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Do we need to rent a car?

Hello, we will be a family of 5 traveling in July. My Mother is 82 and can do some walking, but not all day long. The rest of our group will be my husband and two kids, ages 12 and 16. We would like to visit places our Danish ancestors lived: Moen, Aarhus, Copenhagen, and maybe Aalborg. Our trip will be 7-10 days.
We live in the U.S. in a small town and are used to driving on the right side of the road.

For a group like ours, should we try to rent a car or use trains, buses, and taxis for transportation? My main concern is my Mother and making sure we can reach the places we want to go without our own car. But I am nervous about the idea of driving in a foreign country where I don't know the language or driving rules. Thank you.

Posted by
1940 posts

Short answer: No.

Copenhagen, Århus and Ålborg are three of the largest four cities in Denmark, they are well connected by train. And there are buses, trams and metro to get around the cities. Neither of them are car friendly and you really do not want to drive in any of them. For Mön, maybe. Depends on where you are going. There are no trains to the island, but you can take the train to Vordingborg and a bus from there, but for less central parts of the island a car can be useful.

Posted by
971 posts

Agree with Badger, for Copenhagen, Aalborg and Aarhus, there is no need for a car. Public transport is a little thinner on the ground on Møn, but it exists. You can use the travel planner www.rejseplanen.dk for all public transport in Denmark. Where do you plan to go on Møn? Check the planner to see if you can reach your destinations on Møn with busses or if a rental car would be better.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you for your replies, Badger and Morten. I will look into that travel planner site - I did not know about that.
I am glad to know a rental car may not be needed. In Moen, my ancestors came from many of the towns: Stege, Udby, Spejlsby, Keldby, Magelby, Busene, and maybe Lendemarke (not sure).
I am still doing research on my trip and I am not sure what there is to see in each town.
But I am so excited to see the places our ancestors lived and Moen looks beautiful in pictures.
Any advice is very welcome!! :-)
-Diana

Posted by
4820 posts

Di you say if you have ever been to Europe before? You are going to visit large, prosperous cities in a wealthy, developed country. I only say that to point out that you are deceiving yourselves if you believe you will be driving the car from museum to restaurant to hotel to viewing platform, parking at a free curb space each time. That's not going to happen, and not only because European cities have, in some cases, managed to escape the US conceit that a car is a like a horse in an 1840's western movie!

Think about what happens when you visit Chicago or Cleveland or Denver. That's more like the driving experience in those Danish cities. Even if you don't care about paying $20 every time you go to a garage, some of them may be valet garages with a big time delay to get the car back each time. You will be surprised how narrow the aisles and parking stalls in most European city garages are. A Chevy Suburban will not fit in most of them, even if you can rent one and drive a standard transmission.

In any European country, there is sometimes good reason for a car, when rural locations, church birth records, and barren wartime sites are the targets. But in the absence of detailed research on where you are going to take your mother, you have to tentatively assume that a car will be a hindrance, not a help.

A big question is whether she can climb the steps to trams and busses. But cities have taxi companies, too. You need to budget the car rental money for the taxis. It is a problem to fit 5 people in most cabs, however. It's worth trying to find out if there are minivan or similar options in your cities of choice.

Posted by
971 posts

In Moen, my ancestors came from many of the towns: Stege, Udby, Spejlsby, Keldby, Magelby, Busene, and maybe Lendemarke (not sure)

If you want to make the most of you time on Møn, I think you need a car apart from Stege, which is the main town on the island and Lendemarke which is practically a suburb of Stege, these places are small villages. Public transport will be infrequent and you probably wont spent much time in each place. with a car you can visit at your leisure and also explore the rest of the Island. Also this is practically country driving, so it is unlikely that you will encounter much trafic.

As far a sights go, this is a genealogy trip the obvious places of interests are the local parish churches, also they are usually the only places of interest in these small villages. Here you are lucky, since churches og Keldby, Elmelunde and Fanefjord on Møn are home to some of the best medieval frescos in Denmark, made by the so called Elmelunde Master https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elmelunde_Master
These frescos were the medieval versions of cartoons illustrations of the bible for the illiterate peasants, back when the church service were in latin (before 1534) and your ancestors must have spent hours upon hours looking at them. While Keldby church is most relevant to you, the most impressive ones are in Fanefjord Church. Personally my favorite part is the massacre of the innocents, it's rather gory!

Stege is a nice little town, but the only sights of interest are the church and a rather well preserved medieval city gate.

The main tourist draw of Møn are the impressive chalk cliffs on the eastern coast. The highest cliff is 128 meters above the sea below and they are some of the most impressive natural sights in Denmark. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%B8ns_Klint

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you Tim and Morten for you replies! My Mother is able to climb stairs, so we are OK there. I have been to Europe (Italy, France, Ireland, England, Spain- and all over Indonesia too) but has been 18 years since my last visit, and in the past I was very happy to walk everywhere and did not have the concern for my Mother's stamina. I want this trip to be a wonderful experience for her - she has wanted to see Denmark her entire life but never thought she would get there.

The comments about not fitting 5 in a taxi were very helpful, as well as the suggestion to perhaps rent a car for just the Moen part of the trip. I am very excited to see the cliffs and the frescoes - Moen has been part of family lore for as long as I can remember, but not much practical advice has accompanied the family lore! I appreciate the advice and suggestions very, very much! -Thank you.

Posted by
1940 posts

I agree that it sounds like a good idea to rent a car for Mön. See if you can rent one in Vordingborg as it means you can avoid the traffic closer to Copenhagen. On the island you can also find one of the tallest hills in Denmark.

For driving, the road signs in Denmark follow the international standard. If you are from a country that does not follow the international convention on road signs (like the US), you need to learn them. Which is not that hard. But any text on the signs will of course be in Danish.