Q&A: How easy is it for four of us to get around Denmark without a car?
The Independent Parent: Your questions answered
Saturday 27 April 2002
I don't drive, and I have two children aged eight and four. My wife and I are planning a holiday to Denmark in August, travelling by ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg. Do you have any tips or suggestions for family accommodation and public transport, which would allow us to see the country over a fortnight, taking in Legoland and Copenhagen?
Q I don't drive, and I have two children aged eight and four. My wife and I are planning a holiday to Denmark in August, travelling by ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg. Do you have any tips or suggestions for family accommodation and public transport, which would allow us to see the country over a fortnight, taking in Legoland and Copenhagen?
Richard P Wallace, Norwich
A First things first. If you have yet to book your ferry tickets, DFDS Seaways (08705 333 000, www.dfdsseaways.co.uk) operates the ferry between Harwich and Esbjerg. I was quoted £432 return for a family of four to travel in August in a four-berth cabin with a shared bathroom, booking 21 days in advance.
Fortunately, thanks to an efficient public transport system, travelling in Denmark without a car is relatively trouble-free. The easiest option for families is to use trains that link all the main cities with hourly connections. However, frequent and comprehensive as the rail system is, it does restrict travellers to the main cities and towns. To get to more remote places, you will need to use both trains and buses. Even then, your destinations will be somewhat limited.
There is no rail pass that will give you unlimited travel on the rail system and pre-booking will not, in most cases, save much money. Unless you are travelling long-distance (say, Esbjerg to Copenhagen, which costs DKr534 (£45) per adult return) you do not need to reserve a seat in advance; in this case reservations can be made a day in advance at the departure station. One excellent aspect of travelling by rail in Denmark, however, is that for every paying adult, two children (up to 12) go free, and children aged between 12 and 16 travel on a 50 per cent discount. For online journey planning, timetables and ticket prices, visit the website www.dsb.dk/english/ or contact the Danish Tourist Board on 020-7259 5959 or see www.visitdenmark.com.
Transport passes are available in cities such as Odense and Copenhagen; for example, the Copenhagen Card entitles you to unlimited transport by bus and train within the greater Copenhagen area, along with free admission to 70 museums and attractions. It costs between DKr215 (£18) for 24 hours, to DKr495 (£39) for 72 hours, and is available from the city's Tourist Information Centre (opposite the main rail station) or any mainline Danish State Railway station (DBS). However, buying a card such as this is only really worthwhile if you're going to be doing a lot of travelling and plan to visit many attractions.
The tourist board's website allows you to search for family holiday information, offering lists of attractions and hotel-booking facilities. Although well suited to families, most of Denmark's inns and summer houses will be difficult to reach by public transport. A better option is to base your family in a city, staying in B&B accommodation rather than hotels, which can often end up being quite pricey for families.
Although the Danish peak season is July (children go back to school in the first week of August), booking ahead is still recommended. B&B bookings can be made through the local tourist office at each destination (free of charge) and via listings available from the UK office and website. In Copenhagen itself, Meet the Danes (00 45 33 46 46 46, www.meetthedanes.dk) is a free homestay and B&B booking service.
The easiest way to get to Legoland is by direct bus from Esbjerg (59km south-west of the park's home in Billund). Buses depart hourly from the central bus station (located a five-minute cab ride/10-minute walk from the port) and one-way tickets cost DKr70 (£5) per adult (free for children of 12 and under; £2.50 for 12 to 16-year-olds). Moving on from the park, the most common route is to take the public bus (half an hour) to Vejle, where there are good onward rail links to major cities such as Arhus, Odense and Copenhagen. Legoland (00 45 75 33 13 33, www.legoland.dk) itself has accommodation in the shape of the "Kids House", 28 family rooms located within the park. The price of a one-night stay, in a family room sleeping four, including two days' family admission to the park, is DKr2,130 (£178).
A good central base, midway between Legoland and Copenhagen, is Odense, on the island of Funen, with direct rail connections to both destinations, plenty of family attractions and excellent beaches within easy reach on the south and east coasts. Family rooms (sleeping three or four) in a B&B start at about DKr400 (£33).
For a rural escape between cities, located on the south coast of Funen, Danland is a holiday village on the beach, just outside the little coastal town of Faaborg. Located 40 minutes south of Odense by bus, Faaborg has good connections to local attractions such as Egeskov, one of Denmark's most famous Renaissance castles, complete with antique-car museum, maze and children's playground (around half an hour away by bus). Danland is 10 minutes' walk (five by cab) from the central bus station in Faaborg; rooms cost from DKr3,428 (£285) per week for a self-catering apartment sleeping four, based on travel after 19 August (for information contact 00 45 62 61 38 00, www.danland.dk).
Q We are planning to visit London in August with our children. We promised to take them on the Millennium Wheel. Is it best to leave it to chance and just turn up? If so, what is the best day and time?
M Henry, Lincolnshire
AThe people who run the British Airways London Eye, as it is officially known, recommend you book in advance for your half-hour "flight" – particularly as plenty of families and tourists will have the same idea in August. You can buy tickets by phone on 0870 500 0600 or at www.ba-londoneye.com. From May, tickets cost £10.50 for adults and £5 for 5-15s (under 5s go free). No family concessions are available.
The problem with booking ahead is that you could get a grey or rainy day. If you want to take a risk on the day, turn up as early as possible. The first "flight" is at 9.30am (except on Wednesdays outside school holidays, when it is 11am). Tickets for the first flight each day are kept back, so even if all other flights are fully booked, it means you still have a good chance if you get there by 9am.
The later in the day you go, the longer you are likely to have to wait, and insummer the whole day can quickly book out. One time to steer clear of, though, is evenings. From 1 May the last flight is at 10pm – and this is the most popular time, as many people want to see London by night.
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