Really? Funen – not hipster homeland Copenhagen, Jutland’s white sandy beaches or Bornholm with its thousand-year-old round churches? No, come visit Funen. I promise you, whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a dedicated foodie or a parent with a spouse and some demanding children to please, you’ll be happy with Funen.
A few facts about Funen, Denmark
You probably don’t know much about Funen, but it’s a little morsel of joy squeezed in between Jutland and Zealand. It’s all connected by bridges, but “Fynboer” (people who live on Funen) don’t really use them much as they don’t like to stray too far away from Funen. That is, of course, a joke – or is it? I grew up on Funen, spent a few years here and there but somehow I ended up on this island again. Funen covers 1,196.8 square miles, is the third largest island in Denmark and (drumrolls) the 165th largest island in the world.
But what’s so special about Funen? Why should I visit Funen, spend my hard earned holiday on Funen you’re probably asking yourself. Well, first of all, Funen has some pretty cool nicknames such as “Denmark’s green heart”, “Denmark’s garden” and “The fairytale island”.
As the names suggest, Funen is a green little spot, full of rolling hills, orchards and small farms. It’s called “The fairytale island” because H.C. Andersen was born in Odense, Funen’s biggest city. He also spent some of his childhood in Odense. Funen is a very calm place. Somnolent, evil tounges might say, but let’s not dwell on that.
A sexy dialect..
The people who live on Funen are often wrongly accused of being a bit slow because of their accent. It sounds like we’re singing when we speak, some people say. That might sound sexy and seductive in theory, but in real life – not so much. I did find, however (on an obscure website), that the Funen accent was voted the sexiest Danish dialect in 2016? I’m sad to say I’ve never been approached because of my “sexy” accent, but I guess there is still time. Will it ever happen – I think not.
Beaches and bikes
Let’s explore your future trip to Funen. If you visit Funen as a family, you’ll probably want to go somewhere with a lot of space – maybe even with a beach. That way you can send your kids out exploring while you drink wine and forget you even have children. That’s what we call a win-win-situation here on Funen.
Luckily, there are a lot of great campsites on Funen, and as it is an island, you won’t have any trouble finding a beach. Ristinge Beach is considered one of the best beaches on Funen. Well, technically it’s on Langeland, not Funen, but Langeland is very close to Funen and part of the South Funen Archipelago. Which brings us to another great thing about Funen – the sea.
The water is calm, nice and warm in the summer, and there are a lot of small islands to explore. Rent a canoe or a kayak, put on some water skis, set sail on an old sailboat, catch a trout or go windsurfing. The possibilities are endless. One of the best places to do water sports on Funen is the small peninsula Helnæs. Helnæs is home to a small close-knit community with a taste for living life at a slow pace. Beautiful half-timbered house with thatched roofs stand shoulder to shoulder on the peninsula, and winding roads, orchards and beautiful gardens all contribute to the fairytale-like feel of Helnæs. There’s a campsite on Helnæs, but if you’re not into sweating in a tent you can always book a room at Gl. Avernæs – a really beautiful hotel with a fantastic location.
From here you also have great access to all the bike paths on Funen. There is the “Bike Island route” covering the entire coastline of Funen. The route is the perfect introduction to Funen and to Langeland and Ærø, the two largest islands in the South Funen Archipelago. If this is a bit too much, there are a ton of other bike paths to choose from. Visit Funen, the local tourist council, has made it a priority to make Funen and the Archipelago the most popular bike-destination in Northern Europe by 2020. We loooove our bikes on Funen.
And while you are on your “iron-horse”, why ot make a stop at one of the 123 castles and manors houses on Funen. One of the more popular ones is Egeskov Slot from 1554. There are a ton of activities for families and kids at the castle. One of the more fun ones is a maze designed by the Danish poet and designer Piet Hein. And you might think it sounds easy, but try it. I dare you! This from someone who had to make her dad go to the tower in the middle so he could guide her out. Not a proud moment.
A gift to your stomach
If your stomach is the boss, Funen is not a bad choice either. There are some great restaurants to try. This post will guide you to the best restaurants in Odense, but there are some top-notch restaurants in other cities as well. Forget about Noma – try something new like Falsled Kro in Falsled or Restaurant Lieffroy in Nyborg.
Funen also has the biggest food market in Northern Europe. It takes place in the city of Svendborg every summer and is a huge attraction. Local farmers and their colleagues from other parts of Europe join forces and showcase their product in a sublime way. It’s fun for everyone – also kids.
And what more can I say? A beautiful landscape, old castles, great food, a view to remember and some welcoming “Fynboer”. What’s not to like. I hope to see you out there on one of our many bike paths with the wind in your hair.