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:
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.
However I didn’t travel from Copenhagen to Helsingør, I instead ended up having a couple of nights across the Øresund in 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.
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.
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).
I mean, how could I not visit if I was in the general area??
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Strasbourg made its way firmly onto my plans.
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.
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).
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
Do you plan day trips when you’re away or just stick to main cities/towns?