If you have a bit extra time on when you are visiting Copenhagen an excellent destination for a daytrip is Roskilde. You can easily get there on one of the frequent trains form Copenhagen Central Station to Roskilde station – it only takes about 20-25 minutes depending on which train you catch and there are many trains every hour so you don’t have to worry too much about timing your arrival at Copenhagen Central Station.
There is a lot to see in Roskilde so you might want to get an early start from Copenhagen so you have time to explore the main attractions of the city.
Roskilde used to be one of the most important settlements in Denmark in the later part of the Viking period and for a short while it was the seat of the king of Denmark about a thousand years ago. And it remained a fairly big town for a long time after this as the seat of one of the most important bishops in Denmark. Though over time the power and commerce moved to Copenhagen and today Roskilde is kind of a suburb of Copenhagen.
In Copenhagen you don’t find a lot of building more than a couple of centuries old because the city has burned down repeatedly over the year. Roskilde seems to have survived through time without such a lot of destruction so the central part of Roskilde is pretty interesting. When you arrive at the station in Roskilde at the station you are immediately in the old town and can start exploring the city.
When you walk towards the main cathedral you might pass an old monastery and then you walk the last bit of the way to Roskilde Cathedral with the royal graves you will pass Roskilde city museum and some interesting old buildings one of which is hosting Roskilde Museum for contemporary art. Even if you are interested in these museums you should walk pass them in the morning so you can arrive at the bigger attractions of the cathedral or the Viking ship museum early in the day to avoid the worst of the crowds.
If you got time before 10 when the museums open you might consider having a quick look inside the old city hall next to the cathedral. The old city council hall here is very pretty and there is free access in the morning unless there is a function going on in the room.
After having a look at the nice room inside the old city hall you could head for the cathedral – it is good to go early so there isn’t too many people walking around inside the church. The church is nice to see but the main reason it is famous and got designated a UNESCO world heritage is the many royal graves inside the church. There are more than 40 members of the royal family buried inside the church and 22 who were the ruler of Denmark.
After you have visited the cathedral you can go to the other world class attraction of Roskilde. The Viking Ship Museum. The museum is located down at Roskilde Fjord which used to be an important harbor during the Viking era. To protect the access to the harbor five old ships were sunk a bit north of Roskilde – and it is these ships which has been excavated and put on display in the museum. You can go and visit the old ships and learn a bit of the history of the Vikings. After you have seen the original ships you can go to the small island next to the museum where there is a working museum where they reconstruct the old ships – there are some of the reconstructed ships in the harbor – unless they are actually out on a voyage to an old Viking destination.
If you still have room for more museums after visiting the Viking Ship Museum you might head back to the cathedral and go to the Museet for Samtidskunst (Museum of Contemporary Art) or you can go next door to Roskilde Museum to learn more about the history of the city. If you really want to see all the museums it is best to visit on a Wednesday since the museums of Roskilde stays open until at least 8 pm or Roskilde museum actually till 9 pm.
Another option is to go and explore the new Ragnarock Museum. The museum is dedicated to rhythmic music from the 1950s till the present. The museum is mainly about Danish rock music but there is information in English and the museum is pretty interactive so you don’t need to understand Danish to enjoy the museum. You can walk to the museum from the center of Roskilde or you can catch a bus from the station in Roskilde – bus 202A goes but there might be other buses going close to the museum as well.
After a late visit to the museum on a Wednesday you might get hungry – fortunately there is a restaurant at the museum so you can go and have dinner here. When I went to the museum there was a lot more guest at the restaurant than the museum – so it seems like the restaurant is popular with the locals which is a good sign. If you decide not to eat at the museum you can find another restaurant in the center of the city or you might just catch a train back to Copenhagen for more dining options.
If you go to all the museums of Roskilde you might consider buying a Copenhagen Card to give you free entrance to all of the museums and free transport. It is particular good value if you also go on a daytrip to Helsingør to see Kronbrog – the castle of Hamlet.