Charming small squares, old houses, courtyards, and pedestrian streets provide the town center with a distinctive atmosphere. Even from the center of town, there are views of the blue waters of Vejle Fjord and its forest-clad hills.
The chief attraction is Sankt Nicolai Kirke, Kirketorvet (tel. 74-62-53-80; www.aabenraasogn.dk), a 10-minute walk from the tourist office. The Gothic church is one of the town's oldest buildings, its north wall dating back to the mid-13th century. The church contains one of Denmark's finest bog findings, an Iron Age woman from 450 B.C., discovered in the Haraldskaier bog in 1835. She can be seen through a glass-topped case. Many guidebooks report that this is the preserved body of the Viking queen Gunhilde. However, recent scientific studies have shown that the corpse is much older, dating from the early Iron Age. The skulls of 23 beheaded robbers caught in the Nørreskoven woods some 3 centuries ago have been gruesomely bricked into the outer north wall of the church. Special features of the church include a classical reredos (the screen behind the altar), the work of sculptor Jens Hiernoe in 1791, plus a 16th-century Renaissance pulpit and a processional crucifix. Admission free, it's open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am to noon.
Vejle Kunstmuseum, Flegborg 16 (tel. 75-72-31-99; www.vejlekunstmuseum.dk), comes as a surprise for such a provincial town. Many large Danish towns have provincial art museums, but it's rare to find works by such famous Old Masters. Of course, Danish art from the beginning of the 20th century to the millennium is what's primarily showcased. The museum's prize is a remarkable self-portrait of Rembrandt dating from 1563. Founded back in 1899, the museum houses some 12,000 prints and drawings, including foreign prints from 1450 to 1800. The treasure-trove here is 2,000 prints and drawings, forming the Eckardts Sambling Collection ★★, donated at the turn of the 20th century, providing the reason for the museum to come into existence. The collection comprises Old Master prints by Albrecht Dürer, among others, and there are some 50 prints from Rembrandt alone. Just to see this collection is reason enough to visit the museum in the first place. Landscape painting is a strong feature here, including some rare art from the Danish-affiliated and faraway Faroe Islands. Admission is DKK40 ($6.80/£4) adults, DKK30 ($5.10/£3) seniors, and free for ages 18 and under; hours are Tuesday to Friday 11am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm.
A far less intriguing museum, Vejle Museum, Flegborg 18 (tel. 75-72-31-99; www.vejlekunstmuseum.dk), adjacent to the art museum, could be skipped if time is running short. It also was founded in 1899, offering an exhibit called "Man and Nature -- Archaeology in the Vejle Area." Exhibits trace the history of Vejle over the past 8 centuries, including life in the Middle Ages, Vejle as a 17th-century theater of war, and, finally, Vejle's rise as an industrial town. We were not overly enchanted, but you might find it of passing interest, charging DKK40 ($6.80/£4) adults, DKK30 ($5.10/£3) seniors, and free for those 18 and under. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 4pm.
For your farewell to Vejle, you can take a moving stairway in town up to the "mountain" known as Munkebjerg, to the southeast of Vejle. At an elevation of 90m (300 ft.), you'll enjoy a panoramic view of Vejle and the fjord. The yew -- that most Scandinavian of trees -- and other rare trees and plants can be seen here.
If you have a car, arm yourself with a good map (available at the tourist office) and explore Grejsdalen, 7km (4 1/3 miles) from Vejle. This valley is one of Denmark's most beautiful areas, with densely wooded hillsides and many lookout points. The preserved part of the valley is also the home of a richly varied bird life. Near Grejs itself are some limestone deposits resembling cliff caverns.
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