Centrally located on the mainland of Denmark, Billund is perhaps most famous as the birthplace of LEGO...
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... and the home of the original LEGOLAND park theme park. But there's more to the city than plastic bricks and pirate ships. Take a road trip out of town to discover the bleak beauty of the Jutland peninsula, with its powdery sand beaches, vibrant port towns and ancient heathlands, and return home telling tales of Viking rune-stones, ancient kings and fascinating wartime history.
See as much as you can of the town by following the Company Town walking trail, which weaves through some of the key points of Billund’s cultural history. You’ll find nine information stands dotted along the route and the trail takes in Billund Heating Plant and Løvehuset (the Lion's House), built by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, the LEGO founder, in 1924.
The route also runs through Billund's beautiful Sculpture Park, so spend half an hour strolling around permanent sculptures, before heading to the vibrant LEGO House – don't miss the rooftop terrace, which is home to several life-size LEGO sharks.
Morning: Spend your first day at the town’s biggest attraction: LEGOLAND. Billund is a rare example of a Danish town that has grown and developed because of a single company. See why it’s been such a success by getting to grips with the nine themed LEGO ‘lands’, four roller-coasters, two water rides and over 40 other attractions.
Afternoon: Hop in the car and head to the buzzing city of Vejle for a late afternoon stroll around the city’s historic streets, then wander over to Den Smidske Gård (The Merchant’s House) in the centre of town. Constructed in 1799, it was a collaboration between builder Anders Christensen Kruuse and architect and sculptor Jens Hjernøe. There’s a lovely al fresco terrace where you can settle down for drinks and a light dinner.
Morning: Set between Billund and LEGOLAND, the Scultpture Park is a 1.3 kilometre-long nature trail adorned with stunning pieces of modern sculpture. Take your time moseying along the route, pausing to admire works by some of Denmark’s most prominent sculptors. You’ll find plenty of benches along the way to relax on, or you can pick up a packed lunch and settle down next to the lake for a picnic.
Afternoon: Head northwest of Billund to Karensminde for a glimpse of Danish faming heritage. You’ll see how 18th and 19th century farmers worked the land and reared their animals – including live sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, horses and rabbits, some of which roam free throughout the farm. If you want some hands-on history, you can take horse and cart rides, join a carpentry workshop or even help the kitchen staff to make jam.
Rise early and take to the town’s pretty, quiet streets for an amble along the Company Town path. The route tells the story of how the LEGO Group and Billund have developed alongside each other. The route also takes you through the beautiful Sculpture Park.
Afterwards, pick up your car or hop on the shuttle bus to the Givskud Zoo, just 25 minutes out of town. The open enclosures here are filled with wildlife from the African savannah, including rhinos, antelopes, giraffes, zebras and northern Europe’s largest pride of lions.
Head east to Vejle for an outdoor adventure. By Denmark’s pancake-flat standards, this place is practically mountainous, so venture out into the wilds to walk the forested hills and see the beautiful Vejle Fjord, a 13-mile-long inlet flanked by low-rising banks of deciduous woodland. Back in the city centre, Vejle's pedestrianised shopping streets make a great place to shop for souvenirs.
Days three and four
Book ahead for a fascinating LEGO factory tour – a dream come true for diehard LEGO fans. You’ll witness first-hand how the rainbow bricks and miniature figures are designed and produced, and you’ll also be whisked through the doors of Ole Kirk Kristiansen’s house, where you’ll find retro LEGO sets dating to the 1930s. Over two days you’ll see every nook and cranny of the factory and meet with LEGO designers who’ll give you the lowdown on the work behind this all-conquering brand.
Head into the countryside between Billund and Vejle today. Start with a visit to Bindeballe Købmandsgård, an old grocer’s shop that has been converted into a retail museum. It's packed with vintage Danish merchandise and shop signs, and includes a real shop where you can pick up some local specialities for souvenirs (or to supplement your lunch).
A little way north you'll find the Randbøldal Museum, an old paper mill that is now a museum devoted to water power. There are loads of hands-on exhibits and workshops, but you might want to just go for a stroll – this whole area is beautiful, and well worth exploring at a leisurely pace.
Brace yourself for some salty sea air. Take the 30-mile drive out of town to the port town of Kolding. Its centre is dotted with colourful houses, and there’s a magnificent moated castle too. Culture vultures should pay a visit to the Trapholt Museum of Modern Art, which showcases visual art, crafts, design and furniture from both international and Danish artists. There’s also a café with spectacular views over Kolding Fjord. In the afternoon, head to a local beach or go for a brisk coastal walk.
Ready for a full day of activity? Just 10 minutes outside of Billund you'll find Gyttegaard Plantation and Grene Sande, which have plenty of hiking tracks and mountain bike routes to discover. Tracks wind through heather-covered moorland, inland sand dunes and forests dating back to 1898. Picnic spots are plentiful, so bring a packed lunch!