The first beach towns
In the latter part of the 19th century, doctors were of the opinion that fresh sea air had a positive effect on health. Epidemics were common in towns and hygiene was poor; both factors which contributed to a high mortality rate.
The received opinion was that urban air was bad for the health and for this reason the wealthy part of the urban population began to spend their summers in the country – following the artists into Northern Jutland. However, it was not just Danes who held their holidays by the coast, there was also an influx of foreigners. Travelling to the beaches was accepted in certain circles.
At first, it was the fresh sea air that attracted visitors but in the second half of the 19th century, sea bathing became more and more accepted. In the beginning, it was only the summer visitors who bathed, whilst the local population looked on in bewilderment. They had learned to respect the sea from an early age and were used to enjoying no more than fresh air whilst dinner was being eaten, though they did allow their children to dip their feet in the shallows.
In the first half of the 19th century, strangers started to arrive in these coastal areas. The first travellers to this remote corner of Denmark, which both geographically and psychologically was a long way from Copenhagen, were artists such as writers and painters, and their accounts of what they found brought others following in their footsteps. The most famous of these are the painters who visited Skagen, and who captured in their pictures, the life of the local population, but various artists have found a berth along the entire coast.