Odense is the largest city on the island of Funen (“Fyn” in Danish) in Denmark. As Denmark’s third-largest city, it offers the traveller a mixture of an exciting vibrant night-life, beautiful street-scapes, great shopping opportunities & a rich cultural heritage.
Odense is roughly in the centre of Funen, which lies between the larger Zealand island and the Jutland peninsula. The first recorded reference to the city dates back to 988 AD in a letter from the German Kaiser Otto III.
Some recent archaeological findings have indicated that a settlement has in fact been around since the Viking period. At that time, however, Odense was just the small centre of the Odin cult. In 1100, the first monastery, Saint Knud’s was established by English Benedictine monks.
Until the middle of the 17th century, Odense enjoyed the position as a main trading-centre for the people from the surrounding areas. Local produce & livestock were exported from the city. However, a war with Sweden in the 1600s weakened the city’s economy. This economic downturn continued until 1803 when a canal linking Odense with the Kattegat was opened. This swiftly changed Odense into a port city and over the next 100 years Odense quickly developed into the modern industrial city which it is today.
It has a population of about 178,000 people (2018), thus making it Denmark’s 3rd largest city.
Odense is also the birthplace of the fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen, and the city proudly displays statues, parades and monuments in his memory. Andersen was born on 2 April 1805, in a tiny house on Munkemøllestræde, quite close to the cathedral. During his lifetime, Andersen created many famous fairy-tales which today are internationally famous. For example The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling and The Snow Queen.
How to reach Odense?
Odense Airport: The small airfield has been reduced to handling periodic charter flights for package holiday operators. Getting on such a flight pretty much requires buying a package holiday that starts and ends in Odense, so the only practical way of using Odense Airport as a point of entry is if arriving by private aviation, if you happen to own a plane or are able to procure the services of one. Otherwise, the country’s two major airports are a better bet, and they are not that far away.
DSB operates trains in and out of Odense. From Odense, you can take a direct train to many cities and towns throughout Denmark.
The trains run frequently and generally on time.
It’s important that you have a valid ticket before you board the train, as it’s not possible to buy tickets onboard.
Tickets to Odense are best purchased directly from DSB. For those planning ahead, you can get a good deal with the so-called Orange and Orange Fri tickets, available online only.
The trains generally offer very comfortable seating and drink vending machines onboard. For longer journeys, it’s recommended that you buy food and beverages before you get on the train. If you travel 1st class on InterCity and InterCityLyn trains, there are free water, coffee, tea and snacks on the train.
When travelling on peak travel days or during rush hour, or if travelling in groups, it’s advisable (but not mandatory) to reserve seats on the InterCity and InterCityLyn trains.
Odense is in the centre of the island Funen (da.Fyn), and many Danes incorrectly consider it to be the centre of Denmark. The main highway between east (Zealand) and west (Jutland) Denmark, the E20, runs through the southern suburbs of the city. If you are driving from Germany, this highway branches of the highway from Germany (E45) right after the Kolding Ø exit. There is a toll for crossing the Great-Belt Bridge from Zealand to Funen, the cost is 235 jr one-way.
Odense City has been made accessible to yachts by the construction of a 7-km-long canal from Odense Fjord to the old harbour. There are several marinas, however it is recommended that you make sure they have visitor berths before you arrive. You can also dock at marinas in Svendborg, Faaborg, Middelfart or Kerteminde, from which you should then take a train or bus to Odense.
Things to see in Odense
- Brandts Klædefabrik, Brandts Torv: The art and cultural centre of Odense. Contains two museums; The Danish Museum of Media which focuses on all types of media and their history and the museum of photographic arts museum specializing in photography, there is also a gallery with changing exhibitions in its four large halls. And also specialist shops, a music library, a specialist cinema, bars and a post office.
- Hans Christian Andersen Museum: A museum which honours the life of the world’s perhaps most famous fairy tale writer, who was born and raised in Odense though he later left to live in Copenhagen to follow his dream of a career at the theater. Many of his stories are inspired by his childhood in Odense – for good and for bad.
- Danish Railway Museum, Dannebrogsgade 24: A museum dedicated to the Danish railways. Contains dozens of old trains, carriages and rail road memorabilia over 10,000 m². There is also a large model train landscape and a ride-on miniature railway and playground for the children. On public holidays and during the schools summer vacation the museum also arranges train rides in old vintage steam trains to various destinations on Funen – call ahead for dates and reservations. 48 kr, children 5-13 20 kr, Families 120 kr (2 adults and 3 children)
- Egeskov Castle: One of Europe’s best preserved Renaissance water castles, dating to 1554, about 30 km south. The current owner, Count Ahlefeldt, has added numerous features, including a maze, walk-among-the-treetops and a vintage auto museum, toy museum, kitchen garden, and more, all in a scenic park.
- Hans Christian Andersen’s House: This is the house where Andersen was supposedly born (though he would never confirm it). The little yellow corner house has become an Odense icon and is perhaps the city’s most photographed house.
- Hans Christian Andersen’s Garden, Town Centre, behind Saint Knuds Kirke. A garden commemorating H.C. Andersen. Large flower arrangements, a river and an ice cream shop make this park an ideal location for a picnic. The small attractions of the park include a pergola, the “Chinese Wall” a statue of Hans Christian Andersen and close by – in the river – there is a sculpture of a paperboat (a prop from one of H.C. Andersen’s fairy tales).
- Odense Zoo: One Denmark’s biggest tourist attractions is the Odense zoo, covering almost 4 hectares on both sides the Odense River. The Oceanium opened in 2001, is the main show-piece featuring a tour though South America, including a very impressive aviary and indoor rain forest. Children: 55 kr, Adults: 110 kr, Family: (2 adults, and 2 children).
- Saint Knuds Kirke: Cathedral in the Gothic style of King Canute the Holy, who became a martyr nearby in 1086. His tomb and that of his brother are in the crypt with many other burial stones of dignitaries of the day.
- Galleri Galschiot: Gallery Galschiot is the sculptor Jens Galschiot’s 2500 m² studio and museum. The place is one of Denmark’s most spectacular and biggest private art workshops. The place is full of activities, and besides the artist’s workshop, there is also a bronze foundry, gallery shop, art schools, wicker workshop, TV studios, sculpture park and a 400-m² art gallery.