You could approach Denmark’s tenth largest town at least two different ways. For the occasional visitor, the most common way to experience Helsingør (or Elsinore) is perhaps to visit Kronborg Castle – rendered legendary status as the home of Hamlet. One might guess that over the years at least some of those involved in the local tourism industry have had reasons to express their gratitude toward William Shakespeare.
The castle is of course a must-see for many visitors – and for good reasons. Wonderfully situated by the sea, the interiors of the Kronborg Castle bear witness of artistic eras such as the Renaissance and the Baroque. The fact that Hamlet has been performed in the courtyard several times has perhaps also helped create a special atmosphere here.
But a visit to Helsingør need not necessarily start with the Kronborg Castle. There is also another way to approach this charming town on the northernmost part of Zealand (one of the largest islands in Denmark).
Once you arrive in the town center, position yourself at the railway station. It’s close to where the ferries to Sweden berth. Then, when standing just outside the doors to the station, set your sights on one of the smallest of the streets leading from the square in front of you. It will be on your left-hand side. If the street sign says Brostræde when you get there, you will now be close to what many Danes (and Swedes too) consider to be one of the real highlights of a visit to Helsingør: Brostrædeis, or Brostræde ice cream, served in homemade waffles and accompanied with jam.
Afterward, continue along Brostræde (which translates to “Bridge lane”) until you reach Stengade. This is Helsingør’s main shopping street. On a warm summer’s day, chances are you will find it brimming with life. This is a popular destination for Swedes looking for the relaxed “joie de vivre” that Denmark epitomizes to their neighbors on the other side of the Øresund – the stretch of water that separates southernmost Sweden from Denmark.
If you like, sample the local stores and boutiques on Stengade and nearby streets. Then find a cafeteria for a smørrebrød – an open-face type of sandwich that the Danes specialize in. To many visitors, this is what Helsingør is all about.
Finish your stroll in Helsingør with a visit to the old parts of the town (close to Kronborg) and a tour of Hamlet’s castle. When in Helsingør, it would be a tragedy of Shakespearean proportion to miss it.
Smaller cruise ships of up to 460 feet/140 meters in length berth close to the city center. Passengers are tendered ashore from larger cruise ships that anchor in the Øresund. Cruise passengers are welcomed by representatives from the local tourist office, who provide brochures and tourist information.
Shore excursions in and around Helsingør can include:
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is less than an hour away by train. The distance is 27 miles/44 kilometers.
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