The west coast of Jutland, in a quiet corner of Denmark, may not be an obvious choice for Brits looking for family holidays in Europe. But we came back from our trip there this summer convinced it’s one of THE best family holiday destinations.
Our trip was hosted by Landal Greenparks Danmark. Landal Seawest, the chain’s family friendly holiday park at Nørre Nebel, was an hour from Billund airport and Legoland. It lay close to the sea, with woodland around its edge. If you want to get a flavour of our stay there, here’s the video:
Accommodation at Landal Seawest
We stayed in a cosy two-bedroom cottage. The cute Scandi-style two-up, two-down was typical of a Landal Denmark holiday park: practically furnished, but with cosy trimmings, like blankets and thoughtful lighting. You can read more about our self catering cottage here, or check out the video tour:
Things to do at Landal Seawest
Landal Seawest stays open through the colder winter months. So as well as hearty, outdoorsy activities, there was plenty of scope for fun inside the activity centre. This was a large glass building, with a bowling alley, sub-tropical water paradise, restaurants, large soft play area, gaming room, shops, kids’ crafting room, gym and spa. Even on overcast days, light flooded into the toasty warm, welcoming atrium.
We stayed at Seawest at the beginning of the Danish Autumn school term, so it was quiet during the week. But at the weekend, the place livened up, with Danes and German families on weekend breaks. In the evenings, they drank beer poured from three-litre mini-kegs, bought for their tables as an accompaniment to bowling matches. We couldn’t quite keep up with their pace, but we did enjoy watching the fun from our own alley.
Because it was so quiet during the week, we barely needed to queue for the water slides in the sub-tropical water paradise. There was no fighting over the three jacuzzi hot tubs, and the lazy river was just that: tranquil, chilled and relaxing.
I took the relaxation one step further and paid the equivalent of around £20 to spend an afternoon in the spa. Pedicures and massages were on offer for an extra charge, but I just used the time to bliss out in the devilishly hot Finnish sauna, the sweltering steam room and to peer across the trees from the deliciously warm hot tub.
Fun family activities
From my vantage point in the hot tub, I could see the park’s huge, inflated bouncy rainbow, which a couple of tiny Danish children were bouncing on. These must be popular in this part of Denmark. I spotted three on our travels around west Jutland. Needless to say, our two loved bouncing on the one at Seawest – and D and I joined them.
When the sun shone (which it did on most days for our trip), the playground outside the activity centre was a good source of free play.
More mini-playgrounds were dotted around Seawest, which we discovered after following the clues in the park’s treasure hunt. This took us on a tour of the park’s tree-lined pathways, and was a good way to get to know the place.
When we checked in at the holiday park, the staff encouraged us to download the Landal GreenParks app. This let us know what was on the activities menu for each day. The well-stocked crafting room was open most of the time, so guests could drop in and paint stones, doodle or make shapes from Hama beads. There was even an iron so the children could take away their Hama bead creations.
The app alerted us to the whereabouts of Bollo, Landal’s cuddly mascot, who did a tour of the holiday park every day. He even walked around the water paradise, giving wet children high-fives with an increasingly soggy paw.
Another alert went out twice a week, when it was time to toast twisted bread on the bonfire. In Landal’s pavilion, a young man curled dough around a stick, and handed it out to eager children. After holding the sticks over the embers for twenty minutes or so, we munched the warm, freshly baked bread. The dough must have been some magic concoction that tasted nice regardless of how charred the bread twists became.
A first for our family in Denmark was geocaching. This is a worldwide phenomenon where you download an app that gives you clues and GPS directions to a site where a geocache – a box, with a notebook and other items inside it – has been hidden. Staff at Seawest helped us set up the app on our phones, and we set off into the forest to find the two geocaches nearby. Like the treasure hunt, it was a fun way to get to know our surroundings.
Food and drink at Landal Seawest
Our accommodation at Seawest was self-catering, so we stocked up with provisions at the reasonably priced supermarket in Nørre Nebel, a five-minute drive away. Oatmeal with boysenberry jam became a favourite for breakfast, alternated with flaky, melt-in-the-mouth Danish pastries from Seawest’s shop. Although not as large as the local supermarket, the resort shop did have most things you’d need to feed yourself for the week. Also on site were an American style diner, a pizzeria and steak house offering a generous and inexpensive all-you-can-eat deal, plus a more formal restaurant.
Top of the list for our pigeons, though, was the ice cream shop, whose ‘small’ cone featured at least four scoops, with an optional topping of drippy melted marshmallow. After experiencing the ‘small’ ice cream, we didn’t dare order a large, but we did see someone ploughing into one. It was as big as a giant’s head.
Landal Seawest surpassed our expectations in its own right, but what first attracted me to the park was its closeness to Legoland Billund. The original Legoland celebrated its 50th birthday this year, and we were keen to see what it was like. I’ve posted about our day out at Legoland Billund Resort here. It was a highlight of our stay in Denmark. It took us an hour to drive there from Seawest, along well-signposted roads, so it would have been easy to fit in another day trip or two to Legoland.
Cycling in Denmark
Another highlight of our trip was cycling. And not just the regular, two-wheeled kind – although my son and I enjoyed doing some of that, through the forest on bikes hired from Seawest. The cycle paths were well-maintained, and we enjoyed peeking past the stacks of chopped firewood, into the gardens of the people whose houses lay along the route to Nørre Nebel. Some had found creative ways to spruce up the woodland, and make it even more friendly than it already seemed.
But no, even better was the trolley cycling, which we’d found out about in Seawest’s information booth. Trolley cycles are bicycle-powered platforms designed to roll along railway lines. In this case, we spent the equivalent of around £25 to hire a tandem trolley, for up to five people, to cycle along the disused railway line between Nørre Nebel and Nymindegab. We paid at the local petrol station, and then made our way with a key to the trolley park, to collect our vehicle.
The woman in the petrol station presented us with a list of rules. No under-15s to power the cycle. Return the keys within five hours. And if you encounter someone cycling in the opposite direction to you, the trolley heading towards Nymindegab has right of way. The other cyclists will have to pick up their trolley and remove it from the tracks.
After heaving our weighty trolley onto the tracks, we hoped we wouldn’t meet anyone coming the other way. And we didn’t, although we did get a little stuck behind someone in a slow-moving trolley on the way back. The grinding metal wheels were hardly ergonomic, and pedalling wasn’t the easiest, but the track was pretty much flat. It was such fun. We began by cycling through fields, then as we grew closer to Nymindegab and the coast, russet-coloured heather sprang up along the side of the tracks, and the delicious scent of pine trees spurred us on.
After about forty minutes of hard pedalling, we arrived at Nymindegab ‘station’.
Nymindegab is a former fishing village, and home to the oldest lifeboat in Denmark. After locking up our trolley we briefly considered visiting Nymindegab Museum, but as we needed to cycle back to Nørre Nebel in time for our curfew, we decided to spend our time exploring the beach instead.
The path to the beach took us past a picturesque lagoon, where we ate a picnic of crispbread, cheese and apples while people fished behind us.
In among bushes laden with enormous, shiny red rosehips we found Nymindegab’s old fishing huts. These were unlocked, and were available for (very unofficial) hire: a handwritten chart on the wall showed the names of people who’d requested the use of the space for small gatherings.
Although a lot of Nymindegab’s attractions – like stand-up paddle boarding – were beginning to wind down for the end of summer, it was an impossibly pretty place. I imagine it would be worth a visit even when the weather wasn’t great.
The sun did shine for us, though, and although a bracing wind blew off the turbulent North Sea, the children enjoyed a good runaround on the beach.
This part of Denmark has a good selection of beautiful beaches. Popular among Danish holidaymakers, Henne Strand was just a little further along the coast. These beaches had a different feel to those further south in Europe. They seemed cleaner, and although mega-hot sunbathing days would be less frequent than, say, in Spain, the broad sandy plains were clearly well loved by locals. One evening I cycled down to Nymindegab, and it seemed that the entire population of the tiny village had congregated on the vast beach, to watch the dying light dance on the sea.
Close to Seawest was Blåbjerg Klitplantage, a nature reserve of sand dunes. The place confused us a little, when we first followed the satnav’s directions and drove to Blåbjerg. We expected to see sand, and a sea view. Instead, we seemed to be in the middle of a forest. After a bit of delving around on the internet, we found out that the dunes of Blåbjerg Klitplantage were so well-established that grass and even, in some cases, trees had taken root on them. The highest dune was 64m above sea level – more of a mini-mountain than a sand dune, really.
Mountain bike and hiking trails ran through the plantation. We spent an afternoon breathing in the dense, earthy scent of the forest, spotting beetles and strange-looking funghi. Then we went to one of the highest dunes, and climbed the steep wooden steps buried in marram and lyme grass, up to the top.
From there, the view was glorious: all rolling, soft-looking heather, and with a salty, fresh tang in the air.
For families who love to be outdoors, and those who enjoy spending time together swimming, bowling, or playing on equipment, Denmark and Landal Seawest were ideal.
One thing that surprised us on our trip to Denmark was that the cost of living seemed to be cheaper than we’d imagined. Friends had said they thought a trip to Denmark would be very expensive, with food, drink and other holiday essentials costing more than in the UK. That may be the case in Copenhagen, but other than a few surprises (£7 to send two postcards to the UK, for instance), on average the supermarket prices were on a par with those in our home town of London. D even considered buying some of the sportswear on sale in Seawest’s shop, because it was better value than similarly high quality items in the UK.
So: if you’re thinking about where to go on holiday, you might want to take a moment to consider Denmark. We loved it!
Landal GreenParks Danmark hosted us at Landal Seawest. For more information on pricing and availability at this Denmark holiday park, visit their website.
Read about our day at Legoland Billund Resort here.
You can find out more on about west Jutland on the Visit Denmark website.
If you want to read about another Landal resort, this time in the UK, check out this feature on Landal Darwin Forest in the Peak District.