Friday 8 September 2017

PHOTO DIARY: Odense, Denmark, June 2017

The next stop on our Danish road trip was Odense. It's the third largest city in Denmark, the main city on the island of Funen, and the birth place of Hans Christian Andersen. It's a 2-hour drive from Copenhagen but there's plenty of things to stop at en route.


Thanks to a busy morning, we left Copenhagen later than planned. But I'm not complaining because we had a jam packed morning. We hit the road and headed to Køge, a cute little market town, a 45 minute drive south-west of Copenhagen. I was keen to check out Køge Museum, which documents local history, and KØS, a one-of-a-kind museum about art in public spaces, as entry to both was included with our Copenhagen Cards. If you're interested in Viking history then Køge Museum is fantastic, it's incredibly detailed and if you're not in a hurry you could spend a huge amount of time here. Køge is pretty small so it didn't take long to walk around the cobbled streets, lined with rickety old houses. The town isn't a place you need to spend a lot of time in but it's certainly made for a picturesque stop. A short drive from Køge saw us arrive at Vallø Castle, a beautiful manor house that acts as a home for unmarried, widowed and divorced women of noble descent. You can't go inside but it's a lovely place to stop for a photo.

Our next stop was St. Bendt's Church in the town of Ringsted. This is the oldest brick church in Scandanavia, the first Royal church in Denmark, and the burial place for many of Denmark's earlier monarchs. It's pretty impressive and quite a traditional church compared to the couple we'd seen in Copenhagen that morning. A short drive led us to Sorø, another cute, little market time. We didn't have time to stop which is a shame because the local art gallery and history museum are meant to be great, but it was nice to briefly see more colourful cottages.

Our final stop on the island of Zealand was Trelleborg, an original Viking ring fortress, dating back to 980 AD. We were actually too late to visit the museum, but that didn't matter as the ring fortress is found in an open field that is technically open 24 hours a day. Only the outer structure remains but it's pretty amazing considering it was built over a thousand year ago. The museum has also created a reconstruction of a Viking long house which is pretty fantastic. 

We drove over to the island of Funen via the Great Belt Link bridge, stopping briefly in the town of Nyborg to visit Nyborg Castle. The castle had already shut by the time we arrived but it was still great to see the exterior as it's situated in quite a picturesque spot. Before arriving in Odense we headed to the Ladby Viking Museum, where an authentic Viking ship burial site is located. I was hoping the situation would be similar to Trelleborg, and we'd be able to see the site despite the museum being closed, but alas this was not that case. The burial site, which contains a perfect outline of a buried Viking long boat that has now rotted away over the previous thousand years, is located in a locked building. 

We finally made it to Odense where we checked into the charming Odense BnB before grabbing dinner a Restaurant 61. The bistro is a favourite among locals and whilst the menu is simple compared to the likes of the restaurants we visited in Copenhagen, we still had a lovely meal.


Our day began with breakfast at the bnb which was your average continental spread. Simple, but tasty I was more than happy to keep things basic after all the elaborate brunches we'd had in Copenhagen.

We headed into town where out first port of all was the magnificent cathedral. Odense is the home of Hans Christian Andersen and you'll find a statute of the man himself around the back of the cathedral. We picked up our Odense City Passes* from the tourist office, situated in the town hall, next to the cathedral. The passes cost about £20 per person and let you enter the majority of city attractions, for free, over a 24 hour period.

Our first stop was the fantastic Møntergården, a local history museum that documents world events through a local lens. Followed up by Hans Christian Andersen Hus, a museum all about the author's life, and Hans Christian Andersen Childhood Home. Odense city centre is tiny so it doesn't take long to walk between museums and it was fascinating to learn more about the author and his roots.

We left Odense around midday and drove to the southern coast of Funen to catch a ferry from Svendborg to Ærø. The tiny island of Ærø, said to be the prettiest in Denmark, is made up of three small towns; Marstal, Ærøskøbing, and Søby. We spent ages wondering around Ærøskøbing where the cobbled streets are lined with colourful cottages dating back as far as 1645. Without a doubt this was the most picturesque place we visited in all of Denmark. We popped into Æro Museum to see some local artefacts and spent ages in Den Gamle Købmandsgaard stocking up on local beer and sweet treats. Near he harbour we found the most idyllic row of colourful beach huts. Unfortunately we didn't make it to Marstal, but we did have time to drive to Søby and visit Skjoldnæs Fyr, the lighthouse at the most northerly tip of the island, and Søbygård, a 16th century manor house. Before we knew it we had to head back to Ærø to catch the ferry back to the mainland. I was gutted that we didn't have more time on the island, it really was a beautiful spot.

Back in Odense we visited Brandts and Brandts 13, the city's premier art galleries that are open late on a Thursday night. The museums host a selection of fantastic exhibitions so I'm glad we had time to visit. En route to dinner we checked out Odense Castle which is now used as the seat of the city council. We finished the day with a wonderful meal at Mmoks, a restaurant that would not be out of place in Copenhagen. Inventive cuisine, delicious small plate after delicious small plate, and super friendly staff who wanted to hear all about our foodie adventures in the capital, this was a really special place. Danes tend to eat early so by the time we arrived for our 9pm reservation the place was pretty quiet, but don't let that put you off because the food is outstanding.


Our final morning in Odense was spent squeezing in some last minute sights with our city passes. But first things first, breakfast. We decided to chance our luck and find a spot in town, something I'm not normally a fan of. We stumbled across newly opened, Cafe Skt. Anne, and with the promise of avocado on toast I was sold. Despite the cafe being on the simple side, the food was great.

The first museum we visited was the fantastic Tidens Samling. The museum is like stepping back in time, eight rooms have been meticulously reconstructed to represent different eras, it's fascinating. We grabbed drinks to go from city favourite Nelle’s Coffee and proceed to the Danish Railway Museum and our last attraction in Odense. Steve and I love a train museum and this place was no exception. You could spend the best part of a day here as there are so many trains on display, all from different eras.

It was time to hit the road and head to Jutland, but before crossing the New Little Belt Bridge we had one more stop on Funen, Egeskov Castle. This magnificent 16th century structure is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle and what a beauty it is. You need at least a couple of hours to do a visit justice as there is so much to see. You can walk around the inside of the castle which is stunning but it's the surrounding area what really takes time. There's several mazes, many different gardens, out houses, and even an adventure playground type thing where you can go on an elevated walk through the trees. Steve and I visited a lot of castles on this trip but Egeskov really took my breath away.

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  1. Looks like such a good trip! I'm definitely bookmarking this post. Odense looks so beautiful and peaceful, I'd love to go!

    - Elodie x


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