Things to do in Odense- What to see, where to eat and drink

Everything you look at can become a fairy tale and you can get a story from everything you touch.”

Hans Christian Andersen

Just 75 minutes from Copenhagen, Odense, the 3rd largest city of Denmark feels more relaxed, very idyllic with its narrow cobbled streets and half timbered houses. It sometimes feels straight from a fairytale of its favourite son, HC Anderson who lived in Odense till the age of 14. From his childhood home to the brand new HC Andersen Museum designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, Anderson’s legacy is evident, everywhere you walk in Odense. Every Odense guide online will rightly wax lyrically about Anderson but I want to focus on giving you an idea of the other side of Odense and paint the bigger picture. In this guide to the best things to do in Odense, I want to tell you about all the cool stuff that locals do, where they eat and also I’ll talk about a pretty unique festival. Wherever you look, there are cool stories, personalities waiting to be discovered in Odense. Here is my guide to thebest things to do in Odense- Let’s start with a visit to the beautiful harbour of Odense where a unique experience awaits you.

1.Take a swim in the Odense Harbour Bath

Address: Gamle Havnekaj 3, 5000 Odense C

It’s hard to miss Odense Havnebad (harbour bath) with its eye-catching physical presence, slap bang in the middle of Odense Harbour. Resembling a ship, complete with a deck and a red and white striped cabin, this free to use swimming facility is a must-visit spot for swimming enthusiasts. The baths are open all year round – making the three degree water temperatures in winter – no feat for the faint-hearted. In contrast, swimming in summer is a pleasant experience. Enjoy the sauna on the premises but remember to bring your own towel. Contrary to expectations, the pool water is chlorinated and not fed from the frigid Baltic Sea. In addition to swimming, a variety of activities are available in the area including basketball, football, volleyball, roller derby and parkour. 

The harbour bath is open during limited hours in the morning and afternoon. Please check the website here for the most uptodate opening hours and times to visit.

2. Checkout the magical Kramboden

Address: Nedergade 24, 5000 Odense, Denmark

Kramboden translates to ‘the old store’. Situated at 24 Nedergade, in Odense, this listed building from the sixteenth century used to be a merchant’s house and now serves the purpose of displaying antique and museum replica pieces of furniture along with a wide range of antique items, Danish household pieces for everyday use and lots more. Nooks and corners are crammed tight with treasures and the whole atmosphere is redolent with the charm of yesteryear.  Baskets, brooms, chunky spools of twine, paper ephemera from the past, metal watering cans, clay pots sitting cheek to jowl with Christmas decorations – there’s a lot to spark the interest of the observer.  


3. Coffee at Nelles Coffee and Wine

Address: Overgade 21b, 5000 Odense C

Nelle’s Coffee and Wine is located in the fringes of historic Overgade, quite close to the Hans Christian Anderson House. After a visit to the house and museum or if you are looking to start the day with good coffee, grab one of the tables on the outdoor terrace and watch the world go by. The cakes here are fantastic if you have a sweet tooth plus between 5 and 6pm, they offer half price wine. 

4. Checkout Odense Art scene

Odense’s art scene, for its modest size, packs a punch and you will discover a variety of art pieces- sculptures, statues to street art pieces spread across the city. The characters of HC Anderson’s fairytales come to life on the streets of Odense in the form of beautiful sculptures. The tourism board have produced an excellent map and a guided route to his sculptures – click here. Beyond that here are a few of my favourites 

Oceania, sculpture

Renowned national artist Svend Wiig Hansen is the creator of the bronze statue Oceania, which the locals either love or hate, and which captures the attention of every visitor to Odense. It’s hard to pinpoint whether the form of Oceania is more male or female and the fascination of the piece lies in its somewhat grotesque features. The swollen feet, the misshapen limbs, the exposed chest and the serene gaze looking skyward towards the City Hall – makes you stand and stare. The bronze goddess was a gift from Odense City Art Foundation and Asea Brown Boveri A/S in 1992 and since then has dominated the street art scene of the city. 

Hans Christian Andersen Mural

The brick building with the high gabled roof is home to the mural of Odense’s most beloved citizen – writer Hans Christian Anderson. No 26 Bangs Boder is coincidentally quite close to the Hans Christian Anderson museum. The black and white mural is the work of artist Don John, who grew up in Brylle on the outskirts of Odense. 

The twelve metre high image is painted in black and white. This makes the writer’s features stand out distinctively. The eyes stare dreamily into the distance, rendering the artist in a contemplative mood. 

Roa , Odense Harbour

The three sides of Odenses grain silo situated in Odense Harbour are decorated with massive works of art – courtesy of the artist ROA whose works are to be found in many other cities. Often known for his large scale depiction of animals, the set of murals in Odense Harbour are no exception. Large fish, feathered birds with piercing eyes and sharp beaks hang upside down in suspended animation and are perhaps a nod 

5.  Try the local smoked cheese, “rygeost” at the local outdoor food market at Sortebrødre Torv

Rygeost is a original Danish cheese and has its origins on the island of Fyn, where Odense is located. Some even trace the history of making rygeost cheese back to the Vikings but more recently, the cheese was found on farms in Fyn from the nineteenth century. 

The cheese is not matured and has a soft texture without a crust. The unique smokey flavour is produced by infusion with the smoke of burning freshly harvested oat or wheat straw under the cake of cheese. Slightly sour and flavourful, Rygeost is best enjoyed thickly smeared on a dense piece of rye bread and perhaps flavoured with the sharp crunch of thinly sliced red radish. Mixed with sour cream and herbs, the smokey cheese gains a new lease of life. 

The best place to sample the cheese in Odense is the local farmers market at Sortebrødre Torv. The market runs every Wednesday and Saturday all year, from 8 am to 1 pm.

6. Have lunch at Cafe Fleuri

AddressNørregade 28, 5000 Odense, Denmark

Find a beautiful slice of Paris in the heart of Odense at Cafe Fleuri. Located on the outer periphery of the old quarter , Cafe Fleuri is the ideal place to catch your breath between sightseeing and enjoy a plate of something delicious. Enjoy breakfast, a hearty brunch or light lunch with fresh organic fare, plates of open sandwiches, salads, cakes and pastries, hot and cold drinks. 

The interior of the cafe has glittering chandeliers, delicate Parisian decor, vintage inspired artwork and sparkling glassware. During fine weather, the outdoor courtyard with potted plants and shady parasols, is the place to be to enjoy an intimate drink with a friend. 


7. Take a boat tour with Odense Aarfart 

AddressFilosofgangen 30B, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

Follow the trajectory of the Odense River inland, and bask in the bounty of peaceful nature in the heart of Odense city, with a scenic river boat tour. The one hour long roundtrip with Odense Aarfart starts at Munke Mose and  includes stops at Odense Zoo with the journey moving on to Erik Bøghs Sti for the ongoing trip. A 15 minute walk takes the visitor to Funen Village from the Erik Bøghs Sti. The boats currently run on solar power making the boat trip noise-free and a serene experience. The boats are wheelchair accessible and the return trip can be used at any time during the day. A special boat trip with live music takes place on Saturdays during the summer. 

Round tickets cost 109 DKK and got be bought online here or from the Aafarten café and ticket office in the ‘Kunstbygningen’. The cruises start here.  The boat tours runs from 1st of April to the 30th of September, and in the autumn holidays. 

8. Visit Art Museum Brandts

Address: Amfipladsen 7, 5000 Odense C

The Art Museum Brandts in the heart of Odense, is the cultural centre of the city and the place to visit for discovering the old masters of Danish painting, along with contemporary artists. It’s easy to get lost for several hours amidst the five floors of Funen’s largest art repository. 250 years of Danish art history are crammed into various corners giving the visitor a comprehensive overview of the cultural scenery of the country. In addition there are several special annual art exhibitions to get stuck into. The museum has a special sensory art exhibition which might be of interest to both children and adults – certainly something to look out for. The festive family workshop guarantees a  learning experience for the whole family.

On Thursdays, museum visitors can enjoy extended hours, with the museum remaining open till 9 pm. Happy Hour is from 4-6pm at the museum cafe, with a brilliant deal of two-for-one drinks. Overlooking Amphi Square, the museum cafe is an inspired space, with several sculptures and a mural to capture the eye. Aside from drinks like the usual tea and coffee, wines and specialty beers are on offer, along with tasty seasonal cakes and pastries, wholesome salads and sandwiches. 

The museum shop is a nice place to pick up a souvenir of the visit – a postcard, lithograph, art book, poster or other designer item.

Tickets cost 130 DKK while students enjoy a reduced price of 75 DKK. Kids till the age of 17 go free.

9. Evening drinks at Anarkist Beer & Food Lab

Address: Albanigade 20, 5000 Odense C

The very large arched window framed by bricks and skirted by a row of neatly propped up bicycles at Anarkist Beer and Food Lab, is a portal into the world of all things beer and beer related in Odense. Housed in the 160 year old Albani Brewery, the premises include a microbrewery and cafe serving food that has a distinct local flavour. The microbrewery, the Theodor Schiøtz Brewing Company is named after the founder of Albani breweries. Discover more at the small exhibition set up in the cafe that celebrates the history of beer making at the site. The Anarkist’s Bottleshop provides visitors with the opportunity to take home a variety of local beers. 

10. Dinner at Storms Pakhus

AddressLerchesgade 4, 5000 Odense, Denmark

Along the lines of Reffen in Copenhagen , this large industrial size warehouse at Odense Harbour has been converted into a space where foodies can mingle and enjoy the broad spectrum of Odense’s burgeoning gastronomic scene. The 3000 square metre space at Storms Pakhus is home to about 24 food stalls and six bars and remains open till late at night on Fridays and Saturdays. We tried a noodle soup and a Thai red curry and both dishes did not disappoint. We also loved the vibe here, lots of students and people of all ages. They have a busy calendar of events, from quiz nights and markets to DJ’s and much more. From 11-3pm, Monday to Friday many of the stalls will offer one of their main dishes at a discounted price of 55 DKK-the best value for money lunch deal in town.

When to visit Odense: Heartland Festival

One of the highlights of coming to Odense was of course visiting Heartland Festival on Midtfyn. Here were my highlights of Heartland

1. Great music

Last year, a dream came true and we got to hear Robbie Williams live for the 1st time. Cardigans had a brilliant set and also we managed to catch our favourite Danish band, Prisma.

This years lineup looks fantastic and includes

Anne Sanne Lis

Nile Rodgers & CHIC


Tom Odell

Tim Christensen

Tina Dickow

Blaue Blume

Blue Foundation

Selma Judith


Elias Rønnenfelt

Brennen Leigh

Dan Smalley

Zandy Holup

Plant based burgers from Landcafe

2. A sustainable festival

The festival has a big focus on sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices. The festival is big on recycling and is powered from renewable energy sources. The good rail connections made it also easy for people to come to the festival. Visitors can expect a range of talks focussed on sustainability-related topics and issues. There was a big focus on local food and drinks producers like local brewery Anarkist to fantastic cocktails from Gedulgt and local sparkling wine from Stokkebye. My favourite place to eat was Landcafe who offered organic and vegan plus plant based burgers. The food at the festival aims to be at least 80% plant-based and 20% animal-based. Wherever possible, the festival purchases locally from the island of Funen and within Denmark. They even had a special lounge where visitors can learn more about making sustainable investments or for their own business. 

3. Great vibe

The festival setting on the grounds of Egeskov Castle , lends a fairytale vibe to the festival- the entire castle park feels like a huge open-air gallery with a variety of art and design objects, video and light installations . There is a lot of space to relax , plenty of toilets and water stations for visitors.

There’s lots of fun stuff- games area & the Casa Bacardi dance stage where you can learn salsa- fab.

Also , this is a family friendly festival with a separate play area ( make up station/ costumes / bouncy castle with foam ) special food options for kids. Overall, festival caters to a wide, grown up audience- we felt at home here. Another big plus is the 4000 volunteers from the local community who make the festival possible.


What could be better

This is a festival for Danes. Majority of the talks were Danish which was a shame. Hope in the future, they broaden out more and make it more accessible.

Where to stay in Odense

This small but well located private apartment, Hus-lejlighed i ejendommens Baghus, is about 1.5 km away from some of Odense’s major attractions, like Odense City Hall, Funen Art Gallery and the Concert Hall. Hans Christian Anderson House and St Knud’s Cathedral are also relatively nearby.

This one bedroom apartment with terrace, features a private entrance and in addition to the bedroom has a living room with flat screen TV. The kitchen is fully equipped with dishwasher, tumble dryer, stove top and refrigerator, among other things. 

Enjoy free Wi-Fi, available throughout the property. Prices to stay per night come in at around 100 euros a night. 


Our trip to Odense was made possible with the kind support of Destination Fyn and Heartland Festival. However all views, good or bad, expressed here, are entitely my own. Thanks for reading and your continued support to the blog.

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