Odense is a place of literary wonder. The cosy city is the birthplace of the world’s most famous writer of fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen, and a trip to explore the cobbled streets of his childhood home and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum is a real step back in time.
Don’t you just love the idea of visiting a cultural gem where you don’t have to wrestle with selfie sticks and an army of hot-and-bothered city break tourists? Odense is this kind of destination. It’s popular because of its rich history and the fact that you can follow the footsteps of Hans Christian Andersen. But the whole world doesn’t know about it yet! So you can explore Odense’s cosy streets, enjoy its cafés or street food market and disconnect from the hectic pace of larger cities.
Hans Christian Andersen was born in a tiny yellow house on a cobbled street in the centre of Odense in 1805. And it’s still there! Today it’s one of the oldest poet museums in the world and a great place to start a Hans Christian Andersen tour through Odense’s oldest and prettiest parts. Take a photo next to Hans Christian Andersen’s statue in the Fairy Tale Garden, or of the dramatic 12-metre high mural of his face at Bangs Boder. You can buy a one-day ticket to tour all the most important Hans Christian Andersen sights in Odense.
Odense has an antique market, one of Denmark’s biggest shopping centres, Rosengaardcenteret, and Fyn’s largest market every Wednesday and Saturday. Head to the area outside the concert hall to sample fresh farm produce from across the island of Fyn. Odense’s street food market, Storms Pakhus, is a popular place to grab some grub and get to know the locals! Or just simply wander the cobbled streets and try one of Odense’s cafés, bar and restaurants.
Being a city of such cultural importance, it’s hardly surprising that Odense has a variety of exciting cultural offerings to entice you throughout the year. Head to Odense in August to experience the highly-respected Odense International Film Festival and the fairy-tale magic of Hans Christian Andersen Festival. If you’re bringing kids, or are just a big one yourself, Odense Zoo is open 365 days a year and October is when Harry Potter fans descend on Odense for the Magic Days Festival.
Odense is less than 1.5 hours from Copenhagen and Aarhus, so even though this cosy little city is nestled on the green and relaxed island of Fyn, it’s surprisingly easy to get to. You can take the train from Copenhagen Central Station or you can drive by car across the Great Belt Bridge (Storebæltsbroen) from Zealand to Fyn. Trains run from all over Denmark’s mainland (Jutland) to Odense and you can drive from Jutland too.
Odense is a good jump-off point for the whole of the island of Fyn and the many attractions dotted around Denmark’s ‘Garden Island’, like the reconstructed 19th-century village, Funen Village. On the old Little Belt Bridge between Fyn and the mainland, you can try bridgewalking – the only place outside Sydney where you can! Egeskov Castle is a stunning destination in itself and home of the popular Heartland Festival. See our guide to things you should try on Fyn for more inspiration.