If you have a free weekend this summer, pack your bags over the weekend and head to the northernmost part of the country’s Jutland peninsula, Skagen.
The northern Denmark port town looks like a romantic movie set with overlapping lanes of small yellow-painted houses with even smaller balconies, punctuated by boutiques and cafés.
The peaking yacht masts with their Danish, German and Norwegian flags can be seen as you approach the harbour from distance. As one heads to the harbour, a key thing to keep in mind is that the nearer to the harbour a seafood outlet, is the cheaper it gets.
Skagen Teddy Bear Museum (Skagens Bamsemuseum) is within cycling or walking distance from the harbour. It is the only museum of its kind in Scandinavia, and is filled by different sized and coloured teddy bears, resembling the giant bedroom of a very rich child.
20-30 minutes here is enough – unless you are accompanied by children, who quickly get attached to the bears.
It is advisable to check the opening hours on the museum’s website beforehand, since these vary on different days and months.
Teddies dressed as Skagen fishermen. Photo: charlotteshj/Flickr
There are a number of picturesque churches in Skagen, the most iconic being the former town church now known as The Buried Church (Den Tilsandede Kirke), which was abandoned at the end of the 18th century when it became increasingly buried by a sand drift. The church can still be visited today, and it is not difficult to climb to its highest window.
Den Tilsandede Kirke. Photo: Iris/Scanpix
Skagen Church, located at the top of the northernmost end of Denmark, a white-coloured building with red brick rooftop, is one of the town’s most visited and is open all days of the week.
Caution must be employed, especially by claustrophobics, while climbing up the stairway inside the church as it is both dark and narrow. The panorama view from the first as well as the second storey is quite beautiful.
Skagen Church. Photo: Iris/Scanpix
Exploring Skagen without going up a lighthouse is a bit ike visiting Copenhagen without getting a photograph clicked with the Little Mermaid statue. Skagen Fyr, a lighthouse that has been turned into a bird station with an exhibition about migratory birds, is a worthy visit.
The ticket price to climb the tower, inclusive of exhibition, varies according to age. Unfortunately, there are no student discounts. But the lighthouse provides the best view of Skagen and Grenen, especially on a sunny day, for under 100 kroner per person.
A lighthouse near Skagen. Photo: Iris/Scanpix
After the lighthouse, the long walk can begin along the seashore to the end of the northern tip of Denmark. The reward that awaits you is Grenen beach, the meeting point of two seas – Skagerrak and Kattegat.
The approximately five kilometre-long walk can be a bit rough due to the uneven surface with lots of hills and sand and stone underfoot, but is usually manageable with the right gear and company.
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Soon, you will witness the highlight of your Skagen trip: the top point, where the relentless waves from the two seas clash into each other without ever quite merging.
The two seas even have their own separate colours – one side of the meeting point is slightly muddy looking and the other one is serene blue with a tint of green.
The Skagerrak and Kattegat seas. Photo: Iris/Scanpix
To top it off, seals can often be spotted close to the meeting point of the seas, posing for photographs without too much concern for the tourists paddling into the water to try and get a good shot.
If your feet have given up, you can take a tractor back to the nearest parking area for 20 kroner. The tractor comes and leaves every 15 minutes and makes the trip less physically demanding, especially for people with disabilities and old persons or people with young kids.
Skagen also houses many famous art galleries and pottery shops, which are well worth exploring if time allows. It would, in fact, probably take two or three days to exhaust everything there is to see in the town.
Råbjerg Mile, a coastal dune between Skagen and the town of Frederikshavn, is well worth saving for the journey home.
Climbing up the dunes against quite strong winds will drain out all the energy left in you, but the dunes are a spectacular spot to watch the sunset. Also, the fine-grained sand gets everywhere, so best not to carry it around on your and body clothes for the whole day.
It resembles a desert, and the dune-covered area is often actually deserted – so it is advised to visit this spot with at least one other person, especially as the mobile signal is poor.
Råbjerg Mile. Photo: Rüdiger Stehn/Flickr
Skagen can be reached relatively easily by bus and train – if you have time – from big cities like Copenhagen (at least seven hours) and Aarhus (four hours), always involving at least one changeover in Frederikshavn.
Travel planning site Rejseplanen (available in English) is always the go-to stop for finding the best route. Contact rail operator DSB and individual bus companies for exact prices.
But the easiest way to travel to and within the town is by car.
It’s well worth knowing that if you are visiting Denmark for few weeks – that is, if you are not a student or resident – many rental companies will give you discounts.
It will also be necessary to buy a parking ticket, which applies to all the public parking spots in Skagen as well as the neighbouring Grenen area.
There is plenty of accommodation in the town, which relies heavily on its tourist industry, but this is weighted towards the middle and upper price ranges. A Hostelling International-affiliated Danhostel one kilometre from Skagen town centre is a good budget option. Checking availability in advance is advised in all cases, especially in peak season.
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