Mandø is the smallest of the inhabited islands in the Danish tidal sea called Vadehavet. Mandø has only 33 inhabitants making a living on the island – but it is actually attracting no less than 120,000 visitors a year arriving on the tractor bus which make the trip across the tidal sea on a daily basis.
For such a small island it actually has a surprisingly large number of tourist attractions – which are generally adapted to the daily schedule of the tractor bus which varies with the time of low tide. There is a restaurant which is pretty big so it can accommodate the many daily visitors who will go and have lunch in the restaurant. There are a few smaller places to eat during the season – but most of them seemed to still be closed when we went.
The city is actually located at the highest part of the island which is fortunate since the storms of the area can be pretty violent at times and flooding of the low lying land is to be expected. The city is actually up to 7 meters above sea level which is just enough to keep it safe from the floods which a few times centuries apart has reached 5 meters above sea level.
The small island has a local shop which is only open until 2 in the afternoon according to the stated opening hours – but today the tractor bus will return at 3 in the afternoon so the shop will stay open for an extra hour to let the visitors do some last minute shopping for souvenirs with the name of Mandø printed on it.
When you arrive on the tractor bus they will let you out just across from the only shop on the island. From here you can start exploring during the three hour stop you will have before the tractor bus returns to the mainland. The island is small so it should be plenty of time to see the main sights on the island.
The first stop we take is heading to the old church. The church is actually still operating and the island is an independent parish – though there isn’t a service every Sunday since they have to share the priest with other churches on the mainland.
From the church is it a small walk to one of the beaches – there are a boat at the beach which is currently stranded since it is low tide so the boat will have to wait for the water to return before it will be able to go to the waters.
Down at the beach you will see another little attraction – the high tide marker. It shows the main storms which has been in the area since 17th century. This storm was the one with the highest tide but the more recent storm of 1999 saw enough of a flood to drown most people who would be on the beach during the storm.
Not far from the storm marker you will find an old rescue station which was put here to help rescue sailors in trouble along the west coast of Jutland.
From the beach we walk to the windmill of the island which was finally built to make flour on the island instead of transporting the wheat to the mainland during the low tide. It was pretty difficult to transport the wheat since it was only possible during the short window around low tide and the transport would have to rush across to make it in time before the tide would turn. Surprisingly the first windmill on Mandø wasn’t built until 1820 so up until then they had to transport the wheat.
The last attraction we visit is the small museum of Mandø which is located inside one of the old farms of the city of Mandø. The museum is small but it is worth the 25 DKK admissions to go inside and see the old farm – though the displays are in Danish only so it is difficult for foreigners to understand the displays.