Guide to Visiting the Wadden Sea coast in Denmark | Ribe, Esbjerg, Fano

Why you should visit the Wadden Sea Coast

Woman with blue rain jacket and green waders standing on an oyster reef holding and oyster

Special thank you to the Vadehavskysten (Wadden Sea Coast tourism board) for hosting me in Denmark. All opinions are my own.

Add the Wadden Sea Coast in Denmark to the list of places you wish you knew about sooner!

You know that we love to discover places that aren’t on people’s radar because, well, it’s like we get to share the world’s best kept secrets! There are so many places that offer so much for people and aren’t filled with hoards of tourists. And let’s be honest, aren’t we all ready to go exploring without the crowds?

The Wadden Sea is known for its wildlife, its incredible history, and friendly people, but it might surprise you to know that it’s an impressive foodie destination as well! It’s no surprise that since it’s by the sea that seafood plays a big role in the food, but the local producers of everything from bread, to cheese, and even salt (from the island of Fanø) take quality very seriously.

You might want to follow in our footsteps and head to the Wadden Sea Coast because it’s easy to drive around, there’s so much to do for nature-lovers and anyone seeking a little adventure, plus they have the cutest walkable towns, and even wineries and breweries!

A week is a good amount of time to spend here, but if you want a chill pace, I’d stay even longer to enjoy it all but not feel rushed. Plus, then you can have more amazing meals. Yes, the gastronomy scene seriously surprised me in the best way possible.

Big chain hotels aren’t really their thing, so you’ll likely stay in a very chic smaller hotel or a cozy B&B. We stayed in B&Bs for the most part which was a treat. Comfy beds, unique features, and hosts that were happy to help you however they can. We met so many amazing people on this trip and I really think you will, too.

Things to do on the Wadden Sea Coast

South Western Jutland (Jutland being the biggest piece of land in Denmark) is very popular with anyone who loves to be outdoors. It’s a unique landscape with lots to offer visitors, but you need to start your travel-planning somewhere, don’t you? Isn’t that why you’re here? 🙂 Let’s start in Esbjerg, Denmark.

Visit Esbjerg

Walk around the old town | It’s a charming but totally livable town to walk around. There’s a massive square to stand in the middle of to take it all in. I imagine you spinning around with your arms out wide saying “This is amazing!” There’s lots of little streets to explore, so get walking!

Be sure to visit the Men by the Sea | It’s a must-see attraction of larger-than-life sculptures which are a symbol of the city. It’s right by the water, so it may be a bit windy.

Visit the Fisheries and Maritime Museum | Learn about the sea surrounding Denmark along with the wildlife within its water. It’s always important to learn about the culture of an area, so you get a better picture of it all. Because this is a port city, it’s culture revolved around the water for a long time and you’ll get a better insight of it all right here.

Where to eat and drink in Esbjerg

Kaffesmeden is a local favorite for breakfast and coffee. After fueling up, you can start exploring the streets of Esbjerg.

Street Food Esbjerg is a food court (with bar) housed in an old theatre with a very unique interior design and lots of little places to discover. Find the Beer Garden for my favorite spot.

Restaurant Loftet is a fine dining restaurant worth splurging on. They focus on the seasonal local ingredients paired with the best wines. It was our favorite meal of the year!

Esbjerg Bryghus is the place to go for some local beers in a cozy local atmosphere. Everyone is so nice and the place is super cool and photogenic.

Spiritusklubben is for cocktail lovers and is a treat! Check out his website and Facebook page for events so you can have creative cocktails when you visit. Or just visit to find a new spirit because he knows everything about his bottles!

Stay on Fanø

Fanø is where the locals go for a few days of relaxation or fun! It’s a quick ferry ride across the water to an island that feels an entire world away. This island is part of the Wadden Sea National Park so nature is the name of the game on this island and boasts so many things to do!

Have your own photo shoot in the most adorable little town of Nordby. Lose yourself in the little streets and marvel at the local style of the homes.

Go seal watching! This area is known for its seals and general wildlife so stay on the lookout.

Bird-lovers will love this island. Bring your binoculars for this little adventure.

Hike along the beach and into the dunes for a serious breath of fresh air and a little exercise.

In the summertime, the beach is the place to get some sun and a few waves.

Learn a new skill and go blokarting along this massive beach with Kites and Coffee.

Not your thing? Maybe flying kites is more your speed. The wind is perfect on the west side of the island for both of those activities.

Visit the tiny picturesque village of Sønderho for an evening walk.

On the way, stop at the Sønderho Mølle (windmill) for some stunning views.

Love cycling? There are bike paths everywhere and it’s a perfect way to get around on the island.

Top Restaurants in Fanø

Both of our favorite restaurants also offer sleeping arrangements, so it might be worth looking into if you’re staying a while to relax. I’ll also include where we stayed while on the Wadden Sea Coast in the section below.

Kellers Badehotel & Spisehus is a must for anyone visiting Fanø if you like an excellent meal in a setting that feels like you’re at a friend’s place who has good taste in decor. Their pear dessert was mind-blowing.

Fanø Krogaard is the place to go for local treats with a view of the water. The inside is a unique layover offering different types of dining experiences. It all feels incredibly traditional and maybe even “homey” but we got a sneak peek in the kitchen with the chef and let me tell you, it’s food made at a high level. So, quality is guaranteed! Also, they have a huge terrace!

Experience Ribe

Ribe is the oldest town in Denmark…and probably the most beautiful. Yeah, I couldn’t understand why everyone we met said we had to go to Ribe. And then we went and it was obvious. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if I tried. From the half-timber buildings to the colorful homes. I felt like I was in a fairytale! I can’t fully explain how much I love Ribe, but you can probably see it on my face in our video on YouTube.

Visit the old castle ruins with views over the little town. It even has a little moat.

See the inside of Denmark’s oldest church, Ribe Cathedral. You might even be able to climb to the top for a spectacular view.

Explore the whole town. Seriously, keep walking! It’s not just one road. Allow yourself to be surprised because I promise, there are surprises everywhere.

Take the tour with the Night Watchman. It’s amazing and yes, it’s in English, too. Just ask.

Have a hot chocolate and try the salted caramel Flødebolle at Temper Chokolade. Send me a DM on Instagram and thank me 😉

Learn the history of witch hunts from the 16th and 17th centuries at the HEX! Museum of Witch Hunt.

Have dinner at Kolvigs for a memorable experience. Their all homemade dishes have French twists but are inspired by the Nordics. I highly recommend the wine pairing for a surprising note to the dinner. If you’re visiting in the summer, ask for an outside table when you reserve and you’ll be right by the water!

Explore the Wadden Sea Coast

There are incredible towns and islands in this part of Denmark, but the countryside has a lot to offer as well. This is why we recommend renting a car to get the full experience and it’s pretty easy driving and worth it to have your own timeline.

Wadden Sea Center is accessible by bus from Ribe if you don’t have a car and is the hub for learning about the UNESCO World Heritage area of the Wadden Sea. You’ll learn all about the migratory birds and the important aspects of the sea. They host different learning adventures depending on your physical abilities and what you want to see and learn. I have to tell you though, they have a Schnapps tour. ‘Nough said. But not really, because you can also go on a Seal Safari, Oyster Safari, Black Sun experience, go trawling, take a hiking and bike tour, and more.

Oyster Safaris are the thing to do in the fall and winter in this area! The Wadden Sea Center has one as I mentioned before, but note to read the physical ability level no matter which tour you join. The Wadden Sea Center is likely the most eco-friendly option with as little disturbance to the natural landscape as possible, but some of the time it requires a bit of effort to not fall in the water when it’s up to your thighs and your feet are sinking in the mud. They have an oyster tour for everyone that is much easier but depends on the tides. See how my tour went in my YouTube video.

Marsk Camp is a unique place with spots to camp in your RV (or #vanlife!) or you can stay in a glamping tent. A new addition is the Marsk Tower standing at 25 meters tall and weighing about 300 tons. It grants incredible views of the whole area. They also host various activities like Oyster Safaris where you can bring them back to camp and they make it a bit more lux by offering to cook them over a fire and serving them in various ways. You can take a guided tour to see the Black Sun (or Starling Magic) or learn about the local herbs and other tasty treats and eat your way across the marsh. Do you see why this is TOTALLY a foodie destination?

Visit a winery because who thinks of wineries in Denmark? I didn’t! Vester Vedsted Vineyard is a family-run winery and restaurant that has it all. Pretty much everything they make is from their land or local producers nearby. We got special access to see how they do it all and it was incredible. We went to grab eggs from the chicken coop, pick herbs from the garden, tried edible flowers, and made the best omelet ever. Of course, we tried the wine (excellent), and they make a bunch of other things from gin, to soap, and so much more. Not so secretly, we’re hoping to go back during grape harvest season!

Where to stay along the Danish Coast

Sweet Home Guesthouse in Esbjerg

For a cute place to stay close to the old town with a very kind and thoughtful host, this is your spot. The bed was so comfy and it just felt like you’re in the guestroom of your family. Highly recommended!

Haven Fanø on Fanø

Stay in a traditional house in the middle of the adorable town of Nordby. It’s not far from the massive parking lot by the water which makes it super simple coming from/going to the ferry. And the breakfast is above and beyond! More local kindness is found here. I already want to go back.

Den Gamle Arrest in Ribe

Ribe isn’t the biggest place but you should absolutely stay the night in this former jail. It’s across from the Cathedral, so it’s very central and it’s an experience in itself! The only question is, are you going to book a jail cell (like we did) or stay in the prison inspector’s room?

Danhostel Ribe

For more of a community vibe and a bit more bang for your buck, this is a hostel/hotel combo. We stay in a room on the top floor with amazing views and a private bathroom. They have a little parking lot in the back if you need it.

Marsk Camp

Vanlifers and those with RVs are going to love Marsk Camp. There are play areas, picnic tables, a restaurant and so much more. In the summer, the glamping tents are a treat for having a unique experience in Denmark.

How to get to Esbjerg

The Wadden Sea Coast in Denmark is on the southwestern part of the country. The sea flows from here through Germany and into the top islands of the Netherlands. For a place that feels so far removed, it’s shockingly easy to get to.

By plane

Because we live in Amsterdam, it was super quick and easy to fly with KLM directly to Billund airport and then drive from there, it’s an hour’s drive to get to Esbjerg. There is an airport in Esbjerg, as well, which is most easily accessible through the United Kingdom.

By train

If it’s easier to get to Hamburg, Germany for you then a train would be a great option. For a super easy platform to book trains, Omio is a great resource. Of course, you can always book directly with Deutsche Bahn as well. It’s a 3.5-4 hour train ride, but trains are a great way to travel if you are just hitting the main spots or will pick up a car once you get there.

By car

This part of Denmark is very close to Germany, so if you’re driving, it’s about an hour and 20 minutes across the border.

How to get around the coast

It’s best to rent a car so you have the freedom to drive around when you want and the roads are very easy to drive…even if you haven’t driven in a while (like us!).

I was seriously impressed with how easy it was to drive. Just keep in mind that you’re in the countryside, so you may get stuck behind some big trucks and tractors…it’s all part of the experience! We got a car from Enterprise and the service was perfect. You may want to check prices on Rentalcars.com anyway to get an idea of costs. And this blog helps understand the parking signs (because I definitely called my Danish contact when parking because I was confused).

Some of the cities are accessible by train and buses, so you can get a taste of it without driving! You’ll want to plan in a little more detail and understand that you may not be able to get everywhere on this list, but you’ll still have a great time.

Jessica Cutrufello wearing a green floral dress, glasses and pink lipstick

Hi! I’m Jessica, an American who made Amsterdam her home in 2014. I share European gems through food and memorable experiences. Want to know more? Head to my about page or check out my YouTube channel.