Denmark: Cycling the Baltic Sea Route
Like many visitors, when I first visited Denmark I didn’t venture outside of Copenhagen. That was a mistake.
It’s a mistake many make with London and the UK or Barcelona and Spain or Rome and Italy. There’s just so much more Denmark has to offer, from coastlines and landscapes, to forests and cosy villages. On this eye-opening trip, we discover majestic chalk cliffs, stone-sculpted heads, stunning islands, archipelago’s and sixteenth century castles. And we’ll do it all on two wheels.
Did you know Denmark is perfectly equipped for exploring by bike?
It’s flat, has purpose built biking roads and a superb network of cycling routes connecting the entire country. In this article, we explore the Baltic Sea Route, mostly following the N8 cycle route across some of the most beautiful coastal regions in Denmark.
The Baltic Sea Route connects pretty much the whole of South Denmark and stretches over 820km in a huge figure of eight. Therefore, you’ll want enough time to explore it, I’d recommend at least 10 days or 2 weeks, depending on whether you will only travel by bike, or if you will also drive some of the route. As with any travel you’ll get to know a destination better if you spend longer there, and you could easily increase that to 3 or 4 weeks to really take your time.
The Baltic Sea Route:
South Zealand and Møn
We started this epic cycling trip in South Zealand and Møn, which is a massive 170km of the Baltic Sea Route. This area isn’t too far from Copenhagen to the perfect place to start our adventure.
Our first stop was the Gavnø Castle. Known as the flower island, this beautiful building was reminiscent of a Manor House like Goodwood House in England. It has a grand entrance over the bridge and cycling up to it made us really feel like we arrived in Denmark. After a chat with Helle (the Baroness) it hit me just how much there is to Gavnø Castle. From the stunning flowers, a butterfly farm, climbing park, brewery and one of the largest art collections in Europe. There is quite literally something for everyone.
Not to be missed: get a pre-made picnic box from the café and enjoy it in the Castle gardens.
If you like your art and in particular, graffiti or street art, then head to the city of Næstved. For more than 30 years Næstved has built a reputation among the graffiti world and has several incredible paintings dotted around the city. The best way to spot them all is to arrange a local tour to show you the best of the 19 different street art locations.
We then headed to Møns Klint. Of all the places on the Baltic Sea Route I must admit I was most excited about Møns Klint, one of Denmark’s natural wonders. The stunning coastline and chalk cliffs are the main attraction here, with impressive views at the top and bottom. The cliffs are home to the protected peregrine falcon, the fastest bird in the world which nests here, so a popular spot for birdwatchers. And for the adrenaline junkies you can swap your road bike for mountain bikes and explore a variety of trails through the forest, catering for each standard. I stuck to the beginner tracks! Finally, the GeoCentre provides a fascinating insight into the geology of the area and sends you back millions of years when dinosaurs ruled the planet.
Hotel & Restaurant: To sleep I recommend Bakkegaard Gæstgiveri, a charming little Bed & Breakfast close to Møns Klint, and you’ll pass by Stege where you’ll find a delicious and fresh burger at Det Gamle Bryghus (I love the beer here, which is brewed just up the road).
After Møn we took the ferry from Bogø to Falster, for the next part of the N8 route, which covers a mix of forests, open landscapes and local cities. The N8 naturally flows down the coastline of Falster to my first recommendation; Marielyst Beach. The beach here has been voted the best beach in Denmark many times and has 20km of soft sand. The town itself has a charming laid-back vibe, and a café culture which invites you to watch the world pass by with a drink. Then sit back and enjoy live music in the evening.
For our next stop we headed to Lolland and ventured away from the N8 route and up to Dodekalith, Greek for ‘The Twelve-Stone’. Dodekalith will be a monument of twelve 8-metre-high statues in a circle, with each head sculptured on a legend from the Lolers. On top of that they will sing! If you stand in the middle a 12-channel sound system will play changing acoustics throughout the day. Although Dodekalith is far from finished, it’s still an impressive site and is a must visit if you come to Lolland. It is, and essentially will be, a great tribute to the island’s history and ancestors.
Hotel & Restaurant: We stayed and slept at Hotel Saxkjøbing, which is owned by Claus Meyer a famous Danish chef. The building has been here 200 years and has a fantastic heritage, it also plays a key role in the local community.
From Lolland Falster you have the option to explore Fyn or head over the South Jutland, we choose to see South Jutland first, and Fyn on the way back. South Jutland has more than 3,000km of marked cycle routes, and several bed and bike options, it also has 9 free bike repair stations spread all around in case you need to make any repairs to your bike.
We started in Sønderborg, the largest town in South Jutland. We cycled along the bridge which has fantastic views across the harbour and spent time exploring the impressive castle. The castle doubles as a museum for Southern Jutland history. The town is known as a countryside metropolis, and has several small cafes, pretty old houses and of course the harbour to enjoy.
We then followed the N8 from Sønderborg to Fjordvejen, right on the German border. It’s here the N8 connects to the Eurovelo 10, one of Europe’s most famous cycling routes. The scenery is beautiful, and you must try the famous hot dog at Annie’s Kiosk, which overlooks the Ox Islands. We then headed north to Aabenraa, a seaside market town with an impressive maritime history. You must stop by the historic street called ‘Slotsgaden’, which connects the small castle to the town centre, and take some time to wander the white sand beach.
Not to be missed: cycling across the beautiful and historic Gejlå Bridge on route to Haderslev.
Our final stop in Southern Jutland is Haderslev Dam, where the reservoir has a whole community of wildlife and entertainment built around it. We took the silent electric Dam Boat around the lake with our bikes onboard. It’s a hop on hop off service and the perfect way to see the largest lake in Southern Jutland. There’s a remarkable amount of bird and plant life here, and many activities for all ages. I recommend a few days to explore Haderslev Dam if you can. We jumped off the boat at Danhostel and cycled through the beautiful deer park.
Hotel & Restaurant: The Benniksgaard Hotel is perfectly located for your arrival into South Jutland, and has a fantastic restaurant on site, as well as a beautiful golf course. For a great meal after seeing Aabernraa lookout for Restaurant Knapp which has a fresh gourmet menu.
Still heading north on the N8 towards the west of Fyn we came to Little Belt, an area with a fantastic mix of history, culture and nature. Our first stop was the town of Kolding, an area with something for everyone. From forests, beaches, river valleys and historical gems such the majestic Koldinghus Castle. This impressive castle was destroyed by a fire in 1808, but has now been restored to its former glory, and for me was one of the most impressive castles we saw on the Baltic Sea Route.
Our next stop in Little Belt were the Fredericia Ramparts, one of the oldest and best-preserved ramparts in Northern Europe. They were built to strengthen Denmark’s defences at a time of war, and it is one of the only towns in Denmark to be built from scratch with no prior inhabitants. The ramparts are now a peaceful walking and biking spot, with plenty of nature to be seen in the surrounding area.
Our final stop in Little Belt is Middlefart and the Little Belt Bridge, where we walked along the top of it! This popular attraction takes you 60 metres above the water below, and you walk (safely) along the bridge with fabulous views of the area. The highlight was seeing wild porpoises (small whales) in the sea below, there are said to be around 3,000 of them here, so you’re extremely likely to see them. Little Belt itself also plays host to the largest nature park in Denmark, and the bridge walking is right next door to a beautiful deer park, which I highly recommend you check out before you head to Fyn.
Hotel & Restaurant: Koldinghus castle itself has a fabulous restaurant which I highly recommend, it includes a traditional Danish fish buffet. We slept at Hotel Sixtus which has lovely sea views, and it’s conveniently located near Middlefart and Fredericia. Close to Hotel Sixtus is an all you can eat combo of Italian, American and Asian cuisine, called KiTZCHEN.
The Little Belt bridge connects South Jutland to Fyn, our next destination on the Baltic Sea Route. Fyn and its Archipelago is known locally as ‘Bike Island’ due to it’s 1,200km of signposted cycle routes.
We explored several lovely coastal towns and our first stop was Svendborg. This picturesque town has a gorgeous harbour and a relaxed town centre to enjoy. We then headed to Valdemars Castle, which is more like what we would call a huge Manor House. The castle is set in stunning surroundings on the bay on the island of Tåsinge. There are fantastic views from Valdemars Castle, and the rest of Tåsinge has small and charming villages to pass through.
We followed the N8 north along the East Coast of Fyn to the next coastal town; Lundeborg. It’s cute little harbour town and small fishing hamlet with a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy. There are several restaurants and cafés, a museum, a local crafts shop and Broholm Castle to discover.
Want to see more of Fyn? Check out our other article Cycling in Denmark, where we explore the culinary routes of Fyn.
Our final stop was Nyborg, situated right next to the Great Belt Bridge. The Great Belt Bridge connects Fyn to Zealand and is Europe’s longest bridge. Nyborg also has a well-known fortress, a fantastic whisky and rum distillery and some amazing culinary treats.
Hotel & Restaurant: We stayed at Hotel Christiansminde, very close to the centre of Svendborg. It has panoramic views and a brilliant Nordic menu at the restaurant. However one of the best meals we had in Fyn was at Skerning Kro, conveniently placed on the N8 between Svendborg and Faaborg. Finally the Nyborg Distillery not only has whisky and rum to try, but a mouth-watering menu.
Our final district on the Baltic Sea Route is West Zealand. If you follow the N8 you will see it connects to our starting point, South Zealand and Møn. West Zealand has a mix of unique nature, beaches and of course stunning views of the architectural beauty of the Great Belt Bridge. The first place we stopped was Halsskov Reef where you can touch the belly of the bridge (if you so desire!). Whether you’re interested in that or not the small beach here offers fantastic views of the bridge and is well worth the visit.
There are many cosy small towns and heritage sites in West Zealand, and our first stop was the seaside borough of Skælskør. It has a small harbour and it is just over one hour’s drive from Copenhagen, making it popular for commuters to the city. It’s a village that always seems to have something happening due to its strong community and volunteers. We visited an arts and crafts centre where internationally recognised artists were plying their trade. Finally, close by to Skælskør there’s a variety of beaches and piers that people enjoy all year round, such as Kobæk Beach.
Next up in West Zealand was the island of Agersø which is a small detour from the Baltic Sea Route. We took the 15-minute ferry ride across, and you can either stay the night or just spend a few hours exploring this idyllic island. Make sure to see the windmill and enjoy fish and chips by the harbour. Our final stops on West Zealand were Holsteinborg Manor, where we took a break to walk the gardens, and Bisserups Marina.
Hotel & Restaurant: In Skælskør I strongly recommend you head to Restaurant Solsikken (Sunflower Restaurant), for the freshest fish and the best views across the harbour. In Agersø we stayed at Agersø Inn and ate fresh fish and chips at the harbour as the onsite restaurant was closed.
Cycling in West Zealand completes the final part of the figure of 8 that is the N8 Baltic Sea Route, and what an amazing journey it is.
If you want to experience some of the real Denmark, enjoy the nature, soak up the atmosphere at cute seaside towns, and absorb the fascinating history then this is the way it must be done.
It’s a real cyclists paradise, and many European countries could learn a lot from how accessible the country is by bike (especially the UK). I found travelling in this way remarkably stress-free, we enjoyed it at our own pace and it gave us a chance to get a feel for each of the areas we visited, what makes them unique, and what makes them, well, so Danish.
There are more awesome regions to explore by bicycle in Denmark and we’ve done just that. Check out our other video and articel: Top and Unique Regions for an Active Biking Holiday in Denmark
Travel tip shared by Scott for Travel Dudes.