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A New Scandinavian Airlines Route Allows US Travelers to Visit a Quieter, Natural Side of Denmark

Denmark Insider Guides
by Sarah Lamagna Jun 20, 2023

Imagine a place where two seas collide, oysters are on every menu, and friendly faces greet you wherever you roam. Then imagine it’s even easier to get to now that there are direct flights from the United States. The area known as North Jutland in Denmark hasn’t been a major tourist destination for people from the US in the past, but a new direct Scandinavian Airlines flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to the heart of North Jutland could change that.

On arrival, there’s no shortage of things to do in this region that covers the uppermost tip of the country. North Jutland is home to Denmark’s first national park, a sand-buried church, the best surfing spots in the country, phenomenal art, and some of the best seafood restaurants in the country.

Adventure experiences in North Jutland

Cold Hawaii

cold water surfing

Photo: speedshutter Photography/Shutterstock

If surfing is your forte, make sure you stop at Cold Hawaii, a series of beaches located between Agger and Hanstholm. Rasmus Johnsen, founder and owner of the coworking space Cowork Klitmøller, is one of the major players behind the master plan for Cold Hawaii, and he was instrumental in making the region the location for the Stand-up Paddleboarding World Championships. Like the name suggests, this area attracts surfers from all over the world to ride the waves just like they do in Hawaii. The only difference is that you’ll need a wetsuit year-round (or a dry suit for colder months). Gear up at West Wind Surf Shop located just across the street from the beach where you can also book all types of surf lessons.

West Wind Surf Shop: Ørhagevej 150, 7700 Thisted, Denmark

National Park Thy

Photo: LouieLea/Shutterstock

When you’re done surfing in Vorupør, stop by the Nationalpark Center Thy information center located on the beach. Here, you’ll be greeted by a massive wooden map in the center depicting Denmark’s first national park. It’s unmanned, but you can pick up any of the informational packets or purchase publications about the park for a donation. This 244 square kilometer (about 94 square miles) park is world renowned for its extensive wilderness and wildlife habitat. Visitors can experience its magic through a variety of outdoor activities including hiking the North Sea Trail and staying overnight in the lean-tos found throughout the trail.

National Park Thy: Vesterhavsgade 168, 7700 Thisted, Denmark


Get your adrenaline pumping and book a dune-buggy excursion along the coastal beaches of North Jutland. OutNature was founded in 2008 and has since brought thousands of visitors adventuring along the incredible scenery of the west coast of Denmark. The tours vary depending on your interest, including kayaking, four-wheeling, snorkeling, and surfing excursions as well as even a bunker treasure hunt. The staff are all well-educated in the geology of these coastal areas, so be sure to ask as many questions as you want.

OutNature: Sdr Strandvej 6E9480 Løkken, Denmark

Skagen Bike Tour

skagen denmark

Photo: Arne Bramsen/Shutterstock

One of the best ways to see the town of Skagen in North Jutland is by bike. To make sure you don’t miss anything, book a tour with Claus Bruun. He knows the city inside and out and shows you to all the best spots (and perhaps a secret spot) to see. He chats about the history of the color of the houses (they’re all a particular shade of yellow) and why artists have long found this area so inviting. Visit places like the coastal museum and the fisherman’s huts as well as the Skagen Museum, Peder Ravn’s Gallery Munk (and bookmark his studio for paint-and-sip style classes), and Brøndums Hotel.

Claus Bruun Skagen tour: Contact for booking


grennen northern denmark

Photo: Sarah Lamagna

Take the tractor-pulled wagon called Sandormen to the northernmost point of Denmark. The point where the Baltic and North Seas merge together is called Grennen and should be on every vacationer’s schedule. At the tip of Denmark, you can take off your shoes and wade through exactly where the two seas meet. It’s an extremely interesting phenomenon where waves hit each other from opposite directions. There is, however, no swimming in this area due to the strong currents.

Sandormen: Gamle Landevej 39, 9990 Skagen, Denmark

Island activities in North Jutland

ferry to Læsø

Photo: Sarah Lamagna

Located off the eastern coast of North Jutland lies the island of Læsø (pronounced lay-shure). You can reach the island by taking a ferry from Frederikshavn through the Kattegat Sea (part of the Baltic Sea). Even though North Jutland, in general, is a relaxing and peaceful place to visit, Læsø is even more so with traditional food ways, eccentric artists like Anne Julie, and unique architecture. Plus, 75 percent of the island is protected and has the most hours of sunshine than any other place in Denmark.

Farm shop Læsø Tang

At this farm shop, you can dive into several types of seaweed-inspired snacks. Try the seaweed almonds – they will be the most wonderful thing to ever hit your mouth. You can even take a guided seaweed trip to understand how seaweed is collected, dried, and made into wonderful food.

Læsø Tang: Doktorvejen 16, 9940 Byrum, Denmark


Læsø roof thatching

Photo: Sarah Lamagna

The seaweed roofs of Læsø bring tourists from all over the world. You can take a hike along the “liquor roads” (as locals call them due to them being the smaller roads where the cops don’t usually go) to view the 30 seaweed-thatched houses that are left. Despite the name, the roofs are actually made from eel grass, not seaweed, but it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as nicely. One of the seaweed houses is now a museum called Museumsgården, where the roof is currently undergoing renovation led by master thatcher Henning Johansen. If you get a chance to meet and chat with him, do it – hopefully he’ll be wearing his Nordic sweater and smoking a pipe.

Tanghusruten: Gammel Østerbyvej 22, 9940 Læsø, Denmark

Læsø Saltsyderi

salt harvesting in denmark

Photo: Sarah Lamagna

One of the most popular destinations on the island is Læsø Saltsyderi. Here, workers collect salt like they used to in the olden days: by hand (although now they use tractors to haul the salt rather than a horse and cart). You can see part of the salt seething operation and get a glimpse into how the salt is made at Læsø Saltsyderi. Don’t forget to stop by the shop and bulk up on the highly sought after salt.

Læsø Saltsyderi: Hornfiskrønvej 3, 9940 Læsø, Denmark


tractor harvesting salt

Photo: Sarah Lamagna

While you’re at Læsø Saltsyderi, take the Rønnerbussen out to the salt flats to witness another part of the salt seething operation. Thomas Olsen (owner and tour guide) takes you on a journey to the beach in a tractor-pulled wagon where you can see incredible wildlife and take in the views. He may even pull over to have you taste one of the island’s smaller creatures: yellow meadow ants (apparently, they taste like citrus).

Rønnerbussen: Frysehusvej 4, 9940 Læsø, Denmark

Historic sights in North Jutland

Regan Vest

regan vest cold war museum

Photo: Sarah Lamagna

In one of the most fascinating landmarks in Denmark lies rich history and incredible architectural feats. Regan Vest is a now inactive nuclear bunker from the 1960s that’s been turned into a Cold War museum. The bunker was meant to hold 350 government officials and administrative/bunker staff positions, and could be self-sustained for 10 days (basically enough time to live through a nuclear explosion). Tours run daily, and you can only visit Regan Vest with a valid ticket and tour guide. Note that tickets are extremely limited and sell out very fast.

Regan Vest: Koldkrigsmuseet REGAN Vest Røde Møllevej 26 9520 Skørping, Denmark

Hanstholm Lighthouse

Hanstholm Lighthouse

Photo: BMJ/Shutterstock

Check out one of the most spectacular views of North Jutland from the Hanstholm Lighthouse. It was the first rotating lens lighthouse ever built in Denmark, and looks out onto the northern border of Thy National Park and Hanstholm Wildlife Reserve. The winding staircase can get a bit tight and scary for folks who are scared of heights, so be mindful when entering the stairs.

Hanstholm Lighthouse: Tårnvej 21, 7730 Hanstholm, Denmark

Sand-buried church

sand church in denmark

Photo: Sarah Lamagna

Technically called Sct. Laurentius Church, this 14th century church has been slowly covered up by the rising sand dunes. It had to cease its congregation in 1795 due to the sand. You can view the church any time of year, but every summer, Skagen Church has service here from mid-June to mid-August.

Sct. Laurentius Church: Gamle Landevej 63, 9990 Skagen, Denmark

Experience unique art in North Jutland

Kunsten Museum of Modern Art

Aalborg’s Museum of Modern Art opened in 1972 but underwent a renovation completed in 2016. It was designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who loved working with the elements of nature – more specifically, the sun. As you walk through the building, you’ll notice how each room uses the natural light to enhance the art. The current featured exhibit is from Shara Hughes, a contemporary American artist, who paints “invented landscapes” that contain clashing colors that are both shocking and beautiful. The beams that are built within the exhibition room act as reflectors to the sun, illuminating Shara’s art in the ways it was intended.

Kunsten Museum of Modern Art: Kong Christians Alle 50, 9000 Aalborg, Denmark

Utzon Center

Built by Jørn Utzon, the famous architect behind the Sydney Opera House, Utzon Center displays the many aspects of sustainable architecture. The various exhibitions showcase the major developments of architecture, including how humans can build and live on the moon in their “A Space Saga” room. Take a tour through the lunar habitat that space architects lived in for 60 days in Greenland to test it out. Or head to the Lego room where over 10,000 Legos greet visitors to try their hands at their own architecture.

Utzon Center: Slotspladsen 4, 9000 Aalborg, Denmark

Museum for Papirkunst

museum for papirkunst

Photo: Sarah Lamagna

Although it’s just a paper museum, Museum for Papirkunst is unlike any other museum you’ve ever been to. The entire collection is made from, you guessed it, paper. But who knew that paper could be used to make so many different types of art? Art comes from artists like Felix Semper, Vally Nomidou, Warren King, and the founder herself, Bit Vejle. You will be immersed in a light and shadow experience when touring through Bit’s masterpieces that she made only using sewing scissors. You have to see it to believe it.

Museum for Papirkunst: Ilsigvej 2, 9492 Blokhus, Denmark

Goldsmith Jan Jørgensen

This place is more than a jewelry store — it includes an open studio for goldsmiths to perfect their craft in front of customers (no pressure, though). The owner and man behind the exquisite jewelry, Jan Jørgensen, makes many of the items you’ll find in the store. Lately, he has been interested in using lab-grown diamonds as a more sustainable way to make the jewelry that he loves. Sustainability is a huge part of his business from the diamonds to the 100-percent recycled gold to even the vacuum bags being burned and recycled.

Goldsmith Jan Jørgensen: Springvandstorvet 4, 6, 9492 Blokhus, Denmark

Skagen Museum

skagen museum

Photo: Sarah Lamagna

The Skagen Museum hosts pieces from artists that worked and lived in Skagen. Artists and painters came from Copenhagen to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. They created a sort of artist commune in Skagen where they enjoyed each other’s company away from civilization. And, yes, you can understand why artists might be inspired by the Skagen light — especially if you’re lucky enough to view a sunset. At the museum you’ll see hundreds of paintings including the famous “Summer Evening on Skagen Sønderstrand” by Peder Krøyer – a work that every Danish child knows well.

Skagen Museum: Brøndumsvej 4, 9990 Skagen, Denmark

Where to eat and drink in North Jutland

Restaurant Emil

When visiting North Jutland, you’ll likely be eating a lot of fish and seafood. But owner and chef Emil Thaanup decided to put a twist on Denmark’s best-known foods. His passion for bringing new light to old dishes is at the forefront of your experience when you eat here. Emil puts major emphasis on the ecology and sustainability of the surrounding waters of Denmark, so he chooses suppliers and farmers that share his same values. And as a bonus, Restaurant Emil doesn’t require a big bank account – all dishes are reasonable in price for the masses to enjoy (think $50/person for an eight-course dinner). It’s a set menu and changes depending on the season, but includes a five-snack/three-dish or five-snack/seven-dish course selection.

Restaurant Emil: Vesterbro 65, 9000 Aalborg, Denmark

Restaurant Tri

For a rich and decadent dining experience, head to Restaurant Tri for a 13-to-17 course dinner (depending on the season). Owner and head chef Nicolas Min Jørgensen likes to say he “gives stories not servings” and he definitely delivers that. Each course is delicately selected to enhance the customer’s experience with the nature that surrounds them. From the floor-to-ceiling (actually, the roof is glass too) windows to the locally produced food, Jørgensen brings sustainability to the table. The restaurant opened in the Fall of 2022 and already has received multiple awards and nominations, including Most Sustainable Restaurant, Best Fish and Shellfish Menu, and Best New Restaurant. Reservations are recommended, especially during the high summer season.

Restaurant Tri:

Kessus Hus

Owner Mai used to spend her days as an engineer, but got tired of city life so she moved to North Jutland for the peace and nature. Now she builds masterpieces through the Danish pancakes (similar to crepes) she serves her customers. Choose from sweet or savory dishes and relax in the laidback atmosphere of the restaurant. Don’t forget to try the rhubarb lemonade – it’s as delicious as it sounds.

Kessus Hus: Bavnbak 4, 7700 Klitmøller, Denmark

Læsø Island

Photo: Sarah Lamagna

The island is famous for its langoustines (as well as prawns and crab legs) that are caught just off its shores. The fishing industry is an integral part of island life, and most locals are connected in some way to it. The best places to get this delicious food is grabbing lunch at Huset Palsgaard and dinner at VestersVenner Badehotel Strandgaarden.

Thy Whiskey

thy whiskey

Photo: Sarah Lamagna

With neighbors like the sand dunes and Thy National Park, the Thy Whiskey estate is as beautiful as it can get. The family has been farming these exact lands for centuries and the estate still includes a working dairy farm. The grains left over from the whiskey-making process are given to the cows for a healthy, balanced diet. Thy Whiskey is 100-percent single estate and single farm origin, meaning it doesn’t get much more sustainable than this. The limited-edition whiskeys have earned awards like Single Estate Whiskey of the Year 2023, Best European Single Malt 2020, and Gold and Category winners at the World Whiskey Awards.

Thy Whiskey: Gyrupvej 14, 7752 Snedsted, Denmark

Where to stay in North Jutland

We hope you love the spaces we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay.

Hotel Hanstholm Madbar

Views don’t get much better than staying at this quirky and unique hotel at the tip of Hanstholm. It’s a small hotel with just a handful of rooms, which are equipped with a separate, small kitchen and living area. The in-house restaurant and bar are quiet in the mornings but lively in the evenings with locals reminiscing after a long day.

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Hotel Pier 5

pier 5 hotel denmark

Photo: Expedia

Unparalleled views of the Limfjord greet every guest when they stay at Hotel Pier 5 in Aalborg. There are 154 modern and sleek rooms fit for any traveler. The owners are big supporters of sustainability and you can see it in how they run their hotel. Local and organic bath products are provided to guests for personal use. Even the hotel restaurant focuses its efforts into supporting local Danish producers. You’ll rest easy not only because the beds are comfy, but your mind will also be at ease knowing you’re supporting a great company.

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Strandhotellet Blokhus

strandhotellet blokhus denmark

Photo: Expedia

Can you think of a hotel that has its own orangery (or, in layman’s terms, an orange tree greenhouse)? Look no further than Strandhotellet in Blokhus, which not only has an orangery but 37 beautiful rooms, a pavilion, wellness area, restaurant, and lounge. Each one of the hotel rooms has a different color scheme, including calming sea blues and vibrant bumblebee yellows.

Located within Strandhotellet Blokhus, Restaurant Blå serves a fine dining experience for guests and visitors alike. The menu is inspired by the rich history of being a beach hotel, and therefore has a multitude of fish and shellfish options (there is also locally sourced meat on the menu as well for those who might need a break from seafood).

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Ruths Hotel

Photo: Expedia

At almost 120 years old, Ruths Hotel has become one of the most famous hotels in Skagen — and all of North Jutland. Surrounded by rose hips, sandy beaches, and dune grass, natural beauty abounds when you stay at the property. Rooms vary between standard rooms, junior suites, and one- to two-bedroom apartments. There is a wellness spa on site to make your relaxing getaway even more peaceful.

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Hotel Løkken Strand

hotel lokken strand denmark

Photo: Expedia

This small boutique hotel in Løkken was built within an old schoolhouse. You can still see the floors of the gymnasium if you use the conference room. The owners have even used some of the old gym equipment to hang various plants and kitchen items. There are a total of 15 spacious rooms available and equipped with eco-certified bedding and Yrolí Skincare bath products.

Located within Hotel Løkken Strand, Restaurant VANDret focuses, like many restaurants in the area, on local production and supporting local farmers. Many of the dishes are built around the sea that surrounds the area including oysters as well as crab and cod. The fish is served with locally grown vegetables that accentuate the flavors.

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Brøndums Hotel

brondums hotel denmark

Photo: Expedia

This historic hotel sits in the center of Skagen. It was first owned by Ane Kirstine Brøndum, famous Skagen artist Anna Ancher’s grandmother, in 1839. The hotel has five different buildings you can stay in, including the main building that’s still styled as a dorm-like hotel where washrooms are separate from rooms. The restaurant within the hotel is a great place to unwind after walking around Skagen for the day. If you’ve never tried a famous Danish open-faced sandwich, this is the place to order one.

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How to Travel to North Jutland

scandanavian airlines flight to north jutland denmark

Photo: Sarah Lamagna

For US travelers, the new Scandinavian Airlines flight from Newark Liberty International Airport directly to Aalborg, Denmark in the heart of North Jutland. The brand-new Airbus A321LR brings you over to North Jutland in just over seven hours. There are only 157 seats on this plane, making it light to fly and one of the most sustainable flights to take overseas. For those that can swing it, upgrading to business class means you’ll have a fully flat bed to get the best night’s sleep on the red eye flight.

If Newark isn’t an option for you to fly through, you can also fly with Scandinavian Airlines directly to Copenhagen from major US and Canadian cities including through JFK, Chicago O’Hare, Boston-Logan, Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. Once in Copenhagen, you can take another flight to Aalborg or rent a car to see the countryside.

Renting a car is a necessity once you land in Aalborg or Copenhagen. Once you arrive in the towns, though, feel free to park the car and rent a bike (many of the hotels offer this service) to view the towns from a different angle. Not only will you be taking care of the earth, but you also won’t miss the things you likely would have in a car. Plus, you’ll fit in just like a local. If bikes make you nervous, most of the cities are walkable and can be seen on foot.

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