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Ringkøbing's townscape takes its characteristic look from houses mostly built from 1700 to 1800. The dominant building style -- dark red houses with white cornices and semihipped rooftops -- developed in the late 18th century. Ringkøbing's leading citizens were its merchants, whose large houses lined the narrow streets, particularly Algade and Østergade. Some have remained in a well-preserved condition, especially the addresses of Nørregade 2 and Algade 4-6. Much effort still goes into preserving Ringkøbing's mellow old-town atmosphere, and a walk through the town's narrow cobblestone streets brings its own reward.

If you're standing at the Torvet (marketplace) seeking a way to the harbor, the obvious choice is Vester Strandgade. This is an old street whose earliest homes date from the early 1800s. The street was always known for its merchants, including a plumber, butcher, baker, grocer, and shoemaker, as well as a bike shop and an inn. We always like to smell fresh bread from the local bakery and to stop for a delicious Danish pastry at a coffee shop, chatting with the locals.

For us, no visit is complete without time spent wandering Ringkøbing Harbor, dating from 1904, when it was a bustling fishing port until the town lost out to Hvide Sande to the south. Today, it's much sleepier and filled with yachts, smaller pleasure craft, and fjord fishing boats. You can see fishermen from Ringkøbing Fjord pulling in here with their catch of the day, earmarked for private homes or restaurants. We like to attend the daily auction at 9:30am in a red-painted wooden structure at the harbor's edge. Here salmon, trout, flounder, perch, eel, and sea trout are hawked to the highest bidder and might be resting on your plate if you stick around Ringkøbing for dinner.

At the edge of the town center, Alkjær Lukke is a lovely park, idyllic for a picnic lunch. Ducks quacking in the pond tell you they want to be fed. In the airy beech woods, the forest floor is covered with wood anemones, buttercups, and lilies of the valley. It's a good place to stop and enjoy "the sound of silence."

The town's main attraction -- other than the town itself -- is Ringkøbing Museum Østerport, Herningvej 4 (tel. 97-32-16-15; www.ringkobing.dk). A few blocks east of the Torvet, this museum is a virtual attic of local history, including coins and ecclesiastical artifacts, ships' figureheads, and even pictures of stranded ships in the North Sea. Someone at the museum is likely to show you what a chastity belt from 1600 looked like. We find the most intriguing exhibits to be those devoted to Ludwig Mylius-Erichsen (1872-1907), who led an expedition to Greenland in 1906. Regrettably, he died on the return journey. July and August, the museum is open daily 11am to 5pm; September to June, Monday to Sunday 11am to 5pm. It's closed Friday during off-season. Admission costs DKK40 ($6.80/£4) adults, free for ages 18 and under.

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.