Hares, Stone Age Settlements and Fjord Swimming: Exploring Denmark's Coastal Lands by Bike and Ferry

Hares, Stone Age Settlements and Fjord Swimming: Exploring Denmark’s Coastal Lands by Bike and Ferry

a Swish, white shimmer, and gold. First on our left and then again on the right. Our bikes gently stopped and paused to watch the dozens of movements that seemed to be choreographed.

The narrow road that stretched in front of us led to a small, secluded beach. But to get to the pebble beach, we first had to sail a herd of hares; Each creature paused for a moment before rushing into the bushes with a flick of its white tail. Soon the road was opened and we were back on our way.

We suddenly understood why Endelave, one of several islands we were visiting on a two-wheeled tour in Kystlandet (Coastal Lands), part of Jutland in Denmark, is referred to as “Rabbit Island”. There are much more of them here than there are people – they total 15,000, and they outnumber 155 or so humans by about 100 to one.

Jørgensens Hotel in the center of Horsens

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But we weren’t just here to see these long-eared creatures. It is located on the east coast of central Jutland, a peninsula that forms the continental part of Denmark. Kystlandet It consists of idyllic coastal towns, an archipelago of pastoral islands, and pristine coastlines. With villages rooted in a Viking past and bike paths that meander from bison farms to deserted beaches perfect for a midsummer swim, a trip to Kystlandet promised a happy few days of island hopping – the Danish way.

To get to this charming quiet corner of Scandinavia, we decided to adopt the concept of slow travel and train ride. However, the hustle and bustle through the French, Belgian, German and Danish countryside at speeds of up to 300 km/h, felt nothing but slow. While the journey took about 30 hours from London to Horsens, the main urban center of Questlandet, stops in Brussels, Cologne and Hamburg made the journey an integral part of the trip. And the trains, with their well-stocked food carts, sweeping views and fast WiFi, simply add to the fun.

Perched at the head of the Strait of Horses, the city of the same name has a history spanning nearly 1,000 years and was the birthplace of Vitus Bering, who discovered the Bering Strait in 1728. The state has unfairly eclipsed its latter reputation. A prison (closed in 2006 and turned into a great museum), Horsens is now restoring its reputation as an industrial but beautiful city full of history and culture.

The famous Café Alrø’s tartlet

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We spent our first night at the grand Jørgensens Hotel, whose restaurant Eydes served as an introduction to the region’s cuisine (favorite, Stjerneskud – ‘Shooting Star’ – consists of an open sandwich generously stacked with fried fish, prawns and smoked salmon).

The next day, our baskets filled up, we set out by bike to explore the fjord and the islands scattered around it. A pedaling morning drove us to Alrø, a small island connected to the mainland by a dam – but with all the charm and rhythm of a remote fishing village. Here, bison-turned-alrø Købmandsgård serves burgers, tapas and ice cream, and nearby Alrø Café offers its famous giant waffle shells filled with chicken and asparagus or salmon and shrimp mousse.

We continued our journey across the strait by bicycle ferry – with space for only 12 passengers and their bikes – to Hjarnø, another island with only 110 permanent residents.

Endelave is home to thousands of hares

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It’s home to one of Denmark’s smallest churches and a cheerful artist-run café that serves rosehip juice and home-made beer. In the shallow waters west of the port, remains of a settlement from the Stone Age (2000 BC) can be found, and inland, archaeologists have discovered a gold hoard from the late Iron Age (6th century).

The final island on our Horsens Fjord tour was Endelave, which – in addition to rabbits – has half-timbered houses surrounding the village pond, as well as a welcoming lodge (Endelave Kro) with rooms overlooking the sea. The surrounding waters are clean and shallow and there’s a choice of secluded beaches, making it a perfect spot for a swim – which we made sure to do an hour’s ferry from Snaptun, the closest point on the mainland. Hours (or days) can be spent embracing island life; Following the coastal walking path, visiting a seaweed farm or, as we did, cycling from one end to the other, keeping an eye on the resident seal colony.

A 21km cycling or walking route runs around the Endelave Coast

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Getting to the mainland included our fourth and final ferry trip. An hour later, we were happy cycling on another exceptionally well-executed bike route in Denmark as we made our way back to Horsens – stopping to swim the final pier to grab our delicious dinner of crispy pork and potatoes at Dolly’s, before we started. Retreat for the night at Bødkergaarden, a gorgeous and quaint bed and breakfast in a former barrel-makers’ workshop dating back to 1734.

The next morning, the train to London was back again, but not before stopping for the fish-topped fish. smørrebrød (open sandwich) at Café Gran in Horsens’ old Latin Quarter – a fitting nautical conclusion to our bike and boat tour of the rural coastal lands of Denmark.

Travel essentials

Heading there

Travel with Eurail (for people who live outside Europe) and Interrail (for those in Europe). The entry pass costs “4 days in 1 month” £214 per person.

Go to the island with the Alrø-Hjarnø bike ferry from Alrø for £9 per person including bike.

stay there

  • Jørgensens Hotel in Horsens offers small castle rooms (Lille Slotsværelse) from £161 for bed and breakfast.
  • Endelave Kro offers standard double rooms from £89.50 per room only; Breakfast costs an additional £13.
  • Set in one of the oldest and most beautiful houses in Horsens, Bødkergaarden B&B offers double rooms from £98 for bed and breakfast.

Destination KystlandetAnd the Visit Denmark And the Eurail Help arrange the trip.

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