Esbjerg, Denmark

Visitors to Esbjerg often smell something fishy about the seaport — which isn’t a surprise, since its fishery’s harbor is the largest in Denmark. Given the industry’s importance to the city’s economy, locals dismiss the distinctive odor with the saying, “Esbjerg doesn’t smell like fish, it smells like money.” (Plus, the aroma is fairly contained to the harbor area). Founded in the late 1800s, Esbjerg grew wealthy and rapidly; its old town center features a number of impressive neo-Gothic buildings from the early 20th century. Mennesket ved Havet (“Men at Sea”) — an imposing monument of four 30-foot-tall seated men looking over the coast — celebrates the city’s relationship with the sea, as does Fiskeri- og Søfartsmuseet (Fishing and Maritime Museum), which houses both a saltwater aquarium and “sealarium.” At Museumsfyrskib (Lighthouse Museum), you can step aboard a 1912 lightship, the world’s oldest sailing lighthouse. The Esbjerg area boasts some of Denmark’s finest beaches, while the biodiverse island of Fanø lies just off the coast within the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Wadden Sea.