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Why is North Zealand known as the Danish Riviera?

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
Why is North Zealand known as the Danish Riviera?
One of North Zealand's biggest draws is the fact that it's situated close to Denmark's capital city, Copenhagen. Photo by Hjalte Gregersen on Unsplash

North Zealand has become known as the Danish Riviera in recent years - and for good reason. Its magnificent beaches and rich cultural offering have made it a real magnet for tourists.


Denmark's largest island, Zealand, is a bona fide tourist magnet year round, but the island's northern region – North Zealand – has developed a reputation due to the fact that it is home to some of the country's most significant historical and cultural attractions.

When you pair that with its proximity to Copenhagen and its picturesque landscapes, consisting of lush forests, charming hills, pristine beaches, and coastal towns, it's not hard to understand why people have started calling it the "Danish Riviera" or Copenhagen's green front garden.


If your first gut reaction to reading the word "riviera" was to reach for your wallet, fear not – compared to some other countries in Europe, visiting this riviera can be carried out without breaking the bank (although trips to Denmark, generally speaking, can't be described as cheap).

Location, location, location

One of North Zealand's biggest draws is the fact that it's situated close to Denmark's capital city, Copenhagen (just a short trip away), making it easily accessible for tourists and visitors.

This proximity means that you're just a short bus or train ride away, which makes the area an excellent choice for day trips. However, visiting the Danish Riviera isn't just convenient – it's also a unique experience, when one takes into account its historical cultural offerings and beautiful natural landscapes. It's not easy to find an area with this kind of profile, which has something to offer every type of visitor.

Another factor that can't be left out when describing North Zealand's summer charms is its beaches, which are often counted among some of the best on the continent, and many popular holiday towns and fishing villages (such as Gilleleje), which are an excellent choice for visitors who are also trying to find good bathing spots.

The area boasts a great offer in terms of activity and shopping opportunities, as well as more than a couple of great restaurants.


The castles of North Zealand

If you ask any local about North Zealand's signature appeal, they'll most likely single out the region's well-preserved castles. Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød is a magnificent Renaissance palace and houses the Museum of National History, displaying Danish art and historical artefacts.

It is constructed over three islands in a small lake connected by bridges, and taking a walk through the nearby park can be a great experience in the summer months.

The Fredensborg Palace, located on the eastern shore of Lake Esrum in Fredensborg, is the official summer residence of the Danish royal family. Once you're there, make sure to ask about the guided tours of its exquisite gardens.

The third castle often listed alongside Frederiksborg and Fredensborg is the Renaissance Kronborg Castle in Helsingør.

Kronborg is internationally famous for serving as the setting for Shakespeare's Hamlet (Kronborg also became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000).

Frederiksborg Castle

The majestic Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød. Photo by Jonas Smith on Unsplash


A great place to visit as a family

North Zealand offers a range of family-friendly attractions and activities – ranging from the ones that come free of cost (such as trips to the beach or park walks) to those that will require an entrance fee.

There are multiple museums to choose from. Situated on the coast, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art focuses on contemporary art and hosts several exhibitions suitable for all age groups.

If you're looking for something less highbrow, a trip to the Dyrehavsbakken amusement park - the oldest such park in the world – can be a great way to spend the day with the family.

Popular beaches

The northern parts of Zealand are not only popular among tourists – locals often visit them during the summer because they're home to numerous beautiful beaches characterized by pristine sandy shores, clear blue waters, and stunning coastal landscapes. That means you can immerse yourself in these breathtaking views while enjoying a swim.

Furthermore, the Riviera offers a diverse range of beaches to suit different preferences. Whether you prefer wide open-type spaces for sunbathing or secluded coves for privacy, you'll be able to find a beach to your liking.

Once you're there, you can indulge in swimming, sunbathing, and beach volleyball. Additionally, the coastal areas provide opportunities for water sports like paddleboarding, kayaking, and windsurfing.

Some popular beaches in the area include Tisvildeleje Beach, Gilleleje Beach, Hornbæk Beach, and Liseleje Beach.

To make the most out of your trip to the beach, combine it with exploring nearby sights. For example, you can visit the coastal towns of Hornbæk or Gilleleje, where you can explore local shops, enjoy delicious seafood, or visit historical landmarks such as Gilleleje Harbour.

Pssst! The beaches in North Zealand are usually well-maintained and clean, and you can usually find facilities such as restrooms and showers nearby. Furthermore, many beaches have adjacent parking facilities, and regular train and bus services connect the coastal towns with the capital and neighbouring areas.



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