Darling of the Danish yachting fraternity, who pack the town's cafe-dotted streets each summer, Svendborg is a major sailing centre. There are more Danish boats registered here than anywhere else outside Copenhagen, and the town is the main gateway to Funen's beautiful southern archipelago.
In it's 17th-century heyday, Faaborg claimed one of the country's largest commercial fishing fleets. It might be a lot sleepier these days, but vestiges of those golden years live on in cobblestone streets like Holkegade, Adelgade and Tårngade. Add to this a couple of good museums and a reinvigorated waterfront, and you have a winning pitstop.
Marstal, at the eastern end of Æro, is larger and more modern than Ærøskøbing, but it's one of the island's big draws thanks to its living maritime history. In its 19th-century heyday, more than 300 merchant ships pulled into port annually and eight shipyards were operating. It’s still a seafaring town with a busy shipyard, marina and excellent nautical museum.
A prosperous 17th-century merchants’ town, Ærøskøbing has bucketloads of character. Cobblestone streets meander between crooked houses, cheerfully painted and gently skewed, with hand-blown glass windows, doorways bursting with bright hollyhocks, and half-hidden courtyards offering glimpses into snug, private worlds.
The island of Tåsinge is connected to Svendborg and Langeland by road bridges. Its main sights are in the northeast: the pretty sea-captain's village of Troense and palatial 17th-century Valdemars Slot. The rest of the island is a mixture of woods, hedges and open fields, cut through by the main road, Rte 9.
Rudkøbing’s tumbledown streets are pleasant enough for a brief meander, but there's no need to spend much time here (unless you're travelling by bus, or stocking up on info or supplies). Between Torvet and the harbour are a series of narrow cobbled streets lined with tiny tilting houses.
Ladbyskibet & Vikingemuseet Ladby
Denmark’s only Viking Age ship grave, known as Ladbyskibet (the Ladby Ship, named for the tiny village where it was found), is a captivating site. Around the year 925, a Viking chieftain was laid to rest in a splendid 21.5m warship, surrounded by weapons, jewellery, clothing and other fine possessions.