North Coast (Zealand)

The North Coast (Danish: Nordkysten) is a municipality (actually named Gribskov kommune, after the large forest to south) on the northern coast of Zealand in Denmark.


The 30 km coastline between Tisvildeleje and Hellebæk has been dubbed the Danish Riviera, while it may be hard to see why in the winters rain and ice cold wind, the well heeled guests and part time residents that descend on the coast line come spring and summer, makes the nickname much more obvious. The 10 or so villages on the coast, have practically been joined together by long swaths of summer cottages - tripling or even quadrupling the population during the summer months, where at times it seems half the population of Copenhagen is here.

Tourist information

The municipality runs several tourist information offices in the area, but the general phone number is +45 48 30 01 74, and emails can be sent to

Get in

The easiest entry points are Hillerød and Elsinore. Hillerød is reached with the E line of the S-train system (44 mins), from there you can catch a small local railway which runs to either Gilleje or Tisvildeleje/Helsinge once or twice an hour throughout most of the day. Hillerød is also the main terminal for bus routes in the area. Another option is Elsinore at the end of the kystbanen railway from central Copenhagen (45 mins) from there you can another small local railway to Gilleje running along the coast. The whole trip from Copenhagen Central station to Gilleleje takes around 1,15 hours via Hillerød and 1,45 hours via Elsinore.

There are plenty of options for driving and routes naturally depends where exactly you are going, but generally you take the Hillerødmotorvejen (route 16) motorway towards Hillerød for destinations west of Gilleleje, while the Helsingørmotorvejen (route E47/55) motorway towards Elsinore is fastest for destinations to the east.

Get around

Conveniently a small one track railway, Hornbækbanen , runs right along most of the coast between Elsinore and Gilleleje - a journey of 40 minutes - the trains continue onto Hillerød after a brief stop. Departures every 30 minutes between 6-18, and every hour between 18-23. It uses the same tickets as the rest of the public transportation system.

During the summer season an old steam train occasionally runs to various destinations in the area, the schedule varies greatly so check with one of the tourist information offices for details.



A quaint seaside town during much of the year, Tisvildeleje bourges with visitors during the summer, and many of the houses outside the small centre, is vacation houses - or sommerhuse in Danish, greatly contributing to a mushrooming population during good weather. When you arrive at the small train station, follow the crowd, and you'll be on the beach after a mere 300 metre walk, it's kid friendly, and have lifeguards stationed during bathing season. If you head northwest along the beach, you'll reach Helenekilde, one of the country's most famous springs, legend has it that it can cure incurable diseases; if you draw water from the spring on St. Johns eve, and find the two boulders leaning against each other, Helenes tomb (on Sankt Helenevej), lye in grass and drink the wate of life until the red sun rises, you will be cured of your disease. With the coast due north, head west or north if you want to escape the crowd, where Tilvildeleje is bordered by the Tisvilde Hegn forest, it's large and quite nice, a good walk takes you to the Troldeskov or Trolls forest, where gnarled old trees create interesting shapes and figures, it's signposted from the entrance.


Summer at Gilleleje harbour

Gilleje is the main town on the coast with around 7000 full year residents, it's an important local fishing harbour, and was indeed founded by fishermen as early as the 16th century, the fishermen are also famous for organising the escape of Danish Jews to neutral Sweden during WWII on the cutters, though unfortunately many were captured during a Gestapo raid, you'll find a few memorials commemorating the tragic night, as well as fishermen who lost their lives hitting sea mines during the crossing, around the town.

You'll usually arrive at the train station which is about 500 meters south west of the harbour, and a bit longer from the beach, you'll walk through the nice city centre to get there, which has preserved some of the narrow alleyways and half timbered houses of the orignial fishing hamlet. The whole place has an aura of sleepy sophistication it's hard to find elsewhere, and Danes have jokingly dubbed the area; the North Zealand Riviera - in fact the great tormented philosopher Søren Kierkegaard used Gilleleje to escape from his world.

The beach is immensely popular in the summer, and locally famous for it's white sand - many of the outlying houses are vacation homes, so you can count on the beach being full on weekends (Jun-Aug) if the weather is good. During the season, there is life guards stationed here - if you walk around 1 kilometre north west along the beach, you'll reach Zealands northernmost point, if you walk around the same distance in the opposite direction, you'll find Nakkehoved Lighthouse, which along with a sister in Sweden, marks the entrance to the Øresund sound.

Houses at the harbour


A small village with less than 1000 permanent residents, but one of the best beaches on the north coast with shallow water and a lifeguard service in season, makes it a very popular destination for day trippers and guests to the vacation homes which stretches 2km inland. The name means "Queens Mill", and dates back to the 16th century, but which mill this name refers to remains uncertain.


Hornbæk beach

While this small village of around 3.500 people, roughly half way between Gilleleje and Elsinore, has more than 500 years of history as a fisheries harbour on it's back, there is now little fishing going on, and the village is above all known as popular vacation spot full of day trippers from Copenhagen and many guests in the vacation homes during the summer months. And the old harbour is now a marina for private yachts - this transformation is all mainly thanks to it's popular good, sandy, beach that extends on both sides of the harbour. Besides the beach there is not many attractions here, but a small church dating back to 1737, but there are some good strolls around the area to be had, and its also a popular spot for fishing.

Other Attractions


Most activities in the area is centred around the excellent beaches, so see if there is a little viking hidden in you, and join the locals in the often fairly cold sea, or just safely ooze in the sun up on the beach. With the amount of well heeled visitors, Golf is naturally another option; the local clubs are; Ree Golf,Gilleleje Golfklub and Hornbæk Golfklub

Events & festivals


Shopping heaven this is not, but there are a number of stores to breeze through dotted around many of the hamlets. Most of them are located in Gilleleje, which is also where most grocery stores are to be found. A number of artists also have small galleries set up, just look for signs saying "Galleri" when you are driving, biking or walking around the coast.




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