Category Archives: Trips Out of Town

Flensburg Maritime Museum

On the docks of Flensburg, in a beautiful old merchant’s yard, lies a museum dedicated to the maritime heritage of the city, or Flensburger Schiffahrtsmuseum as it is called in German.

Flensburg used to be in the centre of the Duchy of Schleswig that was under the Danish crown from 1460 to 1864. The city had an excellent location for trade being located at the bottom of a fjord with calm waters connected to the Baltic Sea and right on the main trade route (on The Cattle Road) from Viborg in the north to Hamburg in the south. It was the second biggest port in Denmark after Copenhagen.

From the Middle Ages the fjord was a good place to catch herring and after the collapse of the Hansa trade union Flensburg grew to become one of the most important ports in Scandinavia in the 16th century.


In the 18th century sugar and rum became big business for the merchants of the city. Flensburg was also part of the triangle trade where crafted goods were shipped to Africa, slaves to the Danish West Indies and sugar and rum back to Flensburg.

Glass of rum

After the war in 1864 Flensburg became Prussian and kept thriving as a mercant harbour until the Kiel Canal open in 1895 and more or less overnight business moved to bigger cities like Copenhagen and Hamburg.

Flensburg’s shipbuilding industry is also covered and it was a big employeer in the area.


The museum tells these stories with model boats, items and pictures from the various periods. However all text in the museum are only offered in German and Danish so if you are not proficient in either of those languages you will miss out on a lot of context.


While we were there a barrel maker, his son and wife were working in the courtyard making a huge barrel. There  was also a special room dedicated to diesel engines and modern sailing with a big simulation system for navigating a modern day coaster/tanker.


The ticket was €6 and if you can read the displays (in German or Danish) you can spend 1-1.5 hour here.

First photo by Stadt Flensburg.

Fisheries and Shipping Museum, Esbjerg

Fishing and Shipping Museum – Esbjerg

The area around Esbjerg has been an important fishing and shipping region for a long time. Therefore, it is only apt to visit a fishing and shipping museum showing all this history when you are in the area.

The museum is divided into a number of indoor and outdoor areas. A good place to start is possibly the shipping area indoors. The displays do a very good job of showing how the shipping industry, particularly in the area, changed over time. The fishing area of the museum also does something similar, showing how the fishing industry changed and grew with different industrial and technological advances.


If you have kids with you (or consider yourself a big kid like we do!) you might be more excited about the other areas where there is less to read and understand and more to experience. I loved the open air displays which depict different aspects of life on the coast, from a harbour and a fish drying rack, to a German bunker from WWII. On the day we visited there was also a ropemaker working in one of the buildings who was more than happy to chat to us. Apparently you can ask him to make items for you (from nets to hammocks, at a price).

Old fisherman telling tales

The highlight of the museum is probably the saltwater aquarium and the sealarium. In the aquarium you can see a variety of species that live in the sea around Denmark. There is also a shallow petting pool where it is actually permitted to touch the animals (with care, of course!). I thought the aquarium compared well in quality with other top aquaria/oceanaria I have visited (though, of course, not in size).


In the sealarium there are 5 seals; 4 spotted seals and one grey seal – in an open-air pool. It would be good to schedule your visit to the seals with the daily feedings (that happen at 11:00 & 14:30). During feeding you really get to see them move and get a commentary from the feeder about the different seals and what they are doing.


A very interesting place with something for all the family. It is not the largest of museums, which makes it manageable and not overwhelming as you can easily move between sections. You can easily spend 2 hrs in the museum, especially if you take your time to soak it all in. And once you’re done, don’t forget to stop by the Men at Sea statues opposite!

Als Ferry

Ferry Fynshav-Bojden #16/99

A pain of living on an island is the ease with which you can get to other places. Believe me! I know! I lived in a country the size of Als for the first 21 years of my life with no bridges to anywhere! It is true that Als is connected to mainland Jutland by two bridges. However, the traditional way of connecting islands is with the use of ferries, and Als is not lacking here either.

Als Ferry

One of the ferries connects Fynshav on Als to Bojden on Fyn. The trip takes around 50mins. This means that rather than spending around 1.5hrs on a motorway you can get to Fyn within 10mins driving on country roads and 50mins relaxing on a ferry (+ time to drive to you destination on the other side).

You can easily make reservations online or by calling the company. Learning from our mistakes we would strongly suggest you do that! If you don’t have a reservation you will only make it onto the ferry after all the people who have reserved have. We managed to get on the ferry in both directions without a reservation. However, it was tight both times, and a 2hr wait for the next ferry is probably not your idea of a good time.


This ferry provides a useful connection between the south of Jutland and the south of Fyn, facilitating the ease by which you can go from Als to the two main Danish islands (Fyn, and Zealand further on). It is also a pleasant way of getting to Egeskov Slot from Sonderborg as we did. Way more relaxing than being cooped up in a car for the time required!

Sleep the way to your destination

We have already written about travelling to and from Sonderborg, either within Denmark or abroad previously in this blog. However, one way of travelling that we hadn’t mentioned was travelling with sleeper trains.

We ‘discovered’ the night trains by accident while looking for saver tickets on the Deutsche Bahn website. The service, known as City Night Line, connects a number of European cities during the night: you go to sleep in one country, and arrive refreshed the next morning ready to discover your destination.

From Padborg or Flensburg you can get on a train straight to Prague, Basel or Amsterdam (with stops in other places including Berlin, Frankfurt, or Cologne). Having discovered this possibility we couldn’t pass it by, so we hopped on the train to Prague for an Easter break, leaving Padborg at around 22:00, and arriving in Prague the next day at around 9:30.

On the train there are a couple of sleeping options, from 4-6 person couchette compartments, to deluxe 2-person cabins. On this trip we tried the 4-person couchette compartment going there and an economy double cabin coming back. As would be expected, the double cabin was more comfortable than the shared couchette. However, since the other two people in the couchette compartment got off in Berlin, we had the cabin to ourselves for most of the trip.

So how was the experience?

This was my first time in a sleeper train. I wasn’t sure how much sleep I would actually get. However, although there is quite a lot of bumping around at certain stations as the trains are reconfigured (the train leaves Copenhagen with cars meant for Prague, Amsterdam and Basel), having around 11 hours on the train means that you can get ample sleep. Both of us are pretty heavy sleepers and both got decent sleep but people who sleep lighter might have trouble falling asleep. We would consider these trains another time if we are heading in one of the directions of City Night Line. Waking up to the views of the train running along the river Elbe was worth it just on its own!

Fastest and cheapest from Copenhagen to Sonderborg?

Just a quick post for those you are looking for a quick answer. Prices are updated March 2014.


Train 571

  • Duration: 4 hours and 6 minutes
  • Regular Price: 399DKK (54EUR)
  • Book with DSB

The train leaves every two hours you need to change at Copenhagen Main Trainstation (København H) where you have about 14 minutes to change. There are escalators and elevators in case you have a lot of luggages.

Discount tickets know as “Orange tickets” are available if you book long time in advance and for a specific train departure. Orange tickets for the Copenhagen Airport – Sønderborg route is typically 149DKK or 257DKK.


Looks like Baloo's plane

On weekdays there are flights leaving Copenhagen at 8.30, 14.30, 18.30 and 21.45. Saturdays and sundays there are one flight each way. The flight leaves from the domestic airport. The taxi ride from Sønderborg airport to city center takes 8 minutes and cost about 150DKK.

UPDATE March 2014: Now it is Alsie Express that flies the Copenhagen – Sønderborg route. Prices and times are updated.

Christmas Market in Flensburg #4/99

Christmas markets, or Weihnachtsmarkts, have a long tradition in German-speaking countries, with Dresden Christmas market, which is one of the most famous, being first mentioned in 1434. Nowadays, these street market are a very common sight during the month of December. Having heard good things about Flensburg Christmas market we decided to make a Saturday afternoon of it.

The mill at the southern market

As I was hoping for (and expecting), the market was a very pretty sight indeed or, as the Danes would say, hyggeligt. It is mainly located on the main walking street, with stalls going all the way from Sudermarkt to Nordermarkt.

The walking street, particularly the area around Sudermarkt was packed! The people were out in full-force enjoying the cozy atmosphere of the Christmas stalls. In particular, they seemed to be enjoying their drinks. They stood huddling together at the stalls drinking their gluhwein and their punsch, which is a Flensburg version of gluhwein to which rum is also added.

Candles of bees wax

The market can easily be managed in half a day. A good suggestion would be to go in the afternoon to see all the pretty Christmas lights when it gets dark. Besides the main walking street a visit to Rote Strasse should also be on your to-do list, particularly going down one of the alleys and stopping for some drinks to warm you up in the prettily decorated stalls invariably located down each one.

Rote Strasse

However, there is more to Flensburg than just the Christmas market! With Flensburg being within easy reach of Sonderborg (45mins by car; 1hr15 by bus) we will definitely be visiting again in the coming months. I have already spied a board game shop I definitely need to explore on our next trip!

geese watching in west Denmark

Bird watching in Denmarks biggest National Park


An area in the southwestern corner of Denmark was declared Wadden Sea National Park, Denmark in 2010. The area is part of a larger ecological area also named Wadden Sea that stretches from Holland, through Germany to Esbjerg in Denmark. The German and Dutch parts are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage area.


The Wadden Sea is unique in its flatness, which means the area changes with the tide twice a day. Huge beaches are flooded with sea water rich in nutrients, which makes the area one of the most important areas in the world for migrating birds. It is estimated that 10-12 million birds migrate through the area as they migrate to Africa for winter and Scandinavia for summer. This makes it an excellent place to picnic for birds needing to fatten up before their long flights. Birds love the place but the area might seem barren, boring and monotonous with huge flat expanses with little vegetation.


Right now geese are in the area in the thousands and last weekend we went with my parents to see if we could spot them. And we did manage to find a couple of big flocks flying, ‘talking’ and eating in a couple of places. We did not see the huge flocks I was hoping for but still spotted a lot of birds.


In spring and fall huge flocks of starlings feed in the area for a couple of weeks and it has become such a big attraction that the few narrow roads in the area gets quite congested and the big groups of people disturb the birds. When the birds go to rest for the night they perform a “dance” which in Danish is called Sort Sol (literally Black Sun). The English term is Murmuration. Here’s one of the pictures we took last year:

Black Sun

I have dragged Ann to the area a couple of times now to look for birds but still she is not as awestruck as me at the spectacle of nature and open space. I was raised to admire and love the subtle miracles of nature in this often windswept and cold place but I guess it might be an acquired taste like herring and aquavit. However it’s not the last time we have come to this corner of Denmark and maybe some day Ann will be the one who spots the Peregrine Falcon or the pied avocet with excitement.

Ann with binoculars looking at birds