Explore Jutland: 12 hours in Silkeborg

By Frederik Hartmann (featured image by Peter Leth- Flickr)

It’s time for a bit of autumn sightseeing, and what place better than the city at the heart of Jutland: Silkeborg. Here we present a well-rounded day in the lakeside city, but feel free to veer off course and just explore. Without further ado, let’s get going!

In typical Danish fashion, we will arrive in Silkeborg via public transport. Hourly trains arrive from Herning and Aarhus, and there is likewise a multitude of buses which stop by here on their way across the peninsula. Already on the train, you will be privy to some of the most beautiful Danish nature as you pass lake Juelsø, on the bank of which sits ‘Skymountain’ (Himmelbjerget). While hardly a mountain in international standards, this hill constitutes the highest natural point in Denmark. As a way of increasing the ‘wow’-factor, a small tower has been built on the top. The view from up there is fantastic, but as we’re still on the train, let’s wait till we get into town.

The Wooden House at the Bad Museum (photo by Per Bjarner - Flickr)

The Wooden House at the Bad Museum (photo by Per Bjarner – Flickr)

Arriving in town via train, we must go a bit further by bus to reach our first destination: the Silkeborg Bad museum. After another 15 minutes, we arrive at the health-clinic-turned-museum. During World War II, the museum building was commandeered by the Gestapo, the German political police. Because of this, you’ll find bunkers scattered around the compound, including one which houses a small bunker museum.

Across the grounds, a collection of sculptures can be seen. The philosophy here is to present works which emphasise and enhance the natural splendour all around. Also present, hidden between the trees, is the Arnakke-spring. This natural source of freshwater is what originally prompted the construction of the clinic in 1883, and is still bottled and sold as ‘Kurvand'(Curewater) today. Take a swig of the iron rich water, and let’s get moving; there is much more to see.

After an hour or two at the museum and autumnal woods, it’s time to head back into to town to look for some lunch. In traditional Danish style, Silkeborg largely uses the concept of the ‘strøg’ – the Danish version of the Spanish Rambla. The idea is to have pedestrian-only streets, making for ease of passage for those on foot. Taking a walk down the city’s strøg, there are many choices of food. I can recommend Café Damita on Tværgade, or Café Humleshock if your budget is less restrained.

The centrum of Silkeborg (photo by Peter Leth - Flickr)

The centrum of Silkeborg (photo by Peter Leth – Flickr)

If you enjoy a view of flowing water as you dine, then we must walk a bit further, to Silkeborg papirfabrik. This compound of modern buildings used to be the site of the city’s first industrial pursuit, paper-making, but has been rebuilt as a vision of a contemporary Danish city. The flowing ‘Gudenå’ river, which once powered the machines and transported the paper, is now reserved for ducks and canoes. Along the river are more cafés, as well as a cinema and a high-end hotel.


Lake Brassø, one of Silkeborg’s many lakes (photo: RamjetDK, Flickr Creative Commons)

In the summer months, it is possible to book transport on the world’s oldest running steamboat, Hjejlen. The ship, which first sailed in 1861, now tours the various lakes between Silkeborg and Ry. While the original must rest for most of the winter, newer boats are more undeterred and can serve as a picturesque means of transport on the waterways all year around. Along the route are various possible activities, most of which we won’t have time to see in just one day, so hang on.

The oldest steam boat (photo by Jack Lambert)

The oldest steam boat (photo by Jack Lambert – Flickr)

First off we have the Jorn Museum, a destination for art-lovers with a cosy marina nearby. Next, the Aqua freshwater aquarium and nature-park, a prime spot for a day with kids. Further along are various lakeside eateries with personal jetties where you can jump off the boat. The best of these is Hotel Juelsø, which conveniently lies at the bottom of Skymountain. Here you can enjoy a seven course ‘Fairytale’ menu, which is sure to leave you satisfied. Before or after dinner you should pop up to the ‘peak’ before returning to the jetty and hitching a ride to Ry. Here we will catch the train home, and be back in Aarhus before the clubs close.

Have a wonderful day in Silkeborg!

Flickr Creative Commons License for photos used can be seen here.

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