We have rented cottages and villas in various parts of France for our summer holiday for several years, but are looking for somewhere different this year. We are a large family (five children aged four-15) so staying at a hotel isn't really an option. Our children are fair, so we don't want to go somewhere intensely hot like the Mediterranean. What do you recommend?
Denmark has a temperate climate that ranges between around ten to twenty five degrees centigrade in the summer. This, coupled with an expansive coastline, makes an ideal holiday for a beach lover who doesn't aim to bathe in factor 50 each morning. Its 7,314km of coastline ensure that you're never more than three quarters of an hour's leisurely drive from the sea, where one may find many Danish beaches that are renowned for their width, cleanliness and sweeping fine white sand.
The country is composed of three main areas of land. Zealand is the eastern island and the one that houses Copenhagen. Funen is the 50 square km that constitutes the central island. The only part of the country that is connected to the mainland is Jutland- the large peninsular to the west.
On the north coast of Zealand is Tisvildeleje - a charming old fishing town with a cinema, art gallery and decent shopping. It also boasts some stunning strips of beach that stretch east for 5km down to Rageleje. The sea is calm and has a lifeguard who keeps a steady eye on the water. Denmark holds the third largest number of the internationally respected 'Blue Flag', which indicates clean, safe waters. The beach Tisvildeleje Strand possesses one of the prestigious flags. Be vigilant about accidentally towelling down in a nudist area, however, as certain stretches of the sand are marked off for naked bathers.
Close to the sea at Tisvildeleje is one of Denmark's most famous natural springs, known as the Helene Spring. Legend claims that the sick should come here on 23 June- Midsummer's Eve- if conventional treatment fails them, as drinking from the water should cure their ailment by morning.
Denmark's coast is dotted with cabins and cottages, which provide a relatively cheap alternative to hotels whilst also offering independence. Danhostel Tisvildeleje (00 45 48 70 74 51; www.danhostel.dk) is 500m from Tisvildeleje beach. The site boasts numerous facilities including a playground and extensive sports equipment that should entertain even the most energetic child, or indeed a keen parent who isn't content with walking through the dramatically beautiful Troldeskoven, or 'Witch Wood'. The wood is 800m from the cabin site and is so named because of the witch's fingers twisted shape of the trees, formed by decades of sculpting by the wind.
A four-bed cabin at Danhostel in the high season would cost DKK530/£48 per night, working out at around £670 for two weeks, while a cabin with five single beds and one double would go for DKK11,500/£1,036 for the fortnight. All cabins come with a kitchenette. The town can be reached in less than an hour by train from Copenhagen, but taking the bus along the coastal road shows off stunning views of the water.
If you plan to spend much time in the north of Zealand it would be worth investing in a 'Copenhagen Card'. This offers free transport on trains, buses and metro, free entry to 60 attractions, discounts on car rental and restaurants in the greater Copenhagen region and a comprehensive guide to the city. The cost for a card valid for 24 hours is DKK199/£18 for an adult and DKK129/£11.60 for a child. 72 hour cards cost DKK429/£39 for an adult and DKK249/£22 for children. They can be bought online at www.online.citybreak.com and two children between the ages of two and ten can go free with each adult.
The capital is certainly worth at least a day's visit before making for the coast, since it's a cultural hotbed - home to palaces, galleries, exciting museums and, of course, plenty of fantastic restaurants and shops. The Amalaienborg Palace (0045 33 40 10 10; www.ses.dk) is the official residence of the Royal Family and presents a traditional tourist opportunity in the changing of the guards. The ceremony begins each morning at 11.30am at the Rosenborg slot- a Renaissance castle in the centre of the city. Be sure to check that the flag is flying from the roof of the palace, however, to be certain that the beloved Queen Magrethe II is in.
The children are sure to enjoy the Zoologisk Have (0045 72 20 02 00; www.zoo.dk) where they may view the polar bears and lions from a safe vantage point, or head to the children's zoo where they can play with less predatory creatures. A highlight of the zoo, located in the Frederiksberg municipality, is to climb the zoo tower which, cloud dependent, may offer views to neighbouring Sweden. The zoo is open all year round and in June the gates open at nine in the morning before shutting at 6pm. During July and August the hours are from 9am - 9:30 in the evening. Admission is DKK95/£8.60 for adults and DKK55/£5 for children
The Experimentarium (0045 39 27 33 33; www.experimentarium.dk) is a futuristic interactive science museum that is aimed at children but is fascinating for adults. The principle themes are technology and nature and the exhibits are mainly very hands on. Experience an earthquake that measures 5.5 on the Richter Scale or discover what you're really made of in the 'You and Me' exhibition. Opening times are 9:30am-5pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 9:30am-9pm Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission costs DKK105/just over £9 for adults and DKK70/£6.30 for children.
Bakken (0045 39 63 55 44; www.bakken.dk) holds a likely claim to being the world's oldest amusement park. The 4000 year old centre is to be found about 12km north of the city centre and boasts more than a hundred rides and a total absence of cars- a horse-drawn carriage is the preferred mode of transport here. Entrance to the park is free but one must pay for the rides. Times vary but generally it is open from 2pm-10pm.
If all this excitement is too much then the Louisiana Museum for Modern Art (0045 49 19 07 19; www.louisiana.dk) may well soothe the head. Surrounded by lush gardens that stretch to the shoreline one may contemplate the contemporary pieces in tranquillity. There is even an area especially for children and the gallery has proven itself to be popular with the young. Adults pay DKK74/£6.70, students DKK67/£6 and children DKK20/£1.80. The museum is open 10am-5pm everyday except 10am-10pm on Wednesdays.
Contact the highly helpful Copenhagen Information Tourist Bureau (0045 70 22 24 42; www.visitcopenhagen.dk) to get extensive information about this vibrant capital.
Arhus is the second largest city in Denmark and the capital of Jutland - the largest section of the country. There's a wealth of possibility here and in the surrounding area, with beaches, a large church and many varied museums.
1.5km west of Arhus centre is Den Gamle By - 'The Old Town' (00 45 86 12 31 88; www.dengamleby.com) - where one may stroll along cobbled streets and enter the 75 restored buildings from over the country, all of which date from the 17th and 18th centuries. Tickets are DKK75/£6.80 for an adult and DKK25/£2.30 for a child and from June to August it is open from 9am to 6pm.
How does plunging through 35m of air without the security of a parachute, bungee chord or even an umbrella sound to you? If you like the idea then you could spend your afternoon jumping from The Sky Tower in Tivoli Friheden (0045 86 14 73 00; www.en.friheden.dk). Set in a beautiful beech forest with colourful plants, stunning lakes and natural springs this amusement park has to contain the highest concentration of adrenaline in Denmark. It can be reached easily from Arhus by taking bus 4, 18 or 19. Prices are €8/£5.40 for adults or €24/£16.10 for a multi-ride ticket, enabling entrance to many off the rides. Children pay €5.30/£3.60 or €21.30/£14 for the multi-ride. Those under the age of three go free.
Other attractions close to Arhus are Randers Regnskov and Legoland. Randers Regnskov (00 45 87 10 99 99; www.randers-regnskov.dk) is a tropical zoo that contains a rainforest of 4000 species of plants and 250 species of animals living under domes. Be cautious as you walk, as many of the animals live freely and hide from humans if disturbed. The six ever-hungry Nile crocodiles would not be scared of humans but they're kept in an enclosure. From June 30 to August 12 the park is open everyday between 10am and 6pm and from August 13 to September 2 it is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Adults pay DKK130/£11.70 while children get in for DKK70/£6.30 . 0s to 2s go for free
Legoland (0045 75 33 13 33; www.legoland.dk) is Denmark's most popular tourist attraction outside of Copenhagen and it's easy to see why. Enjoy indulging any fantasies of towering over some of the world's most famous buildings in Miniland, where 45 million plastic Lego bricks create cities on a scale of 1:20 to the real thing. If the prospect of world domination doesn't suit then one can obtain their Lego Driving School licence, but not before a reassuringly difficult test. Advance booking is recommended as this park gets very busy. From Arhus it is easiest to reach by taking the train to Vejle and then catching the bus 907. Admission is DKK180/£16 for adults, DKK160/£14.40 for children and the park is open from 10am-8pm everyday from April to September, apart from mid July to mid August when it is open 10am-9pm.
If you are looking for a holiday at the lower end of the price scale then Blommehaven Camping (00 45 86 27 02 07; www.camping-blommehaven.dk) will make a trip of real value for money. The site boasts its own stretch of white sandy beach and is only 4km south of central Arhus, easily reached by buses 6 and 19 that go right to the door. Prices are DKK660/£5.60 per night for adults and DKK33/£2.30 for children. A bath, kitchen and hot water are provided.
If spending your summer nights surrounded by canvas doesn't suit your sensibilities then you could rent a holiday cottage. Novasol (0045 73 75 66 11; www.novasol.co.uk) advertise a cottage for seven in Tversted, right in the north of Jutland and one of the most popular tourist areas in the west of Denmark, for £660 per week in mid July and £530 each week in August. The cottage is set in woodland and there are beautiful lakes nearby where one may go fishing. A sauna, solarium and satellite T.V. are among the extensive amenities.
Dansommer (0045 86 17 61 22; www.dansommer.com) is another useful site for booking holiday homes and advertises a house that sleeps eight, near Hejlsminde in Southern Jutland, for €1065/£715 per week in the high season. The medieval town of Kolding is a 20km drive up the road and the website (www.kolding.dk) describes it as 'one of Denmark's friendliest towns' that is a mix of a small village and a` contemporary city. A castle and a modern art museum are among the many attractions.
Other companies that advertise holiday cottages in Denmark include Sol Og Strand (0045 99 44 44 44; www.sologstrand.com) and BookCottages (www.bookcottages.com) and it is advised to book early as holiday homes are very popular in Denmark and become fully-booked very quickly.