104km (65 miles) NE of Aalborg; 485km (301 miles) W of Copenhagen
Since the 19th century, Skagen -- pronounced skane -- has been the leading artists' colony of Denmark. As is inevitable in such cases, hordes of tourists followed in the footsteps of the artists to discover the northernmost tip of Jutland on its east coast. A sort of "bony finger" of land points into the North Sea at the second-biggest fishing port in Denmark.
We find the combination today of Nordic sailors -- Skagen has been a fishing port for centuries -- and a colony of artists an intriguing mix. At least the two disparate elements make for lively conversation in the bars. The early artists were more isolated here, but the coming of the railway in 1890 opened up Skagen to the world with its link to the terminus of Frederikshavn.
By the end of July, the visitors are in retreat, and Skagen happily reverts to the locals again. We've spent hours here in both September and October wandering the heather-covered moors, the undulating stretches of dunes, and some of the best, but not the warmest, beaches in Europe. We particularly like to stand at the point where the North Sea meets the Baltic, the subject of countless landscape paintings. It's not unknown to have visitors applaud the spectacular sunsets here.
One of the founders of the Skagen School of Paintings, the poet and artist Holger Drachmann (1846-1908), once said, "Unlike so much of the rest of Europe, Skagen still retains its soul."