The Nordic concept of friluftsliv, or unwinding the outdoors, includes troll hunting. Denmark is a country of fairy tales, and trolls are everywhere in Denmark, so troll hunting in Denmark has become a popular activity for Danes as well as visitors.
The Good Luck Troll was created by Thomas Dam in the 1930s and has been a symbol of happiness in the country ever since. It’s the inspiration behind the Trolls and Trolls World Tour films. Why not join us in a tour of the best places in Denmark to spot them?
During the pandemic in Denmark, Danes were lured outdoors in an inventive way – by trolls. World-renowned recycle artist Thomas Dambo created 10 new sculptures around the country in a project he called The Great Troll Folk Fest. Dambo also placed a series of “giants” around Copenhagen in 2016 and 2017. His goal was to encourage Danes to explore nature through a troll treasure hunt, complete with a troll map.
North Jutland’s Troll Museum is the Home of the good luck troll, and tells the story of how Thomas Dam created them. Housed in the old troll factory at Gjøl, this is a fun museum where you can see plenty of examples of these magical characters through the ages.
In Copenhagen’s Nordhavn (North Harbour) you find the gigantic troll sculpture Kaptajn Nalle, looking tired from dragging his boat on a rope. In a fairy tale in Dambo’s book, Trail of a 1000 Trolls, Kaptajn Nalle wakes up from a long nap to discover that while he was sleeping, urban development caused the harbor to fill up with rubble and now the shoreline moved three miles out. “That is why Kaptajn Nalle is pulling his boat back to the shore,” says Thomas Dambo.
Related: People and Trolls in Copenhagen
Another terrific troll to seek out in Copenhagen is Hilltop Trine, located in Hvidovre, a suburb eight miles from the tourist bustle of Nyhavn. She is lying on a ridge next to a serene farmhouse, with chickens scarpering past her feet and two children sitting in her outstretched hands.
To hunt for Dambo’s first pandemic troll, you can take the M4 metro to the last stop, Orientkaj, and walk through industrial areas filled with shipping containers to an open area. The old harbour of Copenhagen is undergoing commercial development, and a highway tunnel will be built in the area where Dambo’s old workshop is located, not far from Kaptajn Nalle
There’s a delightful picture of a troll sitting outside his cave in the Hirschsprung Collection in Copenhagen. It’s included as part of a trail during the Christmas period – children can search for the troll with his red hat through the gallery and typically get a small gift when they find its hiding place.
In Vallensbæk Mose nature reserve you can meet the oversized eyes of a 15ft troll made of recycled scrap, wood and peering through the forest.
Related: Ten Hours With the Trolls in Norway
If there’s anywhere you’re likely to see a troll in the wild, it’s in the Troll Forest near Tisvildeleje in North Zealand. Twisted trees bend and curve around forest paths, and date back to the last years of the 18th century. The strange formations are due to a combination of the wind and the effect of pine worm larvae, and have been protected for over a hundred years.
The local troll on Bornholm is called Krølle Bølle and he lives in Sandvig in the north of the island. If you’re out late, you might see him – he tends to come out at midnight and he’s about the size of an eight-year-old, with a red hat on.
Trolls, gnomes and pixies thrive at Etly Klarborg Gammelbo near Aalborg in North Jutland. It’s the location where some popular Danish trolls and pixie figurines are made, and you can see art exhibitions on the same theme here too. Every Sunday in Advent, you can take a walk here to discover the ‘Nisse’, Denmark’s Christmas Pixies, who hide in the woods.
Troll Hunting in Denmark, compiled by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): Captain Nalle