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The 7 Funnest Things To Do In Denmark Around Roskilde Festival

The 7 Funnest Things To Do In Denmark Around Roskilde Festival

European summer is officially here (which I’m resenting bitterly from my freezing residence in Melbourne) which can mean only one thing: festival season. One of the first up? Roskilde, a legendary four-day musical bonanza held outside the small Danish town of the same name.

(Photo: Roskilde Festival)

Roskilde is the largest festival in northern Europe, attended by up to 130,000 punters, and consistently features the biggest names in music across a variety of genres. This year’s lineup includes heavy-hitters Paul McCartney, Disclosure, Florence + The Machine, Kendrick Lamar and Muse, to name only a few. So, obviously, you’re going–but there’s more to this Scandinavian haven (the happiest country in the world!) than the festival, plus it’s only a 25 minute train ride from Roskilde to the bustling capital Copenhagen, so read on to find out how to make the most of your time there.

#1 Experience The “Freetown” of Christiania

Back in the ’70s, squatters living in the Copenhagen neighbourhood of Christiania effectively seceded from Denmark and proclaimed themselves to be an autonomous “freetown”. Since then, a communal, self-governing culture has flourished smack in the middle of a country that is otherwise notoriously buttoned-up. Christiania locals have had run-ins with the government every now and again, but things have mellowed out in recent years and the freetown is now a unique, park-like place to spend an afternoon. Wander among the rambling, overgrown greenery, admire the quaint wooden buildings covered in colourful murals, stop to pat a friendly barnyard animal or have a quick peek in the “marketplace” at the oddities for sale. The selfies will have to wait though – no pictures are allowed anywhere on the grounds.

#2 Chow down on Copenhagen Street Food

(Photo: Copenhagen Street Food)

Over the past few years Denmark has really gained a reputation for being one of Europe’s culinary centres, and for good reason. Experience the best the capital has to offer with Copenhagen Street Food, a permanent market of food trucks and stalls located on Paper Island in the harbour. Choose from a dizzying array of cuisines while mixing with the locals, and when you’re done stuffing yourself, do as the locals do and end your day with a drink (or several). For best results try tagging along one of Pub Crawl Copenhagen’s outings…and plan to take it easy tomorrow.

#3 Visit Tivoli

(Photo: Stig Nygaard/Flickr)

If you think theme parks are just for kids, think again. Tivoli Gardens, in the middle of Copenhagen, is the second-oldest amusement park in the world and one of the most breathtaking: imagine a quainter, cuter version of Disneyland, and replace the American tourists with young, hip Danes, with or without well-behaved children. Inside of Tivoli are theatres, band stands, cafes, restaurants, gardens, a scenic railway, a river (complete with pirate ship), themed areas and vintage mechanical rides. At night, absolutely everything lights up in brilliant colour, and if you’re lucky, you might even catch a fireworks display. It’s like re-living the best moments of your childhood, only better.

#4 Wander around the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art


I get it – you came to Denmark to party, or at least to brave the chaos of Roskilde, but you should consider taking some quiet time to appreciate the finer things in life while you’re here, too. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, just an hour’s train journey from Roskilde and 45 minutes up the coast from Copenhagen, is a gorgeous museum with a first-rate collection in the most beautiful setting imaginable. Located on a cliff overlooking the Øresund, the Louisiana’s sleek architectural style is designed to blend seamlessly into the grounds and blur the lines between “inside” and “outside”. Add to that impressive exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, and you have the perfect locale for a tranquil day trip, before or after the festy.

#5 Take a dip in the Copenhagen Harbour Bath

Late-June Denmark might not exactly be “warm” by Australian standards, but it’s about as warm as it gets, so you may as well celebrate by taking a brisk dip in one of these outdoor swimming facilities that line the Copenhagen waterfront. The Harbour Baths, which are fed by the clean, clear water of the Øresund, are ideal for washing off the festival grime (literally and spiritually) while soaking up some precious Vitamin D.

#6 Take the Hans Christian Andersen tour


The massive popularity of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, then and now, make him essentially the 19th century’s version of Walt Disney. Pay your respects by taking a walking tour through Copenhagen that will bring this storyteller to life. Start at the famous “Little Mermaid” statue in Copenhagen Harbour, then make your way to the colourfully-painted row houses of Nyhavn, where Andersen spent most of his life. Nest head to the Fairy Tale House, an interactive museum of Andersen’s life and stories, before ending with a picnic lunch in the shadow of his statue at King’s Garden park.

#7 Sail around in a Viking Ship

When you think of Scandinavian culture, what comes to mind? After IKEA and long winters, probably Vikings, right? Lucky for you, Roskilde hosts the world’s only Viking ship museum, where you can not only learn about Viking history and goggle at 1000-year-old boats, but you actually can be a viking (or sail like one, anyway). After a tour of the museum, head down to the harbour for a sail around the Roskilde Fjord in either a full-scale, authentic reconstruction of a Viking ship, or a traditional Nordic boat. Not included: Horned helmets, raiding or pillaging.

(Lead image: Architizer)

Book your next Scandinavian adventure with Qantas.

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