Mariager is connected to the Baltic via the Mariager Fjord, a deep but narrow saltwater inlet favored by sailors and yachters because of its smooth surface. You can sail aboard a small-scale cruise ship, the Svanen, as it circumnavigates the western recesses of the fjord. About four times a day, the ship touches down at such towns as Mariager, Hadsun, and Hobro, taking 2 1/2 hours for a complete circuit that's priced at DKK100 ($17/£10) per person. You can get off at any of five villages en route, and wait for the next boat to pick you up 2 hours later and carry you on to the next town. There's a cafeteria onboard, and a sun deck where guests can improve their suntans during the short Nordic summer. Call tel. 98-54-14-70 for more information.
Another ride you may not want to miss is aboard the smoke-belching Mariager-Handest Veteranjernbane, Ny Havnevej 3 (tel. 98-54-18-64), which takes riders on an hour-long joy ride from Mariager to the village of Handest. After a stopover of half an hour, the little steam train makes the return journey to Mariager. The summer-only train departs daily at 11am, noon, 2pm, and 3pm, charging DKK80 ($14/£8) for a round-trip ticket. For more information visit www.jernbaner.dk/mhvj.
Although it's the old town itself that is the most alluring attraction, you may want to call on the abbey church, Mariager Kirke, Klostervej (tel. 98-54-15-95), which was constructed in the 15th century as part of a nunnery. It was given to the town as its parish church following the Reformation. Although it has been largely reconstructed over the years, it's still a fine and lofty building with a magnificent carved altarpiece depicting the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, surrounded by 11 of the apostles. A memorial tablet to the last abbess can be seen in the south transept. Hours are Monday to Saturday 8am to 3:30pm; admission is free.
One of the most beautiful buildings in Mariager is an 18th-century merchant's house, now the Mariager Museum, Kirkegade 4B (tel. 98-54-12-87). In the museum, you can see an attractive collection of domestic utensils and tools. The museum also contains relics from the ancient history of both Mariager and the surrounding district. Of special interest is a minireconstruction of the abbey and its church, an exhibit established in 1981 in connection with the 500th anniversary of the church. Frankly, the antique building itself is more intriguing to us than the rather lackluster exhibits inside. If you're pressed for time, you can hop, skip, and jump by its doorstep, just enjoying its 1700s facade. It's open May 15 to September 15, daily 1 to 5pm. Admission is DKK25 ($4.30/£2.50) adults; free for children 14 and under.
Even if you like to take a shaker and sprinkle extra salt on your food before tasting it, a visit to a salt museum may not be your idea of a good time. It's not at all surprising to learn that when the Danmarks Saltcenter (Havnevej; tel. 98-54-18-16) opened in 1998 it became the only science center in Denmark devoted to salt. But the museum is far more of an adventure than you might think. Salt, formed some 250 million years ago, was once considered such an invaluable ingredient for food it was called "white gold." Of course, it's so commonly available today, and in such wide use, that doctors and new cookbooks try to get us to cut down on its usage. Lying on the harbor at Mariager, close to the water, the museum traces the methods for extracting salt since the Middle Ages. You can explore in the tunnels of the salt mine and experience what it was like to work in a mountain salt mine a century ago. You can watch a foreman at the salt works boil the salts in a boiling hut as they did in the Middle Ages. That's not all. You can actually float in the Dead Sea Pool, the liquid of which is 30% salt. The curiosity of the museum is a collection of salt cellars that have been entered into the Guinness Book of World Records. The salt garden is planted with plants that obviously can tolerate salt, and this is the setting for the museum's Salt Café, where, naturally, dishes connected with salt are served. There are also many activities for children, including, among others, shallow pools in the outdoor water playground. Tickets are DKK90 ($15/£9) adults, DKK70 ($12/£7) children 3 to 11, and free for children 2 and under. Hours are June 19 to August 8 daily 10am to 6pm; January 3 to June 18 and August 9 to December 23 Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm. Closed December 24 to January 2.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.