Esbjerg is a seaport town and seat of Esbjerg Municipality on the west coast of the Jutland peninsula in southwest Denmark. By road, it is 71 kilometres (44 mi) west of Kolding and 164 kilometres (102 mi) southwest of Aarhus. With an urban population of 72,152 (2016).


The Kingdom of Denmark has only one official language,Danish, the national language of the Danish people, but there are several minority languages spoken through the territory. These include German, Faroese, and Greenlandic.

A large majority (86%) of Danes also speak English as a second language; it is mandatory for Danish students to learn from the first grade in Folkeskole. In the fifth grade of Folkeskole, a third language option is given, usually German or French. The vast majority pick German (47% of Danes report being able to speak conversational German). The third most widely understood language is Swedish, with 13% of Danes reporting to be able to speak it.



The town is situated on the southwestern coast of Denmark, and is a port on the North Sea. By road, it is 71 kilometres (44 mi) west of Kolding, 164 kilometres (102 mi) southwest of Aarhus, 298 kilometres (185 mi) west of Copenhagen and 274 kilometres (170 mi) southwest of Aalborg. By sea, it is situated roughly 380 miles (610 km) northeast of Harwich, England. As a result of planned development, the older sections of the town look like a chessboard with long, wide streets with rectangular corners.

The high ground of Esbjerg stretches along the east coast of the Wadden Sea (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) between the rivers of Varde and Sneum, encompassing the coastal area of Ho Bugt and the seaside district of Hjerting to the north. Opposite Esbjerg, across Fanø Bay, is the island of Fanø, 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) by 5 kilometres (3.1 mi), with Nordby as its principal settlement, connected to Esbjerg by ferry. To the west of Esbjerg, the town boundary is defined by a number of small streams. The highest point is some 25 m (82 ft) above sea level. The town is located on top of steep slopes leading down to the flatlands of the harbour area. The built-up area itself is not very hilly but there are considerable differences in terrain. Apart from the cliff in the town park overlooking the harbour, the valley of Fourfelt Bæk, 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi) in length, is the main feature of the landscape, resulting in differences of up to 20 m (66 ft) with the surroundings.


The climate is warm and temperate in Esbjerg. Esbjerg is a city with a significant rainfall. Even in the driest month there is a lot of rain. This climate is considered to be Cfb according to the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. In Esbjerg, the average annual temperature is 8.3 °C. Precipitation here averages 807 mm.


The first church to be built in Esbjerg was the red-brick Church of Our Saviour designed by Axel Møller, which was completed in 1887. In 1896, it was expanded with transepts and galleries on either side of the nave, doubling the seating capacity. Several more churches were established after the Second World War when there was a marked increase in the city’s population. The first of these, the yellow-brick Trinity Church with its large triangular stained-glass windows, was designed to accommodate a large congregation while offering additional facilities for both young and old. Breaking with tradition, its square-shaped nave was built directly adjacent to lower ancillary buildings including a hall with a stage, meeting rooms and a kitchen. The bell tower stands alone, quite separate from the church.

St Nikolaj is a Roman Catholic church, built in 1969. Unusual for a church, it is built of aerated concrete. Its innovative square-shaped design by Johan Otto von Spreckelsen served as a basis for his Grande Arche in Paris. [39] The dimensions of the inner cube of St Nikolaj Church are very close to those of the “holy of holies” in Solomon’s Temple as described in Ezekiel 40:5.

The modern red-brick Grundtvig’s Church, southeast of the town centre, was designed by Ole Nielsen. With its strangely shaped, red-tiled roof, it was completed in 1969. Inside, the large wall surfaces are broken only by 12 narrow windows on the east side, creating a contrast with the much brighter tower room which opens into the chancel with light entering from a window high on the east side of the tower.

Designed by Inger and Johannes Exner, Sædden Church with wave-like folds in its red-brick walls was inaugurated in 1978. Daylight focusing on the altar is supplemented by 803 electric light bulbs.Gjesing Church, a red-brick building north of the city centre, was completed 1983. Like many other modern churches in the area, it has a free-standing bell tower as well as a church hall and meeting rooms.[38] Other churches include Zion’s Church and Jerne Church.

Also built in a style akin to the Neo-Gothic architecture of churches, the Bethania Mission House opposite the Church of our Saviour was completed in 1906 by Clausen.


Esbjerg’s oldest existing house, on the corner of Kongensgade, was built around 1660. The town itself was not established until 1868 when it was built as a replacement for the harbour in Altona, which had previously been Denmark’s most important North Sea port but came under German control after the Second Schleswig War in 1864. At the time, Esbjerg consisted of only a few farms. Developed under royal decree from 1868 until 1874, the harbour was officially opened in 1874, with rail connections to Varde and to Fredericia, an important hub on the east coast of Jutland. Initial planning of the town was conducted by chartered surveyor H. Wilkens in 1870 with streets laid out in the form of a rectangular grid. The market square (Torvet) was positioned at the centre, midway between the harbour and the railway station. From only 400 inhabitants at the beginning of the 1870s, the town and its population grew rapidly, with 1529 residents mentioned in 1880, and 4,211 in 1890.

In 1893, Esbjerg became a municipality in its own right (initially known as Esbjerg Ladeplads), receiving the status and privileges of a market town in 1899 and incorporating the parish of Jerne (east of the centre) in 1945. A number of institutions and facilities were soon established, including the courthouse and town hall (1891), the gas and waterworks (1896) and the power plant (1907). From the beginning of the 20th century, Esbjerg prospered not only as a fishing port but became one of the country’s major export centres. Established in 1895 by nine local dairies, the butter-packaging factory, Dansk Andels Smørpakkeri, employed some 150 workers until 1920, packing and dispatching butter for the London market. It was later extended to include egg marketing under the name Dansk Andels Ægeksport. Ultimately, it handled produce from 140 dairies spread across the whole of Jutland. After the Second World War, the town developed several agricultural industries, especially meat processing and packaging with a plant employing over 300. The slaughterhouse and meat packaging facility, Esbjerg Andels-Slagteri, established in 1887, became Denmark’s sixth largest by 1962. It later became part of Vestjyske Slagterier in 1986, and in 2001, it was acquired by Danish Crown.

Once Denmark’s principal fishing port, the Port of Esbjerg is still a driving force for the town’s economy. While it has a long history of ferry services to England, the town is by no means a tourist destination. Lonely Planet remarked that “nobody comes to Esbjerg for a holiday, in fact, as with many industrial ports, most visitors rush through as quickly as possible”. Esbjerg is the main town for Denmark’s oil and offshore activities, with companies like Maersk, Ramboll, Stimwell Services, ABB, Schlumberger, COWI and Atkins all having offshore-related activities in the town. Halliburton has an office in Esbjerg. The port has served the Danish offshore industry since oil and gas were first extracted from the North Sea in the early 1970s. More recently, it has become a centre for shipping offshore wind turbines. In addition to handling 65 percent of all Danish wind turbines, which supply 3 gigawatts (4,000,000 hp) of offshore wind power, components have been shipped to various British wind farms. In order to cope with enormous future increases in Danish offshore wind power, 12 companies, including DONG Energy and Bluewater Energy Services are already planning the establishment of a Green Offshore Centre in Esbjerg. In connection with this, in June 2013, the port was significantly expanded with the opening of the Østhavn (East Harbour), covering an area of 650,000 m2 (7,000,000 sq ft).

Historically, in addition to its success as a fishing port, Esbjerg established its position as one of the country’s major export centres. Before World War II, there was a large butter factory, Dansk Andels Smørpakkeri, employing some 150 workers while after the war the town developed agricultural industries, especially for meat processing and packaging with a plant employing over 300. Latterly owned by Danish Crown and employing 500, the plant closed in May 2012.

More recently, Esbjerg has grown into an important centre for education with campuses belonging to the University of Southern Denmark (1998) and Aalborg University (1995). The town holds an annual music festival spanning two weekends (nine days) in mid-August. It is focused around the central Torvet Square which hosts the main stage. The music includes everything from church concerts to opera and pop.


Esbjerg is one of the towns hosting the University of Southern Denmark. It also houses a branch of Aalborg University and IT Academy West. The main branch of Profession School – University College West (Danish: Professionshøjskolen University College Vest) and the Esbjerg section of the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, housed in a former power station, are also located in the city. The town is served by the Southwest Jutland Hospital (Sydvestjysk Sygehus) which also has a branch in Brande and treats over 42,000 patients annually, with over 500 beds and a staff of about 2,500 employees.


The port town of Esbjerg Station is operated by Danish State Railways. The station is the western terminus of InterCity trains from Copenhagen (operating once an hour), with a journey time of about three hours. DSB also operates local trains to Fredericia. Arriva operates the Vestbanen with local trains travelling south to Ribe and Tønder and north to Struer.

Ferry services connect Esbjerg via Ho Bugt to Nordby on the island of Fanø via Danske Færger. From 1875 until 2014 a passenger service operated over the North Sea to the English port of Harwich via DFDS Seaways, formerly Scandinavian Seaways. The MS Winston Churchill began service between the two ports in 1967, and served until 1978 when it was transferred to the River Tyne to Gothenburg service. The crossings were discontinued at the end of September 2014 although a freight service is still available on the route from Esbjerg to Immingham. DFDS cited “dwindling demand and high costs” as the chief reasons for the closure of the route.

Esbjerg Harbour is the second largest harbour in Denmark (after Aarhus). It serves Maersk Drilling headquarters, and the regional commuter Esbjerg–Fanø–Esbjerg. For those arriving by pleasure craft, there is a marina along Pier No. 1 with 198 mooring places. The 650,000 square metres (7,000,000 sq ft) Østhavn (“East Harbour”) opened in June 2013, while construction of a new freight terminal in the Sydhavn section of the harbour is scheduled for 2014.f Esbjerg is a large transport hub for both rail and road traffic, and an important port for Danish North Sea oil offshore activity. It is also served by Esbjerg Airport with flights to Aberdeen and Stavanger, while the nearby Billund Airport offers additional travel options. Image Map