A favourite of the Danish yachting fraternity, with marinas clogging the coastline from here to Fåborg, 24km west, SVENDBORG exudes a certain gritty charm, with colourful houses lining cobbled lanes dipping down to the water. Svendborg is a pleasant place to plot your travels around the archipelago, and boasts some of the best nightlife in an otherwise very quiet region. While you're there, spend an hour or two meandering around the narrow backstreets, spattered with beautiful bronzes by one of Denmark's best-known sculptors, the locally born Kai Nielsen, and head down to the harbourfront to take in the bustling shipyard, packed with beautiful old wooden boats from all over Scandinavia and the Baltic.
A former foundry, next door to the Lange museum at Vestergade 45, is now the town's youth hostel (Tel:62 21 66 99, Web: www.danhostel-svendborg.dk ), which has dorms (120kr) and doubles (Price: Kr300-400). Otherwise, there's the pricey Hotel Svendborg, Centrumpladsen 1 (Tel:62 21 17 00, Web: www.hotel-svendborg.dk ; Price: Kr900 and above), or, via a ten-minute bus ride along the coast (#202), the reasonably priced Stella Maris Missionhotel (Tel:62 21 38 91, Web: www.stellamaris.dk ; Price: Kr500-650, en-suite Price: Kr650-900), a grand white building overlooking the Svendborg sound with a range of different rooms. The tourist office (mid-June to Aug Mon– Fri 9.30am–6pm, Sat 9.30am–3pm; Sept to mid-June Mon– Fri 9.30am–5pm, Sat 9.30am–12.30pm; Tel:62 21 09 80, Web: www.visitsydfyn.dk ), across the square from Hotel Svendborg at Centrumpladsen 4, deal with the entire southern Funen area and can provide details of accommodation, including numerous local campsites. They also stock the latest ferry timetables.
For food, don't miss the sublime meals at AJette's Diner on Kullinggade 1, and the traditional Danish sailors' fare on offer at Restaurant Svendborgsund, Havnepladsen 5 – try the stegt flæsk (fried pork and potatoes in creamy parsley sauce). The nightlife, such as it is, usually starts at café-bar Under Uret, Gerritsgade 50, and continues on to Café Citronen, Brogade 33, or Standlyst, Brogade 5, both of which have live music and all-night dancing at weekends.