The fjords of Denmark offer unique and stunning scenery, as well as a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy.
Whether you’re looking for a place to relax and take in the natural beauty, or you’re looking for more of an adventure, the Danish fjords have something to offer everyone.
While they may not be as grand as the fjords of Norway, the fjords of Denmark are definitely worth a visit. So, if you find yourself in Denmark, be sure to check out one (or all) of these beautiful fjords!
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What is a fjord?
A field is a long, narrow inlet that was created by a glacier, often with steep cliffs on either side of it. It’s formed when a glacier cuts into rock and when the resulting valley is flooded by the ocean.
Fjords are all over the world, perhaps most famously in Norway where the spectacular sight of sheer cliffs dropping into the water below makes for some truly incredible views.
(Seriously, if you have a chance to visit any, you should definitely do so. Bergen is a relatively easy place to get to, for example, with some seriously spectacular Norwegian fjords nearby.)
However, these are also found in other countries that at one point were covered in ice, including Denmark.
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Are there any fjords in Denmark?
There are a number of fjords in Denmark, although none with the steep cliffs bordering it that are more common in Norway. Instead, these bodies of water are more likely to be bordered by quite low lying land. In addition, what’s called a fjord in Danish isn’t always a fjord in English.
One point to keep in mind is that the term “fjord” in Danish (as well as Norwegian and Swedish) is much broader than how we use it in English. Essentially, among other usages, it’s used to describe a narrow inlet of sea.
You’ll also hear it used in Norway to describe long narrow freshwater lakes and sometimes even rivers. In addition, in Danish, it can be used to describe shallow lagoons while, in Swedish, it’s even broadly used for bays and similar bodies of water.
This means that while some inlets may be called a fjord in Danish and other Scandinavian languages, they won’t technically be a fjord based on the English use of the word. For example, Roskilde Fjord would be more accurately called a sound in English, given that it separates Jutland from North Jutlandic Island.
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Similarly, Limfjord used to be a fjord up until the point where the sea came into the inlet from the west side. In addition, Ringkøbing Fjord, which is also in Jutland, would be better described as a lagoon in English.
This isn’t to say that there are no fjords in Denmark, even when we exclusively use the English term. But, in general, most of the Danish fjords on this list would be better described as inlets.
Fjords in Denmark
1. Mariager Fjord
Mariager Fjord is the equal second longest fjord in Denmark. Located in Jutland, it has several towns located along it, including Mariager after which the field is named. Mariager is a charming little city which seems to have been lifted out of a fairy tale, including cobblestones and leaning, timber-framed houses.
It’s often known as the “city of roses”, with many of the houses being adorned with roses. Wandering these old streets can be a great day trip – in particular, don’t miss the Abbey.
As mentioned above, Mariager Fjord isn’t actually a fjord when using the English definition. Instead, it’s more of an inlet.
2. Roskilde Fjord
Roskilde Fjord is the biggest in Denmark and runs alongside many well-known Danish cities. This includes the city of Roskilde, better known for the huge Roskilde Festival that happens every year (and one of the best cities in Denmark to live and play, in my opinion!).
This makes for some very nice waterside activities in the area and, on a sunny day, it’s very common to see people lying in the many parks bordering the fjord and having a barbecue.
This fjord has also been in use for over 1000 years by the Vikings – which makes sense, given that Roskilde is one of the main Viking sites in Denmark that’s a great trip for anyone interested in this era.
History tells us that around the year 1000, citizens of the town of Roskilde sunk a number of the ships in the field as a way to stop the Vikings from entering the area and writing the town. In total, 14 of these ships have been discovered in modern times.
3. Kolding Fjord
Kolding Fjord is in southern Denmark, being about 10 km long and an important shipping channel towards the city of Kolding.
What this area is perhaps best known for is the Hotel Koldingfjord, which looks over the water and is, unsurprisingly, not far from the city of Kolding. It was originally a sanatorium built primarily for tuberculosis patients. After this was eliminated in Denmark in 1960, the building went through a few different lives before eventually becoming a hotel, as it is today.
It’s an impressive looking building with spectacular views and, if you’re in the area, you should definitely consider staying there a night or two.
4. Holbæk Fjord
Holbæk Fjord is actually an inlet of the larger Ise Fjord so, as mentioned above, it wouldn’t normally be called a fjord based on the scientific definition.
Nevertheless, Holbæk Fjord does lead to the important city of Holbæk, located on the island of Zeeland. With almost 1000 years of history, you may find yourself stopping over in the city if you are on a longer bus route. If it’s on your journey, it’s definitely worth taking some time to look around.
Limfjord is one of the longest fjords in Denmark, providing access to the port of Aalborg, which is one of the biggest in the country.
It’s been referred to as a fjord since Viking times and there are even records from 1027 of Canut the Great sailing into this fjord on the way back from England.
In fact, it did actually meet the definition of a fjord at that time, although that’s no longer the case following a flood in the early 1800s that allowed the sea to come in at both ends. While it’s still called a fjord in Danish, it’s more of an inlet now in non-Scandinavian languages.
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6. Vejle Fjord
Vejle Fjord is located in East Jutland and is 14 miles (22 km) long. While not a particularly important fjord compared to others in Denmark, records show that the area around the fjord has been inhabited since the Middle Ages.
This means that visiting this Danish fjord can offer a nice mix of historical and natural points of interest.
7. Horsens Fjord
Horsens Fjord is also in East Jutland, continuing for 12 miles (20 km) in length. There is mostly farmland surrounding this fjord, making for some beautifully peaceful views if you choose to use one of the walking tracks nearby.
It’s also a great spot for any bird watchers, given that much of the area has been a nature reserve for more than five decades.
8. Ringkøbing Fjord
Like many others on this list, Ringkøbing Fjord isn’t actually a fjord. Instead, it’s more of a lagoon, being protected from the North Sea by a long isthmus towards the west of the “fjord”.
It’s a particularly good area for fishing and has some beautiful beaches as well.
9. Odense Fjord
Odense Fjord is on the island of Funen and while it used to be much bigger, with a lot of land having been reclaimed around it over the centuries, it still has some spectacular nature to see.
In particular, it’s very popular to ride your bike from the city of Odense to Enebærodde, which effectively borders the fjord, making for some spectacular views along the way.
As that’s about 18 miles (30 km), if you want something a bit less strenuous, simply wandering around Enebærodde to admire nature can be a great way to spend an afternoon.
10. Nissum Fjord
Nissum Fjord is in West Jutland, not far from Ringkøbing Fjord and, like its fjord neighbor, is separated from the North Sea by a long isthmus.
There are some stunning walking trails in the area which, given how flat Denmark is, are very easy for all ages. And if you want a souvenir, there are some truly impressive local artists around here that will make for a memory in your home far better than, say, a Danish mermaid magnet.
11. Randers Fjord
Randers Fjord is in East Jetland, just north of Aarhus. At about 19 miles (30 km) long, it looks more like a wide river, with several ferries crossing it throughout each day.
It’s particularly known as a great spot for fishing herring, one of the types of food that Denmark is particularly known for. It’s also why you may hear a lot of German and Dutch being spoken here, as fishermen from those countries come for the great catches they find here.
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12. Haderslev Fjord
Haderslev Fjord is approximately 15 km (9 miles) long and is quite narrow, looking more like a river. It’s also extremely shallow at less than 6.5 feet (2 m) in depth in most of it.
Animal spotting is a major activity here, especially for bird watchers but also, during the cooler months of year, for seeing porpoises. For fishing fanatics, this fjord is also definitely worth a trip.
13. Flensborg Fjord
Flensborg Fjord is an inlet leading from the Baltic Sea, forming part of the border between Germany and Denmark. The city of Flensborg is actually on the German side, spelled “Flensburg” in German.
The Mürwik Naval School looking over the fjord from the German side is a particularly impressive sight, appearing to be more like a castle than any sort of educational establishment.
Interestingly, Flensborg was, for 20 days near the end of World War II, actually the capital of Germany. Following the suicide of Hitler on 30 April 1945, Karl Dönitz was named as head of state, with the title of President of Germany and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The administration was referred to as the “Flensburg Government” because Dönitz’s headquarters had been relocated to Flensburg on 3 May 1945.
On 7 May 1945, he ordered the signature of the German instruments of surrender in Reims, France and, on that same day, he announced the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht over radio Reichssender Flensburg, thus ending the war in Europe.
14. Kalundborg Fjord
Kalundborg Fjord in a fisherman’s paradise. Located in north west Zealand, it’s renowned for its trout and herring, drawing fishing aficionados from far and wide.
The city of Kalundborg located on the fjord is also worth a visit, especially because of its impressive castle towering over the skyline. With the castle having, at various times, served as a royal seat in the Middle Ages, as a meeting place for the Danish National Assembly and as a state prison, including for King Christian II for 10 years, there is definitely enough here to keep any history buff enchanted.
15. Ise Fjord
Ise Fjord is a large Danish fjord in the north of Zealand and feeds into a number of other fjords in the area. Specifically, its various branches turn into Roskilde Fjord and Holbæk Fjord.
At one point, it also fed into what were previously Lammefjord and Sidinge Fjord in the west, although these have, over time, been drained in order to reclaim the land for farming purposes..
16. Nakskov Fjord
Nakskov Fjord is one of the wider ones on this list, being located in the west of the island of Lolland. It’s very shallow, at only one to two meters deep in most of it.
The area is renowned for the nature park that has allowed for special protection areas for a number of plant and animal species. This includes Naskov being known for the “black sun” phenomenon, when the birds fly south for the winter.
Are there fjords near Copenhagen?
Roskilde Fjord is the closest fjord to Copenhagen, with the city of Roskilde being about a 20 minute train ride from the Danish capital. Ise Fjord, from which Roskilde Fjord branches, and the nearby Holbaek Fjord are also quite close to Copenhagen, with the city of Holbaek being just under an hour away by train.
That said, as mentioned earlier, when visiting any of the Danish fjords near Copenhagen, don’t expect to see the sheer cliffs often seen in the spectacular pictures of Norwegian fjords.
To see those fjords, your best option is to fly to either Bergen or Stavanger in Norway, both of which are less than a 90 minute flight from Copenhagen.
From there, you’ll have easy access to the (and I say this as a resident and huge fan of Denmark, but let’s face it) more impressive Norwegian fjords, with boat trips through them going out daily.