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Your West Jutland staycation

For travel within Denmark’s borders, the area around Esbjerg has lots to offer.

Photograph: Visit Ribe & Esbjerg

Text: Catriona Turner

As Denmark emerges blinking into the summer, we are starting to venture beyond our neighbourhoods and adjust to a new normal. Large gatherings may still be out of reach, and keeping a vigilant distance still important, but with cautious optimism, we can start to think about holidays and a well-earned break.

Mind you, with the borders still closed at the time of writing, and likely to remain so for a while, summer holidays are going to look very different; jetting off to Spain is no longer an option.

An unpredictable year

Meanwhile, there won’t be the usual tourism arriving in Denmark from abroad: no Germans driving across the border for their coastal break; no UK families taking Lego-themed holidays. This is likely to have a significant impact on the Jutland economy. According to Pia de Place, Head of Tourism for VisitRibeEsbjerg, this has the potential to be ‘a huge problem. It’s going to be a strange year. We can’t predict the behaviour of tourists in 2020.’

But, she says, ‘We are ready to welcome all tourism.’ Which is reassuring for those of us who are looking forward to making the most of a Danish ‘staycation’, and to exploring more of our host country.

Whether you’re based locally and have yet to experience all that brings Danish and German visitors to our doorstep, or you’re a Copenhagener ready to visit ‘the other side’ of Denmark, there are lots of options in West Jutland, for days out or longer stays, and for all interests.

"By contrast, Esbjerg is the youngest town in Denmark. aside from its iconic and dramatic sculpture, man meets the sea, it also offers visitors Denmark's longest shopping street."

Culture and nature

Phase three of Denmark’s reopening, taking place this month, will allow cultural attractions to welcome visitors. The art galleries and museums in Ribe, Esbjerg, and Fanø, and around Varde, will be able to open for business, including Ribe’s new Hex! Museum of witch hunts, scheduled to open next month. You can read more about the cultural attractions in the area in my January article: Get a Culture Shot.

Then there’s the town of Ribe itself, the oldest in Scandinavia, with walking tours, panoramic views from the Domkirke tower, and Viking history to discover.

By contrast, Esbjerg is the youngest town in Denmark. Aside from its iconic and dramatic sculpture, Man Meets the Sea, it also offers visitors Denmark’s longest shopping street.

The coastline north and south of Esbjerg is dominated by the natural attractions of the Wadden Sea (Vadehavet) National Park. The shallow wetlands create unique opportunities for birdwatching or seal-spotting. Beaches and forests nearby make it easy to absorb the benefits of nature, and there are the soothing island retreats of Mandø and Rømø.

Somewhere to switch off

If it’s a relaxing getaway you’re after, beach resorts around Blåvand and on Fanø can keep everyone in the family active and occupied, or find one of the coastline’s glamorous strand hotels for a luxury retreat. Since hotels have never actually been closed, they’ll be ready to welcome new guests any time.

Meanwhile, the summer houses dotted between the coastal sand dunes are another great option (read Erin’s guide to Danish Summer House Rules from last month), and there are countless campsites with wide-open spaces for pitching tents or motor homes. Days out further afield can take you to Billund, for family entertainment, or perhaps south to the charming village of Møgeltønder and its regal Schackenberg Slot.

I’m looking forward to renting a motor home and taking in a few of these West Jutland spots. What are your Danish staycation plans?

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