First impressions do count, and if your first taste of Esbjerg (pronounced es-be-erg) is the odour of fish or the sight of industrial plants, well, we wouldn’t really blame you for giving it only a cursory glance en route to more glamorous Jutland destinations. True, with its grid layout and modern feel, Esbjerg lacks the cobblestone charm of Denmark’s tourist meccas. But never judge a book by its cover. Esbjerg has some hidden gems, not least good bars, impressive art, and a superb offshore island, Fanø, an easy 12-minute ferry-ride away and offering picture-book charm in spades.
Esbjerg is both Denmark’s youngest city and largest port, and it’s the hub of the country’s North Sea oil activities. Historically, Esbjerg owes its existence to the German invasion of Schleswig and Holstein in 1864, which forced Danish farmers to find another harbour from which to export goods to Britain. Thus, in 1868, the city of Esbjerg was created in what was then a desolate and far-flung corner of the country. In a relatively short time it has developed into a key industrial centre, growing into the nation’s fifth-largest city.