thermarests as sleeping mats. She has an inflatable pillow and mine is a supersoft Lifeventure pillow with microbeads.

    The cooker is a Primus EtaPower which uses small disposable gas cylinders and is incredibly fast and efficient, so you don't need to carry much gas. It has a special heat exchange pan and wind shield. It's a bit heavy at 830 grams but it can boil a litre of water in under 3 minutes. It's noisy! I love how it roars like a jet taking off.

    Commercially run Danish campsites usually have sitting/dining rooms and kitchens with pots and pans so I suppose you could get away with no cooker. We also took our own proper steel knives forks and spoons, a couple of plastic bowls, a sugar box, tea and coffee bags, tin opener, and Berghaus insulated drinking mugs. Those drinking mugs are useful at breakfast in hostels or on the boat, so you don't need to keep running back and forth refilling tiny cups with coffee.

    Other bits and pieces: small head torches, 2 bike locks, and a two-bike cover from Halfords. At night I locked the bikes together with a combination cable lock (I used a D-lock last year) then either locked them to something with the other cable or ran it inside the tent to a pannier handle. The bike cover is heavy for what it is, but it's useful for hiding the bikes and doubles as a dry sheet to sit on outside the tent. I might not bother taking it next time, as Denmark is definitely low risk.

    Unless there are drunken yobs on the campsite (which you find anywhere in the UK but not in Denmark) we've never had trouble getting to sleep. If you need a pee in the night, just use a water bottle.

    I hope that helps. Incidentally, there's a list of our cycle touring kit in the account of our 2009 Denmark tour and here's a photo of our tent. Quality camping equipment can be expensive, especially if you want it lightweight for cycle touring, but it works better and lasts longer.

  6. Garry Lee wrote:

    Well done sir!. I'm not your usual man. My motto is that "The easiest way to learn anything is to learn from the experience of others". I'm one of those rare rare males. When I'm travelling, I constantly ask for directions. It's surprising how seldom you get lost if you do!!
    Thanks again,

  7. Patrick wrote:

    When getting directions, ask three people, my mother always said. Your comment raises a philosophical issue for a traveller. Asking for directions is a way to connect to the place you're at and the people around you. And it means you don't know exactly what you're doing. You have a map but you're lost. Some would say that's part of the experience of travelling, especially on a bicycle. I can relate to that, based on last year's 'unrouted' trip and this year's. With a route planned out in advance to the very last turn, there's a sense of being in a pipe. Someone else's pipe, even, because the wiggly line on the GPS (created over two months earlier) becomes just a line. A guided tour, you might say.

  8. Chris wrote:

    Hi, Patrick. Another cracking account. I'm looking forward to a briefer tour in the summer, possibly from one port to another then back on the ferry. Not sure where, as it hasn't been sorted out yet. I'm probably going to do our little tour on my mountain bike, Mrs Bailey on her hybrid. We've never been camping together, and sadly we're not about to start as Mrs B likes her comforts – tents aren't one of them.

    I've looked through your photographs on Flickr, and I'm envious 😥

  9. Patrick wrote:

    Thanks Chris. Let us know about your summer trip. I've camped since I was young but went off it a few years ago. It seems I'm a camper again. Mrs T loves it. I read somewhere there's a cargo ferry from Immingham to Esbjerg which allows foot passengers with bikes. I must look into that.

  10. Helen wrote:

    Like Patrick, I've toured Denmark the last 2 years, but alone and only with a basic map of cycle routes. No problem! Food's dear but I just spent 11 nights completely free on official Camping i det Fri sites (1000 of them in the handbook). Yes, basic and sometimes without water or a toilet but FREE! Total cost average 6 quid a day on food.
    Last year I flew Birmingham-Billund with Ryanair, this time Manchester-Copenhagen with Easyjet.
    I'll be back!

  11. shine.p.sabu wrote:

    really great my dear friend, i also wish to do long cycle tours, hope we INDIANS also will give more preference for cycling later

  12. Kern wrote:

    shine.p.sabu wrote:

    hope we INDIANS also will give more preference for cycling later

    This is extremely interesting. Mary and I spent time in India in the late '70s and had some memorable moments on the ubiquitous bicycle rickshaws. There were lots of bicycles at the time, all of which were utilitarian. I always liked the big brass horns – the ones with a big rubber bulb that you squeezed when a water buffalo got in the way!

    Sabu, is there any interest at all in recreational cycling in India these days? I have read a few trip reports from the subcontinent – it strikes me that cycling there is not for the faint-of-heart. Is traffic still as crazy? Does anyone ride road bikes?

  13. Patrick wrote:

    Let's hope Sabu posts back. One of my sons was in India last Autumn. He saw masses of bikes – families cycling together and bicycles used for transportation and work. Not recreational though.

  14. Justin wrote:

    Hello Patrick!
    Just read both your cycling websites detailing your holidays in 2009 and 10 to Denmark! I feel like I've had a holiday before my own cycling holiday to Denmark! Very enjoyable read! Did you make it back this year?!

  15. Patrick wrote:

    Hello Justin, and thanks. There was actually a change of plan for Spring 2011. We went to Holland instead of Denmark – unfinished business from last year. I hope you have an excellent trip. We've enjoyed our two Holland tours very much but I think from a cycling point of view, Denmark wins. It's quieter and the landscape is prettier with a few hills. On the other hand (nothing against Danes of course) Dutch people are the friendliest we've met... I think I'll shut up there!

  16. Justin wrote:

    Hi Patrick,
    Good to hear that! My tour this summer brings me from Copenhagen through Germany and Holland to finish in Belgium so good to hear I'll be going through two very cycle friendly and people friendly countries! And thanks for the link to your Holland story! That read will get me through my last hour of work tonight!

  17. Mike Greer wrote:

    Thank you for a very interesting and helpful article. My partner and I are going to Denmark in April. Touring through and around , so your article provided some great ideas!

  18. Patrick wrote:

    Thanks Mike. Enjoy your trip. There's also a short report of our May 2009 trip (written before this blog began) and a photo gallery.

  19. Dena Esbjerg wrote:

    Hello Patrick & Sandra. We have really enjoyed your site and information travelling in Denmark. This July my husband and I are going to cycle in Denmark. This will be the first time we have ever done this. We are 53 and 61 and I am concerned with running into some large hills. We plan to land in Copenhagen and then cycle to Fyn. Can you tell us what would be the best route to take. We have at least 4 weeks to do this. Then we will ferry to Keil and then train back to Amsterdam, a total of 8 weeks. Also, should we buy a small camp stove there or will there be fuel containers that will hook to ours we can bring.

  20. Patrick wrote:

    Hello Dena.

    Hills should not be a problem. With 4 weeks, my suggestion is as follows:

    Copenhagen -> north to Helsingor, then west to ferry at Hundested -> over to Nykobing, then south to Soro, then down to cross bridge Vordingborg -> west across Lolland via Maribo to Nakskov -> ferry to Spodsbjerg then Svendborg (on Fyn) up to Odense -> west to Assens then south to Faaborg. You should do that easily and it would make a lovely tour with easy cycling. I'm not sure where you would catch a ferry to Keil though. I might be inclined to take the ferry from Faaborg to Sonderborg (on the mainland). From there, Keil is not far away by train.

    All the camp sites we have been to in Denmark have fully equipped kitchens and dining areas but I would still take a small stove just in case.

    This was our second cycle tour in Denmark. The first was the year before – description here – and we are planning to go again in 2015.

  21. Dena Esbjerg wrote:

    Hi Patrick; thank you so much for the route information. We are really looking forward to the trip!

  22. Patrick wrote:

    It's rather a meandering route but that's because Denmark is small. You could cover the whole country in four weeks. Whichever way you go you'll enjoy it. Have a lovely trip!

  23. jim wrote:

    Hi Patrick
    Good article.
    Do you have any info on prices for campgrounds, chalets, B&Bs etc?


  24. Patrick wrote:

    Sorry Jim, I can't remember. Neither can Sandra (she did the admin). Not particularly cheap though, as Denmark isn't cheap. We have camped at Ribe a couple of times – I think the prices are on there somewhere. But we stayed only at camp sites with all mod cons, which are only a bit cheaper than B&B or Danhostels. I know there's a network of small private camp sites which are very cheap – or even free (with limited facilities) but can't remember what they are called either.

  25. Chris wrote:

    Hi Patrick, We did our first long cycle tour in Holland and Germany last year, 666 miles in 3 weeks mainly following the Rhine, then up to Den Helder and down the coast, by the way for your first commenter, I am 55! We are planning on going to Denmark this August, and doing a similar trip to your first one, to Copenhagen then back a different way. One of the photos of your first trip shows a fairly rough track, something that we have encountered in France, which has put us off touring there, is that a rare thing to see? As you well know a well packed touring bike can be hard work on soft gravel.

  26. Patrick wrote:

    Hi Chris. I think I know which photo you mean. The rough tracks we came across on that first trip (which are not actually very rough) were mainly the result of following some of the official signposted cycle routes – the numbered ones. They can take you on a sort of scenic detour through woods and what not. We soon dropped that idea and relied on our map instead, or normal road signs. Generally, rough surfaces are not a problem, at least in the places we've been. Cycle touring in Denmark is a very different proposition to France, I think. Much better, but that's a personal view. We are planning our third trip there next year.

  27. Chris wrote:


    Thanks, I have just read both your trips, and looked at the photos of the roads/tracks with interest, although I'm sure Denmark will be a lot more expensive than Holland, it's a country I have not been to, although my wife has, and it looks a very cycle-friendly place. Last year we camped all the time, with one exception, and I was a bit concerned that the camping may be a bit too spread out, but it looks like there is quite a lot more than I thought, hopefully we can just roll up in August and get a place.

  28. Patrick wrote:

    Most of the Danish camp sites we've stayed on have been established ones used mostly by Danish people with caravans and campervans. Usually they have a patch set aside for small tents on a casual basis. In May these were mostly empty but I would be inclined to contact a few typical sites in advance and check for August, especially on public holiday weekends. Other than that, Denmark has a network of private householders who offer simple camping spaces on their properties. I can't remember what this network is called but I think a book is available in which they are all listed.

  29. Chris wrote:


    Thanks, we were quite pleasantly surprised in Germany and Holland that most sites, apart from those in the middle of cities, had very few tents and loads of space, even in August. I will certainly check out the private house option though, I don't like booking the campsites, as it takes away the flexibility of a cycling holiday. Cant wait to get going now! Off to France this weekend for a Wiggle event, a lot quicker than my touring speed!


  30. Dena Esbjerg wrote:

    Hi Patrick. We are about 2 weeks out from our cycle trip to Denmark and are following most of your route suggestions but wanted to know if you have travelled from Hillerod down to Rosekilde area (because it looks interesting). Seems there may be some inclines there that could be difficult. Any info you have through this area would be helpful.
    Thank you.

  31. Patrick wrote:

    Hi Dena. We cycled through Hillerod but went westwards to Hundested for the ferry and eventually Aarhus. Rosekilde: I don't think you'll find many nasty inclines anywhere in Denmark though the wind can hold you back a little sometimes.

    I hope you enjoy your trip.

  32. Andrew Fenn wrote:

    Hi, I am from the UK but live in Denmark (Esbjerg) and I love it. I am a cycling addict and it truely is a great country for the sport. Just thought I would let you all know that sadly the ferry to denmark from the UK will cease operation this year so that will be very disappointing after 100 years. On nearly every voyage there is a bike or two laden with panniers.

  33. Patrick wrote:

    Thanks Andrew. No more ferries from England to Denmark? Can that be true?

  34. tandemtim wrote:

    Interesting blog and comments. We plan to spend a month cycling around Denmark this June (2015) on our tandem. We have toured Germany, France, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary since retirement in 2009 always staying in pre-booked small hotels. We intend to do this in Denmark. It would seem that there are now no ferries UK-Denmark so we are thinking of training from Rotterdam to Flensburg. Trains on the continent even with a tandem are easy if pre-booked through Deutsch Bahn.

    For interest to one of your respondents I have used a Garmin Etrex Vista Cx for seven years which last year I replaced with an Edge Touring – The Etrex was fabulous and the Edge Touring so dreadful that it quickly got returned and replaced with an Etrex 30 which is also fabulous. It took me 2 years of continuous use to understand the first Etrex (the Garmin instructions are dreadful but their phone help is good if you get the right person) and I am still learning after a year the new one.

    Thanks for the info.
    Tim and Mary Hoyle.

  35. Patrick wrote:

    We'll look out for you both. We are going cycling in Denmark late May / early June. It's a shame about the Harwich – Esbjerg crossing. It's hard to believe there is no public ferry between the two countries any more. We'll be cycling from Copenhagen this time.

  36. Sally wrote:

    Just to let you know that Regina ferries will be operating the Harwich-Esbjerg route from Easter 2015.

  37. Chris wrote:

    Sally wrote: Just to let you know that Regina ferries will be operating the Harwich-Esbjerg route from Easter 2015.

    Sadly, I think that statement is more in hope that in expectation.

  38. Patrick wrote:

    Even if they were, with an on board disco ending at 03:00 am we won't be (to name just one reason).

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