Discovering Skagen, Denmark's answer to St Tropez09/26/2023
Secrets of the Scandi jet set: Skagen is Denmark’s answer to St Tropez but remains delightfully quiet and old-fashioned
- Ulla Kloster visits Skagen, a fishing village in the north of mainland Jutland
- She learns that Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik is a regular visitor
- READ MORE: The world’s 50 best hotels for 2023 revealed
Can you keep a secret? Skagen in Denmark won’t mean much to people outside Scandinavia, but in the summertime, those in the know wouldn’t be seen anywhere else.
That’s when this quiet fishing village in the north of mainland Jutland is transformed into a buzzing resort, with rosé wine flowing and Bentleys blocking the streets.
Some call it the St Tropez of the North, if several degrees cooler. Locals call it ‘Week 29’, a cheeky reference to Hellerup, the smart Copenhagen suburb whose postcode is 2900.
It’s nearly half a century since I last stood on the northern tip of Skagen, one foot in one ‘ocean’ and the other foot in another. It’s where the North Sea collides with the Baltic Sea the perfect selfie moment.
I have vague memories of the long grass on the sand dunes cutting our legs as we ran for the beach. These days, Skagen’s popularity is a lot to do with Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik, first spotted here some 20 years ago with his Scandi jet-set friends.
Ulla Kloster travels to the fishing village of Skagen in Denmark, which some call the ‘St Tropez of the North’
The families behind Lego and Maersk shipping are also regulars, and, says one local who just about tolerates the summertime upheaval: ‘People come to network because most wealthy Danish families have a holiday home here. But we’ve had royals cycling around the village for over 100 years, so we’re not sure what the fuss is all about.’
It was another famous Dane who put this once-poor outpost of Denmark on the map. In 1859, Hans Christian Andersen decided on a staycation and ended up in Skagen. He loved it, wrote about it and persuaded his friends to visit. Seventy-seven years later, Karen Blixen arrived to finish her novel, Out Of Africa.
There are beautiful beaches on the West coast, especially the sandy stretch above Skagen, called Grenen. However, because of the clashing seas, swimming is dangerous in places. Out of season, though, you can have miles of creamy-coloured beach to yourself: just you, the soft sand and the noisy, powerful waves of the North Sea.
In 1859, Hans Christian Andersen decided on a staycation and ended up in Skagen. Above is a 19th-century church in the village
‘There are beautiful beaches on the West coast, especially the sandy stretch above Skagen, called Grenen (above),’ says Ulla
As Skagen is one of Denmark’s main fishing ports, rodspætte, or plaice, is on almost every menu. I found the best at Skagen Fiskerestaurant crisp, spicy and piled high on shrimps and salad.
The restaurant itself is pure charm: rustic with sand on the floor, flowers on tables and a band singing cheesy Scandinavian hits from the 1970s and 1980s.
Ryebread is another national obsession. It’s part of the traditional smorrebrod (open sandwich), and you’ll find plenty at the coolest cafe, Saxild, which is run by a team of young foodies.
Skagen’s popularity is a lot to do with Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik, who was first spotted here some 20 years ago with his Scandi jet-set friends. Above is the lighthouse down the coast from the village
Broendums Hotel from £100pp single room (broendums-hotel.dk); Color Hotel from £140pp (skagenhotel.dk). For more information: enjoynordjylland.com and visitdenmark.com. Midweek flights from Stansted to Aalborg cost around £150 return in August with ryanair.com.
I cycled everywhere, visiting the Coast Museum (Kyst), which shows the harsh conditions the North Sea fishing families lived under. There’s even a teddy bear museum, Skagen Bamsemuseum, stocked with 1,000 stuffed toys.
And let’s not forget the shopping: lots of it. My favourite was Blomsterværkstedet (The Flower Workshop).
Pots and plants are displayed outside 24/7, and customers can pay by mobile phone. ‘We’ve never had a problem with people not paying,’ says an assistant.
I stayed at the iconic Broendums Hotel, the beating heart of Skagen. Rooms in the main building have no en-suites, but a beautiful shared bathroom.
Living in this old-fashioned way for a couple of days was a pleasant surprise, not least because of the beautiful decor, 19th-century Nordic country house, pastel colours, stripy wallpaper and those wooden floors.
When Andersen checked into room 102, he was in a grumpy mood after a long bumpy ride in a horse-drawn carriage. The proprietor’s pregnant wife became so nervous, it’s said, that she went into labour.
Her daughter Anna became a famous painter, who, with her husband Michael Ancher, created the Skagen Painters artists’ community, and their entire art collection now belongs to the public.
Visiting Skagen was like travelling back in time to a life lived at a slower pace. But it’s also an eye-opener to how this small village became arguably Scandinavia’s most sought-after holiday destination.
Source: Read Full Article