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Plan your cycle ride from Esbjerg to Copenhagen

31 May 2011

Gareth and I have had a fantastic time in Denmark. We've enjoyed the strong culture of cycling, seen some great landscapes and met some friendly local people along the way. Here are some tips to get you started in planning your own trip across the country.

Ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg

  • Route is operated by DFDS Seaways.
  • Crossing takes about 18 hours. There are two or three crossings per week.
  • Cost for each passenger is from about 100 GBP in an inside cabin (May 2011).
  • Bike charge is a mere 5 GBP (May 2011).
  • Meals are expensive, although there's a discount when pre-booked online.

Route and accommodation

  • A great place to start is Visit Denmark. Type "cycling" in their search box to find the "cycling holiday" section, which offers plenty of inspiration, including accommodation.
  • There are 11 national cycle routes around Denmark (Esbjerg to Copenhagen is route 6). Detailed route maps are not published online, so you must purchase a paper copy.
  • Regional cycle maps are available from the Danish Cycling Federation online shop. The excellent Denmark Cycling Map, showing all 11 national routes, is available from Maps Worldwide.
  • Denmark's traffic website also contains a lot of information for cyclists, including route maps and descriptions. Search their website to find the cycling information.

Flight back from Copenhagen

  • EasyJet generally offer the best fares from Copenhagen to London Gatwick and Stansted.
  • EasyJet have a reasonable charge for sports equipment (18.50 GBP per bike at time of writing).
  • Many other airlines also serve Copenhagen airport (check bicycle carriage charges).
  • Cardboard bike boxes are available for purchase from the "Left Luggage" counter in Terminal 2 for a hefty 200 DKK fee. It's adviseable to check availability with them in advance.
  • You'll need a pedal wrench to remove the pedals from your bike. And you'll also need to remove the wheels, and possibly the handlebars, as well as lower the sadle.
  • CTC have written a helpful guide on taking bikes by air.

Suggestions

  • To keep costs down, get the best fares on your ferry and flight by booking them far in advance and avoiding the busiest periods. Remember to check bicycle charges with your airline.
  • Next, order your Denmark cycling map, so that you can see the route in detail (or plan your own) and decide how far you will cover each day.
  • The ferry from Harwich usually arrives in Esbjerg at about 13:00, local time. This leaves only half a day to cover the 90 km to Kolding, the first major town on the route. To make the most of the afternoon, opt for a late breakfast or an early lunch on board.
  • It's worth withdrawing some local currency in Esbjerg and picking up some snacks for the first leg of the journey, to Kolding. The quiet rural roads don't offer much more that lovely scenery.
  • We had a lot of trouble finding the start of cycle route 6 in Esbjerg. In fact, the route itself starts slightly beyond the town, to the south of the village of Tjæreborg. From central Esbjerg, you can pick up cycle route 1, the West Coast route, for a few kilometres to reach route 6.
  • Immediately after we did find the route, we were caught out by massive roadworks and a missing railway bridge. If this is still the case when you travel, I would recommend against crossing the tracks as we did. It's only a 2.5 km detour to head to the nearest bridge, just west of Tjæreborg.
  • One of the biggest problems we faced on our trip was finding dinner in the evenings. Danish people eat early and many restaurants may close as early as 21:00 or 22:00. So plan to stop for the night at a reasonable time.
  • If you're planning to ditch the hotels and camp, visit DK Camp for detailed information on over 300 Danish camp sites.

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