One Day in Helsingør: Hamlet’s Castle, Monasteries, & Colorful Buildings

September 3, 2018 22 Comments

If you read Shakespeare in high school, there’s a good chance you read “Hamlet” and learned that it took place in Denmark (“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” anyone?). Kronborg Castle, or Elsinore, is where “Hamlet” takes place and it actually exists, and you can visit it in Helsingør! Helsingør is just a quick trip from Copenhagen (just take the regional train and the Helsingør train station is right in the middle of the city!), and along with visiting Hamlet’s castle, there are lots of historic things to see in one day in Helsingør 🙂 

One Day in Helsingør: Hamlet's Castle, Monasteries, & Colorful Buildings

Downtown Helsingør

I first visited Helsingør on a class trip when I studied abroad in Copenhagen five years ago, and we went on a really cold and snowy day in February. The town was really grey and empty then, so it looked a lot different when I went back the past spring! This time I got a tour of the town by Matt’s host grandfather, and he also took us to a few places outside the main part of the city.

Helsingør has a cute downtown area with lots of colorful buildings! (If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that colorful buildings are my absolute favorite!) The town was founded in the 1420s by Eric of Pomerania, and the town got rich from tolls paid by foreign ships sailing through. Kronborg was built soon after, and it was expanded in the 1580s. 

Downtown Helsingor

Downtown Helsingor

Houses in Helsingor

Downtown Helsingor

Mural in Helsingor

Downtown Helsingor

Downtown Helsingor

Downtown Helsingor Hamlet mural

Helsingør Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum of Denmark used to be at Kronborg, but they recently moved it into a dried out dock on the harbor

Helsingør Maritime Museum

Carmelite Monastery

The Carmelite Priory is one of the few surviving monasteries in Denmark! It was built in the 1400s and it was abandoned in the 1500s during the Reformation. Instead of being torn down, it was used as a hospital and almshouse over the years until the local church took it over recently and started restoring it. St. Mary’s Church is attached to the monastery, and they are restoring some of the frescoes that were painted over during the Reformation. 

Carmelite Priory in Helsingør

Carmelite Priory in Helsingør

Carmelite Priory in Helsingør

Carmelite Priory in Helsingør

Carmelite Priory in Helsingør

St. Mary's Church in Helsingor

St. Mary's Church in Helsingor

St. Mary's Church in Helsingor

St. Mary's Church in Helsingor

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg was built as a fortress in the 1400s, but it was renovated and built up into a Renaissance castle in the 1500s by King Frederick II. They would hold feasts there for foreign diplomats, which may be how Shakespeare learned about Kronborg. Kronborg takes pride in being “Hamlet’s castle,” and they actually perform live performances of “Hamlet” throughout the castle! We got to see a few scenes and talk with some of the actors. 

Kronborg

Downtown Helsingor

Downtown Helsingor

Downtown Helsingor Downtown Helsingor

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Holger Danske

Kronborg is also known for being the home of Holger Dankse, or Holger the Dane. In King Arthur’s stories, Holger was a king in Denmark, and he was taken by Morgan le Fay and escaped to rescue France from danger. He returned to Kronborg, and he will sleep until Denmark needs him to save them. Holger has become quite famous and you can see his picture on moving trucks in Denmark!

Holger Danske

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

The famous Ophelia!

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle

Kronborg Castle chapel

Kronborg Castle chapel Helsingor coast

Sweden is right across the water!

Helsingor coast

Helsingor coast

Lunch at Kronborg

You can get some authentic smørrebrød at the cafe at Kronborg

Helsingor coast

Esrum Abbey

Right outside Helsingør is Esrum Abbey, the second Cistercian monastery founded in Denmark. It was built in the 1100s, and it became the “mother house” of several abbeys in Denmark. After the Reformation in the 1500s, many of the monks were actually allowed to stay for a number of years (which was apparently a rare occurrence in Europe) until they moved to another abbey, and Esrum Abbey was mostly dismantled for building materials. A few of the buildings were left alone, and the rest of the abbey was built back up in the 1900s. They have a museum inside the abbey about the monastery and Reformation, and there are lots of fields and wooded areas around it to go for a walk or a bike ride!

Esrum Abbey Esrum Abbey

Esrum Abbey

Esrum Abbey garden

Esrum Abbey

Esrum Abbey

Esrum Abbey

From Kronborg Castle to monasteries, there are so many historical sights to see in one day in Helsingør! If you’re rushed for time, you can easily do this in half a day, but I definitely recommend spending the whole day (or more!) in Helsingør to really see everything this cute, historic town has to offer 🙂 

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22 Comments

  1. Reply

    Stephanie

    September 3, 2018

    I love these photos. I really like their buildings.

    • Reply

      Julia

      September 3, 2018

      Thank you! 🙂 Yes the buildings were so pretty!

  2. Reply

    Patricia McKenzie

    September 3, 2018

    I love the pictures! I only saw some of it when I was there, but I really liked it a lot.

    • Reply

      Julia

      September 3, 2018

      Thank you! 🙂 Yes it’s a really nice place!

  3. Reply

    Julia

    September 3, 2018

    There are so many wonderful gems to see in Denmark, and I knew nothing about any of them before you started this series. Helsingor looks wonderful, I love colourful buildings too and of course castles is another of my great loves, so there is plenty I would love to see there 🙂

    Julia x
    http://www.juliaspeaksbeauty.blogspot.co.uk

    • Reply

      Julia

      September 3, 2018

      I’m glad I’ve been able to tell you about these Danish gems! 🙂 There are so many amazing places to explore in Denmark!

  4. Reply

    TONYA MOKEN

    September 4, 2018

    The architecture is amazing! I love the people all dressed up in some of the pictures.

    • Reply

      Julia

      September 4, 2018

      Yes it was so cool seeing them perform in person!

  5. Reply

    Em

    September 5, 2018

    This looks like such a pretty place, your pictures are gorgeous as always!

    • Reply

      Julia

      September 5, 2018

      Thank you! 🙂

  6. Reply

    Noelle

    September 7, 2018

    The picture are gorgeous. My sister’s been but it was not one I visited. More I want to go!!!

    • Reply

      Julia

      September 7, 2018

      Thank you! 🙂 I hope you can go soon!

  7. Reply

    Lena

    September 8, 2018

    Helsingør is such a gem! I remember visiting for the first time in winter, the pictures looked so different from yours because of a different season 🙂 But now I see that it’s beautiful at different kind of weather.
    The castle is gorgeous. I never got to go inside, so thanks for the pictures!

    • Reply

      Julia

      September 8, 2018

      I hope you can go back in the summer to see the castle! The town is really transformed in warm weather!

  8. Reply

    Katie

    September 8, 2018

    Wow! It really is so colorful. Looks like a truly unique place to visit!

    • Reply

      Julia

      September 8, 2018

      Yes it’s a really neat town! 🙂

  9. Reply

    Alice | Girl with a saddle bag

    September 8, 2018

    Helsingor looks so beautiful in the sunshine! It poured with rain when we visited and although it was very atmospheric is wasn’t as colourful. Looks like a gorgeous place for a summers day.

    • Reply

      Julia

      September 8, 2018

      Yes it’s so beautiful when the weather is nice! Definitely a change from when I visited it during bad weather, too!

  10. Reply

    Michelle

    September 8, 2018

    I love the medieval feel of this charming town. Castles are one of the reasons we love visiting Europe, so to hear that you can visit Hamlet’s castle and see a reenactment of the play sounds awesome to me. And as always Julia, your photos are stunning!!

    • Reply

      Julia

      September 8, 2018

      Thank you! 🙂 Yes seeing Hamlet performed inside the castle was such a cool experience!

  11. Reply

    Nicola

    September 10, 2018

    I’ve always loved Shakespeare. This is definitely going on my bucket list.

    • Reply

      Julia

      September 10, 2018

      It’s definitely worth the visit! 🙂

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