Ribe – the oldest town in Denmark


Ribe is not only Denmark’s but also Scandinavian’s oldest town, established in the early eighth century. It functioned as an important trading center in medieval times as it lied halfway between Scandinavia and Hanseatic League. This charming quaint city is home to about 110 well-preserved half-timbered houses from medieval times that are now under Heritage Protection.

As Ribe is a fantastic old city, you can find a lot of firsts and only’s in this place:

  • Ribe Cathedral is the best-preserved Romanesque building in Denmark and Denmark’s only five-aisled church. On top of that, it was the first Christian church in Denmark!
  • Ribe Katedralskole is the oldest continuously existing school in Scandinavia
  • Nederdammen 31 is the oldest half-timbered house in Denmark
  • 1. and 2. Sct. Nicolai Gade is the first pedestrian street in Denmark

4 things you have to do in Ribe:

Stroll around the city

Ribe is a lovely medieval city that went through a lot during its history – many wars, fires, religious reformation. And all of those events left a visible footprint on the city that you can still see nowadays. The city lies close to the Wadden Sea and all unoccupied areas nearby are flooded quite often. The city cannot grow anymore as no house can stand on flood-prone lands. But that does not mean that city is dying out, quite the contrary; it is vibrant and full of life, combining past and present. While you stroll around take a look at the old half-timbered houses and look for plates with names of all famous people who used to live them. When I was walking around one word came to my mind: Hygge! (Hygge is a popular word in Demark to which English equivalent would be cozy)

There are many companies specializing in guided tours around the city as well as free walking tours. If walking with a guide is not your thing, just stroll around on your own, you will not be disappointed, whatever option you chose.

Follow the Night Watchman

Night watchmen have been patrolling the streets of Ribe since the 14th centuries making sure the citizens are safe and alerting them in case of fires and floods. To stay away during the long night the watchmen had to sing a verse at certain intervals through the night. The tradition persists till today, and each evening, Night Watchman makes his way through the city. Follow him as he patrols the city making sure it’s peaceful and safe, telling stories about the history of Ribe and events of the past.  Listen to the song the watchman sings while going through the dark winding alleys of the city. You can’t miss it, it is worth your time!

This fantastic tour is free, takes 45 minutes and it’s done both in Danish and English.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEnter Ribe Cathedral and climb the tower

As I mentioned before, Ribe Cathedral known also as Vor Frue Kirke (The Church of Our Lady) is the best-preserved Romanesque building in Denmark and Denmark’s only five-aisled church. On top of that, it was the first Christian church in Denmark built around the 12th century. During the past centuries, it went through a lot of changes, disasters, and upgrades, until it became what you can see today. In recent years, Ribe Cathedral was awarded 2 stars by the French Michelin Travel Guide for sights and attractions.

While inside, you should definitely try climbing stairs to the top of the Borgertårnet (The Commoners’ Tower), which dates to the 14th century. The tower was used as a watchtower offering unparalleled views of the whole city, with all the unique buildings and scenery of the marshes and the Wadden Sea in the distance.




Visit Ribe Viking Center

Do you like Vikings? Of course, you do! You are in Scandinavia after all 🙂 In this case, check out Ribe Viking Center, where you can experience life in a viking village. Take a chance to talk to some of the Vikings residing there and ask them about everything your heart yearns to know; from the history of Vikings in Denmark to their daily struggles in the real life. Observe their craft and if you like something, buy a souvenir.

Enter all houses and explore the surroundings. You are allowed to wander everywhere, so take a chance and find your inner kid 😉

There are a lot of activities you can be part of. Try archery, observe the show with owls, hawks and eagles, or cheer up Vikings fighting in the battle.

This is a trully fantastic place both for grown-ups and kids – so check it out!

You can check prices, opening hours and events under this link.


Next stop in our journey through top sights in Jutland: Mandø!

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