Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Ærø or 'Aero' is one of those destinations in Denmark that doesn't get a lot of attention but is a hidden gem that any traveller who is anxious to find something a little bit different should try their best to visit. Ærø is a tiny island surrounded by the Danish Baltic Sea - only 30 km in length and 8 km wide. But it being so small makes it the perfect place for travellers to visit and explore either on foot or by bike. My adventures on Ærø were some of the most memorable I had in Europe because of the people I met, unique experiences I found and absolutely breathtaking scenery. This peaceful, colourful and darling little island is filled with different villages spread across picturesque rolling hills. All the different destinations can easily be visited by bike or on foot, one of the best ways to explore the Ærø and take in all those stunning views.

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Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

When to Visit

Before you head on your adventure, one word of warning. Ærø is primarily a summer destination. During the months of September to May, most of the shops, restaurants and activities aren't open either at all or are open on a very limited schedule. I visited just at the beginning of May, during the very start of the tourist season and even then, the island was very quiet and opening hours of the shops were pretty limited which required a fair bit of planning around. That being said, there was something about visiting a seemingly uninhabited land, covered in antiquated Danish architecture that felt like we were explorers, discovering something hidden from the ages and history books. But for the best experience and ability to visit everything in this post, you might want to visit the island in the full bloom of summer when it’s full of people with a lively atmosphere and a plentiful amount of activities to experience. Ærø is a fairly expensive island to visit and I frequently find many tourists complaining about prices of food and accommodation. Denmark in general is a slightly more expensive European city to visit and then when you add these small islands with little access to the mainland, you end up with high prices on things like food, drink and hotels. Knowing this in advance really helps you set up good expectations and although the lodging and food might cost a bit more, so many of the activities on the island like biking and hiking won’t cost you a thing!

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Access

Svendborg is your best place to start to make your way onto the island. It's the largest town with a Ferry over to the island and with a train station that runs more frequently than the other ferry towns in close proximity to Ærø. The walk from the train station to the Ferry platform is a short one, and there is an adorably quaint Bed and Breakfast beside it which offers great food and drink options for you to enjoy if you find yourself waiting a few hours for the ferry like we did. The ferry itself has some food options on it too if you find yourself rushing to meet the ship without having eaten.

20-7 Faaborg (4)

You can buy your tickets aboard the boat, and be sure to buy a return ticket as it's cheaper to do it that way rather than pay each way separately. The return ticket costs $35 US during the regular season but if you head out there during the off-season it only costs $13. Ferries run about every hour on the weekdays and slightly less often on weekends and holidays. The trip from Svendborg to Ærø takes about 75 minutes. Enough time for you to take in the beauty of the Baltic Sea as you cruise towards the island. I found the ferry ride such an enjoyable part of the experience.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

If your trip takes you there in May, be prepared for an amazing site as you cross the sea. As you sail towards Ærø, fields of gold begin appearing in the distance. The golden colour is produced by the blossoming flowers in the fields and farmlands all over the hills and valleys. Against the bright blue seas and the white flurry clouds, it's a colour spectrum unlike anything I'd ever seen before. When you arrive in Ærø from Svendborg, you'll dock in the town of Ærøskøbing. Ærøskøbing is one of the larger villages on the island and from here you can make your way to your accommodations anywhere on the island.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

History

Settlements on Ærø has been dated back to as early as 8000 BC. Neolithic burial grounds can still be found on the island, a small memento of the islands incredible Viking past. In the 17th century the island was mainly run by a Duke, a member of the Danish royal family. From 1622 to 1633 one of their most prolific ruler, Duke Christian controlled the island. When he died the islanders founds a banner in his manor house composed of nine pieces of cloth and in three different colours, each on representing a different part of what made Ærø so special. Red was the colour of life, the grean was the deep colour of the Baltic sea and the golden yellow was for the beautiful flowers which cover the island in the spring, signifying great crops and lush produce. This remains the flag of Ærø to this day. After the Duke's death, the island was divided between the dukes four brothers, into the four main villages on the island we still can visit today.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

The island is mainly populated by small farms across the different villages. There are three main towns around the island where you'll find the most things to do and places to stay. The largest village is Marstal with a whopping 2,340 permanent inhabitants. After that, the biggest is Ærøskøbing with 978 and Søby with 598! This alone was reason enough for me to want to travel there. These tiny hamlets have such an amazingly, tight-knit atmosphere as everyone needs to work so close together for their little island to prosper. Ærøskøbing is my favourite of them all. Many people call this place a fairy tale town. My favourite travel author Rick Steve dubbed it "a ship's town in a bottle" as its architecture and charm has been perfectly preserved for years. Marstal is the largest city on the island and has the strongest connections with their maritime history and you'll find this theme strong throughout the village. Søby is located at the northernmost point on the island and is the smallest village. It is where all the old Viking boats are still being restored and where you'll find the iconic Ærø lighthouse.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Where to Stay

Airbnb

There are some incredible Airbnb options in Ærø. Multiple locations allow you to sleep in converted granaries, bakeries and farmhouses now turned into comfortable accommodations. One of the most impressive is a seventeenth-century manor where King Frederik V stayed in 1750. Staying here is like experiencing a small part of Ærø’s history. The apartments have been restored but still, contain a collection of contemporary Danish modern art and antique. The rooms cost about $180/night and the weekdays are often cheaper than the weekends.

Bed and Breakfasts

Stay in a converted sea captains manor, built in 1784, where you'll be cared for by the owner Susanna who serves afternoon tea to all her guests out in her charming Danish garden. Vestergade 44 bed and breakfast can be found just up the street from the ferry station in Ærøskobing so it's easily accessible even on foot. There are a variety of rooms, each decorated in their own style with collections of art and antiques to make the room feel authentically lived in. The rooms cost $189 US/night for a double room.

Last rays of sun

Guesthouses

The difference between a guest house and a bed-and-breakfast is that inside the guest house you have ample access to the kitchen, living rooms and other parts of the house. It’s more like staying in the room in a large house so you feel a part of a lively community of people. There are a variety different guesthouses to choose from, so just look at what different unique feature they have and pick your favourite. Bakkehuset, located on the northeast side of the island, just minutes away from the sea, is a post-card perfect place to stay. You have access to their lush gardens where you can even sample different fruits right off their trees. The rooms are surprisingly modern with an unmistakable Danish touch. $212 US/night (for more than one night).

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How to Get Around

By Car

If you're renting a car while visiting Ærø you'll find exploring the island incredibly easy. There is ample parking in town and even if you want to stop your car along the roads it's easy enough to just pull over and enjoy the view. Most of the guesthouses and Airbnbs have parking options if you want to leave the car alone and explore the rest of your time on Ærø by foot or bike.

by Bus

If you arrived on the island without a car you might be wondering how you'll be able to get around. The island offers a free tourist bus which runs the length of the island from Søby to Marstal via Ærøskøbing. They depart about once an hour in each direction. For the complete timetable, you can check here. After 9 am they accept bikes on the bus so if you find yourself out of energy this is always an option to help you get back to your lodging. Our guesthouse host picked us up from the ferry station when we arrived and even offered to drive us to and from different destinations on the island as well, so never be nervous to ask your hosts for help. We found everyone on the island so incredibly helpful and kind and they were so keen to show off their favourite parts of Ærø.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

by Bike

Biking across the island was our main method of transportation. After settling down in your hotel or at your guesthouse go about finding a bike. Every guesthouse or hotel will rent you out a bike (usually for free) that you can ride all over the island. There are no bike locks needed as Ærø is pretty much the safest place in the world! Just park your bike anywhere that is safe from traffic and head on your way.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

For the most part the island is fairly easy to bike, but when the wind picks up and you’re biking up hills it can require a little more effort but its well worth it. Taking a tour of the island by bike, you'll see, in a much more intimate way, the texture of the landscape, the smell of the wind and all the little details that pop out at you only by whizzing around on a two-wheel joy-ride. Biking across the countryside you'll see wild lilacs, roses, buck-thorn and more of the incredible wild and farmed flower fields, You'll pass thatched houses and old Danish churches. Bike maps can be found at the tourist office or just from your host. We stuck our paper map in our bike basket and just used that as our GPS the entire time.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Things to Do on Aero

I wanted to break up the activities into the various different villages and areas of the island. This is a perfect way to break up your days. Take a bike ride to one villages and spend your time exploring what you find there. Don’t be scared to get lost. We often got off the main road or pathway and found all sorts of different surprising treasures. All the different places to see are detailed on the map at the bottom of this post if you want a better idea of the scope of the island.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Things to Do in Ærøskøbing

Walking around the old town

Truly my favourite thing to do while in the old fairy-tale village of Ærøskøbing was to explore the colourful, antiquated houses and cobblestone lanes. Some of these houses date back to the 1600s and honestly haven’t been touched, expect for a bit of new paint, ever since. The main road for spotting all these beautiful houses is along Brogade street but be sure to explore the side streets and alleys that veer off to find those hidden corners of the village which can unlock all sorts of secrets.

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Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Even after hundreds of years, the care the owners take in maintaining their homes means they look unchanged but in great condition. Like a ship in a bottle, protected from harm or time. Keep your eyes peeled for the various red painted buildings. These houses were actually once painted using real ox blood, giving them a slightly macabre feeling as you pass by, despite the cheery colour.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Although it's rumoured that no one locks their doors in this town, if you look closely you'll see many different houses have strange mirrors placed on the outside of their front windows. These mirrors are used to see out into the street from inside the house. But they weren't used for security, they were for town gossip! In a town as small as this, gossip runs ripe and it's amazing to see these devices they created to make it easier to spy on their neighbours, something you wouldn't see anywhere else in the world. We made it game spotting all the different mirrors as we passed by each of the houses along the lane.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island
Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Torvet Square

The main town square is located outside of the Ærøskobing church. Although not labelled on any maps, you'll see the words "Visdommens Kiled" marked where you’ll find the square. This translated from Danish means "the Source of Wisdom". In the middle ages, meetings in the town square were the only way such a small village would learn about the news of the days or what's going on over on the mainland. Today, in the busier summer months, there are often marketplaces set up here selling goods and foods from across the island. And still even today, villagers meet here to discuss the local news and gossip about the latest town tittle-tattle.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

In the centre of the square are two old hand-pumps. For years many of the houses in the village had to use to get their water from these two hand pumps alone. And while this seems like something which would have been used hundreds of years ago, they were actually still being used by villagers as recent as 1951 when the last house finally got running water installed!

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island
Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

One of the things I loved to study most when exploring Ærøskobing was looking at the all the different doorway designs. The town feels so alive and vibrant. Each of the quirky looking doors makes the house feel like they have their own personality and character. Despite being this small, quiet village it manages to feel lively and exciting just with a little paint and decoration.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island
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Ærøskøbing Church

Beside the town square, you’ll find Ærøskøbing Church. You can spot it from afar by its red terracotta coloured roof standing tall above the houses, capped by its green copper onion dome. This church dates back to 1756 but the land it was built on has the remainders of church foundations which date all the way back to the 13th century. The baptismal font found inside is a remnant of that original church and truly a treasure of the island. One of the most interesting parts of the church is the small entrance, with its bright blue painted doors and geometric roof line in the shape of cross. This part of the church feels so modern in its simplicity despite being designed so many years ago.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island
Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Ærøskøbing Bibliotek

Written across the top of the Ærøskøbing library are the words 'with law, you shall build’ written in Danish. This library was established in 1863 and has been a central part of the village ever since. If you step inside you'll find old wooden shelves lined with ancient and modern books. A small coffee vending machine keeps people awake against the odds as the peaceful silence which fills the room is near impossible not to fall asleep to. If you’re interested in peeking into the archives you can find a wealth of information about the island’s history dating back hundreds of years. These books are beautifully well kept so if you’re a bibliophile this is the place for you!

Ærøskøbing Church  Along the water's edge, you'll find the Ærøskøbing Church with its red terracotta coloured roof, copper onion dome and bright white exterior. This church dates back to 1756 but the land it was built on has the remainders of church foundations which date all the way back to the 13th century. The baptismal font found inside is a remnant of that original church. The interior has a collection of sea blue painted pews.

Hammerichs Hus

If you're looking for a quirky museum to visit on a rainy day check out the Hammerichs Hus. The Hammerichs Hus is a trio of half-timbered houses from the 17th and 18th century. Named after the sculptor Gunnar Hammerich, the museum houses a collection of rarities he collected over his life in Ærø. Upstairs in the house the walls are lined with over 3000 blue and white porcelain tiles. If you love antiques and looking at people's cabinets of curiosity you'll love this museum.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island
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Flaske Peters Samling

Peter Jacobsen was an incredible resident of Ærø who spend his life making ‘ships-in-bottle’. This museum is dedicated to his lifes work and contains over 750 of those tiny reproductions. Over the course of his life he made over 1,700 but the museum features a great varieties of the different shapes and designs he created. Jacobsen used to brag that he drank every single bottle he made into a ship, although we should mention they are all made from milk bottles. Considering that Ærø is a maritime city, this museum felt wonderfully apt and one of those little oddities that you’ll only find in a small town.

Det Gamle Værft

Sitting in the main harbour of Ærøskøbing is the mini, ship-repair shop. There is always a vessel sitting out in the yard in different stages of repair. It's so entertaining and interesting to watch them fixing up these old boats to head back out on the waters. Just like new. During certain times of the years they offer tours and even let you learn how to work a blacksmith's forge used to repair the ships.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Follow the Nightwatch in Aeroskobing

During the busy summer months, on Wednesday and Saturdays, you can get a nighttime guided tour of the old city of Ærøskøbing. Your guide will be dressed in the old fashioned garb of a nightwatchman and will lead you around the city as the sun begins to set, giving the entire place a different atmosphere and appearance. All the guides are great storytellers and you'll learn unique tales and legends from the town's history told by local themselves.

Molestien Lane

This thin gravel path, across from the beach is a lovely way to peek at some of the real, lived-in houses in Ærø. The path backs out on the back gardens of various residents on the island. Some used to be occupied by boat captains who made Ærø their home. The locals nicknamed this pathway "Virgin's Lane" as younglings used to court along this path in clear view of their parents who sat in their gardens watching over them. As you walk along the path you'll see dozens of old boats, sitting on the grass, flowers and moss growing over their bright and colourful hulls.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island
Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Bio Andelen

Bio Andelen or Andelen Cinema is the town's only movie theatre and Denmark's smallest cinema. There are a variety of international films which get shown here in their original language so if you speak English you'll almost always find something to watch. It’s a great way to spend an evening with the locals!

Ærø Bowlingcenter

If you're looking for something to do in the evening or even during the day if the weather is a little less than perfection, the bowling alley is a great option. There might only be four lanes but this quaint little alley with its charming cafe is a lovely place to while away the time.

Aero Whisky

Along the Old Merchant's Court, you'll find a long grey building with teal window frames and a small sign with the letters 'DKG'. This is Ærø's Whisky distillery which in Danish is called 'Den Gamle Købmandsgaard'. The large shop actually does more than sell whiskey, it is like a little market with delicious baked goods, local produce and yes, whiskey. Their original purpose for establishing the DGK was to help create more jobs in Ærø outside of just the tourism business and to highlight the incredible farmers, cooks and craftsmen in Ærø. The whiskey distillery is actually the smallest distillery in Demark and housed in an old wash-house. You can get a tour of the distillery during high season but can sample the whisky they make year round. It's interesting to learn that the wort they used in the distilling process is actually provided from the Rise Bryggeri (brewery) just a few villages over. It's lovely to see how each of these businesses is helping each other out to create a better product instead of competing against each other. Team work at its finest.

Blåbær Gårdbutik

Blåbær Gårdbutik is an adorable shop selling a variety of goods all which were produced in Ærø by items farmed on the island. From goat's milk soaps, handicrafts, bees wax candles and sheep wool clothing, everything you’ll find here is made by hand by the locals. The farm was first built in 1850 and has been raising different animals ever since. They are committed to sustainability, quality and animal welfare and welcome visitors to see their farm in the works as well as visit the shop. During the summer they even have a small cafe where you can sit out on picnic benches and enjoy the sounds of the farm all around you.


Things to Do in Marstal

While Ærøskøbing might feel like a fairy-tale village, Marstal feels like a living maritime museum. For centuries Marstal vessels have sailed the seven seas and even today its dock is full of boats both commercial and personal. Marstal is the economic centre of Ærø and where you can find most of the day-to-day shops like the largest supermarket on the island. Ærøskøbing feels like its stopped in the middle ages while Marstal stands at the forefront of innovations and solar power. The island is on its way to being completely self-sufficient with Northern Europe's largest solar power complexes and dozens of windmills powering the island.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum in Marstal is the most popular attraction drawing people into the city. The museum details the maritime history of Denmark since the 1600s and its 37 exhibits span over 5 buildings in Marstal! There are 200 model ships, 130 ships in a bottle, portraits of famous sailors and lots and lots of gear and equipment off original ships. If you’re a fan of maritime history, this doesn’t get much better!

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Church of Marstal

The Marstal Church dates back to 1738. The exterior of the church is a simple white brick and red roofed design with a copper steeple. Inside, things are a little bit different. You’ll notice right away when stepping inside the strong colours! The blue benches are a symbol of the sea and eternity. At the front of the nave is the bright red alter, a lovely triptych, painted by the maritime and Greenland painter Carl Rasmussen in 1881. As is fitting for an island church it depicts Christ calming the storm on the Lake of Genezareth. From the ceiling hang dozens of miniature ships, intermingled amongst the chandeliers.

Ships in the ship


Things to do in Søby

Søby is the smallest of the main villages in Ærø. They call it the gateway to Europe as it is the northernmost point on the island and therefore the closest to the mainland of Europe. Today this is where you'll find the majority of Ærø's fishing fleet. Tourists looking to hire out a boat to go out on the water to see if they can get the catch of the day often gather here early in the morning before the sun has even risen.

Skjoldnæs Fyr

At the tip of the island, bikers who make it all the way out here will be rewarded by a beautiful site; the 'Skjoldnæs' Lighthouse. It was built in 1881 and still standing today as a landmark of the island. You can still climb all the way to the top where you'll have on of the most scenic views of the island and across the Baltic Sea. If you feel like the bike ride all the way up here might be too much, you can always take the free bus which runs all the way to Søby where you can walk the rest of the way to the lighthouse.

Sæberiet

Sæberiet is a small shop which sells soaps and spiced salts made from different flowers and herbs all grown on the island. During the summer months they open their doors to guests who can come in and see the soap workshop in action. Their unique scents like elderflower, scotch rose, marigold and lemon balm make for a wonderful souvenir of the island.

Herremark

This charming little white cottage sells a blend of hand-picked vintage goods, often themed to the season, as well as locally made products and handicrafts. It is a bright and cheery store and the people who run it are so happy to welcome you inside to browse all their wonderful goods. I love scouring for vintage finds when travelling, they are always so different than what we can find back home.

Økogård Vitsø

This little farm is run by Johannes Hets who has three big passions in life; yoga, farming and bees! They offer yoga classes with an unbeatable seaview out in the garden when the weather permits. It's open to beginners as well as experts so if you're interested in starting your day with a little bit of meditation and relaxation then don’t miss visiting this Johannes. If yoga isn't your thing, you should still pay the farm a visit and explore the incredible garden which Johannes has grown specifically for his bees. During the summertime, there are bee presentation held by Johannes where visitors can even try their hand at holding bees and tasting the amazing honey the natural flowers of Aero help to produce!


Other Things to See and Do Around the Island

Bregninge Kirke

Biking over to the Bregninge kirke (Bregninge church) is a great way to explore the centre of the island. You'll be able to spot it long before you arrive as its tall black tower is visible above the treetops. But like the other churches on the island, they are all located inland where the steeples cannot be seen from the water. This was a strategic piece of city planning done by the Islanders. In the middle ages this would prevent pirates from coming ashore as they would assume the peaceful island was uninhabited. Remnants of the first chuch built here have been dated back as far as 1100. The current incarnation is a 15th-century gothic design. Inside you'll find a series of murals of Jesus' Passion as well as the life of St. John the Baptist. But my favourite part of the church is the cemetery. A few gravestones are surrounded in a fantastically manicured hedge and flower garden.

Bregninge Store Kro

Down from the Bregninge Church, you'll find the adorable Bregninge Store Kro. This store is like a little flea market open year round. In here you'll find some treasured antiques from all around Denmark which makes for a really unique souvenir. If you're looking for a doorknob or drawer pull there are hundreds in here to choose from each with their own bit of vintage charm.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

The Vesterstrand Beach Huts

Down from Bregninge you'll find dozens of picturesque tiny huts lining a long stretch of sand. These beach huts are each brightly coloured and designed to suit each individual owner’s personality. The miniature huts along the sand have been used here for generations. Once just simple wooden shelters, they are now incredibly functional getaways where locals enjoy picnics on their little balconies which stretch out from under darling awnings. It was a bit rainy when we arrived, so there was no one else on the beach but us. We hid under one of the huts to avoid the pouring rain as it got worse and worse and hoped that no one would come to shoo us away. Luckily they did not and we spent the time waiting out the rain peeking inside the little windows into these huts. Inside they looked like a minature version of a cottage, with their own knickknacks all over the walls, rich textiles layering the small chairs and couches and some even were complete with a sink and a toilet!

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Voderup Klint

A few kilometres down from the Beach huts, you'll find the Voderup Klint. The Voderup 'Klint', or ‘cliff’ in English, is a 33 meter high cliff which leads down to a rocky beach. This stretch of emerald green grass which reaches out towards the sea looks more like Ireland than a Denmark. It is such a scenic place to have a picnic or lunch watch the waves rise and fall on a windy day. There is a small pathway which leads you down from the top of the clif towards the water. You can hear the sea crash against the shore as you continue down and the fresh air here is enough to cure whatever ails you!

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Rise Bryggeri

If you find yourself near Rise Bryggeri, be sure to stop in for a glass of cold, Danish beer. This was once a small dairy farm which has since been trasnformed into a cafe and the only beer brewery on the island. The brewery was originally opened in 1926 but closed its doors in 1962. Lucky for you, it was reopened in 2004 when Aero was put back on the map for it's incredible tourist appeal as well as energy efficient solar power technologies. This microbrewery focuses on quality vs. quantity so you might pay a little more for what you get but its well worth it. Be sure to try out the nutty and sweet Walnut beer as its the most unique creation they make. Upstairs from the brewery you'll find a lovely cafe which serves up uncomplicated, Danish comfort food, perfect to warm you up after a windy bike ride.

Fra butikken i Rise Bryggeri

Ærø Cigar

If smoking a cigar on the balcony with the seaside in your sights is your thing, stop by Ærø Cigar. These small producers grow and hand roll their cigars from pesticides-free farms with locally grown leaves. Danish cigars are truly unique and worth trying if only as a special treat.

The Kragnæs Passage Grave

Across the island there are various Neolithic burial mounds, passage graves and dolmens which trance the pre-Christian history of life on the island. The most famous of these grave sites is the passage grave which is from the Stone Age, around 3200 BC! A passage tomb consists of a narrow passage made of large stones and one or multiple burial chambers covered in earth or stone. From afar it looks like nothing more than a pile of lush grass but as you approach you'll see an arrangement of rocks which forms a chamber. The chamber is 17 meters wide and 2.5 meters high. The rocks on top were not only to mark the tombs, they were a gathering spot for the Viking ancestors. The stones were thought to help with fertility and even in more modern times, locals have been known to chip off bits of stones and take them home in hope it embues them with virility!

Langdyssen Tingstedet

Near the church of Stone Rise you'll find a 6,000-year-old dolmen. A ‘dolmen’ is a megalithic tomb with large flat stones laid on top of upright ones. While the island was once home to more than 200 of these sites, less than 13 survive today. Once more, from afar these don't look like much but when you get closer you'll see the ground begin to rise up and the risen ground takes the shape of a Viking ship. Archaeologists who have been studying the history of Vikings on the island have found evidence that the Viking chiefs were buried here along with their ships.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

øhavstien

øhavstien or the “Archipelago Way” is a 200-km long hiking trail, and one of the longest hiking routes in Denmark. It is divided into seven different sections, spread out across Denmark. The 7th section is located in Ærø and starts in Ærøskøbing and runs all along the coast to Søby, or vice versa. You can choose to hike the entire trail or take just a few hours or so to experience a portion of the trails. The trail allows you to take in all the coastal areas of the island in one fell swoop. The trail is well marked along the route making it easy for even beginner hikers to set out on. Ærø is a great place to hike since it's mostly flat, especially around the coast and you're promised some incredible views. If you're tired of being on 2-wheels, this is a great break from the bike.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island
Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Where to Eat

Ærøskøbing Røgeri

Ærøskøbing Røgeri was our favourite place to eat while we were in town. During the off-season and even on most weekends lots of places close between 5-6pm. So we'd often pick up one of these meals to take back with us for a later dinner. The small restaurant serves smoked fish of all different varieties. Smoked fish is a local delicacy of the Danes and a must try if you've never sampled it before. The minute you walk inside you'll smell that unique aroma of salt and fish. Be sure to try all their different side dishes and don't just immediately go for the fries.

Cafe Aroma

If you're looking for somewhere to eat while in Aeroskobing look no further than this absolutely adorable, colourful cafe. This cafe serves up some gourmet, Danish treats made from local ingredients. Their charcuterie platters are great options if you want to try a variety of Danish delicacies. In the summer the barbeque on the terrace is open and is a wonderful place to people watch while eating. If your hotel or guesthouse is in town this cafe is also a great place for a morning cup of coffee. For dessert, don't miss the apricot ice cream, a local speciality. The restaurant is closed for the winter season but is open again in the Spring.

Restaurant Mumm

An option for a fancy dinner in town is Restaurant Mumm. Reservations are recommended since it's a pretty popular joint and there aren't a lot of seats inside, especially during the busy summer season and on the weekends. But unlike Cafe Aroma, this restaurant is open all year long and even prides itself on having custom menus for each season, highlighting the different ingredients that time of year produces. The interior of the restaurant has a romantic candlelit atmosphere while the terrace is overgrown with greenery and has a more laid back feeling if that's what you prefer. It’s definitely a pricer option but if you're looking to celebrate something special than this is the place for you.

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island
Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Ærøskøbing Bageri Aps

I might be a little bias since I LOVE baked goods but I think this is the best place to eat in Aero. This adorable little bakery serves up a ton of sweets inside a cosy red brick cafe which is a converted 18th century house. Ask the nice ladies inside what they recommend instead of just geting what's familiar to you. They sell fresh bread here as well so grab a loaf and head to the grocery stores for a few others items to make yourself a stunning picnic!

Ristorante Pizzeria Badehotel Harmonien

If you're wanting to try something other than Danish cooking head down to the Pizzeria inside the Badehotel Harmonien hotel. This restaurants has a wood fire oven for fresh baked pizzas and is located along the waterfront. On warm summer evenings you can eat alfresco with the sounds of the sea as the backdrop.

Glasseriet

In the summer, the Glasseriet serves up different flavours of italian gelato inside a little gallery space feature art and a variety of handblown glass objects. This unique blend of shops are what’s great about these small town, they really have the freedom to do whatever they want.

Café Vaffelhuset

Located right up from the waterfront in Marstal, Café Vaffelhuset is a great place to cool down on a hot day. They seel delicious waffles topped with ice cream for only $6 US. During the summer they have tables set up outside on the street so you can enjoy your dessert while watching people go by. So many people arrive here on bikes and it's so nice to watch them cruise by.

SuperBrugsen

The supermarket in Marstal is the largest on the island. Locals all gather here to shop for themselves as well so it's a great opportunity to see all the different foods on offer at small-town Danish supermarkets. This store is actually open until 7pm which is very late in Aero so if you ever find yourself with nowhere to eat at 5pm because everything is closed, head down to the grocery store!

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island

Den Gamle Vingaard

This little pub in Marstal feels like walking into an old farm house. There is various antique farming equipement hanging from the ceiling. Be sure to try the "fish of the day" with samsø potatoes and a special mustard sauce. This is the best way to get the freshest catch and maybe even try something you might never have eaten before.

Ærø is truly a rare gem, a secret escape even the Danes themselves love to visit when they have time to explore their own country. There are a variety of different islands off the coast of Denmark, each one with their own unique characteristics but my favourite has to be Ærø. There is a certain magic found here, along the azul coloured coastlines or lush green hills you find those quiet moments so important to travel. In these quiet moments you have a chance to reflect, to absorb everything you've discovered, to make those discoveries a part of your soul and etched into your memory. I am counting the days till I can return here, to the place where my heart found a stillness and peace which can be so hard to find in this busy, non-stop world. I hope you find it too.

Map

Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island
Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island
Your Complete Guide to Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ærø Island