Where is Odense, Denmark? It is about a two hour train ride west of Copenhagen, on the island between the one Copenhagen is on and the biggest section of Denmark. Many people pass the city, not realizing it is Denmark’s third largest city after Copenhagen and Aarhus. If you are looking for a cozy city that is easy to navigate, has some history, has a nice walking district, and has a fairy tale castle just a short train ride away, you should keep reading.
Honestly, the latter is ultimately why I chose to visit Odense. I had about a week to make my way from Copenhagen to Hirtshals, in the north, and wanted to stop along the way. I had found the Egeskov Castle, which looked fantastic (and was!), and Odense looked like a good place to stay for a couple nights. More about the castle later, but Odense is a very cute city that has enough people to feel safe and interesting, but not so many as to feel crowded.
Do you remember The Ugly Duckling? The Princess and the Pea? The Little Mermaid? A man by the name of Hans Christian Andersen, or HC Andersen wrote these fairy tales, among others. What you may not know is that he grew up in Odense in a poor family. You can visit his childhood home, as well as the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. Note that there is about a 10 minute walk between the two locations, but they are well worth it. In the museum, you can read all about HC Andersen’s life of travel and writing. Times were often hard for Andersen, and people did not always like his writing, but he made quite a name for himself. His childhood home is beautiful, and the price is included when you visit the museum.
All around the walking part of town, which these two museums are in proximity to, there are sculptures representing different stories written by Andersen. The museum that is Andersen’s childhood home has a map with these sculptures marked, making it easier to locate them. This is also a good motivator to get you walking around the walking district, or city center.
The city center is quite beautiful. There are shops, restaurants and cafes to check out, in addition to the sculptures. There is a free bus that travels in this part of town that you can hop on and off, which is very helpful when you’re tired or just trying to make the most of your time in Odense. They are pink and white, featuring characters from HC Andersen’s fairy tales, making them hard to miss.
Getting to and from Odense is very easy. There are trains and buses going through the city on a regular schedule. If you have a car, all roads are easy to navigate. Once in Odense, walking is an easy option. If you don’t feel like walking, the city buses are easy to use and inexpensive. The longest you have to wait at a bus stop is about ten minutes and you can pay the driver when you get onto the bus. I booked a beautiful hostel in a nice, quiet location, but it was quite a walk from everything in town. I did use the bus a couple times and it was quite easy to navigate. Of course, if you’re traveling in the city center, take advantage of the free bus in that district.