I had a few day trips planned on my recent travel to Europe, which turned out to be some of my favourite days. Here is where I went & what I did on those day trips:
Kronborg Castle, the home of Hamlet
Helsingør is located around 50km north of Copenhagen, which makes it an easy day trip from the city. And it was also the main reason for this years trip in the first place as this was where I was spending my birthday this year.
The courtyard at Kronborg – can you just imagine Hamlet wandering around “To be or not to be”
However I didn’t travel from Copenhagen to Helsingør, I instead ended up having a couple of nights across the Øresund in Sweden.
The Øresund and in the distance, Sweden
I was originally due to have a couple of nights in Helsingør but changed to Helsingborg, Sweden at kind of the last-minute because the accommodation was cheaper. I had two nights in Helsingborg and caught the ferry over to Helsingør for a day – so technically it is still a ‘day trip’
A lot of people might know Helsingør as the English ‘Elsinore’ which was made famous by William Shakespeare in Hamlet when he named the castle Elsinore and modeled it after Kronborg Castle, and to be honest this was the main reason I wanted to visit. However I found that Helsingør was so much more than just a castle.
Wandering the charming streets of Helsingør
The Helsingør of today was founded around 1420 by Danish king Eric of Pomerania. He then set about creating the Sound Dues so that any foreign ships passing through the Øresund (Ore Sound) between Denmark & Sweden would pay a fee to the king. As a result of these dues, King Eric was able to build Kronborg Castle – which didn’t actually get its name until after an expansion in the 1580’s.
As mentioned, my main reason for visiting Helsingør was because of the Shakespeare connection but I found the town to be exuding in personality from its modern harbour area, the historic castle and streets; and the eclectic Elsinore Street Food venue.
The very funky Elsinore Street Food venue
Something fishy in the Helsingør waterfront
The “little brother” of the Little Mermaid has a great view
Gl Færgestræde is apparently the oldest street in Helsingør
A gorgeous intro to Warnemünde
I had only heard about this place a couple of months ago when my boss announced she was doing a cruise in 2019 that would be stopping in this small north German located on the Baltic Sea. Then completely separately my sister and I were talking about a recent discovery of a strong German bloodline in our family and from a death certificate, we discovered that one of our Great, Great Grandfathers on our mother’s side was actually born in Warnemünde (I am actually 6% Germanic European according to my ancestry.com DNA test).
An actual photo of me – proof I am in the birthplace of my ancestor
I mean, how could I not visit if I was in the general area??
The promenade – still popular on a chilly late autumn day
It takes a couple of hours on the train from Hamburg to get to Warnemünde but luckily I had a friend with me so the time went quite quickly. We had to change at Rostock to a bus because of track works but the ride wasn’t too bad.
You get off the train and just across the block this is your view..
The weather wasn’t the best in that it was overcast and very cold, but it did not take away from the excitement of being in a place my ancestors came from. As my friend and I walked down Am Strom, the pedestrian street next to the canal, we would look at the dates on the houses to determine if it had been standing when my GG Grandfather lived there. It was exciting to see that a number of buildings fit the bill.
This building would have looked slightly different in my ancestors day
After we warmed ourselves up with hot chocolate at one of the many bars along the waterfront, we wandered down to the very impressive lighthouse & had a very quick look at the beach – certainly not swimming weather, before we headed for a bite to eat at a lovely restaurant before making our way back to the bus for the train to Rostock.
This was a great spot for a hot chocolate
Being that it took us about 2.5 hours to get to Warnemünde from Hamburg, we didn’t really have as much time as we would have liked to explore the city more. In hindsight, it would have been nice to have a night or two there to be able to see more of what Warnemünde has to offer.
It would have been nice to have a sunny day but it was still awesome to visit
Oh and FYI – this is where the cruise ships dock when they say they are heading to Berlin, which is actually a couple of hours away by car/bus. So if you’re ever doing a ‘cruise to Berlin’ it would be a bit hard because Berlin is a landlocked city so you would go to Warnemünde instead.
The stunning lighthouse – it wasn’t around when my GG Grandfather was but still gorgeous
The plaque says this is a sculpture honouring lifeguards
I imagine this place would be crowded during cruise season
Discovered some lovely homes
I like to think this was modeled on my GG Grandfather
I have no words for how pretty Strasbourg was in person
In my original plans for this trip, Strasbourg didn’t even really feature. It was one of those “it would be nice if..” places but when I changed my trip to forgo Vienna & Prague I started looking at different options.
Lots of waterways in Strasbourg to enjoy in the sunshine
Strasbourg made its way firmly onto my plans.
The very interesting facade of the Strasbourg train station
I have seen numerous photos of this place all over Instagram for a few years and have been wanting to go for a while now but never seemed to find myself in that area. Because I had another day trip planned in Heidelberg, I decided to base myself in Stuttgart as it was only an hour or so from each place and worked out well as a stop over on my way from Würzburg to Lindau.
The day in Strasbourg was actually one of my favourite days of the whole trip. The weather was beautiful (still pretty cold but it was ok because it was beautiful blue skies); autumn was still in full effect and the city is just gorgeous! Plus it is where I had the best hot chocolate of the trip.
This place made a really nice hot chocolate and was a nice place to sit and reflect on my day
I didn’t really get to see as much of Strasbourg as I wanted but I still got to see quite a bit, it is definitely a place I could see myself visiting again (not sure when though).
Historic signs on the side of a building
The only dampener on the day was one of my own making.. I didn’t really think about the return train trip to Stuttgart and the fact that it got dark at about 5pm – I am one of those people who don’t really like being out in a strange place after dark. Because my train wasn’t until about 7.30pm, I ended up sitting at the train station for a good 3 or so hours – which to be fair was actually kind of fascinating with the people watching, but it was also very, very cold!
I missed out on the Christmas markets but there were some pretty decorations about
Everywhere you looked was another stunning scene
This was definitely one of my favourite scenes
Loved this shop facade – no I didn’t go in and explore
The original facade of the train station
It was interesting seeing this station in person, it kind of reminded me of a sports stadium
Heidelberg was also added as a bit of a last-minute trip. My friend had mentioned that she loved Heidelberg so I decided it would be the decent thing to do to have a day trip there on her birthday – the fact that she was thousands of miles away in Australia shouldn’t really matter right?
Another Christmas market I was too early for
This was another place I didn’t really get to see a heck of a lot of – not up close anyway. I had thought there was a hop on hop off bus but when I got there and asked the Tourist Information person they said there wasn’t but I could get a local bus to a certain spot in the city to get a sightseeing bus. I couldn’t remember where she said to go once I got off the bus so I ended up at the Bergbahn station, which is where the funicular that goes up a mountain is located.
It was fun to go up the mountain on a funicular
I decided that I would do that instead because it also stopped at the Schloss Heidelberg (Heidelberg Castle). I got on the funicular up to Königstuhl Hill, which gives an amazing view of the city below, and as we were heading up it actually started to snow – I might have gotten a little bit excited about that. There were only 3 other people on the funicular so it was kind of special moment for me.
You can’t tell but it was snowing at this point
There isn’t really anything at the top of Königstuhl but I imagine that in summer it is very popular with walkers – actually all year around because there were more people coming down the mountain than there were coming up.
The amazing Schloss Heidelberg
On the way down I stopped at the castle, which was really amazing because it was mostly ruins and has AMAZING views over Heidelberg below. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to see more of the city when I got down to ground level as I had to head back to the train station for my trip back to Stuttgart.
The ruins of the Heidelberg Castle
The views were stunning over the city from the castle
Me trying to be arty with this shot
It is hard to pick a favourite of these day trips – each one has something special about it that makes it a highlight of the trip:
- Helsingør – of course the Shakespeare connection but just in general I really enjoyed this town.
- Warnemünde – being where my GG Grandfather was born and walked the streets was pretty special
- Strasbourg – the beautiful autumn day was a real highlight for me
- Heidelberg – those views!!
Loved this autumn view of Strasbourg
Do you plan day trips when you’re away or just stick to main cities/towns?
4 thoughts on “Day Trips In Europe”
When I went to England last year, we did day trips almost every day we were there. My biggest regret is that I didn’t spend more time in York and Cambridge. There’s always next time!!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I like to think that day trips are a good way of getting an overview of a place. I kept saying “I’d love to return here” when I was in places – unfortunately realistically I probably won’t for a while but it’s nice to know I could if I wanted to haha
Wonderful day trips, and how nice that you could visit a place where your ancestors came from
LikeLiked by 1 person
It’s so exciting to be able to go to places that my ancestors are from. I get a little thrill from it each time