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Introducing Funen

Funen (Fyn) is engagingly pretty, with rural scenery, thatched farmhouses and a surprisingly varied set of attractions. The chirpy modern city of Odense is Hans Christian Andersen crazy – sculptures of trolls lounge on street corners, duckling-and-swan mobiles dangle from gift shop windows, and even the lights at pedestrian crossings feature a certain well-known fairy-tale writer. Even if you scoff at fantastical fabrications, Odense will have something to hold you – old steam engines, manatees at the zoo, imposing churches and cathedrals, art galleries, open-air museums and chilled-out boat rides on the river. Who needs Copenhagen?

The region’s castles include Nyborg Slot, palatial Valdemars Slot on the island of Tåsinge, Tranekær Slot on Langeland, whose surrounding parkland holds the brilliant Tickon sculpture park, and the absolutely unmissable Egeskov Slot, a Renaissance masterpiece whose grounds are a family paradise of mazes, antique vehicles, playgrounds and a tree-top walk.

At Ladby, you’ll find Denmark’s only Viking ship grave and at the northernmost tip of the peninsula is Fyns Hoved, connected by a narrow causeway to the rest of Funen. You can walk to the edge of its 25m-high cliffs (high by Danish standards), from where there’s a view of the northern coast and, on a clear day, Jutland and Zealand as well.

The county includes about 90 islands, and there’s immense pleasure to be had in hopping between them by ferry, yacht or charter boat. The loveliest is Ærø, with historic seafaring towns, although Langeland has its own unusual attractions, including the fascinating Langelandsfort, a Cold War military installation. There are also countless smaller islands good for bird-watching and uninterrupted peace.