A Day trip to Danish castles near Copenhagen

I had stayed in Copenhagen for three nights and four days so I wanted to explore outside of Copenhagen for one day. My friend ,who once stayed in Copenhagen for one moth, recommended me to visit Frederiksborg castle.

Since Denmark is still a country with monarchy, there are already a lot of castles in Copenhagen. One might wonder if there is a reason to visit another castles outside of Copenhagen. But I would like to say Kronborg castle and Frederiksborg castle have distinctive appeal.

When I traveled to Europe in 2014, I have a jetlag that I woke up around 5:30 am and went to bed around 10:00pm. Don’t get me wrong as an early bird. I’m not an early bird in usual. This early bird schedule makes me have more free time in day time. I also found Kronborg castle on the internet saying it’s a nice medieval castle to visit and it’s one hour from Copenhagen and from Hilerød(where Frederiksborg castle is). So I made my mind to go to both castles on the same day. Thanks to my new sleeping schedule, I was able to start the trip around 7:00am when Copenhagen is more peaceful.

Kronborg Castle

It was quite cloudy and windy morning. It was 16C but I felt it’s much colder even if I was wearing leather jacket, scarf and conventional denim jean. Yeah, when you are in Scandinavian country, you really appreciate genuinely when the weather is very nice. When I was in Oslo before Copenhagen, my Norwegian friend often said how lucky I am to visit Oslo when the weather is the nicest and the warmest in that year.

Anyway, I got a train to Helsingør where Kornborg castle is located. After one hour in the train, I got to Helsingør  and it was much windier than Copenhagen. Helsingør is 45 km north of Copenhagen and Helsingborg(Sweden) is just across narrow channel. When the weather is sunny, you can actually see Sweden from Kronborg castle. Kronborg castle is the most famous tourist spot in that small city so it was very easy to navigate the way from the station to the castle.

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Sorry for the picture. The weather was so cloudy that it’s difficult to take fancy pictures. But as it’s famous for  the setting of William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy Hamlet, this weather was even more matching with the most famous Shakespeare’s tragedy. I wouldn’t be so surprised if I run into Hamlet’s father ghost in the castle at night in this weather. For some avid Shakespeareans, the castle also has Hamlet performance in the castle.


<Aerial view of Kronborg castle, from Wikipedia>

As you can see in the picture, Kronborg castle has a moat. If you see the moat in person, it’s pretty large. This castle was originally built as a fortress in 1420s so there were some unused cannons near the castle wall. From 1574 to 1585 Frederick II (there are many Frederik-s among Danish Kings)  had the medieval fortress rebuilt into a magnificent Renaissance castle, unique in its appearance and size throughout Europe.As a consequence of developments in the military technique of the era and the improved striking power of the artillery, it became clear that it was necessary to modernize the fortifications of Krogen. After the conclusion of the Northern Seven Years’ War in 1570, King Frederick II initiated an extension of the advanced bastions to relieve the medieval curtain wall. Later, the castle played a role as a tollgate for neighboring country passing this castle and it contributed to Danish wealth. Around 1.8 million ships passed through the Sound during this period and all of them had to pay a toll at Kronborg Castle. Of course, this tollgate was cumbersome to neighboring countries and Sweden was angry about it.

During the Dano-Swedish War of 1658-60, Kronborg was besieged, attacked and conquered by a Swedish army.


Even though the weather is not so sunny, I was able to see Sweden from this castle.


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inside kronborg

<While traveling Denmark castles, you will see a lot of furnitures in the castle>


<The ballroom. There are many paintings and tapestries describing Denmark-Sweden war. It used to be the largest ballroom in Northern Europe.>



This is the statue of Holger the Dane. According to a legend linked to Arthurian myth, a Danish king known as Holger the Dane, was taken to Avalon by Morgan le Fay. He returned to rescue France from danger, then traveled to Kronborg castle, where he sleeps until he is needed to save his homeland. His beard has grown to extend along the ground. A statue of the sleeping Holger has been placed in the castle.

Near the statue of the holy Danish king, one woman dressing in Danish armor approached me and asked to kill any Swedish people nearby. Still, Denmark and Sweden have interesting rivalry relationship.

The castle is not too big so it took somewhere between 1-2 hour to look around.



<Saying goodbye to Kronborg castle>


Frederiksborg Castle 

Then, I took train from Helsingør to Hilerød to visit Frederiksborg castle. Now it started raining. I do like rain but it’s not a pleasurable moment when you are traveling. Frederiksborg is more known as a castle with beautiful exterior than Kronborg castle.


On the way from Hilerød station to the castle, it was quite residential and there was even a street with some shopping malls. This scenery actually reminds me of the time when I had a day trip in Cambridge. Raining + this kind of street with some shopping malls.


After about 20 minutes walk, I finally got to the castle and indeed it was a beautiful red brick castle with a lot of delicate stone works. Actually, the castle has a nickname, “Scandinavian Versailles”. It was a royal residence during the reign of the King Christian IV. The King Christian IV used this castle while his father Frederik II built Kronborg castle and this one(you might have already guessed that from the name of this castle) . Christian IV is known as “cultural king” so his name is frequently mentioned during the castles tour in Denmark with his dad’s name.


This fountain is “Neptune Fountain”. Neptune is the god of sea and it symbolizes the Danish King. It was created from 1620 to 1622 to stand on the castle’s forecourt symbolizing Denmark’s position as a leading Nordic power in the early 17th century. It is a reminiscence of the heyday when Denmark was the strongest country among its neighbors.


The castle has a famous chapel and it was quite beautiful. The chapel takes big parts of the inside of the castle. It is the best preserved part of the Renaissance complex, having largely escaped damage in the 1859 fire.And look at the gorgeous organ! The organ is the oldest organ in Denmark. I really would love to listen to the sound from the organ music.

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Frederiksborg castle also has a beautiful garden. Of course, Versailles garden is much larger but this garden is also worth a visit.


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The castle is also next to the lake. This scenery with a lake has inspired many painters. It would have been great if I can see a sunset sitting along the lake in sunnier weather. Hopefully, if I happened to visit this place next time, I wish Denmark treat me with nicer weather. But it was a good idea to go outside Copenhagen and explore these castles.