The city of Odense is the third-largest city in Denmark and the largest city on the island of Funen, one island west of Copenhagen. It’s a wonderful city to spend a weekend away in and was first put on the map by the Vikings due to the fantastic anchorage and then by Hans Christian Andersen, the famous writer of renowned fairytales who was born there in 1805.
You might not have heard of Odense or ever considered it as a city to visit in Denmark, most of us are always drawn to Copenhagen. But it’s certainly worth a thought as Odense is full of history and culture, has a great vibe and is every bit as great as the Danish capital. Here are all the great things to see & do in Odense, Denmark.
Before we go into all the best things to see and do in Odense, let’s first work out how you get there. The city of Odense doesn’t have a major airport but it is well connected by rail. You’ll have to first fly to either Copenhagen, Billund, or Hamburg and then hop on a train.
If you land at Billund airport in Copenhagen, you’ll need to get a bus or taxi to the train station of Vejle Trafikcenter which takes about half an hour, after which you can board a direct train to Odense Station and you’ll arrive within an hour.
The journey from Copenhagen airport to Odense is similar except there is no need for a bus or taxi. In about a 10 minute walk from the airport to the train station where you’ll find a direct train to Odense that takes 1 hr and 35 minutes departing from CPH Lufthavn. They depart every hour so you shouldn’t have to wait long.
Getting to Odense from Hamburg airport takes longer than any other option. You’ll need to board a train from Hamburg airport to Altona, change trains, and then you’re on a direct train to Odense, and it takes 4 hours in total, not including the wait.
In our opinion, it’s best to fly to Copenhagen as you can also enjoy some of your vacation time there before and/or after visiting Odense.
The Hans Christian Andersen Museum spans quite a few parts of the city of Odense and is a must-see while you’re there. The place to start is where Hans started, at his birthplace in Odense’s old town.
This part of the museum has been open for more than one hundred years now and is designed to take you back in time to when Hans was living there. It displays a number of Hans’ old drawings and manuscripts plus some of his personal belongings which envoke an understanding of his persona.
The next phase of the museum is visiting Hans’ childhood home where he lived from the age of 2 to 14 years old. The house is very charming, half made of wood, and is a great resemblance to the time he lived there.
Walking around the house you’ll notice just how small it is for a family, and you might be surprised to hear that the house was shared with another family who lived in the living room. The house is full of furniture and recollections of Hans’ childhood that all tie back to his time as a child in the city of Odense.
The final part of the museum is brand new and opens this year (2021). It covers 9000 square meters and uses gardens and buildings to try to tell the stories of and make you feel like you’re actually in some of Hans’ fairytales. It looks to be quite an experience and actually ends at his childhood home.
The Old Town of Odense sits on the eastern side of the city as is known as the heart of Odense. Walking around it is a little like stepping into a fairytale and you can begin to understand where Hans Christian Andersen got some of his inspiration from.
The Old Town was built in medieval times and is home to some of the oldest houses and architecture in the city lining delightfully cobbled streets. The architecture is classically Danish and the majority of the buildings are well-preserved, full of color, and with crooked facades.
A lot of the great things to see in Odense are in the Old Town so chances are you will talk a walk around it naturally. But it’s worth dedicating some time to looking and wandering instead of marching straight to the museum or exhibition you’re looking for.
Den Fynske Landsby or the Funen Open-Air Village sits just over 3 kilometers outside of Odense’s city center and is a great thing to do in Odense if you have kids or want a sense of how the Danes used to live.
Funen Village runs as a village might have by in the times of Hans Christian Andersen in the 1800s. There are farms, sheep, chickens, and horses, and you can stroll around all the old farmhouses which are built as they would have been back in the 1800s. All the staff is dressed in clothes from the era and there some fun workshops which are great for adults and kids.
You can take part in cooking, brewing, and even forging metal in the ways it used to be done. It’s a fantastic way to get a sense of how rural Denmark used to be and a great insight into how our ancestors used to live.
Another fantastic thing to do in Odense, especially if you have kids, is to visit the Danish Railway Museum. The museum is in an old charming building in the heart of Odense and is set inside the old roundhouse where they used to store trains and do maintenance whilst they were waiting to go on their next trip.
The museum is full of old locomotives with various exhibitions about the history of the Danish trains and the railway. Some of the trains have been fully restored and you can even take a walk inside some of them for a close-up view to experience just how traveling in one used to be.
One of the highlights of the museum is having a look at the oldest steam locomotive in Denmark which dates back all the way to 1868. Other great exhibitions include the 21 tracks of railway history that starts back in 1847 and brings you to today. You can also see how the royals traveled, and learn about the history of the Danish Railway Ferries.
There is also an indoor and outdoor play area for kids that are all built with railways in mind and to give kids a sense of how steam engines work and what traveling back in the 1800s on a train was really like.
The Brandts Museum of Art and Visual Culture, known as Kunstmuseum Brandts, is the first of its kind in Denmark. The museum is all about having the history of art presented alongside modern art and even the art being created today, at the moment. At any one time, the museum is home to 250 years of art history and hosts up to 10 different exhibitions per year.
The Museum isn’t just home to art though, across their 15,000 pieces you’ll find classic work, films, drawings, modern art, and international photography. They see it as a unique opportunity to inspire and evoke new perspectives by having such a wealth of artistic diversity side by side and it truly is a thought proking experience.
The museum is in the heart of Odense near some of the best parks in the city so it’s very easy to find and certainly one of the best things to see and do in Odense.
While you’re in Odense you have to see the stunning and magical Egeskov Castle which sits just a short drive south of Odense. The castle is something you’d imagine from a fairy tale, in keeping with the Hans Christian Andersen theme of the area.
The castle sits in a moat, is surrounded by beautiful gardens, and is one of the best-preserved of its kind in the whole of Europe. It was built in a Renaissance style by architect Frans Brockenhuss and its beautiful faded red color, conical towers and steeples are something to behold.
You can walk around the castle and learn about its 466-year history, take a peek at the exhibitions on offer which include 50 classic cars that have all been restored and date from the late 1800s up to 1980, and of course, exploring the gardens is a must.
The Egeskov Gardens have won many an award including ‘ the best historical garden’ in 2012 and is rated as one of the top 12 gardens in the entire world. There is a mix of parks and gardens to explore with stunning flowers and lots of space to roam.
Right in the center of Odens is the St Kanud Catherdral which is also referred to as Odense Cathedral. You’ll find ut next to the town hall and it was built as long ago as the year 1100. King Knud IV ordered that the cathedral be built and after completion, the cathedral was actual burned down in the late 12th century in a huge fire.
After the fire, it took 200 years to rebuild the cathedral and today it remains strong showing off some quite incredible brick-gothic architectural style. Inside the cathedral, you’ll find the tomb of King Knud IV himself and his bones are actually on display in the crypt. Knud wasn’t the only king to be buried there and you’ll also find the tombs of King Christian II and King Hans.
Another great thing to see in the cathedral is the beautiful altarpiece which was intricately carved by Claus Berg in the 1500s.
Denmarks cities are notorious for green spaces and there are a lot to choose from in Odense. One of the best parks to see in Odense is Munke Mose Park. Situated on the south side of Odense, the park borders the river which finds its estuary at the port of Odense and features a few lakes too.
It’s the perfect place to wind down in peace away from the buzzing city streets, lie on the grass, read a book, and have a picnic or some evening drinks. During the summertime, you can rent some pedal boats on the lakes and you’ll find a daily show of H C Andersen in the open-air theater which is something that must not be missed.
The reason for the name Munke Mose is because the park used to be the Monk Mills Factory until it was transformed into a park in 1881.
Odense has an every growing food scene that seems to be getting better and better. There are hundreds of restaurants to choose from ranging from fine-dine to sushi, traditional Danish, and about every other kind of food you go ever look for.
After you have spent your days wandering around the beautiful city streets, museums, art galleries, and more it’s time to let your taste buds to the exploring and experience some of the best restaurants in Odense.
Sortebro Kro is actually inside the Funen Village outdoor museum inside one of the old buildings from the 1800s. The restaurant is about as romantic as a restaurant can get with an open fire, scented wood, and views that look over the meadows of the village.
The menu is all about traditional food since it’s in Funen Village and some of the best things to try are the locally brewed beers, deliciously fresh bread, soft-boiled eggs, and of course fired herring. It’s the perfect place to have brunch before you go out and explore Funen Village.
Kok & Vin is a new age restaurant that specializes in traditional french food with a twist. You can expect dishes like bass tartare, pork belly, salmon gravlax, and a whole lot more. More decadent choices include lobster rolls, steak frite, oysters, and carpaccio.
Everything is cooked to perfection, the wine list is excellent, plus the ambiance and service are typically French – so warm, relaxed, and peaceful but attentive. It’s a wonderful place to go out on a date night.
If you’re looking for a touch of gourmet and a taste of Nordic cuisine then Mmoks is the restaurant to head to. This gourmet eatery specializes in Nordic food and only serves its dishes as appetizer-sized meals designed to be shared with the table. This means you get to try a huge range of different Nordic meals over the course of the evening which is always a bonus.
You can expect dishes such as calf tartare or fried fish skins and you’ll also find excellent cocktails and fantastic wines. The vibe is also very pleasant, so if you’re wanting to taste Nordic food, Mmoks is the place.
For a deliciously warm and hearty meal in a historical setting, Den Gamle Kro is a great place to eat in Odense. It’s a french inspired Danish restaurant which means Danish ingredients with a french twist in my experience.
The restaurant sits in an old building from 1683 with a stunning wood ceiling. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming and all the food is seasonal, so the menu changes depending on the time of year. Delicious dishes include roast beef, Weiner schnitzel, smoked salmon, herring, and more. The wine list is also excellent as are the beers and cocktails.
Under Lindetræet is right next to the childhood home of Hans Christian Anderson so when you’re visiting, why not pop into this lovely restaurant for a quick lunch or early dinner. The food is hearty, delicious, and affordable. The bread is always fresh, and the staff are great too.
If you want to enjoy some fine dining in another french danish restaurant you should visit is No. 61. Set in the heart of Odense, the restaurant changes its menu every month to keep repeat customers interested. On arrival, you will have the choice to either for a fixed price or a la carte. The wine list is excellent with some quality bottles to match the amazing quality of the food.
This place is hugely popular and it does get booked up pretty far in advance as they roll out the new menus every month so it’s highly recommended to book in advance so you don’t miss out.
As you can see, Odense has a lot to offer. There is so much to see and do in Odense and there is no better way to get a taste of Danish history while having access to beautiful parks, seas side and amazing restaurants that line this city’s stunning streets.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.