The small Danish town of Helsingør in North Sealand and the similarly named Helsingborg in west Sweden, are connected by a mere 20-minute boat ride across the Øresund Sound, meaning you can cleverly combine two countries in one easy visit and discover everything these picturesque towns have to offer. With the reopening of the boutique and stylish Kyhn’s Guesthouse in the centre of Helsingør, there has never been a better time to explore the castles, parks, gardens by bike, car or train and sample the very best in modern Scandinavian cuisine the regions have to offer on this unique weekend break.
An easy 45 minutes by train from Copenhagen, Helsingør makes the perfect base to explore North Sealand. On the journey north it’s worth stopping off at Hillerød to visit the beautiful Frederiksborg Castle. As the largest Renaissance Castle in Scandinavia and home to the Danish Museum of National History it showcases 500 years of Danish history through portraits, history paintings, furniture and decorative art, with 2017’s special exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in Europe. The castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens, and visitors can take a walk around the surrounding lake or go on a lake cruise for picturesque views of the castle from the water.
From Helsingør take a bike ride along the coast to the famous Sculpture Park at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Overlooking the sea and with Swedish coast visible on the horizon, the Sculpture Park contains around 60 sculptures forming part of the museum’s world-renowned collection. For garden lovers a short bike right brings them to Fredensborg Palace where Queen Margrethe’s very own private garden and Orangery is a open for visitors in July and early August. Located on the eastern shore of Lake Esrum, the palace garden provides a unique opportunity to see where the Danish Royal Family has received rulers and leaders from around the world. The Reserved Garden includes an octagonal Menagerie Island; originally used as a place to keep exotic animals including bears, wolves, tigers and birds, it’s full of fragrant roses today. While the beautiful Potagerie, also called the Herb Garden, provides fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers for the royal kitchen.
Newly reopened in the heart of Helsingør Kyhn’s Guesthouse is an historic listed town house. The building has undergone a complete renovation and is now a cosy six-bedroom hotel situated in the middle of Helsingør’s pedestrian area with its own cafe and patio. The rooms are all individually decorated combining old and new elements. From the conversion itself, to the delicious dishes on the café menu, there is a firm focus on sustainability and the use of locally sources produce and quality ingredients.
An equally appealing alternative is the Hotel Villa Brinkly. Situated on the beach road that winds along the coastline from Copenhagen to Helsingør in the old fishing town of Skotterup, Hotel Villa Brinkly is a charming wooden building, dating back to 1873. It’s a stone’s throw from the beach and the famous Egebæksvang Forest, offering a unique taste of the Danish landscape, with bright and light rooms and excellent food.
Beyond the hotels Helsingør is also home to a vibrant street food market, the latest trend in Danish gastronomy. With long, communal tables that Danes love, this new Culture Wharf has food stalls offering delicious dishes inspired by Scandinavian and global cuisines, and is housed in one of the halls of the former shipyard.
For a fine dining experience, just south of Helsingør, in the lovely old town of Sletten, Restaurant Sletten is owned by Kristian Arpe Møller and Rune Amgild Jochumsen, the chef duo behind Michelin-star restaurant formel B in Copenhagen, where the emphasis is on a ‘less is more’ philosophy using only the finest ingredients.
Crossing over to the Swedish side of the Sound, Helsingborg is renowned for its cuisine, with a strong tradition around food and drinks, with lots of restaurants and producers nearby. In Helsingborg itself, Slottshagen Park was built on the site of the original Viking settlement, in the shadow of the medieval fortress tower of Kärnan. The park now features beautiful gardens, an open-air stage, and a playground originally built in 1906 and redesigned in 2016 to reflect the area’s medieval heritage. Or take a stroll along the boardwalk and enjoy beautiful views of Helsingborg and the strait.
Located just north of Helsingborg, is a short bike ride to historic Sofiero Castle and Gardens, the former summer residence of the Swedish Royal Family. The gardens feature a large rhododendron ravine, which was planted by King Gustav VI Adolf in the 1930s. To celebrate the park’s 150th anniversary in 2016, a beautiful garden of roses, dahlias, and scented flowers was planted. Having walked the gardens, the Sofiero Palace Restaurant is a welcome treat with one of the top-rated restaurants in Sweden, or the Sofiero Glass Veranda and café provides a perfect place for pastries and coffee from April to September.
Visitors to Helsingborg should head for the V Hotel Helsingborg. This stylish boutique hotel in the centre of the town features beautifully designed, modern bedrooms. The ground floor is like a cosy and spacious living room, where guests and locals can mix and mingle in a vibrant atmosphere of comfy seating and a relaxed bar or dine at the hotel’s Bistro V, which serves a classic bistro menu with well-matched wines.
Visitors looking for a more classic accommodation alternative should opt for the Clarion Grand Hotel which offers a unique history and atmosphere. Located in a beautiful 1920’s building, the hotel has recently undergone an extensive renovation to achieve a combination of modern design and a classic environment.
Beautifully located on the waterfront of the Øresund Sound and with a view of Denmark, Sillen & Makrillen is one of Helsingborg’s most popular restaurants. Focused on integrating sea and gastronomy, the two main priorities, the restaurant offers a selection of fish and shellfish courses made from locally sourced ingredients that changes with the season.
Visitors who are looking for a unique mix between international and Swedish cuisine should head for Gastro, which has been rated one of the top restaurants in Sweden for many years. The chefs are well-known for their extraordinary contribution to Swedish food culture. At Drottninggatan 35 chefs cook their own favourites with seasonal ingredients and experiment with tastes from all over the world.