Flensburg: Fjords, courtyards and more

Posted in: Germany


The shoreline of Flensburg. Photo by hiddeneurope

The border between Germany and Denmark has fluctuated hither and thither over the years, reflecting the fact that the cultural divide between Danes and Germans is too diffuse to be adequately reflected as a precise line on a map. Nowadays, the border tracks across the Jutland Peninsula, dividing Schleswig in two.

This is flattish country and the locals like it that way. Hills are seen as an impertinent intrusion that obscure the magnificent skyscapes that are a feature of the region.

The town of Flensburg

Flensburg is a classic border town. Yes, it is German but only ambiguously so. We found ourselves on a local city bus last Sunday that cruised over the border into neighboring Denmark. Cast your eye over the map of Flensburg and you’ll see a medley of place names that are so evidently Danish: Hesttoft, Trammerup and Engelsby. Look at the names on shop fronts and you’ll discern that commerce in this German city is dominated by folk with Danish-sounding names. The Detlefsens (sometimes with a ‘th’ and sometimes with a double ‘ff) and Jensens are very much at home in modern Flensburg just as they were when the city was part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

A mooch through town

The last month on the Baltic coast of Schleswig (on both sides of the border) has been bitterly cold, but it warmed up a little last weekend and even the sea-ice that has choked the eastern fjords north of Kiel relented a little. Open water for a change as Flensburg folk strolled the city’s quaysides over the New Year break. This is a town that has so much going for it. The main north-south drag has happily been pedestrianized, banishing vehicles from the main shopping area. There are hints of a developing Hofkultur (courtyard culture) as cafés and restaurants reclaim the old merchants’ courtyards that lie between the waterfront and the Old Town.

Flensburg boat

Seaside in Flensburg. Photo by fleno.de

Yet modern planners have inflicted many insults on Flensburg over the years. Was it really necessary to surround the Old Town with such architectural aberrations? The postal depot gets our prize for the greatest monstrosity in Flensburg, yet it has many close rivals.

But, all that said, Flensburg is a still a great spot and home of the famous Flensburg Pilsner beer, locally called ‘Flens’. And the town is a good base for exploring the Schleswig region. It is two hours by train from Germany’s second city, Hamburg, and three and a half hours via direct services from the Danish capital Copenhagen.

About the author


About the authors: Nicky and Susanne manage a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine.

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4 thoughts on “Flensburg: Fjords, courtyards and more”

  1. Hey Arvo
    Great you like Flensburg. And good to hear you discovered Flensburg beer with those distinctive “swing-stopper” bottles. We are always surprised they even do a mineral water bottled in that swng-stopper style. Water apart, the Flensburger Brewery does about six different beers, including one seasonal variety. That’s the Flensburger Winterbock. Nicely alcoholic, packs a punch, and just what we needed when we visited Flensburg in January for EuroCheapo.
    Nicky and Susanne

  2. In May 2010 there were four of us from TORONTO CANADA, that were on a three week cycling trip from Dresdan and we finished our cycling in Flensburg after hitting Denmark. ( Coppenhagen and Odensee ). Flensburg was an unexpected jewel that we had not planned on visiting. The area is very scenic, people are extremely friendly, there is tons of cycling into Denmark on great dedicated bike trails, PLUS the FLENSBURG PILSENER is a great beer in the GROLSCHE style of bottles. ( I’m in the process of trying to get some via LCBO) If you want to visit a quaint fishing village then this place is not to be missed. We also lucked into a fabulous hotel only minutes from the main center by bike. Hotel Freuland on Glukesburger Strasse 174 24943 Flensburg. We ate all our meals there just because it was the best GERMAN food we had eaten during our bike trip. The owner Apostolos and his wife couldn’t have been more hospitable. If you visit tell them that you heard from the senior cyclists from Toronto.

    1. Hi Arvo,

      Now I know this is a long shot. Recently someone I know was in Australia and met someone by the name of Arvo Luik. Through my friend who met Arvo In Australia, they realized they had a friend in common by the name of Len Sparks from Toronto (who happens to be my Dad). Are yo the Arvo I am looking for on behalf of my Dad??

      Thanks, Erin Sparks.


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