Many people head over to Jutland to visit Legoland, just as we did this summer but we were delighted to find a wealth of other amazing experiences in this area. We had booked to stay in Vejle for a week, with two days at Legoland, and we are unsure if there would be enough to occupy us for the rest of the week. However, we barely scratched the surface of the area and could easily have spent at least two weeks there and not been bored. If you are interested in Viking history or bog bodies (the latter in my case), then this is the area for you. So here are our cultural recommendations of things to do after you have been to Legoland!
Number One – Økolariet
There has been an enormous amount of investment from the local kommune in culture in Vejle and many of the museums and cultural attractions are free and excellent. We spent the whole afternoon at Økolariet (Ecolarium) in the centre of Vejle. They are keen to stress that this is not a museum but a knowledge centre and experimentarium. The basis of the centre is exhibitions and events geared to learning about nature, environment, energy, climate, food, health, sustainability and much more. It covers several floors and through the interactive displays you can learn all about the world around us. We loved walking on the bottom of a lake and underneath a forest but the big winner of the day was the workshop (there was a small charge for this) to build a rocket from recycled materials and then going out onto the roof garden to shoot it into space. They offer different exciting workshops through the year. The whole centre is well thought out to ensure that all visitors are engaged but also learn a lot about the environment without feeling preached to. The staff are enthusiastic and very ready to answer questions about the displays. The kommune will continue to support the Økolariet whilst there are still people enjoying it and visiting the centre so do go if you are in the area.
Address and website: Økolariet, Dæmningen 11, 7100 Vejle www.okolariet.dk
Number Two – Cultural Museum Spinderihallene
This is another cultural centre supported by the kommune and free to the public. The old cotton mill from 1896 when Vejle was the centre of the Danish textile industry has been restored and transformed into a home to some of Vejle’s new micro-industries and creative studios but is also home to a new heritage museum. The museum traces the history of the town from Viking times through the time when it was known as the Manchester of Denmark to modern times. Although you would probably only spend an hour or so here it is well worth a visit. They currently have the famous bog body from Haraldskær on display and the interactive displays centred around her are fascinating even for non bog body geeks. The highlight for us was the fantastic dance hall set up where you can get your disco moves on (and a variety of other dance styles) with an interactive screen and floor set up. My son and I had to be forcibly removed from this! There is a specific children’s section but I think the whole museum would be interesting for the whole family.
There were many other museums in the Vejle Museum family but sadly we didn’t have time to visit any others this time but here is information on them all.
Address: Spinderigade 11, 7100 Vejle Website
Number Three – Kongernes Jelling
The Kongernes Jelling experience centre and the UNESCO hertiage site is also well worth a visit, we tagged it onto our journey home after a day spent in Århus but I wish now we had allowed more time as there was so much more we wanted to see but ran out of time.
Again this is a free museum and a fabulous one at that. I have not seen the high level of interactivity in a visitors’ centre ever and I take my hat off to the team that worked on this place. Jelling is known as the birthplace of Denmark and famous for two massive rune stones, one of which is it said the word Denmark was first written. There are also two enormous burial mounds. No one can disagree that this is a massively significant place for Danish and Viking history but by opening such as amazing visitors’ centre on the site, the National Musuem of Denmark has made sure this is a location that fascinates and enthrals even the casual visitor. Once again the policy to make the best use of the roof top when designing new buildings has come into play here. From the flat roof you can see over the burial mounds but the real innovation is the digital binoculars from which you can look in detail at the surrounding area not just as it is now but by using a dial you can change the view to times past to see how the area has changed and developed over the centuries. I may have mentioned before that we are fans of museums but this place made such an impression on my son, he is still talking about it. And to think that we nearly didn’t go, don’t make the same mistake!
Address: Gormsgade 23, 7300 Jelling Website
Next time we are in Vejle, I would love to head over to Silkeborg Museum, further north to see Tollund Man, arguably the most famous bog body and also visit many more of the Viking and historic sights in the area. If you are looking for more inspiration check this website out.