Five Fantastic Photo Locations in Northern Denmark – and Two Tricky Ones
With its flat landscape and most open spaces dedicated to agriculture, Denmark isn’t a place that you would normally associate with beautiful nature. There are, however, exceptions.
The few places that stand out have something unique to offer, and thus make for excellent photography. Here’s a list of five of those places in the northernmost area of Denmark, as well as two locations that are culturally interesting and worth visiting, but somewhat hard to shoot (in my opinion.
- Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse
This place immediately rose to the top of the list of the most beautiful places I’ve visited in Denmark. The landscape here is so different from most other places in the country, and the location and history of the lighthouse add so much charm to the rather simple structure that’s still standing.
When it was built in 1899, the lighthouse was placed 200 meters inland and surrounded by other buildings that housed the keeper and two other employees. Due to erosion and high winds moving the sand, the coastline constantly shrunk, and tall piles of sand eventually covered most of the area in front of the lighthouse, making it impossible to see its guiding light from the ocean, rendering the lighthouse obsolete. It was lit for the last time in the late 1960’s, while the surrounding buildings were torn down to avoid potential collapses and accidents involving people.
By 2018, the coastline had shifted to such an extent that it was only a matter of time before the lighthouse would fall into the ocean. Luckily, it was decided that the lighthouse was to be moved 60-80 meters further inland in order to preserve it and extend its lifetime for another 40 years or so, and the restoration was complete in October of 2019.
If the wind allows it and you have a drone, make sure to bring it. The steep cliffs, ocean and lighthouse can all be captured in one shot and make for fantastic photography.
One thing I would love to try next time around is bring a tripod and do some long-exposure shots to really catch the effect of the moving sand.
Although I’ve only visited the place in the spring, I’m sure it’s beautiful all year around. The sunsets here are especially spectacular and a must-experience if you’re in northern Jutland!
Famous Danish writer St. St. Blicher described Bulbjerg as Denmark’s only cliff in 1839. I don’t know if that’s true, but I know that the place is insanely beautiful! It’s pretty much the Danish version of Kelingking Beach in Bali, and definitely worth a visit.
You’ll arrive at the top of the cliff where there are free parking spots and toilets, and from there, you can explore the area. There is one set of stairs on the left side of the cliff that’ll take you down to the beach, but there’s an easily walkable trail down on the right side, too. Depending on the tide, you can walk around and in between the cliff openings at the bottom, but, be careful not to get caught by the powerful waves! If there is or has been a storm, however, make sure you keep an eye out for amber, which is often found on the west coast of Denmark.
The location has some historical leftovers from World War II, namely bunkers. One of them was converted into a museum in 1996 and contains a small exhibition about the geology, birdlife and history of the area. It’s open 24/7 all year around and is accessible from the parking area.
The soft light around sunrise and sunset makes for the perfect photo conditions, and you’ll be able to really catch the dramatic but rare nature in Denmark. Beware that drones are prohibited during certain times of the year due to breeding birds.
- Råbjerg Mile
Råbjerg Mile is the only thing slightly resembling a desert in Denmark. Basically, it’s a one square kilometer large sandbox consisting of 3,5 million cubic meters of sand. Due to the strong winds, the sand moves approximately 15 meters to the east every year and will never look the same two days in a row, which makes for interesting visits every time!
This place is very photogenic in all kinds of weather; the harsh light during the day works just as well as moody, heavy clouds or soft, orange skies. Be creative and bring props if you’re feeling adventurous or play around with shadows and shapes in the sand.
- Bovbjerg Lighthouse
This lighthouse doesn’t have a dramatic story, but, is very pretty in itself with its deep red color, adjoining houses and surrounding fields with horses. As with Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, nature once again helps make this place special: A short walk from the lighthouse are the steep cliffs with a staircase leading down to the wide beaches, beautiful dunes and dramatic groin systems, which all make for great drone photography. Because the lighthouse is so far away from any city, it’s a great place for night photography as well.
A short walk from the lighthouse you will find a little shed (in the same deep red color) that acts as a museum, containing the story of the lighthouse and the surrounding area. More than just gathering information, it’s a great place to seek shelter from the wind.
Grenen (meaning ”the branch”) is at the very top of Denmark and the point where two oceans meet. Ever wanted to stand with two feet in different seas, here’s your chance!
Along the shore, there are lots of soft dunes, bunkers, birdlife – even seals – and a lighthouse to photograph – only your imagination is the limit here. The branch looks especially good from above, so, bring your drone if you have one.
As always, the soft light at the beginning and end of the day really improves the mood for photography here.
For those with difficulties walking, it’s possible to catch the tram called the “Sandworm” all the way to the end and back for 30DKK (€4), cash only. It leaves from the parking lot, but doesn’t have a set timetable, so patience is necessary.
Don’t forget to visit the old town with its charming yellow houses and red brick roofs or Solnedgangspladsen (the Sunset Spot), where you can witness the sun set below the North Sea.
Two Tricky Locations to Shoot
- The Sand-Covered Church
This place holds an intriguing history and is worth a visit if you’re in the area.
The church was built in the 14th century, but later demolished (except for the church tower) due to sand from nearby dunes moving and covering most of the church – as well as the entrance. Masses became too difficult to attend, and some 400 years after it was built, it was abandoned.
While the church tower is pretty and the history interesting, I , however, found it a little difficult to photograph. As the tower stands alone, you definitely have to get creative to get some shots that exceed standard tourist photography. My tip would be to use the surrounding trees, bushes and dunes to create some depth or the paths as leading lines. The good old trick of holding an object along the side of the lens to add a blurry foreground is also useful here.
- Lodbjerg Lighthouse
I don’t know what it is about lighthouses – maybe it’s the symmetry, the simple shape and usually gorgeous backdrop – but they’re just so pretty to look at! This lighthouse, however, was a struggle to shoot. I tried walking around it and away from it, tried to use the surrounding trees for depth and holding items in front of the lens, but just couldn’t find a good angle or get any good shots of it – at all. Perhaps, if one tried to get even further away from the lighthouse, it would be possible to use the surrounding landscape as a buffer, but, unfortunately, I didn’t manage to. Maybe using a drone would improve the angle, too.
Feel free to send me a successful shot from this location if you have one, and I will include it in the post with credit!
Here they are: Five Fantastic Photo Locations in Northern Denmark that, in my opinion, are definitely worth your time – as well as two locations that aren’t easy to photograph. If you have suggestions to other photogenic locations and tricky places to catch on camera, please leave them in the comments below.