If you ever find yourself with some spare time in Denmark, I couldn’t recommend this beautiful port city on the Øresund strait highly enough. And not just because of its most famous (fictional) resident…
Kronborg Castle is no doubt why you’d make the trip to Helsingør in the first place though. It’s the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and is a great place to spend a few hours. Whether it’s peeking through decadent (in a Scandi sort of way) rooms where Shakespeare imagined Hamlet to prowl, or the grass walls and moats that surround it, it’s the highlight of a trip. If you carry on down the grass walkways and right down to the water’s edge you find a rocky beach to sit and watch the sea. I ended up sitting there for almost an hour; just me and the sea, the birds and a view of Sweden.
The sun was shining the day I was there in early October, though the wind was whipping off the sea. At the end of my castle visit I tucked myself under a blanket and had a cup of tea in the castle’s cafe. I watched the gulls catch the wind overhead and thought, yes, this is the sort of place I could see a Danish King losing his mind in.
2. Take a walk
Helsingør itself has some beautiful gothic alleyways to get lost in. There’s cobbled streets and brightly painted houses to see, tucked away churches to stumble across and neighbourhood cats to watch. It’s also a good place to shelter from the wind and play a game of peek-a-boo with Kronborg castle in the distance. The Kulturhavn Kronborg is the area around the harbour and in good weather it’s a great place to pull up a seat and watch the world go by, especially the boats off to fish.
Closer to the train station you can pause and watch the clanging car ferries dock. It’s a popular trip for Swedes wanting to fill their cars up with Danish alcohol which is – apparently – cheaper. The quick fifty minute dash across the water from Helsingør takes you to (confusingly but no doubt logically) a place called Helsingborg in Sweden.
3. Wave to Sweden
Unfortunately I couldn’t fit in a trip to Sweden on my visit, so I decided that this was the next best thing. Helsingor sits at a pinched bit of land between Sweden and Denmark; it was what made Kronborg successful in its day, as its savvy residents levied a tax on those wanting to bring their ships past the little bottleneck in the Øresund (the strait between Sweden and Denmark) and down to Copenhagen. You can’t help but look out over the water whilst you are in Helsingør and whilst you do, give Sweden a wave.
Unsurprisingly for a nation known for its pastries, cafe culture is a big deal in Demark. It seems that no matter how cold it is the Danish cafes are set up for outdoor life. On the bright but blustery day in Kronborg, every cafe I visited offered a big fluffy blanket and encouraged you to sit outdoors. The Kulturhavn had a wonderful cafe around the harbour with lots of seats to drag up to the water’s edge and enjoy a hot drink. The castle’s cafe is also a good place for an (expensive, but this is Denmark) cup of something hot under an Ikea blanket.
I was only in Kronborg for a few hours, so no doubt there is a lot more to see. I’d encourage everyone visiting Denmark to make the train journey up the coast and visit the home of Hamlet.