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The main reason for a tourist to visit Helsingør (Elsinore) is to visit Kronborg Castle, a UNESCO Heritage site. It is probably the most famous of Denmark’s castles because of its connection with Hamlet.
Check the website for opening hours and prices but expect to pay around £8 (80 DKK) for an adult ticket. We actually got a Copenhagen card for our stay in Copenhagen last summer which gave us free admission to the majority of Copenhagen’s tourist sites plus travel.
We took the Coast Line from Copenhagen Central Station to Elsinore Station. The castle is a about a 12 minute walk from the station. It was an easy journey (we found the train system to be pretty impressive) and took about 45 minutes.
~~To be or not to be~~
The figure of Hamlet first appears more than 800 years ago in the History of the Danes but it was Shakespeare who first made the connection between Hamlet and Kronborg when he wrote his famous play. Now Hamlet is performed at the castle every summer on an open air stage in the courtyard.
~~What we saw~~
There are a number of guided tours available including one called In Hamlet’s Footsteps. We took the highlight-tour - a short introduction to the most important sights of Kronborg Castle lasting ½ hour, free with a valid ticket.
The castle and its fortications are built on the spit of North Sealand, at the entrance of the Øresund separating Denmark from Sweden which is only a 20 min ferry ride away. The first castle was built on the site in the 1420s but it was Frederik II who started the work on the Renaissance castle in 1514. The castle has four wings around a large courtyard. A fire destroyed all but the chapel in 1629 but the castle was pretty much restored to its original state. It was only used by the Royal Family for a relatively short space of time. It was taken over by the military in the 1780s and they stayed until the 1930s.
Taking the tour gave us a really useful introduction to the Castle and we left much better informed than when we had arrived. The tour only lasts 30 minutes and is a quick canter through the main areas including the chapel and the long ballroom. We were then able to explore again at a more leisurely pace. Because of its use by the military, the castle isn’t full of the normal paraphernalia that one tends to associate with castles and stately homes. In fact the interior of castle feels quite austere and empty. That said the Great hall is still impressive and perhaps because it’s not full of clutter you do really get a feeling for its immense size.
If you taking a trip to Copenhagen and have the time to get out Helsingør and Kronborg Slot, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.