Neighborhood Guide: Roskilde, Denmark

Madeline studied abroad at DIS Copenhagen before returning to Scandinavia to work with DIS as an intern. Hear Madeline’s advice for living like a local during your time abroad:


Budget Friendly Tips to Explore Like a Local

Many have heard of Roskilde because of the famous Roskilde Music Festival hosted every summer, but Roskilde is much more than a music hub. It was once the capital of Denmark, serving as a major sea trade route with its ideal location by the Roskilde Fjord. Today, it is a perfect blend of small city feel and access to incredible nature – which is the main reason many DIS staff and faculty live in this charming city. With forests, beaches, museums, hiking and biking trails, and delicious locally grown food, Roskilde offers a little bit of everything.

What to see, do, and eat in Roskilde:

Put on your comfiest shoes and take a walk

Local DIS Homestay hosts have reported that their favorite thing to do in Roskilde is simple – go for a walk! Roskilde is a reasonability sized city that is perfect for exploring on foot. One host parent even sent a walking tour itinerary:

“Start with a walk in the harbor, heading west towards Sankt Hans. The trail loops past Sankt Hans and you can go up the hill towards the old section of town, Sankt Jørgensberg. Head for the church, find the winding path down toward the rowing club, walk towards the park and end for lunch at Pipers Hus in lovely Byparken, overlooking the park and the harbor. They have traditional (but gourmet) open-faced sandwiches. You would have to be very hungry to eat more than one, all is homemade including the traditional rye bread, and the thatched cottage and the view is lovely!”

If you are looking to walk in nature, there are many winding paths leading out of Roskilde and into Skjoldungernes Land National Park. Technically speaking, the city of Roskilde is part of the national park, but in order to experience the Ice Age landscapes you have to venture outside the city. One possible path is to walk to Boserup Skov, the forest just outside Roskilde. Take a walk along the fjord and enjoy the expansive view over the water and tall billowing trees. You can enjoy a swim here in the fjord or even reserve a shelter (completely free!) for an overnight experience.

Learn more about Skjoldungernes Land, and their incredible sustainability initiatives, as well as a full map of trails and camping sites.

Vigen Strandpark

Illustration by Sei Park

Vigen Strandpark is a 15-minute bike ride or a 25-minute bus ride from Roskilde Central Station. The beach itself is almost 300 meters long, covered in soft sand with minimal pebbles. It is rarely packed and you can always find a comfortable spot hidden from the wind due to the hilly landscape. Most importantly, there is a long jetty extending out into the water and a large floating dock, which are perfect for diving and sunbathing. If you are sand averse, there is also a grassy area next to the beach, which is a great place to throw a frisbee, play a game of pick up soccer, or have a picnic. The beach is also ideally situated to enjoy the sunset over the fjord. If you’re looking for an ice cream to enjoy the view, check out Café Mirakulix.

In the colder months, you can try the wonderfully refreshing and energizing winter bathing. It’s a common outdoor activity in Denmark, and this beach is a great place to try it. Should you choose to try winter bathing, please read these guidelines and regulations carefully to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you.

Ledreborg Castle

Illustration by Sei Park

For a quick day trip outside the city, you can take a 40-minute train ride, or 35-minute bike ride, to Ledreborg Castle. The Castle is a prime example of 18th century rococo design, with an impressive collection of paintings, furniture, and ornate interior architecture and design. More than 600 paintings are hung on the walls throughout the castle, most of which date back over 250 years. Tours of the interior castle are very expensive, so if you don’t want to pay the fees, it’s recommended to explore the castle gardens, which are free.

The gardens were completely renovated in the early 2000s in an effort to re-emphasize the park’s original baroque style. This meant a restoration of the terraced slopes behind the castle, along with the creation of mirror ponds and fountains. More importantly, this means ample space for a beautiful picnic on the terraced slopes overlooking the palace.

Learn more about the castle and gardens.

Roskilde Domkirke

Not only does Roskilde have national parks, castles, and beaches, but it also has a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Roskilde Cathedral. Here you will find the burial sites for all the kings and queens of Denmark over the past 800 years. Through the histories of these kings and queens, you will gain an expansive understanding of Denmark as a whole, as well as the importance of Roskilde as a city. Fun fact: Queen Margrethe II’s tomb stone, which has already been completed, will remain covered up until the day she is buried! Make sure to bring your student ID to get discounted entry.  

Check out their opening hours and learn more about the Cathedral.

Photo caption: ‘Built on top of a hill, Roskilde Domkirke can be seen from far distances both on land and on water. While you’re out exploring different areas throughout Roskilde and its city limits, try to locate the cathedral on the hill!’ – Rachel Miller, DIS Alum

Viking Ship Museum

It seems almost blasphemous to come to Denmark without immersing yourself in some Danish Viking history, so it’s a good thing the Viking Ship Museum is right in the harbor of Roskilde. Although it is quite a small museum, the harbor holds the most exciting parts – 5 reconstructions of 1000-year-old Viking ships. The museum boat builders used the same tools, methods, and materials to build the reconstructions. You can even board the boats and take a sailing trip on Roskilde Fjord, although this particular activity is quite expensive.

Lastly, and most importantly, the museum has a café, Café Knarr, that offers ‘New Nordic Viking Food’. This means the kitchen is using the same ingredients and materials from the Viking times, including new potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Sct. Hans Have

Illustration by Sei Park

Looking for another food haven? Check out Sct. Hans Have, an organization focused on the promotion of mental health and well-being in various populations, including refugees and the elderly. One of their main projects includes two large greenhouses in which people can come together for community gardening and cultural events throughout the year.

On top of their incredible community work, Sct. Hans Have has a fantastic little café hidden amongst the trees. The café is open from mid-March to mid-October, and all of their food is homemade, using almost entirely organic ingredients and whatever is in their greenhouses seasonally. You can either eat in the greenhouses, among the peach, almond, and fig trees, or in the vine-covered glass garden.

Madeline was a Shared Housing Assistant at DIS and former Fall 2017 DIS student. She is a lover of all things water, and consistently has a swimsuit in her work bag throughout the summer – just in case! With a major sweet tooth and a knack for finding all things free and affordable, she can often be found wandering around new areas of Copenhagen with a bag of candy in hand.

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