This view of Ribe old town in Denmark was ours the last 31 years as managers at Danhostel Ribe– the hostel in Ribe. Now it is time for us to say goodbye, but before a new manager takes over next year, we’ll pay a tribute to our lovely town at wintertime in this last blog post.
If you like the atmosphere in a smaller town
you’ll certainly like Ribe. Ribe is a beautiful historic town by the North Sea and the UNESCO World Heritage Wadden Sea, not far away from Legoland or the German border.
Maybe You Should Rethink your Winter Break
If you want a break far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and had enough of noise and crowds, we suggest that you go for a winter break in a smaller town. Why not choose Ribe?
VisitDenmark – The official tourism and travel information guide to Denmark – mentions Ribe first in “Denmark’s prettiest towns” and Ribe was also recently voted “The winner of Europe’s Best Big-Time Small Destinations”
The authentic Ribe at wintertime
Winter is a great time to travel if you want to see the authentic Denmark. In winter everything seems much slower. Also, travel is cheaper (Link: the hostel’s offers) and Ribe is less touristy, when the peak season is over, and the starlings have danced their last so-called Black Sun dance by the end of October.
Black Sun is Denmark’s biggest natural phenomena. MNS recently mentioned it as one of the “24 of the coolest and most surreal natural phenomena on earth” while linking to our hostel’s explanation of the phenomena: Black Sun
Recommended blog posts about Christmas and winter in Ribe
No doubt that the Danish “hygge” lifestyle has become a new trend worldwide.
The Danish word “Hygge” made it to the shortlist of Oxford Dictionaries international word of the year. It lost out to the word ‘Post-truth’ – but no doubt, the “hygge” lifestyle has become a popular gift to the world from Denmark.
Many Danes associate hygge (≈ cosiness) with Ribe old town – where winding cobblestone streets and alleys, half-timbered houses and crooked doors and windows make people feel comfortable and remind them of H. C. Andersen’s fairy tales.
The Viking town Ribe
Ribe is Denmark’s – as well as Scandinavia’s – oldest town. This historic port town has pretty much seen it all. Vikings lived, worked and traded in Ribe when it was founded early in the 8th century AD, and soon became the largest trading centre of the Nordic countries.
The results of the latest archaeological finds and research convinced some archaeologists that the Viking Era started in Ribe and not in the year 793 AD, after the Vikings landed in England on the first official Viking raid.
Scandinavia’s first pedestrian street
You will see no buildings left from the Viking Age in Ribe, but when you stroll along Sct. Nicolai street, you walk on top of what was also Scandinavia’s first pedestrian street. In this street Vikings could go shopping food and clothes, but also luxury goods such as jewellery and knives. You can see many of the artifacts found here on display in Ribe Viking Museum at the end of the street.
The Medieval and Renaissance heritage of Ribe
Ribe has more than 120 preserved buildings, only Copenhagen has more, but they are scattered throughout the city, while in Ribe they are within walking distance from our hostel, Danhostel Ribe. Many medieval buildings can be seen in Ribe, and according to the Danish Agency for Culture, Ribe is Denmark’s best preserved Medieval town.
Many of the old buildings are Renaissance buildings from around 1580, due to a big town fire at that time.
Enjoy the silence – it has become a luxury
Peace and quiet has become a luxury in a noisy modern world. In Ribe you don’t have to pay extra to have a little privacy, space and silence.
In Ribe you can have space and silence
A walk along the river, Skibbroen, is a pleasant and relaxing experience for both mind and body.
A Mindful Walk in the Park
Alternatively, you could enjoy a walk in one of our beautiful parks. By the river in Ribe Art Museum‘s park, where Vikings once were busy traders, you may be lucky to watch several wintering birds, like ducks, swans, geese, and seagulls.
The best place to watch wildlife
If you really want to go birding in winter, is one of the best places in Denmark the Wadden Sea National Park, which attract huge flocks of overwintering birds.
A National Park and a UNESCO Site
When you walk along the quay, Skibbroen, you can see our hostel on the other side of the river. The meadow outside the hostel is part of a national park.
The Danish Wadden Sea National Park is the biggest national park in Denmark, but in Ribe only the meadow outside the hostel is part of it. Several times every winter the meadow is flooded, when the water level in the river rises all the way to the front of the hostel.
Parts of the Wadden Sea National Park in Denmark was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2014. For further information and adventures in the national park: Wadden Sea National Park and Storm Surges
Look up to see all the details
Street lamps, guild signs, roofs without gutters, and crosses carved in the timber uprights holding up the roof meant as protection against witches and witchcraft are all good examples of details. But if you want to know some of Ribe’s history, you should study our “self-guided walking tour of old town Ribe in Denmark” or read the story of Maren Spliid and other “witches” in Ribe. (you can find both articles in German and Danish on the hostel’s homepage too)
Wrap up warm and have a snowball fight
Dress in a woolly jumper or a warm coat and have a snowball fight, You can warm up with a cup of hot chocolate in one of the many cafés after.
Build a snowman
– or build a snowman on the meadow by the river just outside the hostel.
Do your Christmas shopping under festive lights
Christmas shopping always feels a little bit more authentic in the dark and under lovely lights. The pedestrian high street offers good Christmas shopping in the town centre of our historic town.
If you had enough of crowded Christmas markets
If you had enough of glittering and famous, but crowded Christmas markets around Europe, we can recommend Christmas shopping in Ribe. The weekends are a little busier than usual due to the many Christmas events.
A few more winter photos to enjoy
Never mind the weather
….if you stay at the hostel, you can just look out of the window.
But on the other hand: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.
Contact us or book Online at Danhostel Ribe: Contact
Everyone has a story to tell, and we heard quite a lot of them throughout the 30 years we were hostel hosts in Danhostel Ribe in Ribe, Denmark. Yet our recent guests, the world travellers Yoshihiro and Yuko Ishizawa from Japan, had a rather unusual travel story to tell.
Yoshi and Yuko started their world tour from Tokyo in August 2015 in this Mazda Scrum 660cc, and a year and a month later they arrived to Ribe and stayed a couple of nights in our hostel.
They have driven about 40.000 km and visited all these countries on their way: Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Holland and now Denmark.
From Ribe they went to Hirtshals to catch the ferry to Island, though travelling north is really out of their way, since their plan is after Iceland to go to Morocco through France and Spain and end in South Africa around May 2017.
Looking for a home abroad
Yoshi and Yuko tell they want to live abroad, so where they go, they are always looking for a house. They want to stay in a house that “has a good view, is cheap and quiet. If wild bears walk in the garden, it’s perfect!” It seems to have been very difficult for them to find a home that fulfils all these wished, since Yoshi and Yuko have been around the world since April 2005.
If you can recommend any places, please write it in the comments 🙂
In Ribe we have no bears walking around, but from the hostel we have the most amazing view of Ribe medieval town and Ribe River. The meadow, named “the Head Meadow” outside the hostel is part of the Wadden Sea National Park and has a horrifying history of beheaded pirates, whose heads were put on stake in Medieval times.
Black Sun – Starlings
Instead of bears Yoshi and Yuko enjoyed Denmark’s most famous natural phenomenon “Black Sun – Starlings” in Ribe. This photo is one of the photos, they took of this natural phenomenon. See more photos in their photo gallery of their travel blog.
Visiting Ribe because they love old towns
When Yoshi and Yuko visited Ribe, it was the first town/city they visited in Denmark. They choose to visit Ribe, because it is the oldest town in Denmark. They say “We love old towns. Ribe is beautiful, clean and quiet – very much. The hostel is clean, too, and a good place. We like Ribe and the hostel. We found the hostel using Maps.me (application).”
In their photo gallery you’ll notice that they not only love old towns but also old cars and motorcycles, since they took a lot of photos Tuesday evening on the meadow outside the hostel, when Ribe Classic had their weekly get-together. You can often see several hundred old cars these evenings. (See also: 10 things to do for free in Ribe – Denmark )
Working while travelling
Like many other round the world travellers Yoshi and Yuko are working while travelling to help fund their adventures. As a Graphic designer Yoshi gets orders from Japanese clients by Email. Yuko used be an architect in Tokyo and is now a macrame jewellery designer.
Travelling around the world since 2005
Yoshi and Yuko: “Actually, we’ve been traveling around the world since April 2005. First of all, we bought a scooter in Los Angels and drove from the Northern tip of Alaska to the South tip of Argentine. And from Vancouver to the east tip of Canada by another scooter. From Nordkapp of Norway to South Europe by another scooter. Around New Zealand by another scooter. Around Australia by a car. Around Southeast Asia counties by bus or something….”
Bicycle tours and bike tourism in smaller towns, national parks and rural areas
Being on a bike with wind in your hair while being guided by a great storyteller is incomparable to any other way of visiting a new city. Or area! Oh yes bicycle tours and bike tourism is just as attractive, if not more so, for smaller towns, national parks and rural areas as for cities. Here, we share with you why.
Ribe Bike Tours: Storytelling on Wheels
Being a green yoga‐ & bike‐loving couple we have been involved with bike‐tours in cities all over the world – both as bike tour guests and also as guides: from Shanghai, China to London, UK to Mount Maunganui, New Zealand to Copenhagen, Denmark.
And now Ribe, Denmark’s oldest town, where we this summer launched Ribe Bike Tours offering guided bike tours or “storytelling on wheels”, as we like to say.
Bike Tours without traffic, exhaust fumes and crowds
We’ve always believed that biking in big cities is a great way to be in one with the pulse of the city – and to see more in less time. But this city‐pulse invariably involves traffic, exhaust fumes and crowds – conditions that the ”perfect” bike tour should be without.
And it can be without as we’ve recently discovered. Taking a bike tour in the old town and the surrounding Danish nature of Ribe, conditions suddenly become closer to “perfect”.
See, hear, feel – when exploring by bike in Ribe
In Ribe we have little traffic, kilometers of bike‐lanes, friendly roads and lots of history to explore along the way. Whether visitors are into the establishment of the Vikings, wars of the Middle Ages or following the trail of famous local personalities such as the Danish-American journalist, photographer and philanthropist Jacob A Riis, Ribe has it all. It’s practically a condensed Scandinavian history lesson in one town… And on a bike the lesson can be felt, heard and seen in a couple of hours.
Outstanding Danish West Coast nature and views
On the doorstep of Ribe is pure Danish West Coast nature. There’s even more to explore here: Pedaling through this amazing West Coast landscape we enjoy as well the rich animal life; forests as flat marsh land.
Galgebakkerne (the Gallows Hill) where Riberret (the tough Ribe Law) was ”manifested” through witch-burning and other horrors.
From Kammerslusen lock by the Ribe Dike – which has worked as coastal protection and has protected Ribe and its historic treasures from flooding since the beginning of the 1900’s – you have an outstanding view over the UNESCO Wadden Sea outside the dikes and over the Ribe March Wadden Sea National Park all the way to Ribe’s red roof tops and its soaring Cathedral inside the dikes.
In fact many of these spots out of Ribe can only be reached by private car or bike – for example Bicycle rental through Ribe Danhostel.
Visitors want authenticity
In terms of what visitors want, we are seeing people preferring less “cookie-cutter” mass tourism with big groups on busses just stopping to take a photo to more authentic, personal, unusual and fun ways of exploring, learning and doing.
Something bike tours can offer and which is what we want Ribe Bike Tours to offer. We make the very famous, the less famous and the very worthy stories come alive for visitors and cycling enthusiasts. We share the beauty of Danish nature, Danish history and Danish “green” bike mentality. A mentality that most people take for granted also exists outside of Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen.
“Come bike with us in and around Ribe where we can promise visitors clean air, almost empty roads and a positive green experience with biking!”
Xx Line & Leon
Line Fricke from Ribe, Danmark and Leon Walker from Mt Maunganui, New Zealand
Line is Master in Social Science Service Management and Leon is Bachelor of Commerce – International Business
Both have worked and lived in Shanghai, China the last 4 years
Line is also a yoga teacher in Ribe and blogs about yoga, travel and life at ShantiHabits.com
Leon enjoys talking about the stock market and kite surfing on the windy West Coast
The main languages on a guided bike tour with Ribe Bike Tours is Danish, Swedish and English but even a tour with some Chinese can be arranged
Sustainable accommodation. Danhostel Ribe is the only eco-labeled accomodation in Ribe and in all the Danish part of the Wadden Sea National Park (Flower, Swan or Green Key) : Green Key International or Green Key Denmark
In terms of historical sights, Ribe is a town without compare in Denmark. It is Denmark’s, and Scandinavia’s, oldest town and every corner oozes history. Ribe has the largest number of preserved buildings in Denmark outside Copenhagen, but in Ribe you can walk to them all, while in Copenhagen they are spread over a much larger area. You’ll find about 120 preserved buildings in Ribe.
Although Ribe is old, development hasn’t stalled. Urban renewal is ongoing, fitting respectfully into the old city, while differing in both design and materials.
Here are a few examples from the past year.
Ribe Cathedral Square
Where Ribe Cathedral was formerly in a hollow following centuries of accumulation of surrounding deposits (the cultural layers), you will now find the paving sloping down.
The renovation of Ribe Cathedral Square, designed by the Danish Schonherr Landscape Architects (Schønherr), rewarded the citizens with a lovely square for events all year round and for hanging out in cafes and restaurants during summertime. The town square is now a beautiful and functioning public space with the Cathedral as a natural centre.
The renovation also improved vehicular and pedestrian movement and appearance, though the outcome has proved controversial and started a debate about the proper balance between the rights of the vehicles and pedestrians.
Kannikegården – The Canon Monastery
Kannikegården is a building of visionary new architecture on the town square opposite Ribe Cathedral. It is designed by the Danish architects Lundgaard and Tranberg. It belongs to Ribe parish’s parochial church council and houses the parochial church council and the staff at Ribe Cathedral. The building is raised above Denmark’s first Christian cemetery, dating back to the Mid-800s, when the German Apostle Ansgar – known as the “Apostle of the North” – was permitted by King Horik of Denmark to built the first Danish Christian church in Ribe. Nobody knew if and where this church was built in Ribe, until the former building at this place burned down and archaeologists were allowed funds to excavate the area. Here they found the cemetery with these early Christian-Viking graves.
Outside Ribe Cathedral facing Kannikegården is placed a new and modern statue of Ansgar, the “Apostle of the North”.
A later canon’s monastery dating back to the mid-1100s was found in the same excavation and gave the building its name, Kannikegården. Some of the excavation has been preserved , so you can have a look through the building’s perimeter glass facades and see walls from the canon monastery’s dining room. In this way these ancient walls are integrated into the new building, telling a very important part of ancient Danish history to the public.
If you want to know more about Ribe Cathedral, the town square and the statue of Angar, the “Apostle of the North”: Ribe Cathedral.
If you want to know more about the Christian Viking graves: Vikings
Chilling by the river
A new wooden terrace by Ribe River only a few steps from the hostel was inaugurated a month ago. The terrace is the result of an exemplary collaboration between citizens of Ribe town and Esbjerg municipality. It is a great place for chilling out with a glass of wine or an ice cream cone while enjoying the view of Ribe River, the old town or the sunset over Ribe and the Wadden Sea National Park.
Both Ribe citizens and guests of Ribe have immediately taken the terrace into their hearts.
Vikings in Ribe – a favourite subject to photograph
Those who follow this blog will probably have noticed a long time ago, that Vikings are one of my favourite subjects to photograph (I am Gudrun from Danhostel Ribe – the hostel in Ribe, Denmark).
Photos of Viking children
Throughout the years I have also photographed Viking children. In this new blog post I will show you some of my less known photos – most of them never published before.
Ribe International Viking Market
I hope these photos will remind you of the big international Viking Market in Ribe. In 2016 it will take place from the 2nd of May to the 8th of May at Ribe VikingeCenter. The market brings 500 Vikings from all over Europe to Ribe in Denmark.
Similar Viking photos
A few of the photos might look like photos you saw before. Maybe you have seen one similar to this one here: Vikings
Viking photos I never stopped liking
Most of these photos I took over the last couple of years, but a few are older. Like this one – it is almost 10 years old. The boy is now an adult, and maybe you’ll meet him as a Viking warrior or a tradesman in Ribe .
Learning Viking’s skills at an early age
During the Viking Age it was common for the children to start helping their parents from a very early age. They had to learn skills as farming, trading and also fighting. In Ribe VikingeCenter you will see Viking children work with real axes and hammers.
This Viking boy works as a smith’s helper and will probably once become a skilled craftsman himself.
Skills of Viking women and girls
Most of a Viking woman’s life was bounded by working at home. She was responsible for the household, and had all the keys to the house in her belt. She was cooking and taking care of the smaller children. If they were farmers, she milked the cows and made the cheese, but she should also be able to run all the farm while her husband was away.
Viking cooking and brewing
Viking girls helped their mothers. They had to learn to cook and brew beer and mead. They would also learn to make cheese from milk.
Handwork of Vikings
Women and girls also spent much of their time spinning, weaving and making clothing. Sewing and repairing old clothes were important too.
Selling Viking jewelry at Ribe Viking Market
At the big international Viking Market in Ribe are many wonderful things for sale – and Viking children are taught to be skilled tradesmen.
Keeping the fire going – a vital knowledge
Viking children and fetched water and collected sticks for firewood, but it was also vital for the older children to learn how to start a fire and keep it going.
A Viking baby
This little Viking baby is lucky. At the Viking Market in Ribe he was cared for and admired. If he had been born in the Viking Age his first challenge would have been to survive. Many children did not survive infancy and childhood.
Viking children – Playing and learning Viking life
Viking children had to learn many skills necessary for survival in the Viking Age – for the boys one of them was to be successful warrior. Also some Viking girls learned to fight.
Boys were taught to use sword, spear, battle-axe and shield at an early age. The youngest boys had toy weapons, but the toys were an important part of learning real-world survival.
In the blog post Our best photos from Ribe Viking Market you can see a photo of Viking Boys playing the the Viking board game Tafl (- or Hnefatafl) and another photo of Viking boys playing by a river bank trying to reach the other side with a rope without getting wet feet.
Also Viking girls played with dolls. This Viking girl is playing with a toy doll made from wool.
When Viking children grew up most of them would be farmers, traders and craftsmen, but some of them would also sometimes join Viking raids and bring back treasures from abroad. This boy is admiring the Ribe cup. This beautiful little silver bowl was part of a silver hoard from the 700s found in Ribe. The cup has a Christian motif and was originally used in church ceremonies. The cup is Frankish and produced in southern Germany or the Alpine region. How it ended in the pagan Ribe is still all in the air. Was it stolen goods of a Viking raid or part of a trade?
Enough – He wants a break!
For small children, Ribe Viking Market can be a little overwhelming – so I’ll stop for a while.
Ribe Viking Market takes place at Ribe VikingeCenter one week around 1st of May every year
Book a guide for a Viking Walk at the Viking Museum or walk the hostel’s self guided Viking Walk in Ribe
Hope you have enjoyed my photos. Please like and share with other Viking freaks – but please don’t copy.
Here are links to more of our blog posts with Viking knowledge and Viking photos from Ribe in Denmark:
The hostel has been the setting for Jazz Camp Ribe for kids every spring the last 5 years. The camp is organized by Ribe’s jazz club Jazzin’Ribe, the culture school of Esbjerg (Esbjerg Kulturskole) and “Jazz Hostel” Danhostel Ribe, Ribe’s hostel.
The hostel really comes alive with jazz
When students from schools of music from all around the Southern part of Jutland come together at Danhostel Ribe to play jazz the hostel really comes alive.
Passionate and enthusiastic musicians
The age range for participants at this year’s jazz camp ranges from 9 to 19. The youngest to have ever participated was only 8 years old. All the students are passionate and enthusiastic about their music.
Professional music instruction
Students of all levels receive mentoring and professional instruction to develop their musical skills and enhance their knowledge of music.
During the weekend the kids attend classes in ensemble playing, they jam and they take part in different workshops and master classes.
Both instrumental musicians and vocalists participate in the music camp. Some of the participants train their skills both as vocalists and musicians.
Jazz camp for both boys and girls
In general the jazz genre is dominated by men, but at JazzCamp Ribe, the girls represent almost half of the participants. The girls play all kinds of different instruments as well as sing –just like the boys.
Hand-picked jazz teachers
All the teachers are handpicked by Jazzin’Ribe to ensure qualified, talented and experienced teachers and the highest level of education for the students.
Top jazz artists and teachers
Every year the students study with some of the top jazz artists and teachers in Denmark during the day, and see some of them perform at night at public concerts in Ribe.
Meeting old friends and making new friends
On top of the music, the camp is also about meeting old friends and making new ones, having fun, and playing in our sports hall, Ribehallen
Planning next year’s camp?
Maybe they are planning next year’s camp, composing new music – or maybe they are just having fun.
Delicious hostel food
Last but not least, the camp is also eating and enjoying the delicious hostel food.
Rising jazz stars
On the third day of the jazz camp all the students will show to the public how the new rising stars of jazz play at a concert at SeminarieHuset in Ribe.
Looking forward to Jazz Camp Ribe 2017
After 3 days the kids leave the camp with jazz dancing through their heads, already looking forward to seeing each other again at next year’s Jazz Camp.
The hostel host is a jazz lover
It’s no secret that Danhostel Ribe‘s host, Jens, loves Jazz. Jazz Camp Ribe was his idea from the very beginning. He is already looking forward to next year’s camp – and to the jazz camp for adults at the hostel this autumn.
When you are looking for the best Christmas markets in Europe you will usually see the big Christmas markets in European cities like Nuremberg, Dresden, Lübeck, Strasbourg, London, Vienna, etc. highlighted. In Denmark the Christmas market in the Tivoli Gardens amusement park in Copenhagen is famous – and sometimes you will also see the Christmas market in Den Gamle By in Aarhus (The Old Town Museum) and the Hans Christian Andersen Christmas Market in Odense mentioned .
Why the old town Ribe is special and worth a visit for a Christmas break
Ribe is Denmark’s oldest town – but also the oldest town in all of Scandinavia
Ribe has been an international market town since the Viking Ages. Ribe is Denmark’s oldest town – but also the oldest town in all of Scandinavia. While you soak up the ambience of the old town, you will probably notice that Ribe is not a museum like the Old Town in Aarhus (Den Gamle By i Aarhus). The houses are lived in and the love and care the citizens show their town is unmistakable, when you see the well-maintained houses and streets. Join us for a self-guided town walk in the old town: Town Walk
Peter’s Christmas in Ribe (Peters Jul i Ribe)
“I feel the joy at this time of the year, whenthe white Christmas snow is falling down, then I know it’s Christmas time. My father goes out every day, and when he comes home, I stand looking at his big pockets.”
Christmastime in Ribe is named “Peter’s Christmas in Ribe” (Peters Jul i Ribe). The name comes from one of the best known Christmas stories for children in Denmark through the last 150 years “Peters Jul” written by Johan Krohn in 1866. The author is supposed to have had family in Ribe and have had celebrated a Christmas here. Peter’s father will guide you through Christmas Ribe on the 4 Saturdays before Christmas.
A vibrant town centre all the year round
While shops and stores in many town centres close down facing serious challenges from out-of-town shopping centres and the growth of online shopping, Ribe has managed to keep its town centre vibrant by adapting to meet the changing demands of the customers’ shopping habits.
This, along with the ancient medieval architecture of the town draws many people from the surrounding area to shop here on a regular basis.
Sustainability and development go together
Ribe town square and most of the town centre has been pedestrianized and beautifully paved. Restrictions on shop signs and street displays help to make the beautiful old town centre more authentic. The shops go very well together with the historic environment and make it attractive for both residents and tourists to go shopping or just walk around.
Lovely places to meet and socialize
A successful mixture of specialty shops, clothes shops, galleries, jewellery stores, gift shops, barbers, restaurants and cafes treat you with the ultimate shopping experience in the heart of Ribe town centre. Most of the shops are independent shops – very few are shop chains.
Cafes and restaurants in the high street and at the town square are great places to meet and socialize while enjoying a cup of coffee or a pint of beer in pleasant surroundings – in summertime outside and in wintertime inside.
This old grocer’s shop smells like Christmas
Parmo Pedersen’s old grocer’s shop in Ribe town centre smells like Christmas. You will probably be tempted by the smell of all sorts of Christmas spices that meet you when you step inside, simply because in this old shop you can still purchase spices by the weight. You can also buy good old-fashioned sweets, Parmo’s home-made and famous fruits in port wine, and local produced Danish butter cookies in cake tins.
Norse Vikings and Christian Danes in Ribe
Ribe town centre is built around the town square where Ribe Cathedral towers above the town. At the same place the first Christian church in Denmark was built around 855 and the norse Vikings in Ribe were the first in Denmark to be Christianized. Ribe Cathedral is one of Denmark’s biggest attractions and like Ribe town it has been awarded 2 stars in the Michelin Guide for Attractions.
Ribe Cathedral seen from one of the parks
Ribe Cathedral can be seen from everywhere in the town. This photo is from one of the many parks in town and was used as Ribe’s Christmas card of the year a few years ago.
Ribe has a long tradition of citizens with a strong sense of community. Tourism, trade, cultural, and natural institutions have been working together in an exemplary manner for many years, and dedicated and active citizens full of ideas think up many different ways to give the town a year-round bustling energy to the great delight of residents as well as tourists.
Street theatre on Advent Sundays
On the four Sundays of Advent children and adults from the local amateur theatre group DRAKOMIR will romp about in town making fun and performing Peter’s Christmas street theatre.
Christmas music and Christmas carols
E.g. this year the second Saturday in December Denmark’s biggest choir sings Christmas carols at Ribe town square, Ribe Chamber Choir sings in Ribe Cathedral and Esbjerg Railway Orchestra plays Christmas music in the streets.
Moped gang in Santa disguise
Maybe you will also meet a moped gang in Santa disguise in town. Usually mopeds and teenage boys go hand-in-hand, but the gang in Ribe consists of adult moped enthusiasts, who all drive old mopeds from when electric starters and cheap plastic parts were unknown to true moped owners.
Christmas markets and Christmas shopping
Tune into the Christmas Spirit the four weekends before Christmas. The town is full of life and the Christmas shopping is done in shops, at Christmas markets in town, and at small Christmas booths around town where citizens will sell handicraft, home-made Christmas cakes, Christmas gnomes, etc.
Enjoy Christmastime with all your senses
But even though you are not a big spender there is so much to watch and enjoy if you have an interest for adventure, culture, and good food
Christmas market in the old grocery store
An event that has proved very popular at Christmastime is the Christmas market at the old grocery store Quedens Gaard the 1st weekend of December every year. This is a market that all ages enjoy, here you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.
High spirits at the Christmas market
and you will often be met with smiles like these.
Share a honey heart (honninghjerte)
Honey hearts or gingerbread hearts (Danish: Honninghjerter) are very popular in Denmark at Christmastime. Why not share a heart with the one you love? The words “Glædelig Jul” mean “Merry Christmas” – this honey heart was bought at the Christmas Market at Quedens Gaard, but you can also buy honey hearts from the bakers and supermarkets in town. They are usually covered with chocolate and has a Santa sticker.
Christmas food and drink
Gode Råd (Good Advice) is a thin and crunchy Christmas biscuit – more like a waffle. It was typically served at Christmas in South Jutland, but now is not very common anymore. Even though it is biscuit it has the size of a dessert plate and is made in a special waffle iron.
An obvious choice when you are out and about on a cold day would be warm and sweet æbleskiver (Christmas Dumplings) and a warming glass of Gløgg (mulled wine) containing raisins and almonds. It is served in many of the cafes and restaurants in Ribe. Another warm drink is the German Glühwein.
The best Christmas beer
Christmas beer is brewed and you can taste it at the Christmas Market in Quedens Gaard the first weekend of December. The second weekend you can taste and vote for the best Christmas beer of the year “Årets Emil” at the Old Town Hall in Ribe (Det gamle Rådhus).
And beer lovers don’t forget that every Saturday year round you can visit the micro-brewery Ribe Brewery. It is open from 10am to 2pm.
In Ribe Santa Claus sleeps in a hotel
Santa Claus is everywhere in town and everybody knows him. Johannes was Santa Claus in Ribe the last 29 years. He has a chat with all of us, and hands out candy to all ages in Ribe in December – but off course mostly to the children.
Friday 4 weeks before Christmas children in Ribe wake up Santa Claus. In Ribe we don’t believe that Santa arrives from the North Pole, we know that he sleeps in Denmark’s oldest hotel, the Dagmar, next to the tourist office. The children shouts as loud as they can to wake him up – and when he comes out the door, he hands out candy generously and takes care that the lights of the huge Christmas tree on the town square are switched on (photo at the top). At the same time you can enjoy Christmas music, a cup of warm cocoa and a biscuit.
Christmas events within walking distance
Maybe a child gets a little tired and need to be carried on her father’s shoulders, but actually all the places, streets and Christmas events mentioned in this blog post can be reached within a (slow) 5 minutes walk from the hostel.
The importance of Ribe’s historical heritage
Ribe is Denmark’s oldest town, and the recognition of the value of Ribe’s historical heritage, and the way it has been implemented in a far-sighted urban planning and sustainable strategy, has probably also made it the most beautiful.
A first impression of the Wadden Sea may be that it is an endless mudflat without life. The sea and the sky merge into one and the horizon goes on forever. But the area is full of life – so join us on an amazing wildlife experience in the Danish part of the Wadden Sea near Ribe, Scandinavia’s oldest town. Find inspiration for tours all year round – such as culinary adventures, family-friendly outings and incredible tours for all bird and wildlife lovers.
The Wadden Sea is a natural wonder on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites
But first – let’s tell you a little about the importance of the Wadden Sea, which is a natural wonder of unique global importance. It is inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Wadden Sea extends 500 km/310 miles along the North Sea coast of the Nederlands, Germany and Denmark, which makes it the world’s largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats. It is home to more than 10,000 species of plants and animals ranging from tiny microscopic creatures to snails, crabs, oysters, birds and seals – many of which are rare or endangered. In 2014, the Wadden Sea World Heritage was extended with the Danish part.
Twice a day the seabed is revealed by the low tide, exposing a veritable buffet for birds foraging on the mudflats. Hidden in the mud, there are up to 100,000 crustaceans, worms, snails, and clams living in one cubic metre of water, mud and sand. 10 to 12 mill. migratory waterbirds stay here every spring and autumn to rest and forage before flying on to their breeding grounds in north in spring, or back to their wintering grounds in the south in autumn.
6 million migratory birds can be present in one place at the same time.
Follow the migratory birds from the Arctic to Africa and back again in this little cartoon: Flyway Bird Migration
Not all birds choose to stay in the same place
“I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on earth, then I ask myself the same question”. A travel quote by Harun Yahya.
Migratory birds are capable of flying incredible distances. An example is the small sandpiper called a red knot (Calidris canutus), which travels up to 15,000 km/9300 miles twice a year. After arriving in the Wadden Sea it weighs only 100 grams, when it leaves again its weight has increased to 230 grams.
Denmark’s most famous natural spectacle
The most famous natural spectacle in Denmark is called Black Sun (Danish: Sort Sol) and attracts thousands of tourists to the Wadden Sea National Park every spring and autumn.
Just before sunset hundreds of thousands of starlings gather from all corners of the sky to perform an impressive aerial ballet, during which they make constantly changing shapes in the sky. You can say that the starlings darken the sky, when they are circling around, that’s why we call this nature phenomenon Black Sun.
Beware of the tides. Join a guided tour
The range of the tide in the Wadden Sea near Ribe is almost 2 meters, so unless you are very familiar with the tides you shouldn’t walk out on the seabed yourself, as you might be caught too far out when the high tide starts rolling in.
We suggest that you join one of the guided tours.
At the bottom of this blogpost we have listed a number of tourguides, who arrange tours in the Wadden Sea National Park close to Ribe.
The world’s largest oyster found near Ribe
A staff member at Vadehavscentret ved Ribe (the Wadden Sea Centre Ribe) found the largest oyster in the world in the Wadden Sea about 10 km/6 miles from Ribe. The record is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. For your chance to improve the record, you can join an oyster tour during the winter months – October, November, December, January, February, March and April . All months with a “r” except September. You might even be lucky enough to find pearls in your oysters, like the very lucky oyster hunter on a tour with Mandø Event who found 30 pearls in one oyster.
Fresh oysters with a little squeeze of lemon is a delicacy – a glass of champagne is the finishing touch. You can eat as many as you want and collect all you can carry in your bag.
Sea Explorer. A family friendly activity
At first glance you won’t see many of the small animals living on the seabed, but by joining one of the most popular guided tours, the Sea Explorer family tour arranged by Vadehavscentret in Ribe (the Wadden Sea Centre), you will see them. These tours take place in the summer months and are the perfect family tour. Walkíng barefoot through the soft mud, you and your children will have a blast exploring the Wadden Sea, while trying to find beach crabs, small shrimps, mud snails and all the other creatures living here.
Seal tours in the Wadden Sea National Park
From August when the seals have finished breeding and feeding their baby seals the Wadden Sea Centre (Vadehavscentret ved Ribe) arranges seal tours to the seal banks. It’s a challenging hike and you must be able to walk at least 6 km/3,6 miles on the seabed. The tour includes an introduction of the biology of the seals at the Wadden Sea Centre and tickets to the tractor bus to Mandø. Don’t forget your binoculars.
Tour operators on the island Mandø also arrange seal tours in the Wadden Sea (read: “Explore with a professional guide” at the bottom of this blog post)
A guided mudflat hike during sunset
Another adventure you will never forget is to cross the seabed on foot to the Wadden Sea island of Mandø during sunset. As you walk the 8 km./5 miles to Mandø during low-tide, the tranquility of nature surrounds you and gives you tremendous sense of peace. The quiet beauty is only interrupted by the wind and the birds and now and then by the guide’s voice explaining about things you might see during your walk.
The tour is arranged by Vadehavscentret ved Ribe (the Wadden Sea Centre Ribe) and mostly takes place during the summer months. The Mandø tractor bus takes you back to the mainland.
Island of Mandø – only accessible by low tide
No real roads lead to Mandø (Mandoe), but the Mandø tractor buses – Mandøbussen and Mandø Traktorbus – bring tourists from Vester Vedsted (10 km./6 miles from Ribe) over the seabed/ebb road to Mandø during low tide. From the beginning of May till mid-October the tractor buses departe by low tide most days, though sometimes only once per day.
It is also possible to access the island by Låningsvejen, which is usually passable for private car, though not bicycles, during low tide if the westerly wind is not too strong. It is strongly advised that you consult tide and weather conditions before you set out. We think the best way to enjoy the island is to take one of the tractor buses.
Mandø – a paradise for nature lovers
Mandø is the smallest of the 3 inhabited Wadden Sea islands in Denmark. Around 30 people live on the island, and they are forced to adapt their daily lives to fit in with the tides and the storm surges in the Wadden Sea. As Mandø is the most difficult island to reach, it is an unspoiled paradise for bird and seal watchers and those who want to collect oysters.
Cycling – a great way to get out and about in the National Park
Why not do as these five young French travelers and rent a bike at Danhostel Ribe, and enjoy a beautiful sunset picnic while sitting on the dike at Kammerslusen ( the Ribe Lock) – where the Ribe River flows into the North Sea (6 km = 3,5 miles).
Spend a day cycling through the Ribe Marches along Ribe River to the Wadden Sea Coast at Kammerslusen, then follow the dike along the North Sea Cycle Route south to Vester Vedsted and back to Ribe. Approx. 25 km./15,5 miles (In Denmark is the North Sea Cycle route identical with the Danish National Cycle Route no. 1)
The National Park stretches all the way from the meadow outside the hostel and all the way to the coast, from where the area is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can cycle the whole distance – bring your own bike or rent one at the hostel, where you can also get a map.
Danhostel Ribe, a National Park Partner, welcomes cycling tourists and is quality labeled with both Bed+Bike and Cycling Denmark
The National Park in Ribe, Denmark
One part of Ribe town is included in the Wadden Sea National Park, called Hovedengen (Meadow of the Heads) outside the hostel, where pirates where once decaptiated as punisment. Some of the hostel is even included in The National Park. The hostel is the only eco-friendly accredited accommodation in The National Park (Green Key, Flower or Swan) and makes it an obvious choice if you are looking for sustainable accommodation.
Explore with a professional guide:
Vadehavscentret ved Ribe (The Wadden Sea Centre) in Vester Vedsted 10 km./6 miles from Ribe arranges tours including Black Sun Magic, starling migration (March, September and October), other bird watching tours, Sea Explorer (Summer), seal tours (August, September and October), oyster tours ( October, November, December, January, February, March and April, mudflat hike to Mandø (summer), tours on Mandø (summer), herb picking tours for making your own schnapps. Vadehavscentret schedules tours during periods which present the least disturbance to nature and wildlife
Tours from Mandø. 22 km/13,5 miles from Ribe (remember to be aware of the tides and weather conditions )
Mandø Event arranges tours with horse carriage in the Wadden Sea around Mandø: seal tours (May-October), oyster and champagne tours (from September until spring) as well as sunset tours
At the Fiskeri- og Søfartsmuseet i Esbjerg ( Fisheries and Maritime Museum in Esbjerg ) 34 km/ 21 miles from Ribe you can see the seals being fed in the sealarium every day at 11am and 2.30pm and go on mudflat walks in the Wadden Sea during July and August
50 km (= 31 miles) south of Ribe (towards Germany) Sort Safari arranges tours including Black Sun, Bird Watching, winter geese and swans tours, Oyster and Seal tours
Ribe is a unique historic town and one of Denmark’s prettiest
All these flower photos are from Scandinavia’s oldest town, Ribe.
Already in the early 700s Vikings in Ribe lived in a vibrant and international town with commercial relations far beyond Scandinavia’s borders. Ribe is now Denmark’s best preserved Medieval town and one of Denmark´s most pretty and picturesque with narrow cobbled streets and roses and hollyhocks climbing up the walls of old and crooked half-timbered houses. Ribe is so pretty that it won the title of: “Europe’s Best Big-Time Small Destination 2014″
Ribe is not an open air museum, but a lived-in old town
Wandering around the historic centre of Ribe on foot, taking in the atmosphere and sights of Denmark’s and Scandinavia’s oldest town, you will notice that people actually live in these old houses.
Ribe has many preserved houses and buildings, but it is not an open air museum like the Old Town Museum (Den gamle By) in Aarhus
Denmark’s best preserved town or city
Ribe has approximately 120 listed houses and even more are declared worthy of preservation. The only place in Denmark you’ll find more listed houses than in Ribe is in Copenhagen, but in Copenhagen they are spread over a big area, while in Ribe they are all within a short walking distance from our hostel, Danhostel Ribe
Blooming hollyhocks and roses
The hollyhocks and roses in flower during the summer months fit lovely together with this old idyllic town.
In this blog post we will show you some of the streets and alleys with blooming flowers. Find the streets or houses yourself – or find some that are just as pretty.
Ribe citizens are proud of their town and maintain their houses well
Though many of the houses in Ribe centre (old town) are very small it is a very popular choice for the citizens to live in these houses and the residents are making an effort to maintain their houses well and make them fit into the picturesque oasis of tranquillity and perfect idyll in Ribe.
Ribe has many museums and activity centres and a cathedral with Michelin stars in the Michelin Guide to Sights and Attractions, but an examination among tourists in Ribe revealed that Ribe’s biggest attraction is: RIBE.
Ribe town centre is besides from being a well preserved town – which is also awarded with Michelin stars – also a busy town with many cafes, restaurants and specialty shops in the town centre. Many festivals and events also attract visitors.
I moved to Ribe in April. I used to live in Copenhagen, where I worked and studied for five years. I had not researched a lot on the town before I left my home – I just knew that they got a splendid collection of Danish Art at Ribe Art Museum. So I wrote to the director and asked if she could use a newly graduated art historian in her staff and she said yes. So here I am: 28, art historian and newcomer to the oldest town in Scandinavia. I have lived here for two and a half months now, and I have to say…I am certainly in love with this place.
What to do in a small town?
In Copenhagen I went to concerts and visited friends all the time, and I was a bit scared, that I would have nothing to do in this small town. I was wrong. Almost every weekend there is some kind of event fx when 300 travelling journeymen met during the Ascension Holiday (Himmelfahrtstreffen), the nordic barrel organ festival and – of course – the traditional Tulip Festival with music everywhere in town, fair and the tulip parade. I have met some really nice people who take me out meeting new cool people. So actually I am not lonely. But it IS a different way to live. In Ribe there are not that many people of my own age, not that I can’t hang out with people of other ages, but it is not entirely the same… Ribe is full of openminded citizens and as time goes by, I have more and more people to talk to and to drink coffee – maybe a beer – with.
Ribe is something you can’t really explain
Ribe is a unique place to live. When you arrive at the station you are instantly caught. I went to a job interview at Ribe Art Museum (called “the castle” because it is so damn beautiful and classy) and when I saw the building and the garden, I thought: “Ok. If I should move from Copenhagen, this would be the place”: ‘Cause Ribe is not just a place far away from Copenhagen.
Ribe is something you can’t really explain. It is the atmosphere that makes you feel entirely relaxed even when you are busy. It is the cobblestone streets where you can’t walk in high heels and where you feel every bump on the road if you dare to ride a bike. It is the old half-timbered crooked houses standing as they have done for some hundred years. And it is the small brooks and the river, which you have to cross all the time to get around. It is the feeling when your colleague says: “I know someone who you should meet” or “We are going to the wine bar – do you want to join?” (there is a wine bar in Ribe, how cool is that?!). It is when you see hundred thousands of starlings just five minutes away from the city centre and at the same time hear a bittern from the reeds. It is when you are on your way home and you meet the night watchman.
One of the biggest differences between Ribe and Copenhagen is that you just can’t be anonymous in a town like this. It took six days from when I arrived to when an acquaintance heard in a local shop that they had hired a new girl at the art museum. From a person I haven’t met. That was a bit of a culture shock.
Passion for photography
As long as I can remember I have had a passion for photography. I have combined my interests and have taken lots of photographs of art works – mainly sculptures – but I really like to catch details from the urban space as well.
One of my main hobbies is to edit and crop my images and Instagram has become my favourite social media, I think… The images in this blog post is taken from my account: Adayinthelifeofafool . I am aware of the compositions, the light and especially the shadows.
The sky and the dramatic clouds
One of the first things that caught my eye when moving to Ribe was the sky – the dramatic clouds, which you can see nearly in every kind of weather. This picture is shot on Riberhus Castle Hill (“Slotsbanken”) at sunset. Out here you really can breathe and watch the clouds go by and there is even a sculpture. What’s not to like?! So many extraordinary motifs in this town.
Adopting the best of both worlds
In fact I don’t miss Copenhagen, rush hour and the hectic atmosphere. I miss my friends and family a bit, but Ribe is not that far away. I can go to Zealand and they can visit me. And the social medias makes it much more easy to feel as a part of my old group of friends. I am not completely isolated.
In fact I think, that I have adopted the best of both worlds.
28 years old
Art Historian, graduated from University of Copenhagen Summer 2014