The North Coast (Danish: Nordkysten) is a municipality (actually named Gribskov kommune, after the large forest to south) on the northern coast of Zealand in Denmark. The 30 km coastline between Tisvildeleje and Hellebæk has been dubbed the Danish Riviera, while it may be hard to see why in the winters rain and ice cold wind, the well heeled guests and part time residents that descend on the coast line come spring and summer, makes the nickname much more obvious.
The 10 or so villages on the coast, have practically been joined together by long swaths of summer cottages - tripling or even quadrupling the population during the summer months, where at times it seems half the population of Copenhagen is here.
The municipality runs several tourist information offices in the area, but the general phone number is ☏, and emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- 1 Gilleleje Tourist Office, Gilleleje Hovedgade 6f, ☏ . Open year round, but hours vary.
- 2 Helsinge Tourist Information, Gadekærvej 17, ☏ . Open June-mid August; M-F 10:00-16:00, Sa 10:00-13:00.
- 3 Tisvildeleje Tourist Information, Banevej 8, ☏ . Year round; M-F 12:30-16:30, Sa 10:00-12:00.
The easiest entry points are Hillerød and Elsinore. Hillerød is reached with the E line of the S-train system (44 mins), from there you can catch a small local railway which runs to either Gilleje or Tisvildeleje/Helsinge once or twice an hour throughout most of the day. Hillerød is also the main terminal for bus routes in the area. Another option is Elsinore at the end of the kystbanen railway from central Copenhagen (45 min) from there you can another small local railway to Gilleje running along the coast. The whole trip from Copenhagen Central station to Gilleleje takes around 1 hr 15 min via Hillerød and 1 hr 45 min via Elsinore.
There are plenty of options for driving and routes naturally depends where exactly you are going, but generally you take the Hillerødmotorvejen (route 16) motorway towards Hillerød for destinations west of Gilleleje, while the Helsingørmotorvejen (route E47/55) motorway towards Elsinore is fastest for destinations to the east.
Conveniently a small one track railway, Hornbækbanen, runs right along most of the coast between Elsinore and Gilleleje - a journey of 40 minutes - the trains continue onto Hillerød as Gribskovbanen after a brief stop. There are also Gribskovbanen trains to Tisvildeleje from Hillerød. There's a departure every 30 minutes during the daytime and every hour between in the evening. On weekends, trains leave once an hour, except Saturdays on Gribskovbanen from Hillerød to Tisvildeleje from 11:00 to 16:00, where there's a train every 30 minutes. These trains use the same tickets as the rest of the public transportation system.
During the summer season an old steam train occasionally runs to various destinations in the area, the schedule varies greatly so check with one of the tourist information offices for details. These trains require a special ticket.
A quaint seaside town during much of the year, Tisvildeleje bourges with visitors during the summer, and many of the houses outside the small centre, is vacation houses - or sommerhuse in Danish, greatly contributing to a mushrooming population during good weather. When you arrive at the small train station, follow the crowd, and you'll be on the beach after a 300-metre walk, it's kid-friendly, and there are lifeguards stationed during bathing season. If you head northwest along the beach, you'll reach Helenekilde, one of the country's most famous springs, legend has it that it can cure incurable diseases; if you draw water from the spring on St. Johns eve, and find the two boulders leaning against each other, Helenes tomb (on Sankt Helenevej), lye in grass and drink the wate of life until the red sun rises, you will be cured of your disease. With the coast due north, head west or north if you want to escape the crowd, where Tilvildeleje is bordered by the Tisvilde Hegn forest, it's large and quite nice, a good walk takes you to the Troldeskov or Trolls forest, where gnarled old trees create interesting shapes and figures, it's signposted from the entrance.
- 1 Tibirke Kirke, Tibirke Kirkevej 2. build on top of a heathen place of sacrifice from the antiquity, this church is thought to date back to around 1100, though the current church is a patchwork of later additions. The Gothic altar inside the church is from Lübeck, dating back to 1475 and was returned to church after being stored and later restored by the National Museum, it's well worth a look. Also inside there is a Baptismal font presumably from monastery ruins, thought to be very old, it's decorated with several cross of St. George
Gilleje is the main town on the coast with around 7000 full-year residents, it's an important local fishing harbour, and was indeed founded by fishermen as early as the 16th century, the fishermen are also famous for organising the escape of Danish Jews to neutral Sweden during World War II on the cutters, though unfortunately many were captured during a Gestapo raid, you'll find a few memorials commemorating the tragic night, as well as fishermen who lost their lives hitting sea mines during the crossing, around the town.
You'll usually arrive at the train station which is about 500 m south west of the harbour, and a bit longer from the beach, you'll walk through the nice city centre to get there, which has preserved some of the narrow alleyways and half timbered houses of the original fishing hamlet. The whole place has an aura of sleepy sophistication it's hard to find elsewhere, and Danes have jokingly dubbed the area; the North Zealand Riviera - in fact the great tormented philosopher Søren Kierkegaard used Gilleleje to escape from his world.
The beach is immensely popular in the summer, and locally famous for it's white sand - many of the outlying houses are vacation homes, so you can count on the beach being full on weekends (Jun-Aug) if the weather is good. During the season, there is life guards stationed here - if you walk around 1 km north west along the beach, you'll reach Zealands northernmost point, if you walk around the same distance in the opposite direction, you'll find Nakkehoved Lighthouse, which along with a sister in Sweden, marks the entrance to the Øresund sound.
- 2 Gilleleje Museum, Vesterbrogade 56, ☏ . Sep-May W-F 13:00-16:00, Sa 10:00-14:00; Jun-Aug: W-M 13:00-16:00. A 350-m² museum detailing local history from the antiquity up until today, through archaeological exhibits and recreations of rooms of 19th century businesses and schools. The historical evacuation of the Danish jews to Sweden, is represented through a fishing boat on the lawn, featuring details on how the jews were transported. Free.
- 3 Skibshallerne & Det Gamle Hus, Gilleleje Hovedgade 49, ☏ . Jun-Aug: 13:00-16:00 (closed on Tuesdays). 3 halls with 3 full fishing vessels from the 20th century and exhibits on the history of fishing in the area. Det Gamle Hus right next to the ship halls is a preserved 19th century home. 35 kr.
- 4 Fyrhistorisk Museum på Nakkehoved, Fyrvejen 25 A, ☏ . Mar-Nov: Th-Su 12:00-16:00; Sep-Oct: Tu-Su 11:00-16:00. A small museum portraying the history of the Danish lighthouse service, from the first humble non-electric lighthouses in the 1500' hundreds, up until the automated lighthouses of today. The Lighthouse itself dates back to 1772, and along with another lighthouse in Sweden, marks the entrance to the Øresund strait. DKK 40.
A small village with less than 1000 permanent residents, but one of the best beaches on the north coast with shallow water and a lifeguard service in season, makes it a very popular destination for day trippers and guests to the vacation homes which stretches 2km inland. The name means "Queens Mill", and dates back to the 16th century, but which mill this name refers to remains uncertain.
- 5 Tegners Museum & Strandpark, Museumsvej 19, ☏ . Tu-Su 12:00-17:00 (Jun-Aug: 09:30-17:00). Rudolph Tegner (1873-1950) was a controversial Danish sculptor with links to the Symbolist movement, and strongly inspired by classic works from Greece and Italy. His works are rather bombastic and monumental, at odds with the normally restrained Danish expression in arts. As the only one in Denmark, the museum was designed by the artist himself, and like many of his works, the museum itself is rather grandiose, but nicely contrasted with the surrounding park, which apart from a number of his sculptures also is a unique natural habitat.
Next to the museum there is a small cafe (da: traktørsted) where you can get a cup of coffee or a beer. 50 kr.
- 6 Munkeruphus, Munkerup Strandvej 78, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. hour vary. A beautiful mansion from the turn of the last century, which besides hosting various changing art exhibitions, also has a café and sometimes host cultural events.
While this small village of around 3,500 people, roughly half way between Gilleleje and Elsinore, has more than 500 years of history as a fisheries harbour on it's back, there is now little fishing going on, and the village is above all known as popular vacation spot full of day trippers from Copenhagen and many guests in the vacation homes during the summer months. And the old harbour is now a marina for private yachts - this transformation is all mainly thanks to it's popular good, sandy, beach that extends on both sides of the harbour. Besides the beach there is not many attractions here, but a small church dating back to 1737, but there are some good strolls around the area to be had, and its also a popular spot for fishing.
- 7 Bymuseet Kongensgave, Østergade 55 (Helsinge). hours varies greatly, but W-F 13:00-16:00 is generally a safe bet. A small museum of local history in Helsinge. A small collection of archaeological finds along with interiors from local homes from various times in history. 25 kr (free for children under 18).
- 8 Laugø Smedje, Laugø Byvej 2 (Laugø), ☏ . An old blacksmith dating back more than 150 years, it's now a living museum with working blacksmiths on select days throughout the year. 25 kr.
- 9 Ramløse Mølle & Håndværksmuseet, Møllelodden 4 (Ramløse), ☏ .
- 10 Hammermølle, Bøssemagergade 21 (Hellebæk), ☏ . Th-Su 10:00-17:00. Restored watermill with exhibition and workshop 10 kr.
Most activities in the area is centred around the excellent beaches, so see if there is a little viking hidden in you, and join the locals in the often fairly cold sea, or just safely ooze in the sun up on the beach. With the amount of well heeled visitors, Golf is naturally another option; the local clubs are; Ree Golf, Gilleleje Golfklub and Hornbæk Golfklub.
- 1 Hornbæk Cykeludlejning (Bike rentals), Nordre Strandvej 315 D (Hornbæk), ☏ . Jun-Aug: M-W 09:00-12:00 & 15:00-16:00, Th 09:00-12:00 & 15:00-17:00, F 09:00-12:00, Sa Su 10:00-12:00. Rents out bikes at fairly reasonable rates, and also does repairs if you have your own. 75 kr/day, 450 kr/Week.
- 2 Nordkystens Dykkercenter (Divers.dk), Mårumvej 17 (Græsted), ☏ . A small PADI associated dive shop that does OW courses a couple of times each year. Can also arrange individual dives on request. Local diving is mainly wreck dives but there is also some non-wreck sites across the sound near Kullen in Sweden.
Events & festivals
- 3 Bakkefest (Summer festival) (Gilleleje), ☏ . A 3-day festival with music, amusements, BBQ, drinking and generally just the organisers best shot at summer cosiness (hygge). Tickets can be bought at the entrance for 50 kr per day.
Shopping heaven this is not, but there are a number of stores to breeze through dotted around many of the hamlets. Most of them are located in Gilleleje, which is also where most grocery stores are to be found. A number of artists also have small galleries set up, just look for signs saying "Galleri" when you are driving, biking or walking around the coast.
- 1 Smykkehuset, Havnevej 3 (Gilleleje), ☏ . M-Th 10:00-17:30, F 10:00-18:00, Sa 10:00-14:00. Gorgeous jewellery from mainly Danish brands, also does piercings so you can wear your latest purchase.
- 2 Frk. Mage, Gilleleje Stationsvej 1 (Gilleleje), ☏ . Home decór for nearly every room in your house in Scandinavian design - nice option for some useful gifts or souvenirs.
- 3 Tisvildelejestuen, Hovedgaden 65 (Tisvildeleje), ☏ . Jun-Aug 12:00-14:00 & 15:00-18:00, open on select days the rest of the year. A store run collectively by a group of local artists and artisans, which sells everything from paintings over ceramics to clothing, all made in Denmark
- 4 [dead link] Waff Fiskegrej, Tinkerup Strandvej 2 (Gilleleje), ☏ . M-F 10:00-17:30, Sa 10:00-13:00, Su 10:00-13:30. Sells fishing gear from nearly all major brands, and stocks fire- and lugworms as well as sandlance for bait
- 1 Gilleleje Havn, Havnevej 14 (Yellow and black house at the harbor), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:30-late evening. Cozy restaurant at the harbour. Lots of seafood depending of the season and the catch of the day. The signature dish is a big fried plaice with potatoes. Lunch menu: 258 kr, three-course dinner: 358 kr.
- 2 Far Til 4, Alfavej 21 (Gilleje), ☏ . Daily 10:00-21:00. Fish and steaks, as well as an outdoor grill-buffet during summer for 198 kr. Outdoor seating on a terrace and great views over the sea.
- 3 Cafe Sofa1, Vesterbrogade 4 (Gilleleje), ☏ . Th-Sa 11:00-22:00, Su 11:00-17:00. Friendly service and relaxed atmosphere. Also a good place for a drink. 235 kr for two-course menu.
- 4 Brasseriet, Nordre Havnevej 3 (Gilleje), ☏ . Summer: daily 12:00-16:00 & 18:00-21:30. Right at the harbour, lunch and evening menu with fresh fish and meat grilled on a lava grill, also has a good selection of Smørrebrød.
- 5 Restaurant Sofie, Bygmarken 30 (Tisvildeleje), ☏ . July: 18:00-21:00, other times call ahead.
- 6 Fyrkroen, Fyrvejen 29 (Gilleleje), ☏ . 1 May-15 Sep: daily 12:00-21:00; other times: F Sa 12:00-20:00, Su 12:00-17:00.
- 7 Adamsens, Havnen 2 (Gilleleje), ☏ . Summer: daily 11:00-20:00. You eat at the red benches and tables on the harbour and get the food from Adamsen. There are no waiters, but this is a good way to get quality seafood without spending too much money. Only a few tables are sheltered from rain 75 kr.
- 8 Fiskehuset Hornbæk - Køkkenlugen, Havnevej 31 (on Hornbæk Marina), ☏ . Shrimps, fish & chips, smoked herring, seafood sandwiches 50 kr.
- 1 Tisvildelejecafeen, Hovedgaden 55 (Tisvildeleje), ☏ . One of the few places in Tisvildeleje open all year.
- 2 Brasserie Gilleleje, Nordre Havnevej 3 (Gilleleje), ☏ .
- 1 Helenekilde Badehotel, Strandvejen 25 (Tisvildeleje), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A very nice hotel in a very charming house in Tisvildeleje, with views over the sea, and stone throws walk to the beach 1395-2695 kr.
- 2 Tisvildeleje Strandhotel, Hovedgaden 75 (Tisvildeleje), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 895-1895 kr.
- 3 Sankt Helene centeret (Hostel), Bygmarken 30 (Tilsvildeleje), ☏ . Rooms, cabins and apartments, accredited with Hostelling International, if you are more to share a room, the price will be substantially lower. 520-894 kr.
- 4 Gilleleje Badehotel, Hulsøvej 15 (Gilleleje), ☏ .
- 5 Gilleleje Feriecenter, Tinkerup Strandvej 8 A (Gilleje), ☏ .
- 6 Ewaldsgården, Johannes Ewalds Vej 5 (Hornbæk), ☏ . 525-1130 kr.
- 7 Havreholm Slot, Klosterrisvej 4, Havreholm (Hornbæk), ☏ . 1170-2250 kr.
- 8 Hotel Bretagne, Sauntevej 18 (Hornbæk). 1195-1595 kr.
- 9 Sauntehus Slotshotel, Saunte Bygade 50, Saunte (Hornbæk), ☏ . 700-2000 kr.
- 10 [dead link] Hotel Villa Strand, Kystvej 12 (Hornbæk), ☏ . 995-1850 kr.
- 11 Hotel Hornbækhus, Skovvej 7 (Hornbæk), ☏ . 1195-1595 kr.