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The neat little village of Ærøskøbing is a 13th-century market town, which came to be known as a skippers' town in the 17th century, with its small gingerbread houses, intricately carved wooden doors, and cast-iron lamps. Few Scandinavian towns have retained their heritage as well as Ærøskøbing. In the heyday of the windjammer, nearly 100 commercial sailing ships made Ærøskøbing their home port.

Lying in the middle of the island, the town looks as if it were laid out by Walt Disney -- in fact, it's often known as "the fairy-tale town" because it looks more like a movie set than a real town. Filled with cobblestone streets, hollyhocks, and beautifully painted doors and windows, the town invites wandering and exploring at random.

During the summer, its shops, cafes, and restaurants are bustling with life. At the old market square you can still see the pumps that supplied the town with its water until 1952; they are still in working order. The marina and nearby beach are ideal spots for enjoying outdoor activities. At the end of a busy day, we suggest you stroll over to the Vesterstrand, where the sunset (in our view) is the most romantic and evocative in all of Denmark.

The town of Ærøskøbing was founded in the 12th century, and it was granted town privileges in 1522 on orders of King Christian II. As visitors wander through the town, many wonder why the houses are still original and weren't torn down to make way for modern structures. The main reasons were the hard times and poverty that prevented many citizens from tearing down their old structures and rebuilding. However, when prosperity did come, the locals realized their old buildings were a treasure, so instead of tearing them down they restored them -- and they're waiting for you to see them today. Preservation societies are particularly strong on the island.