48 hours in Roskilde: Rock, Vikings, World Heritage
Roskilde is a city packed with history – from royal graves and world heritage to the proud shipbuilding traditions of the Vikings and modern-day rock and pop culture complete with screaming teenage girls! Here you’ll find history brought to life for adults and children with lots of opportunities to get involved and create new memories together.
World heritage and royal razzle dazzle in Roskilde Cathedral
Start your day with the absolute must-see sight in Roskilde – Roskilde Cathedral. This UNESCO-listed cathedral takes you through the development of European architecture and is one of Scandinavia’s earliest examples of a large church building in brick. What’s more, you’ll find no fewer than 38 Danish Kings and Queens buried right here in spectacular royal monuments full of pomp and show.
Don’t miss out on a walk around the outside of the cathedral so you can admire the impressive exterior of the different burial chapels.
Panoramic view and springs
From the cathedral, walk towards the harbour and you’ll come to one of the city’s springs – Saint Hans Spring. In the past Roskilde had up to 24 active springs, and this impressive number of water sources gave its name to the city. “Kilde” is the Danish word for spring.
Be sure to walk through the open area behind the cathedral. This gives you a picture-perfect view of the cathedral and a full panoramic view over the fjord as you walk through the park.
Viking living, a break by the fjord … and a hidden treasure!
When you get to Roskilde Harbour, you’ll find the tempo automatically goes down. Here you can decide whether you want to enjoy an unfeasibly large ice cream, have a contemplative moment as you enjoy the view over the fjord or explore more of the city’s long history.
If more history is for you, head to the Viking Museum where you’ll find the original Viking-age Skuldelev ships and Museum Island with its rhythmic sounds from the smithy and the boat-builder’s axe. You might even be lucky enough to get on board the 30-metre-long Viking warship, Havhingsten.
And if you’ve got more energy left, we recommend walking the path from the harbour to the old fishing village of Skt. Jørgensbjerg. Pay a visit to Skt. Jørgensbjerg Church, the atelier of local painter L.A. Ring or just let the kids loose at the playground while you enjoy the beautiful view over the harbour.
Sail away over a coffee or relax in St. Hans Garden
To digest the day’s historic input, enjoy a relaxing trip up the fjord on the sailing restaurant Sagafjord. On this former Norwegian passenger ferry from the 1950s, you can enjoy coffee and cake with panoramic views of the unique fjord landscape as you sail through the beautiful National Park Skjoldungernes Land.
Or visit Sankt Hans Hospital, a psychiatric hospital where patients used to be subjected to shock treatments with ice cold water and live eels. Happily, that time has passed and today the area has become a popular recreational spot for locals.
End the day with delicious home-baked cakes, coffee and the fragrance of herbs and flowers in Sct. Hans Have, the old greenhouse café in the gardens of the hospital. You can get to this little oasis by foot via the Fjordstien path from Roskilde Harbour (around 2 kilometres) – and you can take the bus back to Roskilde afterwards.
An urban morning boost at Musicon
Today you can shake off the dust of centuries past and take a leap into the 21st century at Musicon. This is Roskilde’s newest neighbourhood full of cutting-edge architecture and modern urban development mixed with pulsating beats, serious sideburns and relaxed street-style.
Explore the area’s unique award-winning architecture and discover skater-friendly rainwater systems, alternative container shops and friendly cafés.
Why not start the day with a freshly made organic brunch from Local By Me and then go exploring through the area that is still characterised by creative building activity.
RAGNAROCK – a rock-star museum experience
Musicon’s absolute most golden experience is RAGNAROCK. Its gold-studded façade and red carpet are rolled out to welcome you into the history of Danish rock, pop and youth culture.
Take a trip on a gigantic record player, be part of the world’s largest choir, meet fanboys and fangirls and much, much more. This architectonic gem of a museum shines just as brightly inside as it does from the outside.
Skate with interactive lighting
Your trip back into the city centre is accompanied by more innovation. The Musicon-stien path is much more than just a connecting path between the medieval centre of Roskilde and the new neighbourhood in the south.
The path is designed with coloured lamps, interactive lighting and a pump track that gives cyclists, skaters and onlookers a fun and playful experience when darkness falls.
If you’ve taken a scooter with you, take it along and you can show off your tricks in the skate park Rabalderparken in Musicon and on the path as you head back to the city centre.
Lunch in Roskilde’s historic centre
Back in the city centre, there are plenty of ways to refuel and get your energy levels up again.
In the cosy garden of the restaurant Rådhuskælderen, you sit quite literally in the shade of the cathedral. Here you can enjoy a cold beer and classic Danish lunch dishes.
On the same side of the square, in the city’s former town hall, you’ll find Roskilde’s organic eatery Grundsmag. Here both the décor and food are authentic, local and quite simply utterly delicious.
Go underground and back in time
This afternoon you can enjoy two of the city’s often overlooked gems.
Under the main square, you’ll find the ruin of Sankt Laurentius Church. A visit to this ruin takes you straight back to the early middle ages when Roskilde was on its way to becoming Denmark’s and Northern Europe’s most powerful city.
Once you’ve been underground, don’t forget to take a trip to the top of the old church tower. Over the years, this has functioned as a prison, the town hall tower and a watchtower for the city’s guards.
Then visit Lützhøfts Købmandsgård to experience the charm and nostalgia of a grocery store from the 1920s. Here time has stood still and the only modern addition to this original shop are the staff!
In this living museum, you can buy sweets, handmade brushes or tin toys wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. A guaranteed hit for all generations.
Evening hang-out with live music
If you’re out without children or have a couple of music-loving teenagers in tow, there’s every reason to make a final stop at Gimle, Roskilde’s music venue and youth centre. Each year over 300 bands perform here at events ranging from large concerts in the main hall to intimate small performances in the café.
At Gimle’s café, The Raven, you can enjoy the music along with freshly prepared food including burgers, chips, sandwiches and vegan options.
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