The third largest city in Denmark and capital of the island of Funen, Odense is often overlooked within Scandinavia but provides a surprising amount of interest to the visitor.

One of the oldest cities in Denmark, Odense’s history reaches back to 988 AD, taking its name from ‘Odins Vi’ (roughly translated as Odin’s Sanctuary, a nod to Norse mythology). Known as a merchant throughout the Middle Ages and generally more involved in the regional politics of Funen than Denmark, Odense prospered until the Swedish Wars of the 17th century brought about stagnation. Commensurate with economic decline, Odense played an increasing role in Danish culture, being the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen.

Despite suffering at the hands of the Nazis during the Second World War, the city has since recovered and celebrated its millennium in 1988 with the cultivation of ‘the thousand year’ forest. These charming gestures, coupled with notable sights, make it an underrated destination.


Perhaps the best-known existing building in Odense is Saint Canute’s Cathedral in Klosterbakken. Named after Canute the Saint, Danish king between 1080 and 1086, the Cathedral was built in tribute to him after his death at the hands of rebels and stands today with some parts dating back to the early 14th century.

However, the title of the oldest religious building in Odense is generally attributed to Vor Frue Church, found in Frue Kirkestræde. Originally completed in the early 13th century, the Church replaced a previous wooden edifice and stands today practically untarnished.

Ironically though, the most famous monument in Odense is sadly no more than replica. The Odinstårnet (The Odin Tower) observation tower was constructed in 1935 and one stood second only o the Eiffel Tower in height. Sadly, the tower fell foul of the Nazi occupation in 1944 but a replica has since been erected, standing some 12 metres high on its original site on Bolbro Bakke (Bolbro Hill).

Elsewhere, testifying to Odense’s history, is the Funen Village in Sejerskovvej. An open-air museum focusing predominantly in the 18th and 19th centuries, it is a remarkable encapsulation of historical life in the city.

Indeed, museums and galleries are very much Odense’s speciality. Hans Christian Andersen naturally takes centre stage, with both a museum in Bangs Boder and the author’s childhood home preserved in Munkemøllestræde covering his life and oeuvre. However, Odense is home to a number of other museums such as the Funen Art Museum in Jernbanegade (established in the 1880s and covering Danish art through the ages), the City Museum Møntergården (looking at local history and culture) and the Carl Nielsen Museum in Claus Bergs Gade (surveying the work of the Danish composer).

For a family experience though, the best place is [http://www.odensezoo.dk/site/engelsk/planlaeg/aabningstider Odense Zoo] on Sdr. Boulevard.


Most of the city’s best shops can be found down the streets of Vestergade and Kongensgade.

Located just outside the centre, the shopping centre of Rosengaardcentret is huge and packed with great outlets.

Nightlife and Eating Out

The local cuisine of Odense tends to be dominated by international influences, ranging from Italian at Capri in Dronningensgade to Mongolian at Djengis Khan in Overgade. However, there are a number of places which serve traditional Danish food such as Den Gamle Kro in Overgade.

As a university city, Odense does have a good nightlife with bars like Carlsens Kvarter in Hunderupvej. Popular clubs in the city include Kong Graes in Asylgade and Buddy Holly in Klingenberg. Alternatively, the Casino Odense in Claus Bergs Gade is one of just six licensed casinos in Denmark.

Tourist Information

  • VisitOdense, Rådhuset, 5000, Odense
  • Telephone: +45 66 12 75 20
  • Email: otb@visitodense.com
  • Website: [http://www.visitodense.com/index.php?sprog=gb&save=sprog www.visitodense.com]


Odense is served by [http://www.odense-lufthavn.dk/ Odense Airport] in the nearby village of Beldringe.

As a small airport, international and domestic connecting flights are only available to very limited destinations in the continent. However, the city can be reached by a number of alternative routes.