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Ribe, Denmark

Ribe Denmark photo

ABOVE: After visiting the public WCs in central Ribe, you can sit on a bench and admire the Cathedral.

Ribe, in the southwestern corner of Jutland, claims to be Denmark's oldest town. It's certainly one of the most pleasant, with a picture-postcard town center that has a Cathedral, half-timbered houses, cobblestoned streets, and a river that meanders through Ribe on its way to the sea.

The best way to experience Ribe is on foot. Gudrun Rishede, a Ribe schoolteacher, has written an excellent self-guided walking tour that she describes as "a two-hour walk through Danish history."

Climb the cathedral tower for a great view of the town and the surrounding countryside, and allow time to sample Ribe's half-dozen museums.

From May through October, the tourist office hosts a nightly "Watchman's Rounds." This free walking tour begins at the Torvet (town square) and is led by a guide dressed in a traditional Ribe night watchman's uniform. See the Ribe Tourist Office's Web site (link on page 2) for the tour schedule.

Shopping is another popular activity in Ribe. We found the perfect leather tote for library books at a boutique in Ribe, and the price--even with VAT--was surprisingly reasonable. One caveat: Danish shops normally close at 1 p.m. on Saturdays, so do your shopping early if you're on a weekend excursion from England.

Finally, Ribe makes an excellent base for excursions throughout the region--including the Wadden Sea island of MandÝ, Legoland in Billund, and the seaport town of Esbjerg with its Fisheries & Maritime Museum and North Sea ferry terminal.

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