When you think of castles, you probably think of Germany, France, perhaps the United Kingdom. It may surprise you that Denmark is actually home to dozens of castles and palaces! Some of the best-known are of course located in Copenhagen, such as Amalienborg Palace and Rosenborg Castle. You may even have heard of Kronborg, the castle that inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet, or Frederiksborg Castle. In this post, we want to talk about the castles you haven’t heard of: Denmark’s hidden castles.
All of these are located on Sjælland (Zealand) which means they can be accessed from Copenhagen. We have included a map and some practical information on the bottom of this post. Come and explore some hidden gems in Denmark with us 🙂
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1. Fredensborg Palace
For Danish people, Fredensborg isn’t exactly a hidden castle as it is the royal family’s spring and autumn residence. During their stay, the royal family often receives state guests, such as the new ambassadors to Denmark twice a year. It’s a real spectacle with horse-drawn carriages and more.
The castle and surrounding gardens were designed by architect and royal gardener Johan Cornelius Krieger in the 1720’s. It’s a beautiful example of Baroque architecture and the gardens are among the largest historical gardens in Denmark. The grounds are open to the public year-round and you will see many people jogging along the paths.
The palace itself can be visited with a guided tour during July and August when the kind and queen reside elsewhere. Tickets can be bought at the entrance. For more information please see the official website.
How to Get to Fredensborg Palace
Fredensborg Palace is located in Fredensborg, approximately 40 km north of Copenhagen. From Copenhagen, you have two options. The total travel time for both is approximately 1h 15min. Take the E line (S-train) to Hillreød where you change to a regional train towards Helsingør. Get off at Fredensborg Station. From here it’s about a 15-minute walk to the palace. Take the Öresundståg to Helsingør and get off at Kokkedal Station where you change to bus 365R towards Fredensborg Station. You can get off at Fredensborg Slot and walk the last few meters.
2. Vallø Castle
This was actually the first hidden gem Mihir and I discovered after moving to Denmark. Vallø Castle is a manor house which today serves as a residence for Vallø Stift. It was originally constructed in the 1580’s but further expanded several times afterward. Unfortunately, the castle is not open to visitors, but the sight is beautiful in itself. You can also enjoy the Romantic gardens or check out some of the historic buildings just outside the castle on Vallø Castle Street. The Vallø Castle Inn houses a highly rated restaurant which is well worth checking out!
How to Get to Vallø Castle
Vallø Castle is located in the vicinity of the town of Køge, approximately 55km south of Copenhagen. Your total travel time will be about 1.5 hours. If you’re already in the vicinity, why not check out what else the cute town of Køge has to offer? 🙂
In order to get to the castle, take the E-line (S-train) to Køge. Here you will change to a regional train in the direction of Rødvig Station. Get off at Vallø Station. From here you have to walk for about 15-20 minutes (1.5km). It is a bit of a hike, but the walk is very pleasant and seeing Vallø Castle peak out behind the trees is definitely worth it!
3. Ledreborg Castle
Not too far from Roskilde, Ledreborg Castle and its park are perched on a steep hill. Completed in 1746, it is a fine Baroque palace with an equally interesting terraced Baroque garden. The mansion has been in the Holstein-Ledreborg family for eight generations and is still inhabited by the family today. In the summer, the upper floors open for guided tours and private events. The gardens are accessible year-round for a small donation of 25kr.
How to Get to Ledreborg Castle
Ledreborg Castle is probably one of the most accessible spots on our list. From Copenhagen Central Station take the regional train in the direction of Holbæk. Get off at Lejre Station. From here it’s about 40 minutes walk (2.5 km). Alternatively, you can take bus 233 in direction Herthadalen which drops you just outside the castle grounds.
4. Jægerspris Castle
Yet another Danish manor house on our list in Jægerspris Castle in the town of Frederikssund. Although construction started in the 13th century, it was completed only in 1722. Some parts of the castle have been open to the public since 1866. Today, the museum is open during summers between 11:00 and 16:00 and entrance is 65 kr.
However, just the gardens are worth exploring if you are short on time or money 😉 The gardens are open year-round and visiting is free of charge. They are also home to several rune stones, some dating back to 700 or 800 AD. PS: The food at café Danner is fabulous (although a bit pricey perhaps) if you are looking for a place to grab lunch!
How to Get to Jægerspris Castle
Take the S-train (G or H line) in direction Frederikssund all the way to the final station. From there you can take bus 316 which drops you right in front of the castle, or bus 230R which runs more frequently, but drops you about 500m from the castle.
5. Løvenborg Castle
If you are looking for something picturesque, Løvenborg Castle is the place for you. To be quite honest, this is probably our favorite castle on this list! Originally built in 1634 and later expanded in 1853, Løvenborg oozes former grandeur. While the castle is a private residence today and not open to visitors, its gardens can be visited every weekend during the summer between 08:00 and 17:00.
How to Get to Løvenborg Castle
Take the regional train from Copenhagen in the direction of Kalundborg and get off at Ringsted Station. From here it’s about a 40-minute walk (2.5 km) to the castle. The route takes you along a quiet road without a footpath.
6. Gavnø Castle
Gavnø Castle is probably one of the best-known hidden gems around Copenhagen (if there ever was such a thing at least). Built in the early 13th century, Gavnø was part of Denmark’s western defense. However, the building you see was envisioned and seen through by count Otto Thott in 1737. It’s one of Denmark’s finest examples of the Rococo style. Apart from the castle and its chapel, Gavnø Castle is known for its exquisite gardens featuring rare tree species, a rose garden, and more. Every year in spring a tulip festival is held on the ground which attracts numerous visitors.
The gardens are open every day during the summer, but with varying opening hours. A day ticket to the gardens costs 125 kr. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the castle brewery, of course 😉
How to Get to Gavnø Castle
Located in Næstved, Gavnø Castle is a bit of a pain to reach by public transport. Take the regional train in the direction of Nykøbing F and get off at Næstved Station. From there, take bus 604 in the direction of Appenæs and get off at Udsigtsbakken (Gavnøvej). From here it is a half hour walk (2 km) along a quiet road without a footpath.
7. Dragsholm Castle
Dragsholm Castle is one of the oldest secular buildings in Denmark, dating back to 1215. During later years it was transformed from a palace to a fortified structure, fending off foes and enemies. Unfortunately, the castle suffered during wars and sieges and needed to be completely rebuilt in 1694 to become the Baroque castle you can see today. Some people claim that the castle is haunted by three different ghosts: a grey lady, a white lady, and Lord Bothwell (third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots).
In recent years the castle has been converted into a hotel and is home to one of the best restaurants in Denmark and Scandinavia. The restaurant is under the direction of Michelin-starred chef Claus Henriksen, former sous-chef at NOMA. Their menu revolves around local ingredients and let me just tell you: The food is amazing and their cocktails pack a punch!
How to Get to Dragsholm Castle
Dragsholm Castle is without a doubt my least favorite castle to get to by public transport. I strongly recommend that you visit by car, especially because public transport stops running in the early evening. If you still want to get here by public transport like us, first take the regional train to Holbæk. From here, change to the local train in the direction of Nykøbing Sj Station and get off at Fårevejle Station. The local train only runs once or twice per hour, so plan well. From there you take bus 568 in the direction of Skamlebæk and get off at Vindekilde (Kolåsvej). And I kid you not, from the bus stop it’s about a half hour walk (2 km), some of which leads you along a very busy country road which is why I strongly recommend you don’t walk this stretch with kids or pets.
I know getting here is painful, but at least the food is great, haha 😉
8. Vordingborg Castle
Visiting Vordingborg and Vordingborg Castle is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable day trips you can do from Copenhagen. What lies in ruins today was a defensive fortress built in 1175. At the time, Vordingborg was an important base for the Danish expansion into the Baltic. Today, some of the fort’s walls remain in addition to the city’s most prominent landmark: the Goose tower. The Goose tower looks like straight out of a fairytale and could easily be the tower where Rapunzel was held captive. It stands 26 meters tall and is named after the golden goose which is perched on top. To be honest, I’m low-key obsessed with this tower, haha!
How to Get to Vordingborg Castle
In order to get to Vordingborg Castle, you take the regional train in the direction of Nykøbing F and get off at Vordingborg Station. From here you walk along the town’s main shopping street for about 15 minutes (1 km).
8. Charlottenlund Castle
Charlottenlund Palace was built in the 18th century and used to be the royal summer residence for the Danish Royal Family. Today, the palace serves as an event venue and the gardens are open to the public year-round. It’s perfect to stop over and marvel at the Renaissance Revival architecture before heading over to Charlottenlund beach!
How to Get to Charlottenlund Palace
Take the s-train (C Line) in the direction of Klampenborg and get off at Charlottenlund Station. From here it’s about a ten-minute walk to the palace.
10. Hermitage Lodge
Okay, I know this is not technically a castle, but it does certainly look very royal! The hunting lodge was built in a Baroque style in the 1730s overlooking the adjacent deer garden. It was never intended to be a residence, but rather to be used as a place for receptions and banquets. The building is open to visitors in the summer months during guided tours which take place every Saturday at 15:00. It is also close to Bakken and Bellevue Beach.
How to Get to Hermitage Lodge
You can either take the regional train to Helsingør or the S-train (C Line) and get off at Klampenborg Station. From here it is a rather ambitious walk of 45 minutes (3 km). Fortunately, the route leads you entirely through a park and some forests which makes it rather pleasant.
11. Holsteinborg Castle
Normally we would have capped this article at 10, but we DID happen to visit Holsteinborg Castle and thought we might as well include it 😉 Holsteinborg Castle is another manor house, built in the early 17th century. Hans Christian Andersen was a frequent visitor to the castle. Today, it is a private residence, but its park is open to the public.
How to Get to Holsteinborg Castle
In order to get to Holsteinborg Castle, take the region train in the direction of Nykøbing F and get off at Næstved Station. From here, take bus 670 in the direction of Skælskør Busterminal. Get off at station Holsteinborg (Holsteinborgvej) which is located exactly in front of the castle. Just be aware that the bus only runs about once an hour!
Your Map for Finding the Hidden Castles
As you may have noticed, getting to most of these castles can be a bit of a pain. Personally, we think they are worth checking out individually if you happen to be in the area anyway. If you are traveling by public transport, we STRONGLY recommend that you plan your journey well with the official Rejseplanen app as you might otherwise get stranded at one of these spots. In general, we recommend that you visit them by car.
We hope that you will be mindful when you visit any of these castles as many serve as private residences even today. You wouldn’t want anybody to litter in your yard, would you? 😉 But definitely, use the chance and bring a picnic if you are visiting any of these beautiful gardens in order to get the most out of it!
Now, what do you think? Would you like to visit any of these palaces and castles? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! Let’s stay in touch!