The capital of the island is Odense, birthplace of famous author H.C. Andersen. Funen is a picturesque area with sandy beaches and lush vegetation, traditionally known as the agricultural heartland of Denmark. As a term of endearment, Funen is known as Danmarks grønne ø ("Denmark's green island"). Funen is a convenient destination for travellers from mainland Europe, as both a major European highway as well as all transnational trains in Denmark cross the island and its capital.
- 1 Odense — The regional capital and Denmark's third largest city.
- 2 Assens — A coastal town
- 3 Bogense
- 4 Faaborg — A coastal town
- 5 Kerteminde — On the north eastern coast of the Great Belt.
- 6 Middelfart — A coastal town by the Lillebælt bridge to Jutland
- 7 Nyborg — A coastal town by the Storebælt bridge to Zealand.
- 8 Otterup
- 9 Ringe
- 10 Svendborg — A port town with a bridge to 1 Tåsinge and 2 Langeland and a ferry to 3 Ærø
Very much the "island in the middle" between Zealand and Jutland, it is mockingly said that Funen only exists to carry the highway between Copenhagen and Aarhus. The good-humoured locals, on the other hand, claim to harbour the best traits of both Jutland and Copenhagen. Easy-going Funen is a place for the good life, where you can find great food at reasonable prices. And the island does have one unrivalled claim to fame: Odense, the main city, is the birthplace of writer Hans Christian Andersen.
Danish is of course spoken by all inhabitants. Swedish and Norwegian are both somewhat understood, but English is more widely spoken amongst all inhabitants, except for very young children and the elderly over 70. German is taught in schools, but generally only spoken to a lesser degree. French is taught in some public schools, but few speakers can be found, those existing will be found mostly in Odense. In Odense, quite a few immigrants with some knowledge of either Arabic, Turkish or Persian can be found.
The central rail station in Odense is a transit point for all trains from the European mainland towards Copenhagen, therefore it can be reached from anywhere in the country.
The small Odense Airport is located around 17 km from the city centre, but except for holiday routes to Southern Europe, it is only served by private charter flights, which are of course comparatively expensive.
A good road and motorway system connects all coastal towns with each other as well as Odense. A highway connects the capital Odense with Svendborg. Even rural roads are of high quality, as in the rest of Denmark.
Funen is very bike friendly, with only the centre of the island being hilly. Most roads in and from Odense have dedicated bike paths. Be aware of no cycling signs, though.
On Funen, there is service from Odense Central Station to Ringe and Svendborg, as well as the train line crossing the island, which also serves the cities of Middelfart and Nyborg. Other towns are served by bus.
All towns and small communities are served with high daily frequency. In Odense an extensive bus network serves all parts of the city as well as its suburbs. Fynbus includes regional bus schedules and a route planner.
Taxis are aplenty in towns at fixed rates, including a service charge. There are cab stands in some places, as cabs cannot usually be hailed on the street. Phoning a taxi company is advised instead, in Odense the cab will usually arrive in less than fifteen minutes. Pirate cabs are non-existent.
The island is home to the author H.C. Andersen, whose former residence located in the city centre of Odense has been converted to a museum. Just south of Odense, the village of Nørre Lyndelse includes the birthplace of composer Carl Nielsen; a museum tells the story of his life and work.
Svendborg and Kerteminde are both picturesque maritime towns with colourful houses and cobblestoned streets, though Kerteminde has a somewhat more untouched character, and is home to Fjord- og Bæltcentret, an interactive museum about ocean life, with mammals as the main focus. Both cities were traditionally fishing towns, and therefore quality fish restaurants are ubiquitous.
Odense is home to Den Fynske Landsby, a re-creation of the island's rural past, including only original houses moved from all parts of the island and carefully reconstructed to portray life as it was in the 18th and 19th centuries. Activities are spread across the year, and include milking, traditional harvests and manufacture of old-fashioned handicrafts and foods, where the visitors can participate.
In general, all of Funen has the potential for beautiful natural experiences, and almost all of its forests are open to the public for hiking and biking paths in the scenic surrounds. In the north, lush Langesøskoven forest includes a picturesque lake and wildlife.
Odense has a vibrant nightlife, and music can be experienced both at outdoor events and in clubs, especially Magasinet and Jazzhus Dexter, respectively venues for alternative rock and jazz.
Fishing in streams, rivers, lakes and the ocean is a popular activity for locals and tourists alike, and Odense River has a large and well-supported population of rainbow trout. All fishing requires a permit, obtainable at post offices and most fishing equipment shops. If in doubt, contact a tourist office, which will refer you to the nearest permit vendor. Hunting is also possible, but requires proof of hunting capability and a permit from the governmental wildlife agency.
Odense has a comparatively large shopping street as well as a few well-assorted malls, the largest of which, Rosengårdcentret, is located in the southeastern suburbs. Shops fabricating traditional handicrafts as well as modern applied arts items can be found in many of the island's cities. Beware of the difference between tourist shops and genuine artisans.
Odense has many restaurants, ranging from the usual American fast food chains, to traditional Danish restaurants like Carlslund or Boulevardkroen, and haute cuisine restaurantd. Especially worthy of mention is Restaurant Kvægtorvet. International cuisine is also prevalent, Italian, Greek, Chinese, American, Indian, Arabic and Vietnamese restaurants can be found. The former four types are mainly found in central Odense, whilst the latter three cuisines are represented at Bazar Fyn, located in the eastern suburbs of Odense, home to a number of ethnic minorities. There, the food is comparatively cheap and generally of good quality.
In general, food is expensive in Denmark, both from supermarkets and in restaurants, but low-budget travellers will appreciate the discount stores ubiquitous in all towns.
For traditional Funish fare, which is mainly fish (fisk) and other seafood (skaldyr), a trip to Kerteminde, Svendborg or Bogense is highly recommended. In Kerteminde, a somewhat expensive but worthwhile seafood restaurant, Rudolf Mathis, serves high-quality fish fare. If in doubt, ask a local; they will probably be able to point you towards a hidden gem with lovely, hearty dishes of local cuisine.
Some regional dishes:
- Æggekage — Danish omelettes, most often topped with bacon, tomatoes and chives.
- Jødetorsk — cod, sprinkled with curry powder and salt, simmered over a low heat in butter and onions.
- Fynsk rygeost — cheese smoked over freshly-harvested oat or wheat straw.
Beer is the cornerstone of Danish beverages, and the local brewery Albani, located in Odense, produces lovely lagers and darker varieties. For even better microbrewery beer, look for the brands "Vestfyen" (brewed in Assens), "Refsvindinge" (brewed in the town of that name) and "Midtfyns Bryghus" (brewed in Brobyværk) on menus and supermarket shelves. The bar Christian Firtal in Odense serves these and other local products as well as English cask and bottled ales, and Belgian and German beers.
High quality spirits are also available, and aquavit is traditionally a part of Danish lunches in general. Only a few brands are locally produced, though, and these are not widely available. Most are imported from the rest of Denmark.
In general Funen is very safe, and no violent crimes are commonly committed against tourists or locals. In general, although Denmark is comparatively lax on drugs, do not attempt to purchase any, as this will often involves interacting with gangs, which have engaged in a covert vendetta against each other. Police are visible in all cities, and Odense, Middelfart and Svendborg have hospitals, of which Odense and Svendborg hospitals have emergency rooms. Police, fire services and ambulances can be contacted by phoning 112, while non-emergency calls to the police should be placed on 114. English is spoken by emergency central operators.
- Sydfynske Øhav is the archipelago south of Funen.
- Tåsinge: An island just across the strait
- Langeland: An oblong island to the east of Southern Funen, can be reached by bridge from Svendborg (Tåsinge), has connections to Spodsbjerg on Lolland.
- Ærø: A beautiful island in the Southern Funen Archipelago. Can be reached by ferry from Svendborg. The main towns are Marstal and Ærøskøbing