As the Rough Guide to Denmark is not currently available as an eBook (and won’t be until 2017 according to the publishers), I have instead downloaded a copy of the Lonely Planet Guide to Denmark. I’ve been a long-term fan of the Rough Guides (and still am) but I have to say from a cycling perspective, the Lonely Planet guide does score well when it comes to the number of mentions for the word ‘cycling’. 83 of them in their Denmark guide as opposed to just 11 in the Rough Guide to Sweden and 25 in the Rough Guide to Norway. This could, however, also be influenced by the fact that Denmark competes with The Netherlands when it comes to reaching cycling Nirvana. Indeed the Lonely Planet guide lists cycling in its number three position of ‘Top Experiences‘;
“Is Denmark the best nation for bicycle touring in the world? Probably, thanks to its extensive network of cycle routes [of which more in a moment], terrain that is either flat or merely undulating, and a culture strongly committed to two wheels… The cities are a breeze to pedal around… Nearly 40% of Copenhagen commuters travel by cycle – it’s easy to follow their lead.”
My own arrival in Denmark will be from the direction of Hamburg along the Eurovelo 3. It crosses the border just to the north of a town called Flensburg and then continues north through Jutland (the main peninsula which makes up most of the territory of Denmark). However, I have already made the decision to abandon the Eurovelo 3 at this point and follow the route of the Eurovelo 10 for a while. This is the Baltic Sea Route and it connects with Copenhagen. There was no way I was going to visit Denmark without taking in a trip to its bicycle Mecca of a capital city. Such is the complexity of the Eurovelo routes in this corner of Europe that it would seem useful to consult a map. So, here is a useful map:
More exciting than this web of two-wheeled wonder is the following, admittedly much simpler map from the Eurovelo 10 section from the official Eurovelo website:
You don’t get many of those green ‘realised’ sections of route across the network of Eurovelo routes but when you do, it’s worth looking out for them. This is, in effect, my route through Denmark It involves a fair bit of island hopping by the looks of it and I guess there will be at least two ferries to catch; the first from Fynshav to Bøjden on the island of Funen (the round one in the middle) and then a second from Spodsbjerg to Tars on the southern island of Lolland.
The Eurovelo 10 website has some useful information (and also confirms what I’ve just written):
“Be prepared for some island-hopping in Denmark. The Baltic route follows the Danish national route no. 8 from Jutland over the isles Als, Funen, Taasinge, Langeland, Lolland, Falster, Bogoe and Moen before reaching (the island) Zealand. Some of the isles are connected by bridges, other by bicycle-friendly ferries. On Zealand EV 10 joins Danish national route no. 9 and continues to Copenhagen. In total 360 km. From Copenhagen it is by train over the famous bridge to Malmo, Sweden.”
Isn’t it nice to have your suspicions confirmed by the people who should know! So, my mind turns to Danish national routes numbers 8 and 9 and back to the Lonely Planet guide.
“The big draw for touring cyclists are the 11 national routes which are in excellent condition, but there are also oodles of regional and local routes to get you pedalling…
Route 8 – Graenseruten (Border Route) – 360km (95% sealed)
Also known as the South Sea Route, this trail sweeps across southern Denmark and requires a couple of island hops [OK! We know that already!]. It begins in Rudbøl, traverses Jutland to Als [I would join half-way along this stretch of the route], crosses to southern Funen, Langeland, Lolland, Falster and ends at Møns Klint. See also www.grenzroute.com.”
Alas that link covers only the initial stretch of the route that I won’t be using. It looks like Møns Klint is the Land’s End of Denmark – it’s the place on the end of the bit that sticks out like a cartoon nose on the map above. Danish routes 8 and 9 presumably double up for a certain distance before I arrive in Møns Klint. Here’s what the Lonely Planet guide has to say about the second route.
“Route 9 –Øresundsruten (Øresund Route) – 290km (92% sealed)
This route has links with Sweden and Germany thanks to ferry connections at its start (Helsingør) and end (Gedser) points. It follows the east coast of Zealand before tracking south through Mon and Falster.”
Back to the Eurovelo site – Danish Route 9 is the Danish section of Eurovelo 7 – to read the following:
“The EuroVelo 7 is fully developed as national route no. 9 in Denmark. From Copenhagen to the ferry port at Gedser, from where it crosses over to Germany, it is known as the Berlin-Copenhagen route. The route has existed for more than a decade and is increasingly popular among cycle tourists from all over the world. The route leeds you from Helsingor and the castle Kronborg, made famous by Shakespear’s Hamlet, through the capital of Copenhagen, one of the best cycle cities of the world with an impressive number of cyclists, to the chalk cliffs of Stevns and Møn and further south to Marielyst, one of the best beaches in Denmark. The route is flat and follows either small roads or cycle paths. It is rideable for families with children. The Danish part of the Berlin-Copenhagen route was certified with 3 stars in 2012 by the German Cyclists’ Club, ADFC.”
If it’s good enough for the German Cyclists’ Club, it’s good enough for me!
So, the cycling is sorted. What about the other things? Camping grounds shouldn’t be hard to find – there are plenty mentioned in the guide – as well as the same liberal approach to wild camping that has been adopted across Scandinavia. Copenhagen – at the end of my cycle across Denmark – will be a good place to take a day of rest. There is a small part of me that wants to continue along the eastern coast of Denmark north of Copenhagen as far as Helsingør, the home of (fictional) Hamlet. Kronborg Castle would be an interesting diversion and if I am running late (very late), I might be able to take in an outdoor production of the play in August. Scrub that idea – I’ll be in trouble if I haven’t finished the entire journey across the continent by the end of August (although I don’t have a deadline for this particular cycle). Helsingør, perhaps. Hamlet, let’s hope not.
Simon Stanforth (of Stanforth Bikes): “In Denmark we just cycled up to Skagen which is worth going to.”
Update January 30th:
Kim Christiansen who lives in Denmark has supplied the following useful information. Over to you Kim…
“Here is some information about cycle touring in Denmark. I hope you’ll find it useful.
I have had a little time to look over my maps of Denmark and have a few tips on route planning that might be helpful.
You can reach Copenhagen from the german/danish border in several ways as I see it:
1) You can follow Eurovelo 3 all the way to Vejen where you link up w/ national cycle route 6 that goes all the way to Copenhagen. This is the most direct way.
2) You can also cycle from Middelfart along the coast of Funen on the local route 70/60/50 all the way to Nyborg, where you will have to jump on a train to cross Storebaelt.)
3) You can can deviate from Eurovelo 3. Take local cycle route 8 and 2 through Kollund/Dybbøl/Sønderborg to Fynshav where you can take the ferry to Fynshav. Here you can take either route 65 to Odense. From here follow route 6 all the way to Copenhagen (crossing Storebaelt by train), or take route 51 all the way to Nyborg and link up w/ route 6 on Sealand. Again a train ride is necessary 🙂
That’s but a few routes you might want to consider. However there are lots of regional cycle routes both on jutland/Funen/Sealand that you would be able to take, either to shorten or lengthen the route.
The regional routes takes you away from the routes with the most traffic. These roads are often really quiet and beautiful.
I’m sure there are lot of warm showers or couchsurfing hosts in Denmark. There’s also hostels and lots of regular campsites.
However, I would like to mention another possibility, which is primitive (wild) campsites. These are scattered all over the country. Either they are state/regional campsites with little or no facilities. Most do have restrooms of the primitive kind. Oftentimes you will have to bring water to be able to cook. These you can use free of charge. Other types of primitive campsites can be in the back of someones garden. You’ll probably have to pay 2 euros to stay there, but you’ll have access to showers and water. I have cycle toured in Denmark this way a few times and find it good and inexpensive.
There is a complete booklet with alle the places one can camp. I bought the book here: http://www.cyklistforbundet.dk/ Another website that might be usefull is this one: teltpladser.dk
There are also a few apps (for android phones at least..): search for: lejrpladser and shelter.
In Jutland Dybbøl might be of interest. It’s where Denmark lost an important battle to the germans in 1864 thereby losing a lot of Jutland. There are remnants of the fortres from back then and a museum. http://www.museum-sonderjylland.dk/index.html#.VMkNiGiG-OU
Koldinghus castle used to house the Kings court back in the 13 th century. Now it’s an art museum. www.koldinghus.dk
On Funen there are a few interesting sights:
Egeskov castle, which is a theme park with car museum among other things. You can look it up here: www.egeskov.dk
Odense is the birthplace of hans Christian Andersen. There is a museum about him here:-)
Cycling maps for Denmark can be found here: http://www.cyklistforbundet.dk/ or here: scanmaps.dk
Another great site is: visitdenmark.dk”