43km (27 miles) S of Odense; 146km (91 miles) W of Copenhagen; 25km (16 miles) E of Faaborg
Svendborg, with 42,000 residents, is the second-biggest town in Funen and a major commercial and touristic hub for South Funen, but it has none of all that fairy-tale overlay that Odense hypes. It's a sailors' town -- beloved of Danish yachties -- and has had a long history as a maritime center. Until 1915, it was the home port for a big fleet of sailing ships because of its position on the beautiful Svendborg Sound, which provides convenient access to Baltic ports.
Although shipbuilding is a ghost of itself, there are still a couple of shipyards left that construct wooden-hulled ships and are around to repair visiting yachts plying the waters off the coast of South Funen.
Frankly, we'd spend only a night here as the islands of Ærø and Tåsinge are more alluring. But if you give Svendborg a day, you'll find much to do.
You'll see yachts, ketches, and kayaks in the harbor. The town still retains some of its medieval heritage, but much of it has been torn down in the name of progress and industry.
Today Svendborg is a lively modern town, with museums, constantly changing art exhibitions, and sports. It has swimming pools, beaches, and a yachting school. Its best beach, Christiansminde, is one of several in Funen flying the blue flag that indicates nonpolluted waters.
Svendborg is also a market town, and on Sunday morning, you visit the cobblestone central plaza where flowers and fish are sold. Wander through the many winding streets where brick and half-timbered buildings still stand. On Ragergade, you'll see the old homes of early seafarers. Møllergade, a pedestrian street, is one of the oldest streets in town, with about 100 different shops.
Literary buffs know that the German writer Bertolt Brecht lived at Skovsbo Strand west of Svendborg from 1933 to 1939, but he left at the outbreak of World War II. During this period, he wrote Mother Courage and Her Children, which is still performed all over the world.