West of Helgenæs, 16 kilometres across the Bay of Aarhus, lies Aarhus, the second-largest city in Denmark. Ten kilometres to the east is the small coastal town of Ebeltoft, with a well-developed tourism industry comprising marinas and summer rentals in the surrounding countryside, including Helgenæs. Five kilometres to the northwest is Skødshoved, another minor peninsula of Mols. Villages on Helgenæs are Kongsgårde, Borup and Fejrup. Just north of Helgenæs is the large recently inaugurated Mols Bjerge National Park, comprising most of the entire Djursland region.
The name, Helgenæs, derives from Danish words hellig (holy) and næs (headland), and the earliest written sources from 1230, spelled it "Hælghænæs". Inhabitants of Helgenæs are known as Helboere (singular: Helbo).
As nearly all of Denmark, Helgenæs was formed at the end of the last ice age some 12,000 years ago. The narrowest part of the peninsula, Dragsmur, is 240 meters wide. It is said that the Vikings, when sailing in and out of the Bay of Aarhus transported their longships across the narrow section, perhaps by rolling them on tree trunks. By doing this, they were able to save approximately 4 nautical miles (7 km) of travel.
The waters around Helgenæs was the site of a larger naval battle in 1043, when the exiled king Sven Estridsen attacked and battled King Magnus the Good here in order to reclaim the throne of Denmark. Sven lost, but regained the throne only a few years later, as Magnus died by other means in 1047.
The local association of "Helgenæs Præstegård" was established in 2011 in order to mediate the cultural history of Helgenæs to both locals and visitors alike. They are based in a restored former parsonage farmhouse just east of Fejrup.