58km (36 miles) N of Århus; 341km (212 miles) NW of Copenhagen

There's a little nugget of a town that thrives in North Jutland that is most often overlooked by visitors on their trek to the more famous Aalborg. For a preview of Denmark of long ago, nothing evokes a time gone by in all of North Jutland more than the charming little town of Mariager overlooking the Mariager Fjord, an idyllic setting.

The locals certainly adore summer roses -- planting them everywhere along their cobblestone streets and in front of their half-timbered, red-roofed antique structures. If your time is short and you want to see the most picturesque streets, stroll down Kirkegade and Postgården. But the best collection of buildings with crisscross timbers envelops the Torvet, the market square in the exact center of town. Some of our rival guidebooks (we won't name them) ignore Mariager completely -- and that is a shame as it deserves at least a morning or an afternoon of your time.

Mariager was only a small fishing hamlet at the ferry crossing on the way between Randers and Aalborg before the foundation of Bridgettine Abbey in 1410. The abbey led to a flourishing trade and commerce in the area, and the town became a popular resort for the worshiping nobles. However, with the coming of the Reformation in 1536, the tide turned. When Mariager was granted its city charter in 1592, only 500 inhabitants remained. Many of the old buildings constructed in Mariager's heyday remain for us to appreciate today. Industrialization did not come until 1960, and by that time the town had become preservation-minded, as a walk through its cobbled streets will reveal.