Explore this gem of the Djursland region
FIND NATURE, CULTURE, LOCAL FOOD, AND FUN ON THE EAST COAST OF JUTLAND
The Danes know how to savor summer. Those who have coped with even one long and dark Danish winter will understand why. Here in Scandinavia, you’ll find whole villages and towns dedicated to enjoying the long hours of that sweet summer life. Lovely little Ebeltoft, Denmark is just such a spot.
Nestled along a broad bay less than an hour northeast of Jutland’s de facto capital Aarhus, the summer season hums in this charming Danish town. Wander little cobblestoned lanes flanked by colorful half-timbered houses where hollyhocks flock and roses crawl up the walls. Swim or sail in the area’s cool, clear, clean waters. Sample small but juicy ripe strawberries or buy boat caught fresh fish. Hike through the hills of nearby Mols Bjerg National Park and walk the walls of ancient Viking ruins. Or scramble up the mast of a docked tall ship. Ebeltoft has it all.
Sitting at the edge of an inlet of the Kattegat Sea, the protected Ebeltoft vig (inlet) offers a big, watery, and sometimes windy basin popular with kite-surfers and windsurfers. Doable as a day trip, but even better for a whole week. Pick a summer house to stay in and fully relish the area’s flavors. This summer – if you can – consider Scandinavia for your holiday schedule and put little Ebeltoft at the top of your list. Read on to see why and what to do when in this part of Denmark.
WHAT TO DO WHEN IN EBELTOFT
⇒ Meander the streets of the old town
Like most Danish villages, the historic center here is made for wandering. Weave your way along the old medieval city planning maze of small but charming cobblestoned streets. Come summer, the little lanes are a-buzz. Plod along pretty little sidewalks chock full of stokroser (hollyhocks) and happy flower boxes. Peek in the local shops or have lunch in an old Danish Kro, or inn. Find some new to you treasures handcrafted by local artisans or simply cool off and stop for ice cream.
It’s not really a Danish summer town unless there is ice cream. And these purveyors don’t stay open year-round. Once the local ice cream shop throws open their doors, it’s the beginning of summer around here. Even if the weather doesn’t always cooperate. In a summer house town like Ebeltoft, you can expect a huge swirl of vanilla softis (soft serve) topped with your choice of drys (sprinkles), whip cream and guf (a sticky marshmallowy sweet plop glooped on top.)
“Come summer, the little lanes are humming. Colorful half-timbered houses offer up pretty little sidewalks chock full of hollyhocks and happy flower boxes.”
⇒ Enjoy all the harbor has to offer
Not surprising to learn that like many of the inviting little villages that line the Danish coast, Ebeltoft is a working fishing port. Make your way down to the Blue Flag marina and explore the harbor. Here you’ll find restaurants, cafes, and a few specialty shops that will have the foodies in your group more than fulfilled. One of the finest cups of coffee in all of Denmark is served from an unassuming spot sitting directly across from the local fishing boats often hawking their catch. Step inside Apelgren Jordt Coffee Shop, open every day from 08.00 for friendly service and some seriously good coffee.
Check out Helle’s Hus nearby for the tiniest but talented little art gallery. Or find some French wine, craft beer, and locally distilled spirits at the nearby Hos Walter. For lovers of smoked fish (raise your hand) you’ll find a delicious variety of options at Hyttefadet Fish and Smokehouse. Next time I want to make a stop at restaurant Stockfleth’s Østers & Bobbelbar.Oysters and bubbles? By the water? Yes please and ja tak. Your little ones might love to tackle crabbing from the dock near Ebeltoft Skudehavn. Really all you need is some bait on a string and net to scoop up the little crustaceans lurking in the seaweed below. Borrow one of the lifejackets from the big red box at the top of the dock to keep your kids safe. Collect a few and let them race down the little tracks at the dock. As always, teach your kids to be careful handling the animals and safely return them to the sea when done.
Apelgren Jordt’s Kaffebar
Stockflethsvej 14, 8400 Ebeltoft, Denmark
Open | Daily 08.00 – 19.00
⇒ Learn a little local history
For those who want to get a sense of what made this place and its history, step inside Den Gamle Rådhus, or old town hall. Built in 1789, the pretty building now houses a petite museum offering insight into the region -usually staffed with friendly locals who love to share a nugget or two about their town. And don’t miss strolling down the two streets to the right and left of the town hall. Overgade and Juuls Bakke lanes are especially cute during the summer season.
Den Gamle Rådhus | Ebeltoft Museum
Torvet 2A, 8400 Ebeltoft, Denmark
Entrance | FREE
Open | Tue – Sun 10.00 – 16.00
⇒ Climb aboard a Danish tall ship
You literally can’t miss the three masts and rigging of the Fregatten Jylland as it sits stately in the middle of the Ebeltoft waterfront. Once a Danish warship from 1860, the massive tall ship now houses a museum with activities and informative displays that will interest your entire crew. Teens – maybe not as impressed with the (desperately needing an upgrade) figure scenes on board the ship – will still love the experience of climbing the rigging for views from above.
Harness in and safely climb up to see the city and ship from 22 meters above the deck. Book in advance for one of the three limited time slots daily between May and September for an additional cost. Or plan to take a guided wee sail for an hour around the harbor. Both experiences an additional DKK 75.
S. A. Jensens Vej 4, 8400 Ebeltoft, Denmark
OPEN | Daily 10.00 – 18.00 during summer peak season (26 June – 1 September)
Adults | DKK 145
Children 4-17 | DKK 90
Children 0-3 | Free
Seniors +65 | DKK 125
Family (2 adults + 2 children | DKK 380
Optional 1-hour sailing tour or climbing the ship’s rigging DKK 75 (Book ahead to ensure space)
Note: a valid Coronapassport is required to enter the museum. This is proof of either an EU-approved vaccination two weeks after the 2nd shot, a negative COVID test no more than 72 hours old, or proof of infection in the last six months. Read more here.
⇒ Explore the serene scenery
Between the sea and the forest, you’ll find many ways to get back to nature near Ebeltoft. Ride your bike or take a walk along the water on paths through protected nature preserves out to Ahl Plantage. Beautiful Ahl Strand (Beach) affords shallow and warm (ish) waters come sunny days and a popular place for kitesurfing on windy days.
For those who like to hike, check out the many trails through Mols Bjerg National Park. Here you’ll find rolling hills hidden with historic monuments and evidence of ice age impacts. Find more information about educational opportunities, guided tours and local environments at the Mols Bjerg Visitor centers open all summer.
Kalø Slotsruin | Molsvej 31, 8410 Rønde, Denmark
HOURS | 11.00 to 17.00 Daily with a guided tour at 14.00
Visitors Center Øvre Strandkær | Strandkærvej 7, 8400 Ebeltoft, Denmark
HOURS | 10.00 to 16.00 Daily with a guided tour at 14.00
Maltfabrikken | Maltvej 8, 8400 Ebeltof, Denmark
HOURS | 11.00 to 17.00 Daily
Vibæk Strand in Ebeltoft, Denmark
HOURS | 11.00 to 17.00 Daily with activities on the beach at 14.00
WHAT TO EAT & DRINK WHEN IN EBELTOFT
⇒ Sit in the garden of a classic Danish Kro
Historic, cozy, and serving all the Danish classics, taking lunch at a Danish Kro is about as authentic an experience as you can consume. In two of the oldest and crooked-iest abodes in town, you can enjoy a traditional Danish frokost, or lunch. When the weather is wonderful, take a table on the flowerful patio at Mellem Jyder on Juulsbakke and sample dishes like smørrebrød, topped with fish or fresh seasonal produce. Or book a table at the “crooked inn,” Den Skæve Kro further down the street.
⇒ Sit outside at the new Maltfabrikken
The former malt factory from 1861 fell out of use in the late 1990s. A push from locals and area citizens to refurbish and re-open the historic building into a cultural center and food space has been more than well-received. Take a spin through some of the building itself and sample some of the fresh beer brewed right here. A lovely spot to sit outside for lunch, just beware when the weather turns and you have to hold your own table umbrella from flying away.
Maltvej 8, 8400 Ebeltoft
⇒ Eat in a field at Ebeltoft Gaardbryggeri
This was probably our favorite stop. Outside Ebeltoft itself, the journey out to the Ebeltoft Garden Brewery was lovely in and of itself. More locally brewed beers and juices and lemonades on tap out here. Pack a picnic and borrow one of their communal grills. Bring a ball for the kids to kick on the lawn. Small bites and eats available on-site – check the website for community dinner events throughout the season.
Skovgårde Bygade 4, 8400 Ebeltoft
HOW TO GET TO EBELTOFT
Drive, ferry, bicycle or bus your way
Ebeltoft is only 45 minutes northeast of Aarhus on the Jutland side of Denmark. From Copenhagen, you can drive the entire way, crossing both the Store Bælt bridge and Lille Bælt bridge and then north, which will take you nearly 4 hours. OR. You can drive to Sjællands Odde and take the ferry to either Aarhus or Ebeltoft directly. Plan on about 1-hour and 15 minutes to get to ferry, then a 1-hour and 15-minute ferry ride to Aarhus plus an additional 45 minutes from there to reach little Ebeltoft. If your travel allows and you can plan to catch one of the limited direct ferries, you’ll hit Ebeltoft in only 55 minutes straight from Sjælland. In summer months, this route books up quickly, so plan ahead and buy online at Molslinjen.
COVID-19 NOTE: You can choose to stay in your car during the crossing if you require special protection. Make sure you select “bliv i bilen under overfarten” when booking and be prepared to stay in your vehicle for the entire crossing.
Good to know: While there are bottles of hand sanitizer and placards recommending to “hold afstand” or keep distance, on popular travel days, the ability to maintain space is a challenge when all the seats are full. MOLSLINJEN
FERRY TO AARHUS OR EBELTOFT www. molslinjen.dk
You can also book a ticket for a Flixbus from Copenhagen all the way to Ebeltoft, which takes about 4.5 hours. Or try the Kombardo Expressen bus from Copenhagen to the ferry and then to Aarhus. From Aarhus, catch the public bus 123 to Ebeltoft. If you have a rejsekort, you can use it to check-in.
RECIPE FOR AN ADORABLE DANISH SUMMER TOWN:
- 1 part meandering Medieval center
- 1 part seaside fishing harbor
- 2 parts charming cobblestoned corridors
- Colorful half-timbered houses
- Museums full of interesting local history
- A bevy of clean beaches and serene waters off shore
- Fresh ripe strawberries from regional farm stands
- Fish direct from the fishermen right at shore
- Locally brewed delicious craft beer
- Seriously good coffee lovingly prepared
- Cones swirled with softis the size of your face
- A bit of culture
- Locally produced arts
- Hollyhocks and climbing roses about every building
- Bake under the long hours of the Danish summer sun, but temper for potentially fickle Danish weather.
Best served warm with family and friends between the short but sweet season of late June to early August and definitely all of July.
Ebeltoft ticks all the boxes and is the very definition of an adorable Danish town. Have you been? It’s a favorite in my book. Looking for more adorable Danish villages to explore? Read on and find more. There are plenty around here. When you can, you should come to Denmark, she said. So much more than Copenhagen to explore. Cheers from here.