My Island: A Personal Guide To Ærø
I often have lovely people write me to ask for personal recommendations for where to stay, where to eat and what to see during their weekends or holiday on Ærø. And while I am more than happy to help, it can be a bit time consuming.
Since I'd rather spend my time in the field working than sitting in front of the computer I have made a little guide to Ærø inspired by the Venice based photographer, cook and author Skye Mcalpine 's wonderful guide to her Secret Venice.
I have some definite favourites on my list of places to go that may drown in the mass of traditional tourist attractions mentioned on the official Visitaeroe website. So if you'd like to get my personal scoop on the very best the island has to offer read on:
While the whole town of Ærøskøbing in and of itself is worth spending a day in, just strolling around on the narrow cobble stone streets, here are a few places I have to highlight:
Den Gamle Købmandsgaard on the town square is a lovely little shop/farmer's market full of local and speciality products and lovely gift items, including handmade soap, locally brewed whisky, and so much more. It is also a super cosy cafe that serve inspired sandwiches, artfully decorated lunch boards and the best homemade cake! Stopping by at least once here during your stay is a must!! :-)
The shop and farm, Blåbær, in Ærøskøbing, complete with petting pigs and all, is also worth a visit if you like speciality and handcrafted products and a rustic cosy vibe.
Blandede Bolcher in Ærøskøbing is a super quirky tiny toy and curiosity store for "children" of all ages. I rarely go in because it really is very small and I'm always afraid to knock things down, but when I do it is like stepping into a magical world and you can't help but leave in a good mood. You will find this little shop at Søndergade 20.
Cafe Aroma by the harbour makes excellent burgers and (in my humble but experienced opinion) the world's best homemade ice cream. You will find both delicious classics like chocolate, vanilla or mango, but also refreshing unusual tastes like liquorice, black sesame, and so many others. It can be almost impossible to choose, but luckily they offer small samples so you can have a taste before you decide. Aroma is also home of the local Liquorice Allsorts mini factory with equally unique flavour options if you are a candy fan.
Arnfeldt is a newly renovated hotel here on the island that serves a gourmet evening menu made from local and foraged produce whenever possible. If you have culinary interests this is the place to go.
Røgeriet at the quieter end of the harbour in Ærøskøbing serves fish of all sorts, smoked fresh every morning, both to eat there or take home. When we are busy or in the mood for take-away we often buy smoked garlic prawns from there and eat them on rye bread with mayonaise and lettuce. So delicious!
Vesterstrand just outside of Ærøskøbing and its famous colourful beach huts may be a very tourist-y sight but it is still worth a visit. On balmy sunny days this area seems to encapsulate the essence of Danish summer. This is also where you will find the best beach on the island.
Just outside of Ærøskøbing, literally on the beach at the end of Vråvejen, my friend and artist, Maria Fynsk Norup, has recently opened her very own gallery with her beautifully inspired photographic art.
I highly recommend taking a bicycle ride or hike along the coastal backroads from Ærøskøbing to Marstal.
And if you are driving by car to Marstal you can't avoid the beautiful stretch of road called 'Drejet'
At the end of a narrow winding dirt road somewhere near the tiny village of Kragnæs, you will find one of my favourite spots on the island, a small jetty set in clear blue water and hidden behind tall grasses, with boats rocking back and forth in the waves. Even though I have lived on the island for on/off 15 years now I sometimes still get lost trying to find it, but whenever I do I feel instantly calm and happy. For some reason this place reminds me of some of my favourite areas of the Danish West coast (my favourite part of Denmark). Since this secluded little harbour doesn't have an official name, I have put in a little map marking the spot below.
The stoneage grave sight at Lindsbjerg near the town of Marstal is one of the highest points on the island with a beautiful view of the sea. And the atmosphere up there is quite special and mystical.
The Archipelago trail 'Øhavsstien' is a fantastic and easy hike on foot along the Northern coast from Ærøskøbing to Søby. If I were you I would start the hike just before sunrise. The quiet atmosphere along the coast at this time of the day is such a joy.
If you are driving this stretch of the island instead of walking or bicycling, the village of Bregninge has both a truly unique church, and Gæstgiveri Bregninge is a lovely spot for lunch.
In this same area you will also run into the charming villages of Skovby and Leby with lots of quirky homes and quiet backroads.
If you like me love irresistible vintage finds for house and home and flea markets you will love a visit to the shop Herremark located on the backroads between Søby and Leby
What I love most about the Søby area is not actually the town itself, which is more modern than charming, but the surrounding areas at Vitsø Nor and Jørbæk Strand.
The Lighthouse at Skjoldnæs at the most Northern tip of the island and near the town of Søby is also worth a visit. It was built in 1881 and it is possible to pay a symbolic fee and climb to the top for a spectacular view of the South Funen Archipelago on clear days. I would consider packing a lunch, taking the bus (they are free here) to Søby and then walk the 5 kilometre scenic route with cute farmhouses dotted along rolling hills with spectacular sea views on both sides. It is also possible to drive all the way there by car.
Voderup Klint on the South-West coast of the island is the place I always go when I miss Norway and Scotland, and travelling in general, and need a bit of landscape drama. It consists of several huge clay terraces created by ice movements more than 11.000 years ago.