Ribe was the last place my parents and I visited when we explored Denmark together last year, but this charming small town also was the one place that impressed me most!
Not only is Ribe, in south-west Jutland, Denmark's oldest town, it also has plenty of present-day attractions to offer. But see it with your own eyes:
7 reasons that make Ribe worth a detour
1. VIKING HERITAGE
As Denmark's oldest town, it shouldn't come as a surprise that you can find Viking heritage in Ribe. The amount of which, however, is astounding!
Ribe has actually been quite a Viking stronghold and today, you can find a Viking museum and a Viking experience centre in town! At Ribes Vikinger, you can learn more about the Vikings, but also the town of Ribe itself, and how it developed throughout history. There you'll also learn, for instance, all about the big fire in 1580 that destroyed over 200 houses!
Ribe Vikinge Center is a reconstructed Viking village that only opens during the summer, where you'll get to be a Viking for a day. This open-air museum has a more hands-on approach and there are different activities for guests throughout the summer months, for example archery, wood carving, a falconry show, warrior training for kids and even an international Viking market!
2. MEDIEVAL HISTORY
Did you know that Ribe was an important trading centre in medieval times?
The town served as a link of the Hanseatic League in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and the Baltics, with Scandinavia! Situated only an hour from Germany, Ribe's location halfway between Scandinavia and the countries of the Hanseatic League made it a strategic hub for all kinds of trade.
You can learn more about the city's history at Ribes Vikinger, or just wander around the old town to admire the 16th century houses that were rebuilt after the big fire (many of which are protected today) - and don't forget to check out the gorgeous cathedral that took 100 years to be built!
3. THE BEST ICE-CREAM OF DENMARK?
Ribe has a good old ice-cream parlour called Isvaflen right in the centre of the old town, where people were queuing up even on a cold day in April!
I can't imagine what the crowds must be like in the heat of summer but one thing is for sure: their ice-cream is the best!
4. A HALF-TIMBERED PARADISE
As I mentioned earlier, many of the old buildings of Ribe are protected. The half-timber style of the buildings in town is typical for the region along the North Sea, and let's be honest, there are few architectural styles that can beat half-timber construction, right?!
5. DOORS OF RIBE
Speaking of architecture, Ribe also has the most fascinating doors to admire!
6. THE WADDEN SEA
Ribe is located at the Wadden Sea National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site - an intertidal zone in the southern part of the North Sea. It's an extremely low-lying area of wetlands, where, when the tide is out, you can go for a hike on the ground of the sea!
You can learn more about this spectacular stretch of land (or sea, I guess?!) at Vadehavscentret (the Wadden Sea Centre), just outside of Ribe. There, you can either have a look at their exhibitions or join a mudflat walk!
7. ESBJERG'S MEN AT SEA
Ribe is part of Esbjerg Municipality and while Esbjerg is a rather industrial town, it has one gigantic highlight: the Men at sea!
These four white statues, that are nine metres tall and overlook the ocean, have been designed by the local artist Svend Wiig Hansen. The statues are located right next to the beach and can be seen from the ocean by any ships that enter or leave Esbjerg harbour.
Right across the street, you'll also find the Maritime Museum of the area!
How to get to Ribe
The best way to get to Ribe would be to travel by car. The town is situated 2 hours from Aarhus and 1 1/2 hours from Odense. It makes for a lovely day trip if you're going for a road trip around Denmark or are on your way to one of the many islands of the country!
The town itself is best explored on foot and there are two parking lots just outside of the old town, across the canal (P-Syd and P-Nord).
You can also reach Ribe by train from Esbjerg.
Where to stay in Ribe and surroundings
If you can't get enough of colourful doors, half-timbered buildings and the Wadden Sea, consider staying the night! Ribe has hotels in all price categories to choose from, for example:
- Danhostel Ribe - A hostel with private bathroom and free WiFi, and a view of either Ribe's old town or the Wadden Sea!
- Ribe Byferie Resort - Holiday apartments with private kitchen and bathroom, only a 10-minute walk from the old town!
- Den Gamle Arrest - A former prison turned hotel, right next to the cathedral!