It seems like Denmark is the land of castles! First of all, the country is home to the Kronborg Castle, perhaps the most famous castle in all of Scandinavia, after being chosen as the main setting for William Shakespeare’s insanely popular Hamlet. Furthermore, in the country’s capital alone you will find three astonishing examples – Rosenborg, Christiansborg and Amalienborg. However, if you’re looking for a short and easy day trip from Copenhagen, then you must pay a visit to the city of Hillerod and its more obscure Frederiksborg Castle.
Branded the biggest castle in Northern Europe, this beautiful royal residence boasts some seriously amazing architecture, massive well-cared gardens and charming surroundings. Have I convinced you already?
BRIEF HISTORY OF FREDERIKSBORG CASTLE
Although the castle’s current structure and appearance date from the early 17th century, the Frederiksborg Castle grounds had already been in use ever since the start of the 16th century, as an estate owned by one of the wealthiest noble families in Denmark. However, as King Frederick II was very fond of the area, he later ended up buying the land as a result of an exchange with the previous owners.
From that moment, the estate was subjected to deep renovation works and the new residence was built from the ground. In fact, the Frederiksborg Castle turned out to be an historic royal place, as it became the very first Danish castle to be built far away from the shore and with no near ports whatsoever. Besides, it was also the first of his kind to be erected for recreational purposes.
Once Frederik died, his son King Christian IV – who had been raised there – started yet another series of huge renovations, until the castle acquired its distinctive look that still holds to this day. However, in 1859, a huge fire broke out inside the castle and most of the property suffered extensive and severe damage. This time, a widespread funding campaign was created, and once again, renovation works were conducted in order to bring Frederiksborg Castle back to its former glory. These were finished in 1864 and the end result is the polished and impressive look that keeps attracting visitors to Hillerod.
HOW TO GET TO FREDERIKSBORG CASTLE FROM COPENHAGEN
If, like most visitors, you’re visiting Frederiksborg Castle from Copenhagen, then the best way to reach your destination is by using the suburban train (S-Tog). These trains go through Copenhagen Central Station (København H), but you may also catch them at Vesterport, Norreport or Osterport – other stations near the city centre. Make sure to get inside the train heading to Hillerod on Line E (purple), and leave at the terminus. The trip will take about 40 minutes, and you may then reach the castle in 15 minutes by foot. Don’t worry, there are plenty of signs along the path to Frederiksborg Castle.
As for tickets, don’t make the common mistake of buying single trips to Hillerod. As you can see on the Danish Trains website, buying a return ticket from Copenhagen city centre to Hillerod will cost you 184dkk. However, if you buy a “Tourist Ticket to All Zones” in one of their ticket machines, you get unlimited trips in the entire network for 24 hours at the price of 130dkk! This way you’ll be saving some much needed money, and at the same time you may even proceed to visit the Kronborg Castle in the afternoon without having to pay more for the train ride.
VISITING FREDERIKSBORG CASTLE – WHAT’S TO SEE?
THE CITY OF HILLEROD
Although the small city of Hillerod might not have the star power of the capital Copenhagen, it is still worth exploring for an hour or so, especially the path leading to Frederiksborg Castle. You’ll be walking through tiny squares, and along small quirky streets lined with colourful façades and very few (if any!) cars. If you go early in the morning, you’ll realize you’ll have the entire place to yourself, which will make it extra special.
EXTERIOR BUILDINGS AND CASTLE WALLS
With their lively orange brick and sandstone façades, the building’s exterior and its castle walls are some of the most striking features in the palace grounds, and the first elements to usually leave visitors in awe. But it’s not just the unusual colour or the sculpted details! It’s the harmonic way the walls surround the main building and blend perfectly with the green scenery around it that help making this place feel quite unique.
A very curious thing about Frederiksborg Castle, is the fact that it’s actually formed by several different buildings, linked together to form a single, bigger structure. Explore the castle’s exterior, walk through its wings, check out the towers and turrets and make sure to pay a visit to the smaller, adjoining building known as Audience House (Audienshuset).
Regarded as one of castle’s highlights, the Neptune Fountain is nearly impossible to miss! It’s supposed to represent a link between the Danish King and the sea God, portraying the first as a God among men and as the leader of a Nordic nation ruling both over land and sea. Unfortunately the current statue is actually a replica, as the original was taken by the Swedish in 1659 and placed in the Drottningholm Palace’s gardens in Stockholm, where it stands to this day. Who’s the Nordic super-power now?!
THE INTERIORS – MUSEUM OF NATIONAL HISTORY
If you’d like to see Frederiksborg Castle from the inside, then you’ll need to buy a ticket for the Museum of National History. Tickets cost 75dkk, and allow you to tour over 70 rooms, some of which are filled to the brim with historic portraits of Danish royalty and ancient artifacts. Besides, you’ll also get to visit the most impressive areas of the castle, such as the Chapel, the Rose Room and the Audience House.
PARK AND GARDENS
Last, but certainly not least, one should never head back to Copenhagen without paying a visit to Frederiksborg Castle’s glorious park! Arguably the palace’s most scenic feature, this recreational park is actually comprised of two different gardens, one in baroque style with cascades, carefully designed paths and architectural ornaments, and other in English style, with wider green areas and a bigger focus on nature. If you’re looking for the best photo spots in the castle, then look no further!
Frederiksborg Castle is, without any shade of a doubt, one of the most underrated royal residences we’ve ever visited, and the lack of big crowds only make it more appealing! So why don’t you go there and pay it a visit? Are you ready for your day trip adventure? Let us know on the comments below!