Travelling with little ones: Denmark

Last Monday, we returned home after two fun weeks in Denmark.  As always, we tried to pack too much in and probably expected a little too much of our 4 and 2 year old sons, but nevertheless had a great holiday.

After a short flight from Heathrow, we started our trip in Billund, home to Denmark’s No. 1 attraction, the original Legoland!  We stayed at Lalandia, a holiday park similar to Center Parcs just down the road from Legoland.  A lodge at Lalandia was significantly cheaper than staying at the Legoland Hotel and also came with the added benefit of a waterpark on site.  We had a 2 day pass to Legoland and spent the best part of both days exploring the park.  I was really pleasantly surprised how toddler-friendly it was – there were very few big rides and lots of smaller rides and attractions suitable for our two pre-schoolers.  They particularly enjoyed Duplo Land, the safari ride and the Lego Atlantis aquarium.  After 4 hours of Legoland fun, we had theme park fatigue and headed back to the Lalandia waterpark, which is fab for little ones, with several smaller pools and waterslides.

From Billund, we caught a bus and then a train to Denmark’s beautiful capital, Copenhagen.  The train journey was 2.5 hours and was definitely the one part of the trip we hadn’t fully thought through!  Trying to keep our two monkeys quiet and entertained was an exhausting mission, especially as the Danes are quiet and reserved on the whole.  In hindsight, we would have done better to fork out the extra cash for a direct flight from Billund but we’ve now learned our lesson!

Copenhagen is a great city for exploring with children as everything is very central and easily walkable.  We stayed in an apartment on Åboulevard owned by Tine and Michael, which we found on Airbnb.  It was only a 20 minute walk from the central train station past Copenhagen’s central lakes, and was the perfect base for our 3 night stay.  Tine and Michael’s daughter had a room full of toy to entertain the boys and Michael’s extensive DVD collection meant that we were entertained once they were tucked up in bed!

Given we only had a couple of days to ‘do’ Copenhagen, we hit the ground running and covered the Round Tower, Rosenborg Slot, Nyhaven, a canal boat tour taking in all the sights, the National Museum of Denmark (which has a fantastic Children’s Museum complete with Viking boat) and, of course, Tivoli Gardens.  The one thing which struck me as we walked around was how clean and safe the city felt, and I would definitely like to go back some day to explore further (maybe without the kids!).

After our whirlwind few days of sightseeing we once again boarded a train (thankfully the journey was only 1.5 hours this time!) and headed to the Swedish port of Ystad, from where we caught a ferry to the Danish island of Bornholm in the middle of the Baltic Sea.  We hadn’t heard of Bornholm before researching our trip but it seems it’s where the Danes head for their summer holidays and it has everything you could ever want from a relaxing Scandi break: white sandy beaches at Balka and Dueodde; Hammerhus, Northern Europe’s oldest castle; windmills a-plenty; smoked fish from the smokehouses found in every town; and giant ice creams at Gudhjem Special!

We hired a car for this part of our trip so that we could explore the island on our own terms and stayed at another Airbnb property near the pretty coastal town of Gudhjem.  Phil and Katrin moved to Bornholm from the UK last summer and now run Stavehol guesthouse.  As well as a farmhouse sleeping up to 7 people, there is a separate studio for 2 people and brand new luxury bell tents and yurt.  The farmhouse sits in a very peaceful location next to woodland, Denmark’s highest waterfall (don’t get too excited, it’s only 7.2m high!) and a stone’s throw from the island’s biggest and oldest round church at Osterlars.

Phil and Katrin made us feel totally at home and their twin sons were also great hosts to N and W, sharing their Lego and playing together in the meadow.  The farmhouse is really comfortable and decorated in pretty Scandi style.  We didn’t have a tv but it was lovely to switch off for a week and enjoy the birdsong coming through the window in the evening.  I read a book in two days which is just unheard of at home!  After 6 days of non-stop Legoland fun and sightseeing, it was great to completely relax and enjoy the slow pace of life on Bornholm.  We were also really lucky to have seven sunshine-filled days so we could see the island at its very best.

For my fellow yarn-lovers, Bornholm has several yarn shops and it seems as though knitting and crochet are popular hobbies (I guess because it gets so flippin’ cold in the winter).  I found Fredsminde Unika Design on Instagram and one day we hunted down her farmhouse in Klemensker.  Lene hand-dyes all of her yarn (the only one on Bornholm) and also sells wool from the local Hammerhus sheep.  Also she accepts credit cards so you can go crazy!

We found Denmark to be a friendly, clean and safe place to visit with our little ones and I would absolutely recommend it to fellow parents as an alternative holiday destination.

For tips on what to pack if you’re travelling with little ones, see my blog post from our 2015 South African adventure.  And click here for my top ten tips!

 

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