Odense, on the island of Fyn (Funen in English), is often called the "Garden of Denmark" and is where Hans Christian Andersen lived. The easy drive to Odense, 90 mi/140 km southwest of Copenhagen, reveals beautiful rolling hills and blue lakes, and it takes you across the relatively new Storebaeltsbroen—at 13 mi/21 km, it's one of Europe's longest bridges.

Andersen's childhood home is in Odense, and there's a museum with many of his letters, manuscripts and personal items. Next to the original museum, you'll find a children's activity house named Fyrtoejet (The Tinderbox), where children can engage in such activities as drawing, face painting, acting, music making and storytelling, as well as listen to fairy tales. All activities are organized around a specific theme, usually drawn from one of Andersen's stories. Every summer, the city holds a festival in his honor, which includes open-air performances of his fairy tales.

Other sights around town include Gothic-style St. Canute's Cathedral (named after King Canute, who was murdered by discontented subjects in 1086), a castle (formerly the monastery of a medieval order of chivalry), a university and a railroad museum with old engines and coaches once used by the royal family.

Much of the area looks as it did hundreds of years ago, with cobblestoned streets, shuttered windows and flower boxes. Spend some time relaxing in the outdoor cafes and watching the musicians and street performers (in summer only).

While you're on the island, spend at least a couple of hours at Den Fynske Landsby (a re-creation of an 18th-century Danish village) and visit well-preserved Egeskov Castle (moat and gardens with concerts in the summer, as well as a vintage car museum next door) and the beautiful seaport of Svendborg (walk along the harbor and eat at one of the seafood restaurants).

A number of picturesque islands and towns can be reached from Svendborg by ferry, including Aeroe, with its main town, Aeroeskoebing, and Kerteminde, a charming town northeast of Odense that was once the home of African-American painter William H. Johnson and his wife, Danish weaver Holcha Krake.

If Viking sites interest you, spend some time at Ladby Ship (a burial site 10 mi/16 km east of Odense). You can rent bicycles in Odense—the city itself is very flat. We suggest a long day, at the very least, to see everything in the area. http://www.visitodense.com.

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