Helsingør (or if we are going to be a bit Shakespearian, Elsinore), Denmark is home to the castle setting of Hamlet – Kronborg.
Despite the Shakespearian claim to fame, there is very little tourist gimmicks referencing Hamlet. Considering the long history of the castle, the fact that it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the well preserved artwork, furniture, and architecture, Hamlet can fall by the wayside.
Just across the water from Helsingborg, Sweden and Kärnan, Kronborg castle draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. And with good reason. The Renaissance castle is incredible and gives you access to several different areas, including the chapel, the bedrooms, a shipping museum, and even the roof.
Because of the different choices available, there are a myriad of ticket options. To be perfectly honest, if you are short on time, skip the Maritime Museum. Unless you’re a big maritime historian, the museum just gets to be a bit too detailed. The Royal Apartments, the chapel, the rooftop, everything else is well worth a visit.
While wandering around one of the bedrooms, I was suckered into a guided tour. And by suckered, I mean the tour guide was so very charming I couldn’t say no. Plus it was free. So I stuck around and listened and learned quite a bit. Unfortunately, the tour was incredibly long. While I enjoy educational and engaging tours, I was getting hungry and had not eaten lunch. If you do plan on taking one of the free English language tours, be sure to plan ahead and grab a delicious Danish hot dog beforehand.
Click here to find the best deals on Helsingor hotels with the HotelsCombined price comparison site.
Many people may wonder if my geography is correct when I speak of Europe and the World Cup. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about “Getting ready for the World Cup through European travel” and with the World Cup kicking off this Friday June 11 in South Africa, one of its biggest, most passionate audiences will be in Europe. France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Serbia, England, Slovenia, Denmark, Netherlands, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Greece all take their shot at winning the World Cup.
The World Cup in South Africa - Europe's biggest destination? (Photo by Clare Appleyard)
For the casual fan or for someone who is not interested in football at all, one may wonder how this relates to seeing more of Europe. The answer to that question? The people of Europe. Anyone who travels to these European countries will see a side of Europe that only appears once every four years. Of all the football fans in the world, only South Americans can compete with Europeans in their passion for football.
The World Cup is the biggest sporting event on the planet. And for many countries in Europe, football is either the biggest or second biggest sport in the country. For the next 5 weeks, businesses may close, bars and pubs will be full, jerseys will be worn, and fans will celebrate with passion or express their disappointment in defeat. The World Cup matters and any visit to these countries will be a visit like no other.
While many people travel to see Europe’s museums, beaches, mountains, historical sights, and landmarks, the true beauty of this continent is found in its people. Go beyond the places and meet the faces that make up the rich culture and heritage of any European country. This will be on full display during the World Cup.
Do Germans drink beers and celebrate with restrained enthusiasm? Do Italians scream and yell wildly, throw huge parties, and close down the streets in celebration? What about in Portugal, France, Spain, or Serbia? Observing how people engage in this event and how they react in victory and defeat can give you a lot of insight into each country’s culture.
Talk to people on the streets. Ask the security guard at a museum what he plans to do for the World Cup. Strike up a conversation in a pub or bar. It’s an easy conversation starter so you can get to know people. In both small towns and big cities, even in countries that didn’t qualify for the World Cup, people will be watching.
One of the biggest, most anticipated match ups in the opening round is England versus the United States. Both sides of the Atlantic are excited about this one (while England may be a bit more interested and even a little more nervous). In war and in peace, the English and Americans have long been allies and rivalries between the two are friendly. However, this may be the biggest match up between these two countries since 1950.
The World Cup – what does it mean to you? Will you be watching? As an American, football (i.e. soccer to us) is not a big sport here. Many people here hate the sport and even many sports fans will be nothing more than casual observers as they root for the USA. However, if (and probably, when) the USA bows out, many TVs will be turned off.
As an American who is passionate about football, it is my hope that this catches the attention of many here in the US. For Europeans, this event is as big as it gets. And for anyone traveling around Europe the next five weeks, it will be a wonderful opportunity to engage the wonderful cultures of Europe during the biggest sporting event in so a the world.
When most tourists think of Denmark they tend to consider destinations such as the country’s stunning capital Copenhagen. One of Denmark’s hidden gems is the island of Bornholm, which due to its remoteness has developed only very slowly in the post-war years. But recently tourism in this off the beaten track European destination has been a major boost for the almost 50,000 islanders.
Borholm lies around 100 miles south east of Copenhagen. The capital is the port of Ronne. The beautiful beaches are big Bornholm attractions, although obviously this depends very much on the weather in this northern European country. The white Caribbean-like sand and clear waters of the Baltic Sea and the vast beach of Dueodde offer the very best Baltic Sea beaches.
Golf, horse riding, cycling, angling and other sporting activities are very popular, as well as art and cultural tourism. The 2010 Dance Festival runs from 21 – 24 May with more than 350 folk dancers from Norway and Sweden performing. Other Bornholm attractions include the picturesque old towns and ports, the famous round churches, windmills and the ruins at Hammershus, reputed to be the oldest castle in Northern Europe. Hammerhus is the location of the Wonderfestiwal music event.
Families will enjoy the The Medieval Centre which explores life between through 1300 – 1450 through games and other interactive activities. Joboland amusement park offers an outdoor water park, fairground rides, rowing boats and a zoo. The Sommerfuglepark Nature Park is open from April 30 – October 24 2010 every day between 10am to 5pm.
So if you’re looking for somewhere a bit different for a European holiday, Denmark’s Borholm island could be perfect for you. You can find the best deals at hotels in Ronne, the island’s capital, with the HotelsCombined price comparison site. If you’d prefer to rent a holiday home, Novasol has a selection of self catering properties, one of which is pictured below.
In Copenhagen, close to Kongens Nytorv, is the amazing flower shop and atelier of the flower artist, the magician, Tage Andersen. Already out on the street, in Ny Adelgade, you see that this is not an ordinary flower shop. Depending on the season, you find huge pots of flowers, shrubs and trees. This week, while spending a day in Copenhagen, I was charmed by the bright fruit of the orange trees and the plaided clay pots
You have to pay a small fee to walk down the few steps to the basement where you start your tour through Tage’s flower paradise. It is worth every Danish krone, I could gladly pay it every day to be able to spend an hour inside, first down in the basement, then crawling up the narrow stairs to the small landing, out to the small built-in backyard. Be careful when you are there, the peacock doesn’t like one of your toes on his long, colourful feathers.
Since I am not in Copenhagen every day and don’t spend Danish krones on the fee too often, I treat myself to a gift from Tage Andersen’s shop every time I go there. A book, a candle holder, a small vase to hold a rose……..and every single time I bring with me home the magic atmosphere of a small corner of this flower heaven.
So when you’re next in Copenhagen take my Europe travel tip and pop into TageAndersen’s.
In this guest post the Denmark.net Denmark Guide gives five ideas on places where you can experience a Danish style Christmas.
Christmas at Tivoli Gardens
If you are planning to visit Denmark this Christmas, the festivities provide a great flair to the dark and long evenings in the Northern hemisphere. Prefer hot wine at one of the Christmas markets or partying in Copenhagen?
5. Fantasy World in Holme-Olstrup
The Fantasy World makes the Christmas season in this quaint little town on Zealand just as festive as in Tivoli and Horsens. A Christmas market carrying the theme “Christmas in the Wild West” with lots of small stalls is in place providing great shopping opportunities to visitors. There are also fun fair rides, attractions such as the Bugs Bunny show and puppet show featuring Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, a cowboy city, horse drawn carriages and restaurants.
The Fantasy World also features an adventure hall focusing on the theme Christmas Elves. The 1,000 square meter elf land features hundreds of moving elves plus the snow queen’s cold crystal grotto, a children’s theater and the biggest mechanical Santa Claus in the entire Denmark.
4. Christmas Town in Horsens
Horsens Juleby or the famous Christmas Town is situated right in the center of Horsens. What you’ll see here are small and colorful wooden houses decorated with a variety of Christmas decorations, lights plus sweet treats and presents.
There are lots of things to buy here such as wooden toys, felt hats, burnt almonds, art works and Christmas decors. A special program is also organized to entertain visitors and this includes music and fun for the entire family. The best part is that it’s free to visit this place where individuals and families can have a memorable Christmas vacation.
The Horsens Christmas Town can be visited from December 4 to 20 each year. If the name sounds not very familiar to you, Horsens is a town in he southern part of Aarhus and east of Jutland.
3. Hans Christian Andersen market in Odense
Do you remember The Little Match Seller as a story in your childhood? Christmas takes a center stage in many of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. Today you can explore the fairy tale spirit on the island of Fyn, the birth place of the famous story teller. Experience old fashioned market atmosphere with Christmas decorations, booths, vegetable market and lots of entertainment inspired by the fairy tale poet.
2. Go for a Christmas Beer in Copenhagen
If you are tired of hot wine at the Christmas markets, go for a Christmas beer for a change. Almost every Danish brewery launches a Christmas beer, following the clever marketing example of a certain green brand. Don‘t be surprised by Santas handing out free samples.
1. Christmas Market at Tivoli Gardens
When you happen to be in Copenhagen from November to December, the Tivoli Gardens is one place you should not ever miss. From being a regular amusement park on ordinary days, this famous tourist spot in Copenhagen becomes a festive area filled with colorful and twinkling lights and sweet treats for sale.. The lights that surround the Tivoli village are made up of more than 1,800 light chains all in an effort to create a vibrant Christmas atmosphere within the entire amusement park.
For an unforgettable family outing, taking a stroll around the market with more than 70 different stalls is a great activity to do. The market is also where you can buy some authentic Danish produce from food and drinks to creative decors that’s only available during the Christmas season.
Visitors who can brave the cold are most welcome to go ice skating at the Tivoli Lake at night for a more romantic activity.
The Danish people are some of the nicest in Europe, and Copenhagen is one of Europe’s nicest capital cities. Why not make a summer city break? With fantastic weather (sometimes hot by UK standards) and long days/short nights, it’s perfect weekend. Here’s a few of my Copenhagen favourites.
Start the day with breakfast in Christianshavn. A nice breakfast/brunch choice is Frederiks Bastion, an old gunpowder house. Afterwards, see the sights of this unusual neighbourhood. You can walk off breakfast by heading up the spiral staircase of Vor Frelser Church, then just wander down the streets and see why this area is called ‘Little Amsterdam.’ It used to be an independent city from Copenhagen, and in some ways it is still very different.
Spend an afternoon strolling along the waterfront. Copenhagen is a sea city and I just love anywhere with a water view. You can walk along the seafront and go see the Little Mermaid (she’s smaller than you’d expect – and plan on a queue to take a photo, it’s a popular place! But there are plenty of fountains, interesting buildings, and other sights to see.
Get your groove over in Nyhaven (pictured above). You’ll find bar after bar along the water and loads of outdoor tables and music pumping into the streets. This is a slightly touristy area so you’ll need to wander off a few streets to find out where the locals hang, but
Copenhagen is also well known for its jazz scene – the Copenhagen Jazz House being one of the most popular. There’s also great shopping and plenty of historical sights to see – including Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park just across from the main train station.
Have you been to Copenhagen? What was your favourite bit?
Just to change things up a bit here at Europe a La Carte, I thought I’d share with you some videos of some of my favourite European hot spots. Lonely Planet has done some very professional overviews of some fantastic spots and they’re a great tease – once you’ve watched you’ll definitely want to get a booking in order!
How about Copenhagen, the Danish link between Western Europe and Scandinavian:
Then wing your way over to Amsterdam, Venice of the North:
Then finish up in Krakow, the city of art:
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this whirlwind video tour of Europe. What are your favourites hot spots in Europe?
“The par 5 fairway bends around an iceberg, the rough is a 2cm layer of frozen ice, and sand traps are replaced by seal holes. Oh…and the “green” is white and the white ball is red. The Ice Golf World Championship is truly one of the world’s most unique sporting events.
The first tournament was in 1997 when local resident Arne Neimann challenged architect Rolf-Henning Jensen to carve the fjord ice outside Uummannaq into an 18-hole course. To be fair, the true designer is Mother Nature in that the course tries to keep up with the constantly changing contours of the shifting icebergs.
The journey to Uummannaq is an experience in itself. The trip goes from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq and then via helicopter to the breathtakingly beautiful village of Uummannaq, 300 miles inside the Arctic Circle. Thirty-six international professionals and amateurs will compete for the title of world’s best ice golfer, but even without an invitation, the course is open to the public beginning in March.
Start practicing your swing with a heavy winter coat and gloves. Sunglasses will help you follow your ball when it sails into the glare of the arctic sun. And one more thing, leave your golf spikes at home.”
If you’d like to try out a harbourside boutique hotel, soak up some opera and culture, explore an open air museum of historic buildings, and see a little mermaid, all at someone else’s expense then read on.
Visit Denmark, Denmark’s official tourism website, is looking for guests to be part of the Guinea Pig Guest Programme. In return for free flights from the UK and accomodation, you need to be prepared to document your holiday in writing, photography and video and publish it on the Visit Denmark website. It should be a breeze for all you seasoned bloggers and aspiring travel writers out there.
As well as Copenhagen you can visit some other interesting cities in Denmark such as Aalborg, Arhus, Odense – here are the highlights;
Århus Århus is the second largest city in Denmark, on the East Coast of Jutland. It has a lively music scene and hosts major cultural events such as the Århus festival in the first week of September. I like the sound of Den Gamle By, the Old Town where 75 traditional houses make up an open-air living Museum, and you can experience what life was like in the past in a Danish Market town. Bringing you bang up to date is the Museum of Modern Art and after all the sightseeing you can relax in the riverside cafés at Vadestedet.
Aalborg Aalborg in North Jutland is connected by bridge and tunnel to it’s twin city of Nørresundby. The North Jutland Art Museum is designed by the well known Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and a showcase for the modern Danish art from 1900 to the present day. The side streets and courtyards of the centre are home to excellent small speciality shops where you can find anything from handblown glass to homemade blueberry jam and Samsø cheese. Aalborg’s most famous building is the Jens Bangs Stenhus built in 1624 as a fine example of Renaissance architecture.
Odense If you’re a reader of the magical fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, then you’ll fall under the spell of his birthblace, Odense. His childhood home is open to the public where you can see exhibitions on the author’s life and work. Odense is also Denmark’s no. 1 cycle town with numerous cycle paths beside rivers and along disused railway lines to enable you to explore the town and surrounding area. You can also enjoy the boat trip along the river Odense Å or visit the several outdoor markets.
If you’d like to be a guinea pig guest to Visit Denmark, get your application in on-line by the end of March, specifying when and where you would like to go. If you read more articles by me about the things I’ve seen in Denmark, you’ll know why!
Following my post earlier today about Ryanair’s rescue fare for passengers stranded by the collapse of Sterling Airlines, I received an email from DFDS Seaways with details of the free travel available for stranded Sterling passengers on their Harwich to Esbjerg ferry.
DFDS Seaways are offering free transport to Sterling Airways passengers after the airline went bust this morning. To assist with repatriation, DFDS Seaways will offer free travel onboard the m.s. DANA SIRENA to all Danish residents and British travellers holding valid Sterling Airline tickets. DFDS Seaways will honour all valid Sterling Airlines tickets and offer free travel onboard the m.s. DANA SIRENA to Esbjerg subject to availability.
All Sterling Airlines’ customers who hold a valid ticket with the airline are eligible for free travel from Harwich to Esbjerg in a standard class cabin, subject to availability, until Thursday 6th November. For
more information contact DFDS Seaways on 0871 882 0890 for more details. http://www.dfdsseaways.co.uk/aboutus/sterling_airlines
Anna Etmanska of the Europe a la Carte blogging team alerted me to the fact that SAS are offering stranded Sterling passengers free travel (although passengers will have to pay airport taxes, fees and charges) until midnight on 30 October. This offer is only available at the airport upon production of a Sterling ticket, if there are seats in economy class on the plane.