Roskilde may be only 22 miles (35km) from Copenhagen, but this small city has an ancient feel all its own. It dates back more than a thousand years and was the capital of Denmark in medieval times, as well as a hub of both Viking activity and the Danish church.
The most significant attractions are the Roskilde Cathedral, which is the burial site for Danish monarchs, and the Viking Ship Museum, which displays ancient weapons, ships, and other artefacts from the Viking Age.
The city is home to the Roskilde Palace, which is a former royal residence and now contains an art museum. The town is widely known as the home of the Roskilde Festival, one of Europe's biggest and most popular music festivals.
Roskilde is a small and pleasant town, small enough to walk around and containing a number of museums and galleries worth visiting, as well as parks, cafes, pubs, and shops. Roskilde has a pedestrian street running down the centre of the city and here you can find a number of great places to eat, drink, and shop, as well as a number of tourist attractions. The university ensures a lively atmosphere, and the city of 52,000 is anything but sleepy.
Also known as the Land of Legends, the Lejre Research Centre is one of the most popular attractions in Roskilde. The centre is a 106 acre (43 hectare) archaeological open air museum situated just outside the city. The museum consists of amazingly lifelike reconstructions of an Iron Age village and sacrificial bog (200 BC to 200 AD), a Viking market place (900 AD), a Stone Age campsite (5,000 BC), and 19th century farm cottages. The Lejre Research Centre is high on the list of things to see and do with kids in Roskilde as there are so many fun and educational activities. You can cook food on one of the communal bonfires or bring your own picnic lunch and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. It's best to come prepared with good walking shoes and perhaps even a change of clothes because some of the activities can get you dirty or wet. The centre could easily occupy a family for a full day so be sure to allow sufficient time.
The Roskilde Cathedral was the first Gothic cathedral built out of brick during the 12th and 13th centuries. Since the 15th century, it has been the burial site for Danish monarchs and is home to the Roskilde Cathedral Boys' Choir. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral's twin spires dominate the Roskilde skyline and the ornately gilded interior gives visitors a sense of the royal history of Denmark. Visitors are asked to be respectful of the fact that the cathedral is an active church, meaning that it will sometimes be closed to tourists during ceremonies and services. There is a Cathedral Museum in the Great Hall of the Chapel of the Magi, containing illustrations and artefacts detailing the history of the cathedral from the early Middle Ages to the present day. Guided tours are available.
The Viking Ship Museum is home to five Viking ships dating back to the 11th century. Deliberately sunk in the channel to prevent an attack on the city around 1070, they were excavated in 1962. The ships range from cargo vessels to war raiders, and are displayed in the museum overlooking Roskilde Fjord replete with weapons and other artefacts. Visitors can also watch shipwrights at work and see examples of traditional Nordic wooden boats. There are lots of reconstructed Viking ships and boats in the museum harbour and you can take a ride in some of them with a guide. According to tourist votes, the museum is generally the top rated attraction in Roskilde. The many fun and educational activities for children makes it a great attraction for the whole family.
The hot and happening Roskilde Festival is one of Europe's greatest rock music feasts, featuring the best in Danish and international music in a packed and varied programme performing to crowds of more than 80,000. It is the largest North European culture and music festival. Top international bands, artists, and deejays from a range of genres perform at the week-long event, held in an outdoors setting in the Danish city. Recent famous performers have included Bruce Springsteen, The Cure, Bon Iver, Bjork, Jack White, and The Shins. All profits from the festival are donated to charity so you can rock on in the knowledge that you're partying for a good cause. There's a lot more than music on offer too; every year the festival features art exhibits, performance artists, comedians, and activist groups that entertain and educate the crowds. There is also a vibrant collection of stalls selling food, crafts, and the like. The camping areas are fun and well-organised with central chill out zones for eating and socialising.
Roskilde is popular for both its ancient atmosphere and its lively young population, with visitors finding plenty of historical and modern attractions. Probably the most famous attraction in Roskilde is the UNESCO-listed Roskilde Cathedral, the burial site for Danish royalty.
Other great favourites include the Viking Ship Museum, with its enthralling collection of Viking artefacts and fun boat-building and sailing activities, and the Roskilde Museum, which has an interesting variety of displays detailing the city's long history.
For a more hands-on experience of Danish history, try a visit to the Lejre Research Centre. It's an interactive outdoor museum featuring reconstructions of living conditions from various eras of Roskilde's past.
Built in 1733, Roskilde Palace is also definitely worth a visit: it is a striking yellow Baroque mansion which now houses, among other things, the Roskilde Museum of Contemporary Art and the Palace Collections.
There is a pedestrian street running down the centre of Roskilde providing good starting point for exploration of the city, crammed with attractions, restaurants, bars, and shops. The city benefits from being conveniently close to Copenhagen, giving visitors easy access to all the wonders of the capital city as well.
No direct flights from Heathrow to this Destination