Remote by Danish standards, North Jutland, the northernmost point of the country where the Skagerrak and Kattegat seas meet, has long been a place of respite for in-the-know Copenhageners looking for a place to unwind away from it all in peace and tranquility. Artists and other visitors have come to marvel at and be inspired by the area's soft, bluish light since before the Skagen Painters immortalized it in the 1800’s. Today, Skagen, Aalborg, the windswept west coast and the rest of North Jutland continue to inspire art while preserving the region’s strong creative legacy. At less than 2 hours from London by plane and easily traversed by car, North Jutland is certainly an excellent place to unwind while soaking in all the art you could want.
A cobblestone road in Old Skagen ("Gammel Skagen")
To understand art in North Jutland, Skagens Museum should be your first stop. At the heart of the museum are the works of the Skagen Painters, who, drawn by the unique light of the region, captured everyday life in the region with expressive strokes and prolific effort. Designed by architect Ulrik Plesner, Skagens Museum is the perfect jumping-off point for your excursion through the art and culture of North Jutland. Admission to the Skagens Museum (180 DKK) also includes admission to Anchers Hus (below) and Drachmanns Hus.
Lisette Vind Ebbesen, director of Skagens Museum, in the original Brøndums Hotel dining room now in Skagens Museum
Click here to explore North Jutland's art history with Lisette.
The interior of Anchers Hus
After visiting Skagens Museum, head across the street to Anchers Hus (Ancher’s House) to take a step deeper into the age of the Skagen Painters. Anchers Hus is the home of two of the most famous painters of the Skagen Painters movement, Michael and Anna Ancher. The home has been preserved just as the artists left it, including period furniture, souvenirs from the couple’s travels, gifts from the community, and over 250 paintings by the artists and friends.
Brøndums Hotel, former guests include Hans Christian Andersen and Karen Blixen
What would be better during your art history tour of Skagen than to stay in the same hotel some the Skagen Painters and their friends stayed in? You can do just that at Brøndums Hotel, literally around the corner from both Skagens Museum and Anchers Hus. Dating back to 1874, Brøndoms Hotel is a living piece of history and a unique chance to experience what the countless artists experienced while in Skagen. The hotel also offers the classic Danish lunch of smørrebrød on their lovely patio.
A break for a classic Danish lunch at Brøndums Hotel
Skagen has a number of quaint cafes and restaurants like the one below where you can stop for a coffee or glass of wine. It's a perfect way to break up your day.
A quaint country cafe near Anchers Hus
Just over a scenic hour's drive back south and you'll return to Aalborg, the regional capital you may have glimpsed on your way north from the airport to Skagen. Aalborg is compact and easy to get around and well worth the visit for a number of more contemporary art institutions and experiences.
Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg
North Jutland is not all art history. It also has a strong contemporary art scene. Look no further than Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg in central Aalborg where an entirely modern building showcases some of Denmark and the world’s exciting contemporary artists. The first thing you’ll notice at Kunsten is the building itself. It’s the only building outside of Finland designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The building’s unique design allows for a maximum amount of light to enter so as to highlight the museum’s 1500 paintings, sculptures, and exhibits. While there, also tour the sculpture part with works by Olafur Eliasson, Edgar Funch, Jeppe Hein, and others, and if you feel like it, the museum's backyard cafe is a perfect way to cap off a day full of art in North Jutland.
The courtyard of Kunsten
How to get there: North Jutland is easily reachable via London Stansted, with Ryanair flying to Aalborg 3x weekly. Click here to look at flight options.
Fly to Aalborg Airport (AAL) from London Stansted (STN) with Ryanair, 3 flights per week, 1.5 hours flight time.
Once there, North Jutland is easily traversed by rental car, also the most scenic way to around.