Elsinore, Denmark

It’s hard to imagine the all-conquering Vikings setting sail from these quiet shores. Home to Hygge, the art of comfort and coziness, today’s Denmark is full of peace, welcome and pleasant surprises.

Elsinore is English for Helsingor, a port with a rich 600-year seafaring history. The Renaissance fortress of Kronborg Castle is the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Hygge is the Danish way of snuggling up with a roaring fire, some scented candles and big comfy chair in the company of your friends and family. Find your own Hygge happiness with fellow travelers and new friends in the welcoming nautical theme bars of Helsingor and help keep tradition alive with Danish drinking songs and sea-shanties. It’s all about the sea here and the calendar is full of special dates and festivals with musical parades and dancing to celebrate.

The Toldkammeret Culture Center in the old dockyard hosts concerts, theater and cinema. Nearby the Spisestuen restaurant of the exceptional ultra-modern Kulturvaerft building serves very good fish and chips and national dishes like Flaeskesteg (roasted pork) and microbrews.

Discover all you need to know about Helsingor’s history at the M/S Maritime Museum. Outside a shining steel statue of a silvery boy called Han (meaning “Him”) sits on a rock staring wistfully out to sea, just like Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, 45 minutes down the coast by train in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen

Shakespeare is said to have set his most famous work, Hamlet, in the 16th Century Kronborg Castle overlooking the Oresond Strait. Today, beneath the ornate spires you can explore the royal chambers, the banquet hall, the ballroom and the palace chapel on guided tours led by actors playing the parts from Hamlet.

In more recent times during WWII, fishermen of the Helsingor community smuggled almost all of the country’s 7,800 Danish Jews on the twenty minute crossing to a new, bright future in neutral Sweden.

Take time to absorb all this fascinating history at a café on Axel Torv square in the heart of Helsingor. Coffee and cake is a craze most of us would like to keep and here in the home of Danish pastry, the superb array of sweet delights exceeds expectations.