There was a time I would regularly visit Fanø in Denmark, a tiny little island with a Scandinavian tranquillity I doubt can be paralleled by many other places in Europe. This isn’t the kind of destination you’d want to go to if you like a lot of activities, but if you’re after a quiet getaway that’s cheap to travel to and a stones-throw away from anywhere in West Europe, you won’t find a more sleepy or cleaner place to relax than Fanø!
There’s a saying in Denmark among the locals that you’re never more than 20 minutes away from the sea, but when you’re on a tiny island that’s only 9.9 miles long and 3.1 miles wide, that’s drastically different! The island is so peaceful that from the top of the tallest hill you can hear sounds from the mainland, especially in Winter when sound carries better over the snow (and icebergs, which is totally cool to see by the way!). Be sure to bring a lot of layers if you’re planning on visiting over winter however, Danish winters are some next-level cold.
Fanø relies mostly on its tourism and its beaches are popular for kite flying, surfing and buggies due to the strong winds coming in from the North Sea. They host an annual kite festival where skilled kite flyers fill the sky with all their weird and wonderful kite designs.
It’s a very green island too, it’s extremely rare to see any cars and there’s only a very tiny bus service. Most people prefer to get around by bicycle which is wonderful to see! You’ll likely go a whole week before you see any litter, too. The locals and visiting tourists have a lot of respect for their little island, and it’s something I think a lot of places could learn from.
There’s nothing much better than waking up in the morning, getting a freshly baked authentic Danish pastry for breakfast hot out the oven and eating it in the snow with the company of a wild deer in the winter, or a walk across an empty beach or through the abundant heath and small pine trees in the warmer seasons, all year round only hearing the silence of nature but still with the comfort of civilisation still close to hand.
If you’re looking for something more urban while you’re visiting the island, the town of Esbjerg is on the other side of the coast and only a very short ferry ride away. Esbjerg is the second largest seaport in Denmark and also a lovely destination to take in some art, food or do some shopping!
- Fanø Kite Festival, Photograph by IMBiblio used under CC BY-SA 2.0
- Sønderho Mill, Photograph by Thomas Rousing used under CC BY-SA 2.0