Odense is the unofficial capital of the island of Funen in Denmark. As Denmark’s third-largest city, Odense encompasses everything a traveler might be interested in: from vibrant nightlife, delightful streets and stores to a rich cultural heritage.
Odense is located right in the middle of the island of Funen, which is in turn located between the largest island of Zealand and the small peninsula of Jutland. The first written mention of the city dates back to 988 AD in a letter from German Kaiser Otto III.
Some recent archaeological discoveries have shown that there were settlements on the island as early as the Viking period. At that time, however, Odense was simply a small center of Odin’s cult. In 1100, English Benedictine monks erected St. Knud, the first monastery.
Until the middle of the seventeenth century, Odense successfully occupied the position of a major trading center for people from the surrounding area. Local produce and livestock were exported from the city. However, the war with Sweden in 1600 weakened Odense’s economy. This economic decline lasted until 1803, when a canal linking Odense to the Baltic Sea was opened. Odense quickly developed into the port city, and over the next 100 years it grew into the modern industrial city that it is today.
Today, Odense is home to 185,871 people, making it the third largest city in Denmark.
Odense is also the birthplace of the world-famous fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen. The city has many statues and monuments in his honor, as well as parades. Andersen was born on April 2, 1805, in a tiny house on Münkemöleshtrede Street, very close to the cathedral. During his lifetime, Andersen created many famous fairy tales that are now known around the world. For example, The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling and The Snow Queen.
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How to get there
Since the construction of the Great Belt Bridge flights within the country and international flights have become less popular. However, a small company called AirBorne operates summer flights to some Italian cities such as Parma, Florence and Trieste.
The remaining flights are from larger airports elsewhere in Denmark, but since Odense is in the center of the peninsula, they are relatively close.
You can get from this airport to Odense by train via the city of Copenhagen. This journey will take anywhere from 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours. On the buses from the airport, it is important to punch your ticket before boarding the train.
Take a local bus or any of the Kolding or Vaile brands, and it will take you straight to Odense. Trains leave about every half hour during the day, and after 1 am every two hours. The trip will take a total of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
To see which flight option is most convenient for you, click here.
Odense is connected to most of Denmark’s main cities by rail. The trains are of exceptional quality, with comfortable seats, food, and drinks served during your journey.
At times of high tourist influx, it will be advisable to book train tickets in advance. Trains usually do not leave too early or deep at night, they run quite frequently and always get to the designated station on time. Tickets are checked during each trip. Smoking on the train is prohibited.
Odense is about 1.5 to 2 hours from Copenhagen (trains leave 2 to 3 times an hour); 1 hour 45 minutes from Aarhus; 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 50 minutes from Esbjerg in southern Jutland; 4 to 5 hours from Hamburg, Germany.
When is the season. When to go
Odense – weather by month
Main attractions. What to see
Brandts Torv 1, phone +45 65 20 70 00. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday until 9 p.m. Odense Art and Culture Center. Consists of 2 museums: the Media Museum, focusing on all types of media and their history, and the Art Museum of Photography, which has 4 exhibition halls with changing exhibitions. There are also specialty stores, a video library, a movie theater that shows specialty films, bars, and a post office.
Tel. +45 62 27 10 16. Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (July and August until 8 p.m.). One of the best preserved Renaissance castles on the water, dating back to 1554. It is located 30 km to the south. Now its owner, Count Alefeld, has added many interesting things to this picturesque park, such as: a labyrinth, paths between the trees and a museum of rare cars, a toy museum, a vegetable garden and much more. The cost of admission is 175 kroner.
Hans Christian Andersen Garden
The center of the city, behind the Cathedral of St. Knud.
Garden in memory of the writer Hans Christian Andersen.
Large flower arrangements, a river and an ice cream store have made this park the perfect place for a picnic. Among the sights of the park you can see gazebos, a “Chinese wall”, a statue of the author himself and nearby, in the river, a sculpture of a paper boat (a symbol of one of Andersen’s fairy tales).
SDR Boulevard 306, phone +45 66 11 13 60. Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (in summer until 6 p.m.). One of the biggest attractions in Denmark, spread over almost 4 hectares on both sides of the river Odense. The oceanarium opened here in 2001 and is the main exhibit, depicting a trip to South America, with stunning aviaries and a rainforest right in the building. Admission for children is 55 Danish kroner, for adults 110. For the whole family ( 2 adults and 2 children) 200 DKK.
St. Knud’s Church
Closterbakken 2 (near the town hall), phone +45 66 12 03 92. Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Cathedral of St. Knud, who was martyred in 1086. The tombstones of the king and his brother are in the crypt, where the tombstones of the other dignitaries are also located. Admission is free.
Museums and galleries. Which ones are worth a visit?
Karl Nielsen Museum. Klaus Berg Gade 11, telephone +45 65 51 46 01. A museum that preserves the biography of the great composer Carl Nielsen. He was born near Odense. The composer is widely known throughout Scandinavia and Great Britain. His most popular works are his six symphonies. Carl Nielsen’s portrait is placed on the DKK 100 bill.
Railway Museum of Denmark, Danebrogsgade 24, phone +45 66 13 66 30. Open daily from 10.00 to 16.00 Closed on December 24, 25, 31 and January 1. The museum is dedicated to the Danish railroad. There is a large model of a train in the background of nature, a miniature railroad and a playground for children. For holidays and during the summer school vacations the museum organizes 2 vintage trains on different routes on the island of Funen. Call in advance to find out about ticket availability and make reservations. Admission costs: children 5 – 13 years old 30 kroner, adults 60 kroner, family 150 kroner, a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) 120 kroner.
Hans Christian Andersen Museum, Banks Bauder 29, phone +45 65 51 46 01. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (July to August until 6 p.m.). The museum is dedicated to Odense’s most famous native, writer and poet, Hans Christian Andersen, who is widely known for his fairy tales. Part of the museum is in Andersen’s supposed home, although this is not proven. The impressive collection consists mostly of documents from when Andersen lived, his personal papers, antique furniture and many drawings, as well as paper clippings. The cost of admission is 85 kroner.
Gallery Galschiot, Benevenget 22, phone 66184058. Opening hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is 2,500 square meters of sculptor Jens Galshiot’s studio, connected to the museum. The place is one of the most impressive and largest private art studios in Denmark. There is plenty to do here, as in addition to the workshop, there is a bronze smelter, a gallery store, art schools, a weaving studio, a television studio, a sculpture park and a 400 square meter art gallery. Admission is free.
What to see in the surrounding area
Kerteminde, about 20 km to the northeast, is a pretty seaside town with a large center filled with 16th century buildings. Beautiful beaches, miniature golf and an aquarium full of sharks are available in the town.
Rindge is an agronomical town in the center of the island of Funen.
Middelfart is a coastal town near the bridge on the Jutland Peninsula.
Nyborg is a coastal town with medieval castles, beautiful gardens, and harbor walks.
Fredericia is a beautiful medieval fortress city. 50 minutes by train. Here you can walk along the old walls of the city, on a magnificent sandy beach, very clean and safe. And you also have the opportunity to visit the Jutland Peninsula.
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. Only 90 minutes away by intercity train. You should see the statue of the Little Mermaid, walk through Tivoli Park or visit Karlsberg Brewery.
Odense (Denmark) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Odense with descriptions, guides and maps.
Odense city, Denmark
Odense is the capital of the island of Funen and the third largest city in Denmark. Located between the island of Zealand and the Jutland Peninsula. Odense is the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen and a place full of charming streets with old houses, beautiful green parks, interesting museums and beautiful palaces. The city is named after the Scandinavian god Odin, and was founded more than a thousand years ago.
Things to do (Denmark):
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Geography and climate
Odense is slightly northeast of the center of the island of Funen, which is connected by bridges to Zealand and Jutland. The city is located 170 km southwest of Copenhagen and 140 km south of Aarhus. The river of the same name runs through it, and to the north is located Odense-fjord. The climate is temperate maritime with cool summers and mild winters.
The northeastern coast of Funen is characterized by surges. Thus, the west and northeast winds can raise the water level by almost 2 meters.
The streets of Odense
- Population – more than 170 thousand people.
- Area – 304,34 km 2 .
- Language – Danish.
- Currency – Danish krone.
- Time – UTC +1, summer +2.
- Odense has a small airport, which operates summer flights to several Italian cities – Parma, Trieste, Florence. There are also direct trains to the city from the largest airport in Denmark – Kastrup.
- In the stores and bars you can find local beer – Odense Pilsner and Odense Classic.
Odense is one of Denmark’s oldest cities. Its history goes back to the time of the Vikings, who founded a fortress here and built many fortifications. The name of the city is translated as “the sanctuary of Odin. The first written mention of Odense dates back to 988, when the German Emperor Otto III granted the settlement city rights. By the end of the 11th century, Odense had become a flourishing market town. In 1086, Canute IV (or Knud), who is considered the last Viking king, was murdered here in the monastery of St. Albans during a peasant rebellion. Canute was later canonized.
Now the monastery no longer exists. At the beginning of the 20th century, a church was built in its place.
The streets of Odense
In the 12th century, the Benedictine monastery of St. Canute was founded in Odense, where Denmark’s first literary work was written. In 1249 the city was burned down by royal troops, but was quickly rebuilt and throughout the Middle Ages was an important trading center. The prosperity of the city continued until the mid-17th century. Heavy taxes were imposed in the 1650s and a period of decline began, which lasted until the 18th century.
In 1805, the famous fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense. In the 19th century, with the expansion of the port and the construction of a major railway terminal, the city began to flourish again and regained its status as an important trading center. In 1935, a tall tower was built in Odense, second only to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This structure was destroyed by the Nazis in 1944.
Church of St. Canute (Knud)
Church of St. Canute (Knud) – medieval brick Gothic cathedral, founded in the 11th century by the Danish King Canute IV. The old building was damaged during the great fires of the 12th and 13th centuries. The modern structure of the church dates back to the 13th and 15th centuries. Interesting features of the church are the crypt under the choir, which contains the tomb of St. Canute, his brother and some other kings, the beautiful pulpit and the majestic altar.
Church of St. John (Hans)
The Church of St. John (Hans) is a brick Gothic religious structure from the first half of the 17th century. The first church on this site was founded in the 13th century by the Knights of the Order of St. John.
Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady (Vor Frue Kirke) is the oldest surviving medieval church in Odense, built in the 12th century. The first religious building on this site was built in the 10th century in wood. A few centuries later, the present Gothic church was built here. Next to it is Odense’s oldest secular building, built in the 14th century.
Church of St. Albans
St. Alban’s Church is a beautiful neo-gothic building from the early 20th century with a tall spire. The church was built on the site of the ancient monastery where King Canute IV, later made a saint, was assassinated.
Møntergården is an old mint, built in 1646. It now houses a museum of local culture and history.
Town Hall is a public building of the late 19th century, built of red brick in the Italian Gothic style.
H. K. Andersen Museum. K. Andersen Museum
Museum of J. K. Andersen. C. K. Andersen museum is dedicated to his life and works. It is located in the house, where, presumably, was born the great storyteller.
Andersen`s childhood home
Childhood home of Andersen is a small old house where the famous storyteller lived from the age of 2 to 14.
Egeskov is a fabulously beautiful castle 30 minutes from Odense and is considered one of the best-preserved castle-fortresses in Europe. This superb Renaissance structure was completed in 1554 and despite its idyllic appearance had a strong defensive potential. Egeskov consists of two buildings connected by a strong double wall, so wide that it contains a hidden staircase and a well.
Not far from Odense is the Funen open-air museum, which takes us back to old provincial Denmark.