Connect with nature and yourself on The Archipelago Trail
Get Nina’s tips for hiking on The Archipelago Trail.
Nine years ago, childhood memories of family sailing trips across the South Fyn Archipelago brought Nina Brandt Jacobsen from Copenhagen to Fyn – back to the compelling scenery, which has become a big part of her work in the field of outdoor tourism.
What makes hiking on The Archipelago Trail special?
- It’s really something to go hiking in a flooded ice-age landscape, which the archipelago is. It is a unique place, even on a European scale. It’s easy to find peace of mind here, even though you are moving through a quite densely populated area. You are walking close to the sea, through open fields and thick forests – an amazing variety of landscapes and impressions.
As opposed to many other popular hiking paths, The Archipelago Trail is not overcrowded. With a total distance of 220 km, there is room enough for everyone to reach that state of calm, which so many people seek out when they go hiking in stunning natural surroundings.
Another characteristic trait of The Archipelago Trail is that it encourages you to visit many of the archipelago islands. Furthermore, and unlike many other Danish hiking trails, there aren’t many asphalt sections. The type of surface that you walk on affects your knees, and your body in general. So in that way, the Archipelago Trail is a rather gentle trail to walk, even though its slogan is ”tough but charming” – and the trail is physically demanding.
What is your favourite spot along the 220 km trail?
- I have many favourites! I love to go hiking on The Archipelago Trail on Ærø. There is an amazing island vibe, and this part of the trail is perfect for a weekend trip.
The section in Svanninge Bakker is also very special, the hills themselves are beautiful, and the views of the archipelago from up there are stunning.
The stretch from Lohals to Rudkøbing is exceptional as well, because the trail runs along the coast almost the entire time, you can see Fyn on the other side of the water, and you really get to experience Langeland’s varied nature.
Photo:Nina Brandt Jacobsen
Nina Brandt Jacobsen, 48 years old:
- Has more than 20 years of hiking experience and knows The Archipelago Trail like the back of her hand
- Ph.D. and consultant in the field of outdoor and nature tourism
- Experience as a hiking tour guide with Topas Rejser and Aktiv Øhav
Do you have any good tips for a first-time hiker wishing to experience The Archipelago Trail?
- A good starting point is buying the ’Archipelago Trail’ guidebook at one of the region’s tourist offices. The guidebook has suggestions for day trips, which is a good idea for a first hike. You might also want to try taking the bus out somewhere and then walk back from there. Returning to your starting point is a nice feeling, especially if you are hiking with children. Energy is always low at the end of a hike, and then it’s nice just finishing at home instead of having to wait for public transportation or arranging to be picked up.
Where can I spend the night along The Archipelago Trail?
- First you have to decide on the type of accommodation. It’s possible to bring along your tent, mat, and sleeping bag, and then find campsites along the way. But I would recommend that you book in advance. Especially if you are hiking with kids, it’s too risky to simply count on there being a vacant shelter or a free spot at the camping site.
There are plenty of options if you want to spend the night at a bed-and-breakfast. I myself prefer to sleep in a bed, mostly so I don’t have to carry a mat and sleeping bag, which can get very heavy – especially for the kids. Also, you don’t have to worry that much about rainy weather when you know you will soon arrive at a place where your clothes and shoes can get dry. Another option is to book a package deal with a tour operator – then everything will be taken care of.
What is your most memorable experience hiking on The Archipelago Trail?
- I’ve had so many memorable experiences! But I have to say Ærø tops the list. Hiking from Marstal to Ærøskøbing, eating a great dinner and spending the night there, then continuing the hike to Søby, hopping on a free bus to Ærøskøbing and taking the ferry back to Svendborg with exhausted legs. I absolutely love that trip! It’s definitely the one I’ve been on the most times, and I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of it.
I’ve also enjoyed serving as tour guide for groups of women from all over Denmark on hiking trips on The Archipelago Trail. When I see how astonished they are to discover that we have such natural beauty in Denmark, I get quite proud, actually. Some of them, who I have met again later on, have bought a summerhouse or plan to move here permanently, because they have fallen in love with the region.
How do I convince my kids to go hiking?
- I am currently hiking The Archipelago Trail bit by bit with my 14-year-old son. Everything over 10 km feels too far for him, and I think many children feel the same way. So it’s important to proceed at their pace.
But if you stuff your backpack with snacks, pack a good lunch, and perhaps some cocoa powder and a camping stove to boil water, then everything will work out fine.
Going hiking is a great opportunity to have a good chat since you’re moving at a slow pace. On our last trip, my son spoke constantly for almost two hours straight. In that way, hiking is perfect for getting closer as a family.
Good tips for hiking with kids
- Clarify what the purpose of the trip is: Is it about getting exercise? Or about spending some quality time together? The latter is a better selling point with kids.
- Involve your children when planning the trip. Talk about everything big and small: Where to go, and what to put in your snack packs. Do not underestimate the importance of snacks when hiking with kids.
- Turn on your phone’s GPS tracker, so the kids can brag about how far they’ve hiked. Remember to hit pause when you take a break in order to calculate your pace.
- When your kids are small, you can go hiking with them in a sling or a baby jogger. However, it’s more enjoyable from when they’re around 7 years old. At that age, they can join you on day trips, carrying their own little backpack.
- If you want to bring your children on longer hikes, it might be a good idea to book accommodation in advance at B&B’s or hostels. That way you don’t have to carry a lot of stuff.
- Remember to bring the proper equipment: Footwear that has been broken in. A good quality backpack suitable for your needs, your back, and the weather. Water bottle, rain poncho, sunglasses, sunscreen, band-aids, a cap and a light wool sweater. Then you’re good to go!