The entire Jutland peninsula is about 535 km long, originating around the small town of Lauenburg on the Elbe River in Northern Germany, stretching north all the way to the sandy spit of Skagens Odde in Denmark. Geographically, the southern third of the peninsula belongs to Germany, comprising the state of Schleswig-Holstein, and the northern two-thirds belongs to Denmark. This article will only deal with the Danish parts of Jutland.
Jutland makes up nearly 70% of Denmark's land area and is home to 2.5 million people, roughly half the country's population. Jutland's largest city is Aarhus, as Copenhagen, Denmark's capital and most populous city, is situated on the island of Zealand in the east.
The Danish parts of the Jutland peninsula, that this article deals with, comprise these main cultural regions:
|East Jutland |
An agricultural region that also presents sizable natural sites of international importance.
|North Jutland |
It has many beautiful beaches on the North and Baltic Seas, and two huge shifting dunes.
|South Jutland |
Home to the Wadden Sea National Park, the largest of Denmark's national parks.
|West Jutland |
A flat agricultural region with sandy soil, heaths and long distances.
For the German part of the Jutland peninsula, see:
Cities and towns
Ordered by size, some important major cities in Jutland are:
- 1 Aarhus - Jutland's unofficial capital, and most populous city. A centre for trade, culture and education, and also home to some of Jutlands' best attractions. Aarhus is one of Denmarks oldest cities, yet with the youngest population.
- 2 Aalborg - A regional centre for industry, culture and education for North Jutland, including an international airport. Attractive old town city core.
- 3 Esbjerg - Centre of the Danish fishery and offshore industries, and a well-connected access point to the west coast.
- 4 Kolding - An old, yet dynamic, city forming one of the pillars of one of Denmark's most important commercial regions.
- 5 Herning - Main city, and a major traffic junction, for Western Jutland.
- 6 Viborg - Historic and religious center since medieval times and still today a main city for government administration. Gateway and major traffic junction for northwest Jutland.
Other towns of interest
There are a lot of small picturesque towns throughout Jutland, and other towns of interest. This includes:
- 7 Sønderborg - Largest town in the borderland region with a lot of history and beautiful surrounding nature. Founded in 1256 AD around a royal castle.
- 8 Ribe - Officially Denmark's oldest city, Ribe presents pretty medieval buildings, including a large cathedral, and cobblestoned streets.
- 9 Billund - Major international airport, but also famously home of Lego, and the original Legoland Park, one of Denmark's top attractions.
- 10 Silkeborg - Main city of the central lake highlands region. The town itself is worth a visit or stay, but it is also a gateway to plenty of outdoor activity in the surrounding region of deep woods, lakes and hills, considered among the most beautiful nature in Denmark.
- 11 Ebeltoft - Quaint old habour-town with a preserved medieval center, surrounded by beautiful nature. The harbour boasts Fregatten Jylland, the world's biggest intact wooden ship.
- 12 Klitmøller - Also known as Cold Hawaii, this tiny old fishing-village on the Northsea coast of Jutland has become a popular spot for surfers all-around. Impressive beaches and nature in the Thy National Park.
- 13 Skagen - Famous for the historic Skagen Painters from the 1800s, this old fishing-town is a long time popular cultural spot in the summer, located in the midst of unique coastal nature on the very top of Jutland.
Islands and nature
Denmark is an island nation with hundreds of small and large islands throughout, and Jutland is no different. Some interesting islands to visit includes:
- 1 Als
- 2 Anholt
- 3 Fanø
- 4 Læsø - Off-the-beaten path island in Kattegat with unique architecture and atmosphere
- 5 Rømø
- 6 Samsø
Denmark has a total of five national parks, and four of them are located in Jutland:
- 7 Mols Bjerge National Park - Hilly picturesque areas with old villages and varied nature, including forest, lakes, and grassy plains with wild horses.
- 8 Skjern Å National Park - Large restored meandering river system, now an interesting nature site with good opportunity for angling and hiking.
- 9 Thy National Park - Unique coastal landscape of wild nature with sandy dunes, heath, forest and wildlife. A few wild wolves has recently settled here, after nearly 200 years of absence in Denmark.
- 10 Wadden Sea National Park - Huge and unique wide open coastal landscape of endless muddy and sandy tidal zones, a paradise for birds and seals. Several islands of interest (like Rømø and Fanø in Denmark) dots this enormous region that stretches south through Northern Germany into The Netherlands.
The German portion of the Jutland peninsula is historically a large borderland area between Denmark and Germany. Nationality and ownership has changed over the centuries, sometimes it was part of Denmark, sometimes is was part of Germany, depending on who had the upper hand in military terms. After the end of World War I, the current national borders were settled once and for all by a democratic referendum in 1920, involving the actual citizens in the Schleswig-Holstein region.
Because of the shifting and muddled cultural influence, the Danish language, and Danish identity, is officially recognised by Germany in the state of Schleswig-Holstein today, and many large towns in the region displays excellent examples of historic Danish architecture, and cultural monuments.
Several islands off the coast of Jutland, including the islands of Rømø, Samsø, and Læsø, are viewed as regionally part of Jutland, even though they are separated from the peninsula in geological terms.
Geologically speaking, the northernmost part of Northern Jutland is an island, separated from the rest of the peninsula by the Limfjord sea channel since a local flood in 1825, but in geographical terms, it is usually viewed as part of the peninsula nevertheless.
The local language is Danish, which in some parts of Jutland is spoken with a distinct dialect.
While English speakers are perhaps less prevalent than in Copenhagen, most people under 60 will still have at least some understanding of the language.
Due to the borderland issues, German language proficiency is far better in South Jutland, than elsewhere in Denmark. German is also recognised as a language and identity for the German minority in this region, mirroring the same approach by Germany in Schleswig-Holstein, and everyone can be considered bi-lingual. German proficiency is also present along the entire Jutland West coast, to some degree, as this region is popular with German visitors in the summer.
Billund Airport is the main airport on the peninsula, and number two in Denmark as a whole. It receives many international flights, and has direct connections with almost every major North European hub. Aalborg and Aarhus airports also see substantial traffic, with a few international routes. There are also several smaller regional airports dotted around Jutland with a couple of daily flights from Copenhagen.
There are two ways to get into Jutland by car.
- By German autobahn A7, crossing the border at Frøslev
- By Swedish motorway E20, through the Oresund Bridge, the Great Belt Bridge and the Little Belt Bridge.
There are several ferry lines from southern Norway and Sweden to the northern half of Jutland. From across the North Sea and further west, the weekly ferry from Iceland and the Faroe Islands to mainland Europe arrives at Hirtshals. Domestically, from Zealand and Lolland, there are a couple of direct ferry "shortcuts" if you do not want to travel overland via Funen.
For intercity transportation in Jutland, there is a network of express buses dubbed XBus[dead link], which connects most major towns and cities on routes without or with little rail service. Prices are set according to distance, as a rule of thumb (while in no way completely accurate) expect to pay around 1 kr/km.
In addition to cities, towns and nature, Jutland has many cultural and historic sites of interest, and these are among the most interesting to tourists:
The West Coast
Vadehavscentret is the visitor center for the Wadden Sea National Park area. Experience the Wadden Sea through the eyes of the migratory birds who depends on these vast tidal zones.
Tirpitz in Blåvand, west of Esbjerg, is an underground museum carved into the westcoast dunes at the abandoned Tirpitz Bunker from World War II. Experience the bunker's history, and other themes tied to the west coast of Jutland.
Rubjerg Knude is a former lighthouse in Løkken, standing 60 m above sea in up to 30-m-high sand dunes.
Råbjerg Mile in Skagen is one of the biggest migrating dunes in Europe. It is moving about 15 m per year eastward leaving a new land to be populated by plants and animals on the western side.
The Jelling stones near the town of Jelling are big runestones from the Viking Age, signifying the official founding of Denmark as a united kingdom and a Christian nation around 960 AD. One of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Denmark.
The HEART Herning Museum of Contemporary Art on the eastside of Herning exhibits prominent contemporary art by Danish and international artists. The building sits in a cluster of other interesting art exhibits.
Aarhus offers several museums, including the Old Town Museum (an outdoor living museum displaying typical Danish townscapes from medieval times to the present), the Moesgaard Museum (a vast prism of a building half-buried in a grassy hill with exhibitions on human evolution, prehistory, and cultures around the world), and ARoS (one of Denmark’s largest art museums).
The Aarhus Domkirke is a beautiful cathedral that is more than 800 years old, and the longest and the tallest in Denmark.
There are several amusement parks in Jutland: Fårup Sommerland in Blokhus, Djurs Sommerland, west of Grenå, Lalandia , a large family-oriented waterworld with locations in Billund and Søndervig, and Legoland in Billund.
West coast beaches. Almost the entire western coastline of Jutland, from the Wadden Sea area in south to the Skagen spit in the north, presents amazing wide sandy beaches. In the autumn and winter, the weather and the wind from the Northsea can be rough and hard, but on sunny days in the summer, things are lovely and attracts a lot of visitors and beach-goers. Go to these spots to mingle:
Even though Jutland, and all of Denmark really, is quite flat throughout, the nature and landscape is varied and presents several types of nature, each with their own charm. Hiking is a safe and pleasant activity in Jutland; there is no outright deadly animals or wildlife to look out for, really, and you are never far away from a town or settlement. A number of hiking routes highlights good nature experiences, and these are considered among the very best:
- Himmelbjerget near Silkeborg is a towering hill of a staggering 147 metres. It is among the highest summits in all of Denmark, located in the lake high-lands region with several hilltops of similar scale. The hill, and surrounding area is of great historical importance in Denmark, as the birthplace of early modern democracy in the 1800s, and it offers a beautiful nature hike.
- Hærvejen - Experience the nature and cultural variety of the entire Danish part of the Jutland peninsula along this 500 km trail from Hirtshals, or Frederikshavn, in the north to Padborg at the German border. The route follows ancient trails used in olden times to transport cattle and soldiers to Germany. Hike individual parts, or the entire trail, designed for an 18 day trip.
- Gendarmstien - Beautiful and varied coastal trail in the south-east of Jutland. At 84 km, and certified as a Leading Quality Trail (Best of Europe), this hike is designed for a five day journey and includes shelters and other amenities. It leads you through historic sites from the Stone Age to present times; the trail itself is named after the Danish Gendarmerie controlling the waters for smugglers from Germany in the 1800s.
- Vestkyststien - Experience the wild northwest coast of Jutland on this 80 to 100 km hike. The trail starts off on the lowland isthmus of Agge Tange, a paradise for birds, and leads on through Nationalpark Thy with sandy dunes, heathlands, and some woodlands, all the way to the sea cliff of Bulbjerg in the north. Designed for a five day journey. Vestkyststien forms a part of the much larger Nordsøstien (see below).
- Rebild Bakker Ruten - Short 11 km 1 day route through some astonishing terrain of heather-covered hills and deep woodland. Although it sounds as a short easy route, it covers steep hills, and you can shortcut at two spots to make it 8 or 4 km. The hiking trail was established in 2018, but has already been praised by ramblers' associations in both Denmark and Germany.
- Kyst til Kyst Stien - Walk coast to coast, from Vejle to Blåvand, across the base of Jutland in a varied landscape, including river valleys, meadows, heathland, and historic sites. Top quality trail of more than 130 km all together, equipped with shelter and camping sites, running water and toilets. Fit for families, with easy access to shopping opportunities along the route.
- Molsruten - 80-km trail through larger parts of the Mols Bjerge National Park, designed for a four day hike. Leading Quality Trail (Best of Europe) trail equipped with shelters and campingsites. Start off from the 700-year old Kalø Castle Ruin north of Aarhus, or from the old rural town of Ebeltoft. Extend your hike to Grenå or Aarhus if you like.
- Nordsøstien - The Danish part of the huge international North Sea Trail, leads you along two-thirds of the Jutlandic coast. The international project has been abandoned, unfortunately, but nearly all of the Danish parts remains. Take the entire hike from the Danish-German border at Tønder (in the Wadden sea region), along the Jutland west coast, all the way to the Skaw Spit on the very top of Jutland, and down the Jutland east coast to the rural town of Ebeltoft, or enjoy shorter individual parts, such as the 46 km Bulbjerg-Tranum trail in North Jutland.
- Mariagerfjord Panoramaruten - Short roundtrip route of only 10 km with some excellent panoramic views across a Danish fjord, a typical feature of the east-coast of Jutland. The hike is relatively easy, but some parts include steep ascends that tends to be muddy during or after rain. Start and end in the town of Hobro.
- Hald Sø - One day hilly roundtrips at Hald Sø lake south of Viborg. About 20 km for the entire lake, but options for shorter routes on the west side, with more well-established trails. It is possible to take a dip in the lake at two spots, and the historic inn Niels Bugges Kro rents out rowboats. Amazing landscape vistas across the lake, including deciduous woodlands, heath and meadows.
Denmark is a gateway to the Nordic region, and in this respect, Jutland is a seafaring hub. From Jutland you can travel by ship to these Nordic destinations:
- Norway. From Hirtshals, on the Northern tip of Jutland, you can sail to a handful of Norwegian towns, including Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand, and Larvik. From Frederikshavn, not far from Hirtshals, you can sail on to Oslo, the capital of Norway.
- The Faroe Islands. Board a ship in Hirtshals and sail on to Torshavn, the main town on the Faroe Islands. This is the only port in Denmark servicing these remote and beautiful islands in the North Atlantic Ocean.
- Iceland. Hirtshals also serves Seyðisfjörður by ferry. This is the only port in Denmark with a ferry service to Iceland.