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Copenhagen

With a population of nearly 1.8 million, Copenhagen is Scandinavia's largest and liveliest city. It's an appealing and largely low-rise city comprised of block after block of period six-storey buildings. Church steeples punctuate the skyline, with only a couple of modern hotels shooting up to mar the view. The city's foremost historical and cultural sites remain concentrated in a relatively small area, while parks, gardens, water fountains and squares are scattered all over the city. A cosmopolitan city, Copenhagen abounds with sightseeing and entertainment possibilities. For music lovers and other revellers there's an active night scene, which rolls into the early hours of the morning.The central railway station is flanked on the west by the main hotel zone and on the east by Tivoli amusement park. Opposite the northern corner of Tivoli is Rådhuspladsen, the city's central square and main bus transit point. Buses connect the airport, 9km south of the centre, with Central Station and Rådhuspladsen. Strøget, the world's longest pedestrian mall runs through the city centre between Rådhuspladsen and Kongens Nytorv, the square at the head of the colourful Nyhavn canal area.Just north of the canal at Amalienborg Palace - home of the royal family since 1794 - you can watch the colourful changing of the guard when the queen is in residence. The palace's four nearly identical rococo mansions surround a central cobbled square and an immense statue of King Frederik V on horseback. One wing has been opened as a museum, exhibiting the royal apartments through three generations from 1863 to 1947. Classic churches to check out are Vor Frue Kirke, the city cathedral with its famed statues of Christ and the disciples by Bertel Thorvaldsen, and Christianshavn's Vor Frelsers Kirke, which has an elaborate Baroque altar and an equally elaborate carved pipe organ. For a magnificent city view, make the dizzying 400-step ascent up the church's 95-metre spiral tower - the last 160 steps run along the outside rim of the tower, narrowing to the point where they literally disappear at the top.Copenhagen's museums include Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, which has an excellent collection of art and sculpture from the Greek, Egyptian, Etruscan and Roman periods. The Nationalmuseet (National Museum) houses an extensive collection of Danish historical artefacts, ranging from the Upper Palaeolithic period to the 1840s. However, if you like your sightseeing a little lighter, then Tivoli, a century-old amusement park is located in the city centre. This tantalising entertainment park, which dates from 1843, is delightfully varied, if horrendously expensive. Visitors can ride the roller coaster, take aim at the shooting gallery, enjoy pantomimes and concerts or simply sit and watch the crowds wander by. Of course, a visit to Copenhagen is not complete without a taking a stroll or ferry ride to see the city's most famous icon, the Little Mermaid statue, which sits on the waterfront 10 minutes north of the city centre.Most of the budget hotels are located along the western side of Central Station. Nyhavn, long a haunt for sailors and writers (including Hans Christian Andersen), is now more gentrified than seedy, with a line of trendy pavement cafes and restored gabled townhouses. Nyhavn is an invitingly atmospheric place to break for lunch or an afternoon beer. Nearby, Strøget has an abundance of cheap eateries, but we're talking burgers and dogs for the most part. North of Strøget, there are some good restaurants in the Latin Quarter. If you want to kick on, see street performers and hear live music, then cruise along Strøget. North of the city centre the Nørrebro neighbourhood has a number of clubs that attract a college-age crowd and have good bands. There are also some good'n'smoky jazz joints in Christianshavn.

 
Egeskov Castle

Egeskov Castle, complete with moat and drawbridge, is a Renaissance gem. Built in 1554, in the middle of a small lake, Egeskov - literally 'oak forest' - rests on a foundation of thousands of upright oak trunks. The expansive 15-hectare park surrounding the castle was designed in the mid-1700s and includes century-old privet hedges, free-roaming peacocks, a topiary and manicured English gardens. The interior has antique furnishings, grand period paintings and an abundance of hunting trophies. For those who enjoy labyrinths, take a stroll through the 200-year-old maze made of three-metre-high bamboo shoots. Also on the grounds is an antique car museum, which displays about 300 period cars. Located south of Odense on the island of Funen, Egeskov Castle is accessible by train and bus.

 
Legoland

Legoland, a kilometre north of the small Jutland town of Billund, is a 10-hectare theme park built from plastic Lego blocks, and is not recommended to anyone who fears having their childhood writ both large and Lilliputian in 42 million pieces. Despite being Denmark's most visited attraction outside of Copenhagen, Legoland is Bleckobland unless you've got a preteen entourage or have always wanted to resolve the structural problems of building the Statue of Liberty out of plastic. The most elaborate reconstruction here is the three-million-block Port of Copenhagen exhibit, which features electronically controlled ships, trains and cranes.Legoland's popularity is partially responsible for turning Billund into Denmark's second-busiest airport. You can also get here by bus from Billund or Vejle, to which there are frequent train services.

 
Møns Klint

The spectacular white chalk cliffs rise 128m above sea level, presenting one of the most striking landscapes in Denmark. Created 5000 years ago, the cliffs were formed when calcareous deposits were uplifted from the ocean floor. You can walk down the cliffs to the beach and directly back up again in about 30 minutes, or walk along the shoreline in either direction and then loop back up through a thick forest of wind-gnarled beech trees for a hardier walk of about one and a half hours.Møns Klint is located on the island of Møn, south of Zealand, to which it is connected by bridge and serviced daily by bus.

 
Ribe

Ribe is the oldest town in Scandinavia; recent excavations have unearthed a number of silver coins, indicating that a market town once existed on the site as far back as AD 700. Incessant wars with Sweden strangled regional commerce, resulting in Ribe's decline as an important medieval trading centre. Its economic decline has, nevertheless, spared it from modernisation. With its crooked, cobbled streets and half-timbered 16th-century houses, visiting Ribe is like stepping into a living history museum.The town's dominant landmark, Ribe Cathedral, stands as a fine testament to Ribe's prominent past. For a lofty view of the countryside, climb 27m up the cathedral's 14th-century tower. Ribes Vikinger is a huge museum with displays of Ribe's Viking and medieval history. One exhibition hall has a reproduction of an AD 800 marketplace, complete with a cargo-laden Viking ship; and there's also a multimedia room where you can explore the Viking era via computers, light and sound. Just south of the town centre is the Vikingecenter, which has attempted to re-create Viking-era Ribe through various reconstructions, including a 34-metre Fyrkat-style longhouse. Ribe is in southern Jutland, accessible by trains from Esbjerg (35 minutes) and Tønder (50 minutes).

 
Århus

The commercial and cultural centre of Jutland, Århus is a lively university city with one of Denmark's best music and entertainment scenes - everything from symphony performances and theatre to a thriving night-owl café life. The city's finest attraction is Den Gamle By (Old Town), an open-air museum with 75 restored buildings brought here from around Denmark and reconstructed as a provincial town. Most of the buildings are half-timbered 17th and 18th century houses, but there's also a watermill, a windmill and a few buildings from the late 19th century.The Århus Domkirke is Denmark's largest church, with its original Romanesque chapel dating back to the 12th century. Most of the remainder of the church is 15th-century Gothic. Vor Frue Kirke has Denmark's oldest chapel, dating from around 1060; the Moesgård museum has notable Bronze and Iron Age collections, as well as an enjoyable walking trail, which passes through a landscape of reconstructed prehistoric sights. The most startling exhibit at the museum is the 2000-year-old Grauballe man, found preserved in a nearby bog in 1952. Århus is on the Jutland peninsula's eastern shore and is well serviced by plane, bus and train.


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