Break for the border

The Oresund link between Denmark and Sweden means you can enjoy two holidays in one, says Wayne Hemingway, as well as learn a lesson or two from those stylish Scandinavians about how the seaside should really look

Bridges and budget airlines are fine things. The 16km Oresund link between Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmo in Sweden, and Go and Ryanair flights, allow you to sample two very different cities and regions, and two countries, in one short break.

Bridges and budget airlines are fine things. You can now fly to Newcastle with Go and marvel at the Millennium Bridge, which has linked two banks of the Tyne and two communities, Gateshead and Newcastle, to create a vibrant, self-confident conurbation that deserves to win selection for The European City Of Culture when it comes to the UK in 2008. On a different scale, the 16km Oresund link between Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmo in Sweden, and Go and Ryanair flights, allow you to sample two very different cities and regions, and two countries, in one short break.

We did the usual Hemingway family thing of just booking flights and a people carrier and bringing some of those fantastic expandable backpacks to hold all the stuff we always come back with and some camping gear. The other Hemingway tradition is for the two girls to start arguing or winding up the boys in the hire car. At Copenhagen's modern and serene airport the girls broke their own arguing speed record. And Mrs H surpassed her season's best, with the issuing of a ban on any fast rides at Tivoli gardens and the statement that this was the last holiday of the summer, within four minutes and 32 seconds of leaving Avis's car-hire compound.

It was sunny, so we headed north for an hour along a coast road that showed how short-sighted we British were in allowing most of our coastline to be a ribbon development of un-ironic pebbledash, and Tudorbethan kitsch. We drove through clean and unobtrusive seaside settlements with grass roofs, until we reached Hornbaek, where we spent the afternoon on a sandy beach fringed with sand dunes full of rosehips and backed by fantastic pine forests. Later I joined the girls in the bad books for instigating a game of "pine-cone paint-ball" that resulted in the five-year old receiving a couple of minor cuts on the chin.

Being an Independent on Sunday reader and a keen supporter of the "Right to Roam" campaign, I was tempted to take advantage of the liberal Scandinavian attitude to setting up tents, but I was out-voted in favour of lavatory and shower facilities. We found the only campsite, had what could be described as a bonding session but was probably closer to guerrilla warfare while erecting the six-man tent, and set about an eating experiment with the contents of our camping cupboard which had sat unused for months. Ever the contrary one, Mrs H loved the vacuum-packed chicken casserole and baked beans and sausage, while the children hated the freeze-dried spag bol and spicy noodles. I finished it off, as usual, even though it tasted like leftovers from a Russian Soyuz Cosmonauts' mission from the 1960s.

We attempted a walk in the forest. The plan was to play at Deliverance. But buck-tooth Billy Bob did not get us. It was the voracious mosquitoes that drove us back to the campsite scratching our ankles – apart from Mrs H, who we had scoffed at for wearing some special mosquito-repellent trousers. Back at camp, the eldest and I, conscious of his A-level studies in art and photography, started to document the caravanners in all their splendour, with their geraniums and rotary airers brought from home, and the Germans with their 1980s painted camper vans and mullet hairstyles.

After my morning run in warm summer rain, we broke camp, got soaked and drove down to Copenhagen to shop. If, like us, you are into second-hand clothes, this city is most definitely, in the words of my hero, Max Bygraves, "Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen". The streets and alleyways around Studiestrasse and Lederstrasse near Tivoli have some real treasures, as does the Norrebro area if you are into 20th-century Scandinavian design.

If this is your bag, then visit Christiania, an "independent" alternative community set up by hippies in the 1970s and now run as a sort of counter-culture theme park by assorted crusties and ageing dopeheads who walk like Ozzy Osbourne on one of his bad days. It is fantastic eye-candy. The children could not believe the open selling of giant blocks of every cannabis imaginable and kept pointing out the strange "nettles" that looked like that T-shirt that the "posh kids" wear on Saturdays. I am sure that seeing these drug-addled theme-park characters, who thought that they had opted out but were just another stop on the Copenhagen tourist trail, did my teenagers a power of good. With any luck, it left them feeling that it is not coolly "alternative" to turn a naturally beautiful part of a city with one of Europe's largest budget surpluses into a Third-World style ghetto.

One night in a hotel and I wanted to camp; I was getting withdrawal symptoms from the loss of my regular Ray Mears fix (my wife wishes Ray Mears would die eating one of those berries he picks). The previous summer we had spent a few days in south-west Sweden and thought it was one of the loveliest places we had been. Aware that second visits are not always a good idea and that memories are often better than reality, we half expected disappointment. Within an hour of leaving central Copenhagen we had driven the magnificent Oresund crossing and were on the sandy peninsula of Skanor, Falsterbo and Ljunghusen.

After pitching tents on another clean and well-serviced campsite next to the sand dunes, we hired bikes and set off exploring, passing from one stunning golden beach to another, and through nature reserves and sweet-smelling pine forests that hide great houses (which suits nosey people like us but does tend to make us envious). Our youngest daughter had not been on our last trip here and the eldest two laid a trap. They agreed to have a cycle race along a track into a "nature reserve". Unfortunately, for her she did not twig that the "naturists" sign did not refer to feathered things but rather naked humans. She cycled right in and may never engage in relationships when she is older as a result.

On this peninsula I have found my Australia close to home. We love the place. It is an example of sympathetically developed coastline which is still undiscovered by all but a small part of the Swedish population. I hate the idea of a personal treasure being overwhelmed with visitors, but I am sure few of you will believe that my favourite restaurant, favourite beaches, favourite delicatessen and the place where we get deep tans is in Sweden.

I would love to take a party of planners from the UK to see these coastal developments. They make you wonder how we could have blighted so much of our coastline. And then I'd take them on to the truly wonderful urban docklands regeneration project in Malmo itself, which makes London Docklands look very sad indeed. The adventure playgrounds hoodwinked the children into not noticing we were doing research for our current work projects.

On the final night we managed to get space in one of the five quaint hotels on the peninsula, had an 11pm swim and then got up early to visit the potty Foteviken Viking settlement, where people live as Vikings (including a number of Britons). I hung on to my teenage daughters while the young-un practised with swords, bows and arrows, and the eldest just smirked incredulously. There are so many funny things about this Viking settlement, I could write a whole article.

Getting there

Return flights with Go (0870 607 6543; www.go-fly.com) to Copenhagen from Stansted costs from £91. Avis (0870 606 0100; www.avis.com) offers seven days' car hire from £250.

Being there

You will need a camping card to camp on any site in Scandanavia. You can buy it on arrival at campsites for £6 per tent or caravan and it lasts a year.

DCU camping, Hornbaek (00 45 49 70 02 23; www.camping-hornbaek.dk) charges about £5 per adult and £2.50 per child per night.

Ljungens camping, Falsterbro, Sweden (00 40 47 11 32) charges about £12 per night to pitch a tent.

Hotel Scandic, Copenhagen, Vester Sogade 6 (00 453 3 14 3535; www.scandic-hotels.com) offers double rooms from £183 per night.

Hotel Spelabacken, Skanor (00 40 47 53 00) offers double rooms from £65 per night.

Further information

Danish tourist board (020-7259 5959; www.visitdenmark.com). Swedish tourist board (00 800 3080 3080; www.visit-sweden.com).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing