6 of the best places on my home island of Funen in Denmark
Despite having lived abroad for several periods throughout the past 13 years, I’ve rarely been proper homesick and I’ve always seemed to cope pretty well with being away from home.
But now, with the current Covid-19 pandemic restricting travelling and free movement, I suddenly feel further away from home than ever before while being more than two months into a strict lockdown in Madrid.
It’s commonly said that being away from your home makes you see it in a different light and that you will learn to appreciate even more what you’ve always had around. And it couldn’t be more true! Throughout these years, and through my work as a freelance travel journalist, I’ve come to see my home island of Funen (Fyn in Danish) in Denmark from a new perspective.
It is indeed a beautiful spot on the Danish map, and I’m excited to see the local tourism organisations are currently going all-in to promote the pleasures of the island. It seems like the perfect time, now that many Danes are bound to spend their holidays in their home country.
I’m sure that many will discover and re-discover the wonders that await just around the corner – just like I discovered the charming island of Ærø, just a couple of years ago.
I hope that I will be able to return to Funen soon and here are 6 places on the island that I can’t wait to re-visit – and that you should check out when you get the chance.
Note that when this is written, some of the places and attractions listed might not be open or fully opened yet, so check their websites or Visit Fyn for updates!
Despite growing up in a small village a 20-minute drive from Odense, I consider the island’s capital my hometown. After all, I spent most of my youth and adult life there. It’s the third biggest city in Denmark and I’ve always found the size to be perfect for a well-balanced lifestyle of having everything you need in a more peaceful and relaxed atmosphere compared to much bigger cities.
Odense is fast-developing these years with lots of new cultural hotspots, exciting events, neighbourhoods and attractions being introduced to the locals. And soon, a new tram will string the city together and lower the amount of traffic in an already very bike-friendly city centre.
Highlights I would recommend to visitors include: Discovering the colourful H.C. Andersen neighbourhood and its attractions dedicated to the author, hanging out at the re-purposed harbour area and the street food market Storms Pakhus, enjoying life in the atmospheric Brandts quarter, shopping and dining in Vintapperstræde and a river cruise on Odense Å to the lush nature of Fruens Bøge.
Read more about Odense here:
3 great parts of Odense that make it worth visiting
Odense: 4 fabulous facts you might not know
Kerteminde is a coastal favourite for many fynboer (the island’s inhabitants) and the town is highly connected with delicious ice cream and sandy beaches. In fact, the local “ice cream pusher” Vaffelhuset is so popular that it regularly draws an ice cream craving queue along the pavement on sunny days.
Kerteminde is a charming town that offers a relaxed atmosphere, some lovely cafés and high-quality restaurants, and several attractions including the aquarium Fjord&Bælt with their focus on the waters around the island.
Highlights I would recommend to visitors include: To have an ice cream from Vaffelhuset (if you’re a brave foreigner, go for a softice with salty liquorice topping!), an old-time shopping experience at Høkeren, a visit to museums like Johannes Larsen Museet, Toldboden and Farvergården, a walk along the beach and the marina and lunch at Lulu’s Café.
Read more about Kerteminde here:
Kerteminde in Denmark: Let’s go for an ice cream
The island’s second-largest city of Svendborg is a big draw on the southern coast. And it also functions as a ferry-hub when it comes to exploring the South Funen Archipelago. It’s a great day trip from Odense by train, bus or car and the city offers a good mix of harbour life, shopping opportunities, cosy cafés and restaurants as well as an exciting event calendar (when life is at a normal pace).
Whether you go there to spend a day or you’ve just got a couple of hours before boarding a ferry, Svendborg is one of the must-visits on the Funen.
Highlights I would recommend to visitors include: A walk around the harbourfront with its cultural institutions, a gentle stroll through the city centre to look at local shops, a visit to the natural history museum of Naturama, lunch at long-running local cafés like Børsen and Under Uret, and some basketball action with the Svendborg Rabbits.
Read more about Svendborg here:
Photo Feature: These 3 coastal towns will make you wanna travel to Denmark
Faaborg on the south coast is quieter than Svendborg but offers an idyllic small-town atmosphere between colourful townhouses and cobbled streets. Therefore, Faaborg is a great place for a relaxed day out and a good lunch at one of the seafood-themed restaurants on the harbour front.
The city can fittingly be combined with a nature walk at the nearby Svanninge Bakker, known locally as ‘The Alps of Funen’, a trip with the veteran railway, Syd Fyenske Veteranjernbane, between Faaborg and Korinth, or maybe a journey by ferry to one of the smaller islands in the South Funen Archipelago.
Highlights I would recommend to visitors include: A cup of coffee or a movie at Helios Teatret near the harbour, a photogenic stroll through the cobbled streets, a visit to Øhavsmuseet, a jump in the ocean at the local harbour bath and a bite of seafood at Det Hvide Pakhus.
More than the city itself, Middelfart’s big attraction is its location and surroundings on the western tip of the island. From here, it offers easy connection to mainland Jutland (Jylland), but furthermore, the city is blessed by both land and sea with beaches, forests and the Little Belt Strait where two major bridges create iconic silhouettes.
Obviously, Middelfart is easily combined with other destination on both Funen and in Jutland, but be sure to check out what the city and its surroundings have to offer before you move on.
Highlights I would recommend to visitors include: A walk along the harbourfront from the old wooden ships to the yachts in the new marina, a lunch, a movie or both at Kulturøen (The Culture Island) at the waterfront, a drive or walk through the deer park of Hindsgavl Castle, ice cream from Skovgrillen – and for the brave, a Bridge Walking experience above the waters of the strait.
Read more about Middelfart here:
Photo Feature: Harbour-life on West Funen in Denmark
The fairytale-like moat castle of Egeskov is recognized as one of the best kept of its kind in Europe and it’s probably the most impressive attraction on the entire island. It’s found just south of Ringe on central Funen and is an excellent day out for the entire family.
Last time I visited, a couple of years ago, I was blessed by a spectacularly sunny day that only increased the experience. From the colourful gardens and lush parklands to its indoor exhibitions and collections and of course the castle itself. There is something for all ages to enjoy here and it’s a can’t miss when touring Funen.
Highlights I would recommend to visitors include: A romantic stroll through the flower gardens, a visit to the Veteran Museum of cars, planes and motorcycles, time travelling at the Grocer’s Musem, a treetop walk and a trip and a trip through the giant labyrinth, and – if you make it out – a visit inside the castle itself.
Read more about Egeskov here:
Funen’s fabulous fairytale castle is a funfair for the entire family
Have you been to Fyn – and if yes, which places would you recommend?
Please share your tips in the comments below…