Last fall, I went on my first safari. But I wasn’t looking for Tanzania’s Big Five. Instead, I joined a Volvo and Volkswagen caravan in Denmark and carefully navigated narrow, rocky roads on our way to the Wadden Sea. So I set out in search of Pacific oysters in the shallow waters and tidal flats that run along the west coast of Jutland. Sure, it’s an easier feat than tracking a lion, but no less exciting.
The 5 hour “oyster safari” was the high point of my solo road trip. This time, I avoided Copenhagen, which has an abundance of sophisticated Michelin-starred restaurants, and opted for a less crowded, less noisy, lively foodie scene. meal. I crossed mainland Denmark, where I found rosé wine in hand-painted bottles, small-batch charcuterie, chocolates made from figs grown in chocolatier gardens, and an abundance of shellfish that I shelled myself.
After arriving in Billund in central Denmark by plane, I went to Lego House., Learn more about the iconic Danish toy designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group (Billund was the hometown of Lego inventor Ole Kirk Christiansen). The next morning I drove west and then south along the coast. I wasn’t looking forward to spending three hours in the car, but the time flew by as we passed whitewashed farmhouses and fields bordered by the remnants of summer wildflowers.
My first stop was Bravand, a town on the windswept Cape Bravansk. This area is a swimmer’s paradise, but I come here looking for other tourist attractions.Tirpitz, A museum that records 20,000 years of history in western Denmark. Ingels Group also designed this structure, which is built into a sand dune with soft grass and incorporates a World War II-era bunker next door. Interactive installations and exhibits feature flint tools used by the first Danes, objects shipwrecked on the Danish coast, and one of the region’s unlikely calling cards: the fat golden sandstones that sometimes wash up on the shore. Items such as chunks of amber are on display.
I had lunch at Hr.Skov, A cafe and specialty food store founded in 2007 by chef Klaus Skov. Products made from scratch using local wild herbs, berries, and mushrooms are sold at Gourmet Markets across the country. I enjoyed a cheese and charcuterie board made by local small producers, Gammel Kunas, the local version of havarti, and smoked beef from butcher Slagter Kristiansen on nearby Fanau Island, served with a tangy orange sauce. Paired with a sea of color ale made with buckthorn. It grows wild along the west coast of the Jutland peninsula.
After lunch, I drove to the port town of Esbjerg and caught the ferry to Fanau, one of the three inhabited islands in the Wadden Sea. A 12-minute voyage brought us to Nordby on Fano’s northeast coast, where we wandered through cobblestone streets lined with thatched-roof shops selling handmade pottery and woolen scarves.I found Cafe Huset, A cozy cafe serving homemade carrot cake and ice cream bars from 100-year-old dairy company Hansen’s.
One of the attractions for many tourists visiting the area is Henne Kirkeby Kro., 18th-century mainland inn with expansive gardens that supply ingredients for a two-Michelin-starred restaurant. Unfortunately, both places were fully booked during my trip, so after returning to Esbjerg I headed to the 100-year-old Hjertin Bade Hotel., A traditional seaside inn.Highlights of dinner at the hotel’s restaurant “StrandPavillonen”, It was red deer tenderloin with pickled lingonberries and deconstructed apple tart with skylle and caramel.
the 2nd day
In the morning I headed to Marsuk Tower, about 60 miles south. Marsuk Tower is an observation point designed by Ingels Group that opened to the public at Marsuk Camp in summer 2021.. The campground has motorhomes, glamping tents, a restaurant, and offers activities such as foraging tours. The sculptural double-helix towers were visible from miles away, jutting like frozen tornadoes from the flat green terrain. I climbed up to get a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding wetlands.
After returning to Earth, we departed for Voles Marsk., A shop and cooking education center located in the town of Tonder. Against the backdrop of a giant map pinpointing Wadden Sea producers and makers, the shopkeeper cut us into several slices of thick bread. It’s the vehicle for fresh whipped butter, creamy honey, and cured pork sausage made on a nearby biodynamic farm.After checking out the wines at family-run Vester Vedsted Vingård, I bought a bottle of Marske Distillery gin made with Burnet rose petals. The Burnet rose petals were hand-selected by owner Hans Julsen from Lomo Island in the Wadden Sea.
From there it was only about a 40 mile drive to the east coast.At Hotel Europe, Not far from Abenraer Fjord, I sat down with the hotel’s then chef, Sunn Axelsen, who told me about its traditions. cafe board (“Cake Table”) Mini rye cake layered with fresh whipped cream and berries. The idea dates back to 1864, when Germany and Austria occupied Southern Jutland during the Second Schleswig War. Since the group could not gather in community spaces such as pubs to talk politics, they instead planned a resistance at home over coffee and sweets.
After a traditional breakfast of fried herring and cow’s milk cheese, we drove about an hour back to Wadden Sea National Park on the west coast. The six-acre preserve is named after the world’s largest tidal flat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that stretches from the Netherlands through Germany north to Denmark (approximately 300 miles of coastline) and features vast stretches of sandy beaches. Tidal flats and wetlands.
My Oyster Safari departed from Wadden Sea Center, Designed by Danish architect Dorte Mandrup, the modern glass building is partially covered in reeds and is reminiscent of the classic thatched houses of the area.
Wearing waders and armed with buckets, my group of about a dozen people, led by biologist Emil Vesterager, began the trek to the oyster colony. Walk about 4 miles toward the sea over tidal flats broken by narrow paths of waist rapids and deep water. Two hours later we arrived at a reef stacked with long gray Pacific oysters like nature’s all-you-can-eat seafood buffet. These oysters are an exotic species, so please take home as much as you can. Our group spread out on the shore, and some of us began to shed our fur. A traveler from Berlin offered to share the champagne she brought with us, so we drank it out of purple plastic flutes.
That night, I checked into my favorite property of the trip, Rustrup Farmhouse., It is located in lush green fields and gardens, about a 15-minute drive from the park entrance. Owner Jani Feng, who runs the farm with her husband Alex, shows me to the apartment. It was a sun-drenched upstairs space, a kitchen stocked with coffee, local butter and chocolate milk, and a hygge haven at the end of the holidays. An exhilarating day.
I woke up to a basket of warm pastries that Fenn had left on my doorstep. Later that day, I headed to Vejle, a town at the tip of the Vajle Fjord known for its museums, cutting-edge architecture, and Michelin-starred restaurants. Before that, we spent the morning in Ribe, Denmark’s oldest town.
At Temper Chocolade, Located near the city center, Timothy Ibbitson makes shiny bonbons filled with licorice root, alpine strawberries, and a variety of herbs and fruits he grows himself, which he arranges like jewels in his bright cafe. Ibbitson insisted I try the gelato. Gelato is made from scratch using ingredients you have around you. Milk from a dairy farm a few miles away. He picks sour cherries with his family every summer. It was a cool fall day, but I happily accepted the cone and headed out.
A version of this story first appeared in the July 2023 issue of the magazine. travel + leisure Under the heading “Coast”. ”