With medieval buildings, cobbled streets and an imposing cathedral, Ribe is one of the picturesque towns in Denmark and is jam-packed with historic charm. It’s located in the south west of the country on the island of Jutland and traces its history back more than 1,300 years to the Viking era.
Much of the heart of the town dates to the medieval period and it’s easy to fall in love with the tiny streets and brightly-coloured houses. A charming harbour is another key feature of the town of the Ribe. It leads from the town centre down towards the remains of the castle.
Ribe may be a small place but there’s plenty to see and do in this gorgeous town.
Things to do in Ribe
Explore the medieval streets
You can’t help but be enchanted by Ribe’s cobbled streets and half-timbered buildings and it’s a perfect place for a stroll – both during the day and at night. It feels like there’s always something different hiding around the corner and genuinely feels like stepping back in time. Unlike some towns which are home to unlived-in historic buildings, all of the properties are occupied which makes it feel very much still alive and thriving.
Go on the Night Watchman’s tour
One of the highlights of visiting Ribe is taking a tour with the Night Watchman. Listen to him sing his mournful song and hear tales from the town’s past including how a large fire destroyed many of the building and the floods that have hit the town over the years, while soaking up the atmosphere of strolling through the streets at dusk.
Meet outside Weis Stue, takes place at 8pm each evening from May to October, free – visitribe.com/ln-int/south-jutland/activities/night-watchman-ribe
Climb up to the top of Ribe Cathedral
You can’t miss Ribe’s Cathedral as it’s in the heart of the town centre. Ribe Domkirke, officially Vor Frue Kirke (The Church of Our Lady), is the oldest cathedral in Denmark and was completed in the middle of the 13th century.
As well as visiting the interior of the cathedral, visitors can climb up to the top of the 52m Commoners’ Tower to see Ribe from above.
Torvet, 20DKK to visit the tower – ribe-domkirke.dk
Explore the remains of the castle
On the edge of the town, you can visit the town’s former castle (Riberthus Slotsbanke). It’s now just a mound with a few ruins as the original castle was pulled down after falling into disrepair. It has a statue of Queen Dagmar, one of the queen consorts of Denmark who died in the town and offers panoramic views of the surrounding marshlands as well as the town itself.
Visit some museums
Ribe is home to a number of museums where you can learn about its past. These include Ribe Kunstmuseum (Ribe Art Museum) and Ribe Vikinger (Ribe Viking Museum) – perfect for rainy days. The Kunstmuseum also has beautiful grounds which are free to visit.
Ribe is a great place for shopping. One must-visit is the shop run by designer Bo Bendixen which sells a range of clothing and other bits and bobs all with quirky and vibrant prints, mostly of animals. Food and drink lovers have plenty of places where they can buy gifts and items to take home, there are a number of clothing shops and other stores selling homeware and other knick-knacks. There’s also a branch of quirky Danish chain Flying Tiger.
Eat and drink!
Despite Ribe’s small size, it has plenty of places to eat and drink. Highlights include cafe and chocolatier Tempur Chokolade (Nederdammen 32) which sells handmade chocolates made using locally sourced ingredients, underground wine bar Porsborg (Torvet 3) and a number of more traditional restaurants serving classic Danish meals. If you’re for somewhere a bit livelier for an evening, Stenbohus (Stenbogade 1) is open until midnight most nights and 4am on weekends. It’s a bustling locals bar with live music on certain nights – although it is a smokers’ bar so might not be for everyone.
Despite Ribe’s small stature compared with other Danish settlements, it has plenty of activities and things to do to occupy visitors and is the ideal place for a long weekend or extended stay.