| 23°C Dublin

Need to know

Getting there

Irish Ferries (0818 300 400; irishferries.com) and Stena Link (01-204 7777; stenaline.co.uk) sail four times daily from Dublin Port to Holyhead. They both offer 'swift' (just under two hours) and 'cruise' (just over three hours) options.

Irish Ferries' return trip for two adults and an infant in a saloon car costs approximately €388.

DFDS Seaways (dfdsseaways.co.uk) are the kingpins on the Harwich to Esbjerg route. Sailing up to four times weekly from the UK, the overnight sailing arrives in Denmark at lunchtime the following day.

A return trip for the same family will cost about €1,066.

Staying there

In Denmark, each town hosts its own website. Just put 'visit' before the place name. For example, Ribe is on visitribe.dk.

On there, you'll find B&Bs, which are all priced at 450 DKK (Danish Krone; €60 for two people; children go free).

In Laholm, Sweden, Sabyholms Gard Manor is run by Cattie and Knut Slettengren (sabyholmsgard.se). Both speak perfect English (0046 705 688 848).

Accommodation for a couple (children go free) costs 800 SEK (Swedish Kronor) per night -- about €96.

Great things to do

• Nestled in the Danish countryside, just outside Vejle City and near Jelling town, look for Hopballe Molle Restaurant. Treat yourself to the buffet-style lunch as they serve up wonderful Danish cuisine of ground meats, pickled fish and open sandwiches (smorrebrod).

• In Laholm, early autumn visits are perfect for forest lane strolls and a visit to the local dams around Sabyholms Gard to spot the wildlife. Ask for directions to the nearby wine cellar in Bonnarp, for a little tasting.

• Fancy the wilder side of the outdoors? Try your hand at clay-pigeon shooting or even hunting, if you're feeling courageous enough.

As for winter, well, there's nothing for it but to grab a pair of skis, and go cross-country.

Weekend Magazine