Things to do

In search of Copenhagen’s “Forgotten Giants”

Troll-Spotting: X marks the spot in this charming troll treasure hunt around Copenhagen that blends art and sustainability with delightful outdoor adventure

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Text and pictures by Casey Blaine

Looking for inspiration to get outside and explore during Denmark’s darker, drearier months? How about a little troll hunting?

Let’s face it, ‘tis the season to hunker down, and summoning up the enthusiasm to leave a comfy couch, Netflix, and a soft blanket can be a challenge. But multiple studies have shown that spending time outdoors during winter’s long, grey months can be hugely beneficial to health and mental well-being.

Lucky for Copenhageners celebrated recycled materials artist Thomas Dambo has created a magical local adventure well worth the effort of bundling up and heading outside.

Dambo’s wildly imaginative troll sculptures are stunning to behold. Whimsical and larger than life, they are crafted entirely from reclaimed materials and intentionally hidden away in forests and outlying areas in an effort to encourage exploration and curiosity.

Dambo’s playful trolls can be found in countries around the world, from Singapore to the US, but the artist’s heart clearly lies in his homeland, Denmark, where he has homed several enchanting characters, along with a treasure map with clues as to where to find them.

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Several of what Dambo calls the “Forgotten Giants” live within or a bike ride away from Copenhagen’s centre, and I couldn’t resist the challenge to find as many as possible.

I invited along my husband and plucky out-of-town guests who were excited to experience Copenhagen in an adventurous way. Using the Troll Map on Dambo’s website here and help from Google Maps, we mapped out a plan to bike to seven trolls within 15 km of the city centre:

Little Tilde (Vallensbæk)
Oscar under the bridge (Ishoj)
Green George (Christianshavn)
Bjarke Cirkelsten (Dragør)
Sleeping Louis (Rødovre)
Ivan Evigvår (n.b.recently moved to Mariager, North Jutland)
Lang Liv (Skrædderholmen)

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Ours was admittedly an ambitious plan. While these trolls are all within 15 km of the city centre, in most cases, they are not very close to one other. This meant a lot of backtracking and sometimes lengthy rides between sculptures.

For us, this was all part of the challenge and fun. However, if you have young children or simply prefer an easy, quick outing, then visiting just one troll is reward enough and easily done in an hour or two.

When a friend visited recently with just one afternoon to spare, we biked a few kilometers from her hotel in Indre By to Nordhavn to greet the bearded, boat-toting Kaptajn Nalle, then went on to a delicious dinner nearby. It was a unique, memorable way to share Copenhagen with her.

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To get started, open the Troll Map on Dambo’s website. Click on an “X” that lies in an area you’d like to explore. Here you’ll find a troll’s name and picture, and a rough location. From there, you can turn to Google Maps, typing in the troll’s name and mapping yourself to the precise location.

You can certainly approach this treasure hunt by car rather than bike but note that some walking is necessary. The trolls are placed in out-of-the-way spots (with the exception of Green George, who sits at the entrance to Freetown Christiana), often in a forest or in an area accessible only by foot or bike.

If you drive, expect to have to park nearby and then walk a bit,- anywhere from a few hundred meters to 500 meters, to find the troll. So don’t forget your comfortable walking shoes.

As with any outdoor activity in Denmark, especially in the colder months, always check the weather first and be prepared with suitable gear, as well as a thermos of something warm to drink and snacks to stay refreshed and energized.

The rewards of troll-chasing are not just the memorable photos you’re sure to take, and the beneficial fresh air and exercise, but also the exposure to interesting, underappreciated areas around Copenhagen that you’re unlikely to encounter otherwise.

Best of all, no matter how old you are, this treasure hunt is bound to bring out the kid in you, a priceless feeling that can definitely help light the way through winter’s long, grey months.

You can find out more about Thomas Dambo on his website,, which includes information, Troll Map and video links detailing Dambo’s mission and passion.

Oscar under the bridge (Ishoj)
Kaptajn Nalle (Nordhavn)
Green George (Christianshavn)
Bjarke Cirkelsten (Dragør)
Sleeping Louis (Rødovre)
Little Tilde (Vallensbæk)
Ivan Evigvår (found in Sydhavn, but recently moved to Mariager, North Jutland)

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