Hornbæk: The Crown of the Danish Riviera

DENMARK MAY NOT BE KNOWN AS A BEACH DESTINATION, but you don’t become a maritime power and a land of the Vikings without being surrounded by the sea. And with Denmark ringed by 7,000 kilometers of coastline, it shouldn’t have been surprising that going to the beach is an integral part of the Danish culture. Denmark’s compact size means you’re never far from the ocean anywhere in the country, although some beaches are more worth the trip than others. Hornbæk, in the northern tip of the main island of Zealand, is one of the more popular.

After our trip to the Frederiksborg Castle in the morning, I head here (Yanyan returns to the Kronborg Castle) to spend an afternoon by the ocean. I’ve read about the country’s beach culture, and I’m eager to get that Danish experience. It’s a bit strange, considering I come from an archipelagic tropical country, and going to the beach has become all but common. But I wasn’t aware of how the ocean was big to Danes, especially considering their geography and history, and I feel this would add another dimension to our trip.

Dubbed the St. Tropez of the Danish Riviera, Hornbæk is a beach town that fills with beach-goers and day-trippers from Copenhagen in the summer months. But at the onset of winter, only a handful of souls brave the frigid weather. Of course, the white sand doesn’t hold a candle to the beaches of, say, the Philippines, but it’s still perfect for a relaxing stroll.

The area itself has not that many sights, and the off-season means all but a couple of pricey restaurants are open. I walk toward the beach, and the sound of the waves, the breeze, and the seagulls become much more audible. A few meters from the train station is a forest trail that winds around the Hornbæk Lake. I walk a few meters then return to the beach, listening to music on my phone while trying to find the inner Viking in me.

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