By Ernst Poulsen
of Dansk Cyklist Forbund
I guess the Danes are almost born on bicycles. Every single Dane cycles 3 kilometers every single day all his life. On average of course. In a country where the prime minister is often seen on a 3-speed bicycle just about everything has to planned better for cyclists.
You will soon feel this when you arrive in Denmark. You will find bicycle paths, sign posted routes for cyclists and special bicycle areas on camping sites.
You will also find a beautifull well kept country which will provide you with sights and adventures for several weeks. Denmark does not have any challenging mountain passes, but plenty of small winding roads - and if you think Denmark is flat. Well, we would just like to hear your oppinion when you have actually been here.
It seems that Denmark is especially well suited for a family vacation. Plenty of beaches for the kids, quiet back roads with very little traffic (is has to be that way in a country with 180% tax on new cars), no killing mountain passes, and short distances to just about everything.
Just bring your bicycle and the right summer-time-vacation mood. You will surely have a wonderfull time.
Most of these routes run on minor roads which have very little traffic. In principle you should be able to follow there routes without a map, but you would probably want to buy one of the many excellent bicycle maps.
- every signposted bicycle route there is - bicycle lanes along major roads - suggested bicycle routes in counties without signposted routes - Nature Camps (see accomodation) - Camping sites - Youth hostels - Beaches - Ferries and Train lines which carry bicyclesOn the back you find a list of tourist offices (phone, address), youth hostels (phone, address, season, price, service), rules for bicycles on trains, busses, and long distance coaches. Special Danish Traffic Rules and much more.
As the scale is 1:510.000 this map is perfect for planning. But it is of course too inaccurate when on the road. Instead you need:
Most of them are based on the very accuarate 1:100.000 scale maps with contour lines from "Kort- og Matrikelstyrelsen" (the best there is). Prices range from 50,- to 100,- Dkr. A little cheaper if you buy them in Denmark.
These local maps show signposted bicycle routes, bikelanes on major roads and suggested routes in counties without regional signposted routes. They also show youth hostels, camping sites, bicycle shops and shopping possibilities in rural areas. Some show beaches, nature camps, view points, etc. etc. Basicly everything you need.
When ordering the maps you only need the name of the county. Some of the maps exist in Danish, German and English-language versions. Ask for the version you would prefer. I have listed the maps here - starting with the Jutland (from the nort):
Jutland: scale comments Nordjyllands Amt 1:200.000 + 7 local route-folders Viborg Amt 1:100.000 Ringkoebing Amt 1:100.000 Aarhus Amt 1:100.000 + guide book Vejle Amt 1:100.000 Ribe Amt 1:100.000 Soenderjyllands Amt 1:100.000 Funen/Zealand/Bornholm Fyns Amt 1:100.000 + guide book Storstroems Amt 1:100.000 Vestsjaellands Amt 1:100.000 Roskilde Amt 1:100.000 + guide book Frederiksborg Amt 1:100.000 Copenhagen 1: 50.000 not of high quality Bornholm 1: 50.000 mapbooklet with guideinfo.
Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad Club (ADFC) Postfach 10 77 47 D-28077 Bremen 1 Deutschland Phone: +49 - 421 346 290 Fax: +49 - 421 346 2950 Fiets Vakantie Winkel Sporlaan 19 NL-3445 Woerden AE The Netherlands Phone: +31 - 3480 21844 Fax: +31 - 3480 28839 Syklistenes Landsforening Postboks 9843 Ila N-0132 Oslo Norway Phone +47 - 22 71 92 93 Fax: +47 - 22 71 76 16 Svenska Cykelsaellskabet Cykelfraemjandet P.O. Box 6006 Torsgatan 31 S-164 06 Kista S-102 31 Stockholm Sweden Sweden Phone: +46 - 8 - 751 62 04 Phone: +46 - 8 - 32 16 80 Fax: +46 - 8 - 751 19 35 Fax: +46 - 8 - 31 05 03
Nature Camps is a fairly new thing in Denmark. But allready now you will find 6-700 of them. Most of the sites being provided by farmers who offer you the possibility of pitching your tent on a meadow or on their lawn. Others sites are just a clearing in the woods.
Service is basic. You will find water and a place to put your waste. Bring your own toilet paper. If you are lucky you may be able to borrow a toilet or sometimes even a shower. Prices are just as moderate as the service. Max. 12,- DKR pr. night pr. person. You may not stay more than 2 nights in each place. This is the rigth way to meet the Danes at home. Buy the full list of addresses from one of the cycling groups mentioned above, or try to find the sites on the county bicycle maps. Do not try to locate the farms/sites from the large-scale Bicycle Vacation Map.
Official Camping Sites have a very high standard compared to most other European countries. You will find 500 all in all, and many have a shop, huts, clean bathrooms and showers, laundry machines, and maybe of whole line of other services. Ask if they have a special area for cyclists. You may need a camping carnet. Buy it at the first camping site.
There are 100 youth hostels in Denmark, which means that only in the westernmost part of Jutland may you be at loss when counting on the next one being just around the corner. Allmost all of them are of a very high quality with almost only 4-person family rooms. Gone are the days where you had to sleep in the same room as 25 other people.You should book in advance in July. Prices range from 55 - 75,- Dkr. You will need at youth hostel card. Buy it at the first youth hostel you get to.
Hotels and Inns are fairly expensive in Denmark when you compare with Italian and French 1-star hotels. But then the standard is usually better. As with hotels everywhere you will get a better deal if you are two people sharing a room. Some inns have an excellent reastaurant.
If you like to meet the locals you may want to ask the local tourist office for a list of private lodgings. Some people have a spare room which you may rent for a very reasonable price. Over breakfast you will get the chance to talk to the Danes at home.
Denmark has 3 different kinds of trains. IC (known as IC-3) trains, Interregional trains and Regional trains. You may bring your bicycle on all regional trains, on many interregional trains, - but never on an IC-3 train.
This means that short tours within an area are often easy to plan as you just board the regional train. They have room for 4-8 bicycles.
If you are going longer distances you may want to look for Interregional trains. These sometimes carry up to 20 bicycle. Check at the local station. On train schedules you should check for crossed out bicycles-signatures (no bicycle allowed) or bicycles-signatures (bicycles allowed).
But remember IC (known as IC-3) trains never carry bicycles.
Usually it will take a little longer to travel with a bicycle as you may have to change trains more often. Try to travel in the middle of the day. After 16-18.00 you will find fewer trains which carry bicycles - and also less room.
You either buy a regular bicycle ticket or, if you plan on more than one trip a "ten-clip" bicycle card (Dkr 90,-) which brings the cost of bringing your bicycle down to half. On a clip-card your bicycle will only cost 2 clips or 18,- Dkr within the Jutland/Funen area or within the Zealand/Lolland/Falster-area. Using any DSB-ferry between Zealand and Funen/Jutland costs another 2 clips. 5 Clips will get you anywhere on DSB-rails. Two people going from Copenhagen to Jutland should just buy a clip-card and use it all up in one go.
Travelling in Denmark you do not get a ticket-copy or address-tag to tie to your bicycle. Just show the ticket upon request. Remember to buy a regular ticket for yourself. All loading and unloading should be done by yourself.You should do all loading and unloading yourself. But ask for help if neccesary.
You may only reserve place in some trains. This means that in the peak season you may be rejected if the train is full. Be on your toes when the train pulls in, if other cyclists are around.
Tricycles, mopeds, and trailers that do not fold are not allowed in trains. Usually you will be asked to take off your luggage when in the train as this gives room to more bicycles. Help yourself by helping others.
If in doubt about anything - ask at the local train station, or call the (DSB) - Danish Railroads' Information Service from 6.00 - 24.00 on phone +45 - 33 14 17 01.
The Greater Copenhagen S-trains carry bicycles in all off-peak periods. Thus you should stay off S-trains from 6.30-8.30 and 15.30-17.30. You may be fined if you don't. Two clips on your bicycle-clip-card will do.
If you do not want to take of your own bicycle, you may send it ahead as registered luggage. But it is more expensive (140,- Dkr) takes several days and is more dangerous to your bicycle than just taking it along yourself.
If you send your bicycle out of Denmark as registered luggage the cost is 200,- Dkr (!) or 60,- Dkr if you do it from Copenhagen or the border stations of Roedby, Gedser and Padborg. Instead try to travel on one of the few trains between Hamburg and Jutland which have an open spaced postal wagen.
Almost all county busses have room for two bicycles in the rear luggage room. (Not in or around Copenhagen). However this space is also used for parcels (rare) and prams (also rare). Prams have priority over bicycles. You may have to load the bicycle yourself, but ask for help if you do not know how it works. Remember to take all luggage off before stopping the bus.
There are a growing number of long distance coaches in Denmark. These are less well known, which is a shame. They are often run to and from areas or on routes where the train service is poor. Remember they only stop in some towns. Here are the routes which operated in 1994:
- Hanstholm-Fjerritslev-Hobro-Randers-Copenhagen - Blokhus-Roedhus-Slette Strand-Fjerritslev-Copenhagen - Loekken-Aalborg-Hadsund-Grenaa-Copenhagen - Aarhus-Ebeltoft-Copenhagen - Copenhagen-Kiel - Odense-Spodsbjerg/Taars-Nykoebing Falster - Ribe-Skaerbaek-Loegumkloster-Tinglev-Krusaa-Flensborg - Frederikshavn-Aalborg-Viborg-Herning-Grindsted-Esbjerg
Fares are often moderate, but a few ferry lines have huge discounts for 5 passengeres in a car, which means that your group of 5 cyclists will pay more even though you use less space on the ferry deck.
Ask for discount as a group, and insist that you at least get the same discount as the car-group. If you do not - write a letter to the managing director and send a copy to the local newspaper ("The Local Newspaper, X-town" will do). Also send a copy to Dansk Cyklist Forbund, Roemersgade 7, DK-1362 Copenhagen K.
When driving in Roundabouts you should yield on entry. Going around the motorists who want to leave the roundabout (or circle) should give way to cyclists who stay in the roundabout. (But watch out - they do not always remember).
American cyclists should be aware that a left turn is signalled by streching the left arm out. Raising the left arm signals a stop. Streching the right arm out signals a right turn.
My suggestion: go island hopping on the Islands of Fyn, Langeland and Aeroe which are smack in the heart of Denmark. You will enjoy the gentle landscape, the 1100 km of signposted bicycle routes, the ferries to and from the many island and the fruits of the many apple-groves in the bicycle paradise of Denmark.
Start out in Odense, the birthtown of Hans Christian Andersen. (Train from Copenhagen or Hamburg/Fredericia carriy bicycles). Visit his museum in the city center. Head out on route 65 past the working museum of "The Funen Village" where you get of picture of Denmark 2-400 years ago. Continue (50 km) to the southern seaport of Faaborg, a cosy town with copple streets and ferries for Germany and the island of Aaeroe.
The Latter is your next destination. Walk your bicycle onto the small ferry and relax for an hour while you sail past several small islands south of Funen. Aeroe is a pictouresque island with thached-roof houses, tiny villages and bicycle routes all around.
From the top of this Island you get of view of the Baltic Sea and in the distance Germany, Jutland and a dusin islands. Stay a full day in Aeroeskoebing, a harbour town which has not changed a bit since year 1600. You will want to drink your coffee in the TownHall cafe, and linger on the harbour front. Or maybe take the kids to the beach right off the cosy camping site.
Continue your ride around the island to Marstal where you take the ferry to Rudkoebing. Two towns just in line with Aeroeskoebing. Cycle the steep bridge (bike lanes in both directions) back to Taasinge on the National Bike Route 8, eat your lunch at Valdemars Slot (castle). 3 kilometers later you pass through Troense which has the most beutifull village street in Denmark (Greenstreet). Buy plumbs or fruit from one of the many private stands on the road. You simply take what you like. The locals trust that you pay the appropriate amount in the open jar they provide for just that purpose.
From Troense you face a hard choise. You may either cycle to Svendborg and get the beutifull view of Svendborg Strait from the bridge. Or you may board the old wooden boat "Helge" which takes you through parts of that same strait. Of course you may bring your bicycles on the boat.
Svendborg has a long tradition of building ships and you will want to walk the harbour and the cosy shopping streets of this sea-side resort. (Ferry to Aeroeskoebing and train to Odense).
Later you will climb the hills (Denmark may not have any mountains but it is definately not a flat country), on route 55 back towards Odense. You should stop at Egeskov Castle. A unique and well preserved castle with beautifull gardens, and collections of antique cars and motorcycles.
If you do get tired on the way back. Please remember that you may always board the local train between Svendborg and Odense with your bicycles. There is a train almost every hour.
In the Funen county a new company has seen the light of day. A network of 60 hotels, youth hostels, camping sites, municipalitis, and tourist offices work together only in order to provide the best possible service for cyclists. Do not forget to buy the high quality bicycle map of Funen which includes a guide for the 1100 km of signposted bicycle routes.
This article does not leave room for describing every beautifull area in Denmark. But here are a few tips on other areas which should be of interest to you:
- aa may be written as aa - or as an "a" with a small circle above. - ae will be written as a close combination of "a" and "e". - oe will be written as an "o" with a slash "/" through.
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