Wherever you are in Denmark, you're never more than a stone's throw from a castle or cultural centre (we don't recommend that you throw a stone to find out however - some of these places are very precious).
One of the best things about the N8 Baltic Sea Cycle Route is that you can use it as a way to discover Denmark's rich history and culture. From modern art galleries showcasing the best of post-1950s design and art, to churches and cathedrals dating back to medieval time, this route is more than a bike path, it's a thread connecting our rich cultural life in Denmark, from the past to the present. While these are by no means the only cultural treats waiting for you along the route, they are our highlights of the journey.
Gavnø Castle is a beautiful rococo castle and an important part of Danish heritage, overflowing with history and full of stories of war, romance and knights in shining armour. It houses the North’s largest private collection of around 1000 paintings, a representation of art in Europe throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries. The castle brewery and the tulip café are a good place to stop for a bite to eat.
Denmark’s Castle Centre is a modern research and activities centre specialising in the history of the kings, castles and power of the Middle Ages, located in Vordingborg. The town's castle is now a ruin with a single surviving 650-year-old tower called the Goose Tower, so called because of the golden goose placed on top of the tower by King Valdemar Atterdag. Take an iPad-guided tour among the old ruins to see what the castle looked like in the 14th Century.
Egeskov Castle is a must-visit on Fyn - while you need to take a 16 km detour off the N8 route to reach it, it is worth it! The castle is the largest, best preserved moat castle in Europe, surrounded by an idyllic park with flowers, mazes and ancient trees. This living castle is the home of the the Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille family, and also has a wonderful collection of rare planes, cars and motorbikes and a beautiful doll's house.
The Archipelago Museum in Faaborg has a wealth of exhibitions and activities to keep you busy on an afternoon out of the saddle. ‘The Arrest’ allows you to feel what it is like to be behind bars and Kaleko Mill and the old merchant’s courtyard have an entrancing historical ambience to discover. You can also try Snorkelling Your Way to the Stone Age, Riding in the Ice Age and Bike and Wine tours.
Koldinghus is Jutland’s last royal castle and a site of great historical importance for the Danish royal family. Once one of the royal family's favourite castles, today the 13th century castle holds permanent and visiting exhibitions and an annual Design School exhibition. The newly-renovated south wing is a unique combination of old and modern architecture, partly due to a catastrophic fire in 1808.
Trapholt Modern Art Museum showcases art, craft, design and furniture design all in the same place (and is one of few Danish museums to do so). The ever-changing exhibitions promote both national and international artists and designers, and the museum has a sought-after collection of modern art and Denmark’s most extensive collection of chairs from the 20th Century. It also houses the unique summerhouse of the Danish Architect Arne Jacobsen.
Find out what it was like to be a Danish and a Prussian Soldier in 1864. This historical centre tells the story of the 1864 war with reenactments, examining the period where Denmark and Prussia fought over the ownership of Schleswig. The Danish military took refuge at the Dybbøl trenches here after the retreat from Dannevirke, and were attacked and defeated on 18th April 1864, resigning the rights to Sønderjylland to the Prussians.
Haderslev Cathedral dates from the 1100s and sits high above the town’s roofs, creating a unique panorama. It has survived many fires, which alongside extensions and restorations has changed the look of the cathedral to what it is today. Historical treats include a few chalk paintings and four vestments that have been designed by the Danish Queen Margrethe II, each containing symbols central to Christianity.
Kongegaarden is a regional centre for art and music. Set over three levels, it includes a beautiful concert hall with incredible acoustics and regular art exhibitions. The house itself dates back to 1761 and was a resting place for the royals and their nobles before crossing Storebælt. It's not a resting place any more but it is a good reason to get out of the saddle along the N8 route.
Holsteinborg Castle has been in the Holstein Family for 12 generations, and was Hans Christian Andersen's home-from-home. He wrote on a photograph from 1870: ‘It was at Holsteinborg Castle that I first noticed the sun because it was here that sunshine was placed in my heart’. The park is open to the public, and there are guided tours of the house on Wednesdays and Sundays.