The Danes consider this something of a Riviera, while Americans liken it to Cape Cod. At the Jutland peninsula’s—and mainland Europe’s—northernmost tip pointing into the North Sea, the small weather-hardened fishing communities who for centuries inhabited these heathered moors and sea-swept coastline have been joined by a thriving artists’ colony—and the tourists who followed. All were lured by Skagen’s simple life—the characterful town and the unspoiled dunes.
The small but excellent Skagen Museum illustrates works of the local, late-19th-century impressionist movement that was inspired by the land- and seascapes, and the shifting colors and quality of the light here. Writers have been equally moved: Isak Dinesen wrote much of Out of Africa while a guest at the wonderfully charming, gabled Br0ndums Hotel. Creaking floors and antique- furnished sitting rooms make this feel like a private home, one distinguished by a number of old paintings given in exchange for lodging. The 150-year-old inn’s intimate dining room produces exceptionally fresh and delicious meals, with a predictable accent on seafood. Every morning at dawn, the local townfolk have the pick of the best at the wharfs barnlike fish-auction house before the day’s catch is spoken for and shipped off to markets all over northern Europe.