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Introducing Odense

Funen’s 1000-year-old capital is a cheerful place, welcoming to pedestrians and cyclists. The city makes much ado about being the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen – although Andersen fled the city after his poverty-stricken childhood here – and fairy-tale fans will be delighted by the preponderance of Andersen-related attractions. These range from several museums dedicated to the man to sculptures of his most famous stories, plus surprises such as public benches with monsters’ claws for legs!

More generally, there’s a rich concentration of galleries and museums, an impressive cathedral with a saint’s bones in the basement, a thriving café culture, a colourful Flower Festival in mid-August and, of course, city thrills such as an arts cinema and nightclubs, a treat if you’ve been in the countryside for a while.

Odense translates as ‘Odin’s shrine’ and surely has been blessed by the chief Nordic god of war, poetry and wisdom. Despite having no harbour, Odense was Denmark’s largest provincial town by the middle of the 18th century. In 1800, it was finally linked to the sea by a large canal. The city went from strength to strength, becoming an important textile centre.

Odense is a transportation hub for the region.