It’s summer here in Denmark, although someone forgot to tell the weather today. During a few weeks in the summer, as with many other European countries, many of Denmark’s businesses close their doors for a few weeks. This is usually vacation, or holiday time, for many of Denmark’s families. Even the Børnehave (Kindergarten) and the Dagplejer (Childminder) are closed.
Many Danes will go to a summer house within Denmark, perhaps on one of the smaller islands like Bornholm. The summer house vacation is a real tradition in Denmark, I suppose like the caravan sites that I remember going to with my Nan back in the UK when I was little.
As we’re still quite new to our life here in Denmark, we haven’t gone away or to a summer house, or on any other type of vacation. That means we have our 2 and 3 year old at home for four weeks and a desperate need to fill some of that time with activities.
Luckily, two of my favourite shops, Flyer Tiger Copenhagen and Søstrene Grene are both Danish companies and have stores in Silkeborg. These are great shops with inexpensive gifts, homewares and activities for children galore. The good news is that they are also now in the UK. Soøstrene Grene only has a couple of stores, I think, but Flying Tiger is growing rapidly (they now have some 800 stores worldwide!)
If you haven’t visited one of these yet, now is the perfect time as we go into the UK school summer holidays!
We were also invited last week to Aqua, Silkeborg’s aquarium and wildlife park with some of my Danish family.
Aqua is situated on the outer edge of the city and is accessible mainly by car. As you pull in, it looks rather like a business park, indeed there are some offices close by. Heading inside, however, opens up this amazing place. The first thing you see of course is the ticket desk where you purchase entrance or show your pre-paid tickets and then you go through to the main part of the aquarium. This indoor section is a well thought out and interesting area with a multitude of different marine animals and detailed information provided in at least 4 different languages. What I loved about it, though, were the open tanks with fish / marine animals in that the children could interact with by dipping their hands into the water and touching the fish. This tactile interaction was perfect for my two younger ones and kept them entranced.
As part of the package that we had, we also went on a boat trip. This included a talk from one of the specialists at Aqua about the types of wildlife we might see around the lake (silkeborg is somewhat dominated by the beautiful lakes). For me, and my limited Danish, this wasn’t entirely engaging as I couldn’t really understand it, and it was a bit advanced for my little ones too so I spent much of time time trying to stop my children climbing overboard and admiring the beautiful (and very expensive) houses that line the lake.
Following the boat trip and a good stint in the aquarium, we went for lunch in the café at the centre. This was inexpensive and really very good with substantial adult plates and a good quality and selection for the children too.
Finally, we went to the outdoor area. This is what really surprised me. Behind the main building, the centre just opens out at there is a beautiful wildlife park that you can explore as well as a huge play area for children including lots of water play, all based on the theme that water is the essential ingredient for life and looking at sustainability and useage. From the outside, you would never have imagined that all this was nestled behind the aquarium. In all honesty, you could spend the day just in this part of Aqua and get you money’s worth.
Outside there was also a kiosk for drinks and snacks and ice cream as well as toilet facilities, of course. Something that really took my attention, however, was the free grill. This was a large hot-plate style grill provided by Aqua for it’s guests to use as they wish, it was hot and ready to use and you can bring your own food, cook it up on the grill and eat in the park. I have never seen this anywhere I have visited (in the UK I suspect businesses would be too worried about lawsuits from burnt fingers or badly cooked food causing stomach trouble) but I think it is a fantastic idea.
All in all, Aqua Silkeborg is a fantastic place to visit. Given their age, it’s sometimes hard to find something that will really captivate my children and hold their attention but the open fish tanks in the aquarium and the park and water park outside definitely captivated them and won us all over.
I might have even had a little play with the water guns myself…
I would highly recommend Aqua for anyone visiting Silkeborg who wants to have a relaxed day seeing something different. Well worth it.
If you would like more information about Aqua, their website is here. This post is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Aqua or any other company, it’s just my honest thoughts.