City of Esbjerg (Region Syddanmark)

The city of Esbjerg is included to the island Region Syddanmark and to the region Esbjerg Municipality

Presentation of the destination

Answering the Call

With a little bit more than 70,000 people, Esbjerg is the most populous city in the Jutland peninsula and the fifth-largest one in Denmark. Only about 150 years ago it was a small village consisting of but several farms, and it was a misfortune that changed Esbjerg’s fate so rapidly. In 1864 Denmark lost the Second Schleswig War to Germany, and this loss cost the country an important part of its territory. Among other cities, a port of Altona fell into German hands, and suddenly Denmark remained without any developed harbours on the North Sea. Leaving things as they were would spell a major economic catastrophe, and the government had to find a replacement for Altona – and do it quickly. Esbjerg answered the call. The port was opened in 1874, a railway followed in the same year, and in the course of time the former village reshaped itself into a relatively big industrial city

Points of interests / things to see

Devoted to the Core Industry

Whatever other museum in Esbjerg might be about, the Fisheries and Maritime Museum must be considered as the city’s most important one – simply because it is devoted to an industry that determined Esbjerg’s identity. That said, the museum deserves attention and recognition in its own right – as an almost exemplary success story. The process of creating a museum had been slow and meticulous. It was conceived in a journalist’s mind in 1941, and it was not before 1962 that a planning committee was formed.  Artefacts followed, then a building was erected for that particular purpose. A privately owned establishment, the museum had to start small – when it opened to the public in 1968 there were but a fisheries exhibition and a saltwater aquarium. It took 8 years to add a sealarium  - and 13 more years to launch an outdoor exhibition. By 1994 the museum was mature enough to afford a research unit. In 2000 the steady and almost inexorable growth resulted in a new Centre for Maritime and Regional Studies supported by the University of Southern Denmark. Even before that, in 1999, the museum moved into a five-storey building. Over about 40 years of its existence the museum was visited by six million people! The Maritime Museum in Esbjerg has become a hymn to human vision and commercial daring.

Standing Tall

The Fisheries and Maritime museum is probably the most famous one in Esbjerg but ironically almost every attraction can be overlooked by someone who knows nothing about it. It is a structure like Esbjerg Water Tower or the “Man Meets the Sea” monument that is responsible for the “almost” part. Initially the tower was supposed to be erected for merely practical purposes – to provide the growing population of a newly created municipality (Esbjerg officially became a city in 1894) with running water. The architect, C.H.Clausen, was also known for matching his buildings’ appearance with their function – yet in this particular case he was inspired by the Nassauer Haus in Nuremberg. As a result, Esbjerg was presented with an appealing red-brick Gothic edifice boasting four decorative turrets and a viewing platform. Soon enough the tower lost most of its practical functions (since 1902 it was not used for pumping water any more but only for storing it) - and from that moment on it had been gradually turning into what its architect probably meant it to be (at least, subconsciously!). Namely, it became a landmark for Esbjerg and a part of Esbjerg museum. The tower provides both stunning views over the city and a unique exhibition devoted to water towers in Europe.

Meet and Greet

Providing stunning views is a practical – and most obvious - advantage associated with a tall building but it is not its only asset. Equally important, it draws everybody’s attention as people tend to look up. Coming to Esbjerg, one can’t help seeing the water tower but it is even less possible to miss the above-mentioned “Man Meets the Sea” monument. This 9-meter-tall structure has a lot in common with everything I have described so far. Location-wise, it is just opposite the Fisheries and Maritime. Just like the water tower, it is Esbjerg’s landmark – and an even more famous and conspicuous one. Finally, its construction was also prompted – though indirectly - by the city’s rapid growth at the end of the 19th century as it was meant to commemorate a hundred-years anniversary of the municipality in 1994. The occasion was considered important enough to ensure sufficient funding from a variety of sources (such as the municipality itself, an art fund and private sponsors). Now the four seated males merging into the skyline is the first and last thing the city guests see when coming to or leaving Esbjerg by sea. It could have been different because the sculptor, Svend Viig Hansen, initially intended a different location for his creation.

In the Centre of Attention

Esbjerg seems to have a special relationship with heights as many of its attractions are soaring above the ground. It concerns not only the monuments scattered all over the city and serving as its landmarks but also those pieces of art – be it sculpture or architecture – that are located right in the heart of Esbjerg. The very centre of the central (main) square is decorated with a bronze equestrian statue of Christian IX, known as the founder of Esbjerg. It was his decision to entrust the little village with a crucial role in the country economics, and in 1899 the citizens repaid the trust by commissioning a statue to honour the king and commemorate his decision. Gratitude and respect are the central themes of the work created by Ludvig Brandstrup – each is emphasized by a corresponding inscription on the base of the statue. The former reads “In Honour of the founder of the town, the citizens of Esbjerg raised this monument” while the latter reiterates the king’s own motto “With God for honour and justice”. Even the Old Courthouse – which is located on the same square – that otherwise deals with earthly matters, is reaching for the sky in at least one respect: one of its towers is quite tall.

Refuting the Lonely Planet

Considering the above, it is rather surprising that the “Lonely Planet”, a renowned travel guide book publisher, remarked that "nobody comes to Esbjerg for a holiday, in fact, as with many industrial ports, most visitors rush through as quickly as possible". For an allegedly non-tourist, purely industrial city there seems to be enough to see – enough and beyond. That includes also more traditional attractions – such as churches, museums concert hall and theatres or sports facilities. Those interested in, so-to-say, local flavour might be tempted first and foremost by Esbjerg museum (already mentioned in connection with the water tower). The museum has only three major permanent exhibitions but each of them provides a comprehensive coverage of the topic in question. The most unusual exhibition – yet with a strong local connection – is devoted to amber which has for centuries been an intrinsic part of Jutland  maritime-oriented economy. The prehistoric exhibition digs even deeper as it plunges all the way back to the Iron Age. Its reconstruction of a farm from the period in question traces back to a great Scandinavian tradition of open-air museums that have gained popularity over the recent decades. The last permanent exhibition deals with Esbjerg as a town – that is, from the end of the 19th century onward.

A "National Park" Concept

We as the humankind might have entered the “global village” stage but individual countries and regions would still develop in their own way. Denmark – alongside with other Scandinavian countries – was the first to develop an “open air museum” concept. On the other hand it fell somewhat behind in respect to an equally fascinating concept – that of national parks. The country started to catch up in 2008 when the first national park in Thy was officially inaugurated. The Wadden Sea park near Esbjerg came to being on October 16, 2010 – as the third and largest national park in Denmark covering no less than 146.600 Ha.

Immersed in Nature

Any description of the Wadden Sea national park is bound to sound as if taken from a “Back to Paradise” type of book. First and foremost, it is a bird-watcher’s paradise as about 10-12 million birds cross the area during their annual migration. They take their time there, too because from birds’ point of view the Wadden Sea is a colossal larder. When a huge flock of birds – such as, for instance, starlings - settles for the night, they create an unforgettable “black sun” effect. Experiencing that alone might be well worth a visit – and for those who are not interested in birds, there are seals as well.

Oh, Deer!

Naturally, not every park in Esbjerg is as important as the Wadden Sea which is on the same list of Particular Sensitive Sea Area with such world renowned phenomena as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Galapagos Islands near Equador. That said, each park has a lot to offer and is enjoyable in its own way. For instance, children (and many adults as well) would undoubtedly appreciate an opportunity to get really close to deer in a special enclosure within a nearby forest. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words – and a picture of a little girl petting a beautiful deer says it all.

Parks of All Trades

It is not even necessary to leave the city to get to a park as parks are about everywhere in Esbjerg – and they offer about everything. Art-lovers can attend free concerts in the Town Park located in the very centre of Esbjerg – or they can enjoy Henry Heerup’s sculptures in a little garden named after the sculptor and located next to the town square. Those fascinated by flowers could go to Tjaereborg where they will be treated to a sight of 850 roses of 350 different sorts. A kind of a Japanese garden where art and nature are intertwined can be found in a park fittingly named “Olsens Paradis”

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Vacation rentals in Esbjerg (Region Syddanmark)

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Region Syddanmark
Administrative area 2 :
Esbjerg Municipality
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Surrounding towns

  • Varde ~16 km
  • Ribe ~26 km
  • Fanø ~8 km
  • Bramming ~15 km
  • Nordby ~5 km
  • Nordby ~6 km
  • Oksbøl ~20 km
  • Tjæreborg ~8 km
  • Gredstedbro ~20 km
  • Janderup Vestj ~20 km

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How to get there ?

Hidden in the West

As a little village, Esbjerg was located far away from big cities – and turning into a big city itself did not help it to change this particular fact. Denmark’s major centres are still at a significant distance from the southwestern coast where Esbjerg is situated – and it takes time to reach any of them. The closest one is Kolding, and even it is 71 kilometres away. Aarhus is more than twice as far, and the capital of the country, Copenhagen, is almost 300 kilometres to the northeast. As a result, it is much easier to get to Esbjerg from smaller Danish cities or even from abroad. For instance, direct flights to the city are available only from Aberdeen in Scotland and Bergen-Stavanger in Norway. Air travelers from other destinations have to go to Billund located at an hour’s drive from Esbjerg. A ferry makes it easy to reach the destination in question from Harwich in England. Within Jutland there are also quick and easy train connections to Fredericia and Varde but otherwise one has to rely on express trains and buses to get to Esbjerg from the rest of the country. The easiest way to get around the city is just to walk as distance-wise it is rather small.

Esbjerg twins towns, sister cities

Discover the esbjerg's international relations with partnership cities and friendship cities.

Hotels in Esbjerg (Region Syddanmark)

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Cabinn Esbjerg

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Hotel Britannia

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Scandic Olympic

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Danhostel Esbjerg

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Hotel Ansgar

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CoCo Bed & Breakfast

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Guldager Kro

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Bed & Breakfast Esbjerg

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272 Bed & Breakfast

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ECH Park

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Two-Bedroom Holiday Home in Esbjerg V

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035. Englandsgade

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Three-Bedroom Holiday Home in Esbjerg V

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Hjerting Badehotel

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Sweet Home Bed & Breakfast