Vejle on Jutland’s east coast has for many years been a hidden gem known mainly to the Danes. But this is all set to change with the arrival this year of its first Michelin starred restaurant, MeMu, raising the culinary stakes. Whilst world class Danish architects, working in harmony with the city’s waterfront setting and historic centre, have put Vejle firmly on the architectural map with an impressive collection of striking new buildings and the creation of a new Architecture app for visitors to explore these innovative new creations. Danish design is also at the heart of the nearby Trapholt museum, which is celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and across the city for museum lovers there is free entrance to 11 attractions including ‘Floating Art’, Vejle’s annual art exhibition on the bay.
Surrounding the city, parks and rivers provide a wealth of opportunities to explore some of Denmark’s most beautiful countryside and protected wilderness, leading down to sheltered sandy beaches. Dotted along the coast visitors can enjoy a choice of spa and wellness hotels; making Vejle the perfect destination for an alternative weekend city break of gastronomy, wellness, culture and a chance to explore Denmark’s great outdoors, all just an easy 45 minutes from Billund airport.
Gastronomy in Vejle
As Vejle’s first Michelin starred restaurant MeMu, which is owned and operated by Vejle locals, husband and wife team Michael Munk and Mette Derdau, draws on local influences from the Fjord, woods and surrounding fields to create small serving dishes using the best local produce, each one perfectly matched with wine, beer and juices in the intimate atmosphere of the centrally located restaurant.
The couple both previously worked at the renowned Munkebjerg Hotel, in Munkebjerg Forest close to Vejle Bay, and also run the MeMu Bistro, located just around the corner from the main restaurant and where the same Michelin-starred chefs serve simpler versions of their award-winning cuisine to a lunchtime crowd.
Featured in the White Guide, a compendium of Denmark’s best restaurants, Restaurant Remouladen, which is situated by the harbour with a beautiful view of the bay, specialises in the reinterpretations of Denmark’s famous ‘smørrebrød’ open-faced sandwiches, whilst TreeTop restaurant at Munkebjerg Hotel offers a range of menus from an epic 20-course ‘TreeTop Adventure’ tasting menu to a more modest three-course menu featuring locally grown produce.
Where to stay for relaxation and wellness
Munkebjerg Hotel is not only home to the gastronomic TreeTop restaurant, but also offers some the best spa and fitness facilities in the area. Opt for a ‘TreeTop Luxury’ stay and combine dining with relaxation and a rejuvenating wellness treatment or a steam bath and swim in the Fit & Relax area of the spa.
Alternatively, the historic Hotel Vejlefjord boasts more than 30 different spa treatments in its extensive spa and thermal baths and close by, with an equally beautiful views of the Vejle fjord, the Hotel Kellers Park is an elegant stately home set in parkland with a spacious Aqua Spa, and restaurant serving both Danish and international cuisine.
Discover the best of Vejle’s cultural attractions
As a showcase for modern architecture by some of the country’s leading architects, Vejle boasts an impressive collection of new buildings, from the famous Bølgen (‘The Wave’), which houses private apartments in an incredible undulating wave-shaped building by the Danish architects, Henning Larsen Architects, to the spectacular Vejle Kayak Club, a floating raft-like building created by Force4 Architects and located on a manmade island 20 metres from the shore and reached via a footbridge.
Meanwhile, coming soon is Fjordenhus – an in-progress construction site of the new headquarters of Kirk Kapital, on the harbour of Vejle inlet. It’s been designed by the world famous Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson with the ground floor of the building open to the public and featuring built-in art installations.
To discover more on the cities iconic buildings Vejle’s architecture app is a complete guide to its historic and modern public buildings, housing projects and urban landscapes.
Bringing together 11 museum and attractions the VejleMuseerne is a collaboration between several exhibition spaces including the Vejle Culture Museum and Vejle Museum of Art. The Art museum has a contemporary foyer designed by Danish architect Kim Utzon and an impressive collection of Danish artwork from the early 20th century, including work by Robert Jacobsen and Henry Heerup, as well a collection of 50 Rembrandt etchings.
Vejle’s annual art exhibition on the bay Floating Art is being held from 23 June to 2 September 2018. Drawing on over 90 proposals from international artists, 12 have been chosen to exhibit and visitors will also be able to kayak around the artwork or take a ferry out on the fjord to get a closer look at the completed works.
Meanwhile, less than half an hour from Vejle in a beautiful park overlooking Kolding Fjord the Trapholt Museum of Modern Art and Design is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It’s Denmark’s only museum bringing together visual arts, crafts, design and furniture. Housing permanent exhibitions of the paintings of Richard Mortensen and Arne Jacobsen’s unique ‘Kubeflex’ cottage as well as Denmark’s largest collection of Danish chairs.
Vejle’s great outdoors
Beyond the city cyclists and hikers can explore the Vejle Ådal river valley with routes marked out through the undulating countryside, meandering coastline, moorland and meadows. At Dyreparken visitors can feed the deer and explore the beautiful forest surroundings, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride in the fairy-tale landscape of Frederikshåb Plantage.
Alternatively, the Vejle River offers canoe and kayak hire, the perfect way to explore from the water. Or take a mountain bike along the ancient Hærvejen road, which winds its way along the glacial ridge of East Jutland. The road is divided into 22 stages, featuring ancient Bronze Age monuments and some of the greatest monuments of the Viking age. At Himmelpind Bike Park take a mountain bike over Denmark’s highest hills or stop for a picnic with its panoramic views across the region.
Explore the local area
Further afield, just to the north-east of Vejle stands the UNESCO-listed Jelling Monuments, two famous rune stones erected by Viking King Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth that are seen as the foundation ‘documents’ of the Danish nation. As a living memorial, the town features the recently opened Royal Jelling Experience Centre, where visitors can embark on an interactive journey back in time.
Whilst south of Vejle Koldinghus is celebrating its 750th anniversary in 2018, with a range of events. Its castle was built in 1268 and was for many years one of Denmark’s most important royal castle until a fire in 1808 left the castle in ruins, but today the castle has been restored and houses a museum.
Completing a visit to the region, around an hour’s drive from Vejle, on Denmark’s west coast is its oldest town, Ribe. This ancient settlement, with its wealth of old buildings stands on a commanding location next to the Wadden Sea and provides a famous resting ground for migratory birds.