Skagen lies at the utmost tip of North Jutland, surrounded by rugged landscapes, sand dunes and miles of white, sandy beaches. The harbour of Skagen is on the eastside, where the calm Baltic Sea, or Kattegat as it is called here, makes it easier for ships and ferries to arrive. About 4km away on the west side is Gammel Skagen, on the North Sea or Skagerak, where the surf pounds the shore and people come every night to watch the beautiful sunsets.
The area has got a special kind of light, which gave the region its nickname, and attracted many painters to the town at the end of the 19th century, and it seems like the rough fisherman and the artists got on fine and made Skagen the unique place it now is. Fisherman still go out to catch fresh fish every day like they used to do centuries ago, but today there is also a yacht marina and ferries go to Sweden and Norway from here.
The painters of the so called Danish Golden Age also left their legacy, there are several outstanding art museums with the Skagens Museum (www.skagensmuseum.d-k) having the largest collection of paintings by artists who lived in the area, and dozens of galleries and workshops for ceramic and glass objects.
Who could resist standing with one foot in the North Sea and the other one in the Baltic Sea? In Skagen, or to be more precise in Grenen, you can. You drive for ca. 5km, past three lighthouses, until you arrive at a car park. From here you have a choice of how to get to the end of the sandy stretch where Skagerak and Kattegat meet. You can, for a small fee, ride on the Sandormen, a vehicle I would describe as a mixture between a bus and a tractor that takes you within meters of ‘the’ spot.
Or you can, and I would definitely recommend this option, walk the half hour along the beach. You’ll walk past the grave of Holger Drachmann, one of the Skagen painters, and a bunker on the beach, but after that it’s just you, the sand, the sea and the sky (and the other people who chose to walk). Winds can be strong and swimming is forbidden due to the strong undercurrents, but do watch the two different kinds of seas: one gently lapping at the sand, the other with meter-high breakers.
16km to the southwest of Skagen is Rabjerg Mile, Denmark's largest drifting sand dune and it is absolutely amazing.
It is 2 km long and 800m wide and up to 40m high and the fine white sand moves at a speed of up to 20m a year. It started its journey in the 1600s during the great sand drift and has been moving east, 4km so far. Another 4km and it will have reached the Kattegat, burying everything beneath them.
This place is very popular, but big enough to find your own little spot and to sit down and ponder the amazing powers of nature. There is no charge to visit the dune, no tacky souvenir shops, just a car park. And amazingly no litter.
There is a bus service from Skagen during the summer.
You really are in luck if you like fish and seafood, here it couldn’t be served fresher. In Skagen, right by the fishing and yacht harbour on Fiskehuskaj, is a row of converted fish warehouses and guess what? Everyone of them is a fish restaurant with rows of tables and wooden benches out front. So how do you choose between them?
It all depends of how much you want to spend and what kind of service you would like. If you are happy with self-service and eating your cod and chips of a plastic plate you can, or you can go for a more upmarket option with table service, proper china and a more refined cuisine.