Brandts Former factory turned museum displays big art in a big way. Enter through the gift shop

Culture | Brandts Torv 1, Odense C | Written by: Pil Lindgreen | Translated by: Bo Jessen | 61 recommendations

In the mid-1980s, a vacant textile factory was converted into an art centre in Odense. Modern visual culture replaced weaving mills and industrial dye in the high-ceilinged rooms, and today Brandts is a showcase for contemporary and classical Danish art. After the Funen Art Academy left the building, Brandts has colonized all floors with big ambitions and tales of a future where Odense welcomes bigger exhibitions and give them the space they deserve. The Media Museum is the only other institution still present in this five storey industrial wonder.

Brandts is a cultural giant, setting the tone for the use of former industrial buildings for shops and cafes in the Latin Quarter. A re-launch of the museum in 2014 provided a new logo as well as a new curatorial direction: Brandts banished the solo shows of contemporary artists, and instead specialises in grand, themed exhibitions addressed to the popular unconscious, with appeal to stomach, hearts and egos. At first the contemporary art was displaced to its little sister, Brandts 13, but after another conceptual tightening Brandts 13 is now also in the past.

Whether exhibitions centered on tattoos, selfies and Disney are expressions of an experimental, post-modern attitude to canon, or rather signs of the institution nursing consumer-guests on their conditions is up for debate. For us, part of the answer is provided by the fact that the once well-stocked art bookstore now has been replaced by glasses, scarfs and pillars with Kandinsky motives. A bookstore is where an art museum greets its visitors - an opportunity to show that you have something to tell and that you take yourself and your guests seriously.

In any case, it surely is healthy that the museum is still able to piss people off. For the more traditionally-minded guest, there is a permanent collection of Danish painting on display in the attractive modern extension of the museum, including a gorgeous, dark Hammershøi that you really ought to revisit every time you stop by for a special exhibition.

You should always attend receptions at Brandts, even if there is no chance of catching as much as glimpse of what they have put on the walls because of the crowds. Instead, sip your complimentary beverage in the outdoor gallery in good company of (almost) the entire city and enjoy the glorious view over Amfipladsen.

Today people tend to take for granted that fine arts belong in industrial settings, but the biggest art centre on Funen was a pioneer in the field of developing outdated industrial building complexes into cultural hotspots. In 1988, the museum received the European Museum of the Year Award; the first of any Scandinavian museum to do so. A quality often taken for granted, but something that should still be applauded for respectful transformation of the built heritage. Let's hope it continues to raise the bar for museum practices and doesn't retreat into the comforts of easy choices.

Admission is free on Thursdays from 5-9 p.m. and your grandmother and your maybe-date will both appreciate an invitation (but seperately).

  • Mon: -
  • Tue - Wed: 10.00 - 17.00
  • Thu: 10.00 - 21.00
  • Fri - Sun: 10.00 - 17.00
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Byens Bro Architectural landmark connecting city and harbour has the best new views of both

Byens Bro
Sights, Parks, Nature & Activities | Østre Stationsvej 35, Odense C | Written by: Bo Jessen | 4 recommendations

Get up high and take a view of the harbor from “Byens Bro”, Odense’s newest landmark connecting the city and the harbour giving both pedestrians and cyclists a different view of the city.

A few times a year I find myself in a situation where I don’t feel like it is my responsibility to create the city Odense deserves to be; where I can relax and enjoy the city-moment. This happens during the film festival and Phono festival. But it also happened during this year’s harbour culture festival, when I was standing on “Byens Bro” admiring the dramatic thunder lit sky and the sun setting low behind the clouds cutting a brutal silo landscape in the harbor. Dramatic and rich and yet so peaceful.

Something happens when you see a city from up high. Your perspective changes. It is like seeing a landscape from your childhood as an adult for the first time. Your view is different; you notice new gaps and spaces, you are forced to reinterpret what see. The view from “Byens Bro” is an experience.

The bridge is more than just a look-out post and a practical link for pedestrians and cyclist, it’s an experience in its own right. With its 135 swirling organic meters spanning the tracks, it seems to be challenging the functionalism and modernistic mantra that straight ahead is the fastest way forward. On the southern side of the bridge, 40 meters of vertical glistening pylon rises towards the sky. A vulgar manifestat for the city's transformation, crying out to passing jutlanders and copenhageners that here is a good reason to get off the train here.

  • Mon - Sun: 0.00 - 24.00
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Nordatlantisk Hus A must-see architectural gem by the harbour, home to an worthwhile restaurant serving New Nordic cuisine with a North Atlantic twist

Nordatlantisk Hus
Eating | Nordatlantisk Promenade 1, Odense C | Written by: Brian Lindskov Larsen | Photo: Hannibal-Bach | 19 recommendations

You can’t say you’ve been to New Odense until you’ve made your way to the harbour. Odense Harbour is not only a pretty sweet spot, it is also home to several major attractions of the city. And Nordatlantisk Hus is one of them. From afar it looks dangerously cool and un-Odensian and once inside you’ll find a remarkable restaurant serving up a slice of the North Atlantic at a reasonable price.

Grey cliffs and luminous icebergs have inspired the shape of this architectural gem, where icy blue glass birds circle above your head. This striking building was built in collaboration between Greenland House and Odense Municipality and houses the city’s finest student accommodation on its upper floors. Below, in an unbeatable setting, you’ll find a very special restaurant serving delicacies from Greenland and the Faroe Islands in the spirit of New Nordic cuisine. It may not be Noma, but it is delicious and affordable.

Go there for their abundant brunch with the best home-made Nutella you’ve ever had and a harbour view. Eat inside, on the terrace or take away.

Apart from the restaurant, Nordatlantisk Hus also offers occasional concerts and exhibitions with a North Atlantic twist. Their gift shop is open Thursdays and Fridays 1 pm – 6 pm, Saturdays 11 am - 2 pm.

  • Mon - Fri: 11.30 - 23.30
  • Sat: 10.00 - 23.30
  • Sun: 11.30 - 16.00
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Flakhaven Explore Odense’s power axis: City Hall and cathedral on the square

Sights, Parks, Nature & Activities | Flakhaven, Odense C | Written by: Mira Erik | 22 recommendations

The square of power: City Hall and the Cathedral . Kings, priests and merchants. The church doesn’t command the power that it used to, but still intimidates with its physique. City Hall still towera confidently and across the square, the financial world pushes on, backed by Magasin and the rest of the city’s shopkeepers. The sculpture Oceania – the naked woman – is laid out in the middle of the town hall square, her womb facing these masculine dominants.

But you can just leave all those thoughts behind and eat your ice cream from Frellsens Chokolade on the sunny benches in front of city hall while watching the kids playing by sliding down Oceania’s sprawling body.

On the southern side of City Hall you will find Odense City Gardens – – and if you look closely, you will find the most precious old herb garden behind the cathedral, taking you back to the silence of the monasteries and a more devout and sincere life.

Stroll along to Eventyrhaven (Fairy Tale Gardens), away from agents of hard power and down to nature’s poetry.

  • Mon - Sun: 00.00 - 24.00
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Thomas B. Thriges Gade A new neighbourhood is in the pipeline. Walk through, past, and around to enjoy the chaos while it lasts

Thomas B. Thriges Gade
Sights, Parks, Nature & Activities | Hans Jensens Stræde 17, Odense C | Written by: Bo Jessen | Photo: Niels Holmgaard | 4 recommendations

If you are a Odense native, you are familiar with Thomas B. Thriges Gade, and if not, you should get to know it. When it was established in 1970, four track were ploughed through much of the city’s industrial and cultural heritage, from the Nørrebro sailor’s district, through a famous apothecary garden, to stately buildings in the city centre. It even lead to a dispute, when ”Industripalæet” – the community house of bourgeoisie – was, ironically, protected from demolition by left wing squatters. Until the summer of 2014, the street was a prime example of unsuccesful, short-sighted city planning.

Now, after 44 years of ferocious discussion, the street has been closed and a new district is blooming with the ”Odeon” building (a location for music, theatre, and conferences), a hotel, residences dressed in green, modern cohabitation, a fairy tale house of international character (perhaps underground?), restored historical small streets, market squares (and perhaps a market hall?), light rail, super bicycle lane, and a large city park.

It is not uncommon that large cities fully or partially close off both minor and major streets (changing from traffic to cafés on Broadway in New York, from car street to bus street on Nørrebrogade in Copenhagen, from transit street to park in Madrid in Spain, from highway to open river in Seoul in South Korea, from worn down street to cozy river setting in Oklahoma in the USA, in Aarhus in Denmark, and many other places). The great thing is the rare opportunity for Odense to tie together the city and to create the most intimate metropolitan city centre in Denmark.

The plans for the future of Thomas B. Thriges Gade are on display in the red info house on Vilhelm Werners Plads and, while the build is under way, you can experience temorary activites in the area, like the decorations of the street fence by street artists, or peek through the fence and marvel at that really big hole in the ground.

  • Mon - Sun: 0.00 - 24.00
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Munkebjergskolens Observatorium Gaze into eternity with a telescope from 1897

Munkebjergskolens Observatorium
Sights, Parks, Nature & Activities | Fengersvej 6, Odense M | Written by: Bo Jessen | Translated by: Pil Lindgreen | 1 recommendations

There is an observatory at Munkebjergskolen.

When reading that sentence, people’s reactions fall in two categories. You either think: “An observatory? As in, a place to look at the stars? In Odense? At a school!?”, or you feel a surge of joy of recognition from your own school years, when first you viewed yourself in a cosmic context and first felt the insignificance of your own existence simultaneous with a desire to dream for bigger things.

I belong in the latter category. The observatory is – like many other places in Odense – one of the treasures that we forget to appreciate; one of the riches of our city that we’ve forgotten all about – the only public observatory on Funen. But it is still here.

In 1917, Seligman – a rich, Jewish doctor from the coastal town Middelfart, which back then still a genuine part of Funen – died.  Seligman was an amateur astronomer, and in his will he left his exquisite telescope to the Odense public school system in the hopes of contributing to the foundation of a public observatory to the benefit of school children and other citizens.

It took 17 years of trying to decide where to place the observatory before the telescope was removed from its box in the attic of Odense Katedralskole and installed at the roof of the then-newly built Munkebjergskole. In 1934, the city hadn’t caught up with the school yet and being still surrounded by open fields, it wasn’t much affected by light pollution.

The telescope, then one of the finest in Denmark, is still there. But despite many restorations by its conservator Erik Clausen it no longer measures up to contemporary standards, and the increased light pollution from street lamps make it impossible to view galaxies and nebulas through the telescope. It is, however, one of the most striking and well-preserved pieces of technology from its time still in use, and through it you can gaze at the moon, double stars and star clusters. The moon, especially, is worth a look.

When you lean in and look through the turn-of-the-centery Carl Zeiss optics, you’re not only looking at a the lighst from distant world, long since disappeared, you’re also standing in a spot occupied by thousands before you; thousands who have felt the same as you do.

The Observatory is open on Mondays, regardless of weather conditions, in the following seasons: February 1 - April 1 and September 15 - December 1:

Visitors are let in between 7.50 and 8 pm at the northern main doors in the schoolyard.  

On clear starry nights, a bright white lamp is lit outside the dome, and the observatory keeper will manually open the dome. Admission is 20 kr, and a visit it well worth that price.

If you’re unsure whether the weather warrants a visit or not, you can get in touch with the observatory keeper at or via facebook, where occasional events are also announced.  

  • Mon: 19.50 - 23.00
  • Tue - Sun: -
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Odense Zoo The best little zoo in Europe. Green and friendly with enough space (for humans)

Odense Zoo
Sights, Parks, Nature & Activities | Sdr. Boulevard 306, Odense C | Written by: My Rasmussen | 11 recommendations

In my younger days, I often strolled through the ZOO; potential lover in one hand and a flask of heartening spirits in the other. Now my visits are with my daughter and a self-indulgent ice cream.

But it is no less enjoyable. Because, even though Odense ZOO in 1930 was the tamest ZOO imaginable – a peacock, two monkeys, a deer, a mole, and some guinea pigs were what was on show – the attraction is now truly attractive and in both 2013 and 2015 it won the award for Best European ZOO in its category (with up to 500,000 annual visitors - only awarded every second year).

This is mainly because the ZOO has managed to make cages into more than crates of containment: The enclosures have become narratives. The rocks and roaring waterfall in the lions’ enclave eccho Pride Rock from The Lion King; the ring-tailed lemurs romp in an abandoned vanilla-warehouse; and the noise of wings whistles overhead in the largest aviary in Europe.

Still, the favourite is the manatee, which bobs about in its jungle swamp bassin with the appearance of an inept kid’s drawing – strange proportions and short of details. Yet, I find myself forgetting time and place watching this big, grey beast hovering in the water, chomping on lettuce. It is absolute, peaceful bliss.

Remember that Odense ZOO serves both very bad and very expensive food, so it is worthwhile preparing lunch befoerhand and enjoying it on the savannah with a view of grazing zebras.

  • Mon - Fri: 10.00 - 17.00
  • Sat - Sun: 10.00 - 18.00
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Odense Bunkermuseum Dedicated Cold War museum is in itself a perfect time capsule

Odense Bunkermuseum
Culture | Kragsbjergvej 99, Odense M | Written by: Mikkel West | 1 recommendations

Odense Bunkermuseum offers a living picture of how real the Cold War was.

The museum consists of a fully intact, atomic-proof military command center — which operated in secret until 2007 — from which Odense was to be governed in the case of an attack from the Soviet Union. The bunker still holds the original systems from the Cold War, which still work. Original paraphernalia like forms, disaster plans, telephones, radio equipment, warning systems, and a city map can also be seen.

The bunker is divided into an auditorium-like command center, a communications center (where secured phone lines originally made it possible to keep in touch with the city, with Fynen's authorities, and with other atomic bunkers), a kitchen with room for 30 people, and an intact machine room with a functioning back-up power generator.

  • Mon - Fri: -
  • Sat - Sun: 10.00 - 16.00
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Svømmehallen Klosterbakken It’s great to swim. Especially in the city’s evocative 1930’s swimming pool

Svømmehallen Klosterbakken
Sights, Parks, Nature & Activities | Klosterbakken 5, Odense C | Written by: Anders Skovgaard | 6 recommendations

"I wish you could swim. like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim"

I think - with the late legend Bowie in mind - that you should go for a swim at Klosterbakken's public baths! Yeah, that's all. Go for a swim in the most beautiful indoor pool in Odense and enjoy the 1930s ambience from its red brick exterior to its grand mural above the waters. And of course the iconic neon sign outside depicting a 90-degree angle "heil" - or is it just a swimmer poised to jump? It is all in the eye of the beholder. Either way, it is a nice building and we don't swim enough.

Swimming is good for you, I hear. Fun, too. Not poetic, though. Looking at swimmers is an ugly activity. It is a awkward discipline. You feel awkward, too, when you're swimming. It is not an aestetically pleasing sport. I don't recall there being many images of swimmers in Leni Riefenstahl's art film on athletes, which otherwise includes lock, stock and barrel of classical and poetic sports. Who among us don't recall the images of a muscular, adroit discus-thrower. But no swimmers. It just isn't poetic.

Consider the American superstar swimmer Michael Phelps. Looking at him is like watching a bicycle pump at full speed in a blizzard. His speed is uncanny, but it has no swing - there is no poetry or elegance in the mechanical thrashing through chlorine water. I don't know if I really see more elegance in the movements of Vladimir Salnikov, Soviet triple gold medalist from 1980, but I like to think I do. I never saw him live, of course, but I have seen recordings of him and there was a certain elegant humanity to his appearance, despite his training under grotesque Soviet conditions. A master of the hostile, wet element.

Even if we aren't able to swim as fast nor look good while doing it, we shouldn't be discouraged from heading to Klosterbakken for a swim. Enjoy it. Enjoy the water and with every stroke feel your body rejoicing. It has saved me from many a hungover shitty morning; going for a dip before work or as a refreshing Sunday actitivity. And if you meet a dolphin in the water, let it swim past you. They're incredibly rare around these parts, and probably protected, too.

The public swimming baths at Klosterbakken date back to 1938 and the building is even older, and it has undergone major modernization several times since then, first in the 1970s, and most recently a general overhaul in 2010-11. The latest addition is a welness area with fitness facilities, spa, steam baths and saunas.

  • Mon: 06.00 - 20.30
  • Tue: 06.30 - 20.30
  • Wed: 06.00 - 20.30
  • Thu: 06.30 - 19.00
  • Fri: 06,00 - 19.00
  • Sat: 07.00 - 14.00
  • Sun: 08.00 - 14.00
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Graabrødre Klosterkirke Medieval friary in wildly urban setting is still a church worth attending

Graabrødre Klosterkirke
Culture | Gråbrødre Plads 1, Odense C | Written by: Mira Erik | Photo: Hannibal-Bach | 2 recommendations

The Graabrødre Cloister Church was originally a hospital with a church attached to it. But the original church was dilapidated in the 1800's, and what in the old days was the hospital was turned into the church that we know today. Like a hospital for the soul.

The vaulted hallway that makes up the entrance to the new church is what remains of the old one. It's age-old, way back from the 1200's. It's here, under the beautiful low ceilings, that people drink the real red wine after mass. Here is congregation and community, if you want. If you don't, you're free to go. Mass is at a perfect time, Sunday at 5PM, so if you've had a few, you have time sleep it off.

Priests from the Cathedral take turns at the pulpit, so every Sunday you can get a different variant: the liberal, the bigot, and the reflective.

Around the church is the cloister, which today is inhabited by nuns, but also by regular older ladies. Very nice location for very cheap money. From their privileged position, they often shout at the young skaters hanging out on the other side of the street, in front of Skatehouse. I find it somehow absurd to wish that life don't make noise. Jesus surely wouldn't mind a little noise and fuss — at least if I understood him correctly.

  • Mon: 14.00 - 16.00
  • Tue: -
  • Wed: 14.00 - 16.00
  • Thu: -
  • Fri: 14.00 - 16.00
  • Sat - Sun: -
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Havnebadet Outdoor pool by (and in!) the harbour. Sauna. Polar bear club. Admission and happiness is free

Sights, Parks, Nature & Activities | Gamle Havnekaj 1, Odense C | Written by: Mira Erik | Photo: Hannibal-Bach | 4 recommendations

Odense Harbour is not a harbour, which is why the public pool at Odense harbour is not really pools in the harbour. Odense Harbour is a mudhole, an appendix, a dead end of brackish water at the end of a canal. There is no flow in the water, and you can’t clean it enough to make it palatable swim. And swim is what the citizens of Odense long to do. It’s what citizens always want. Which is why there now is an island with a tub in the harbour; a real pool; a pure and chlorine-delicious pool.

I grew up on the water’s edge on Southern Funen, and sometimes I feel like an idiot to have moved to the centre; I couldn’t be further from the ocean anywhere on this island. The harbour pool helps a little. A dip is in sight. And there is going to be a Polar bear club and a sauna, and the whole thing’s free; that’s the point.   And it looks nice, too: classical bath cabins on one side and classical red-and-white observation tower on the other.

There are hopes and dreams invested in this pool. This pool is going to breathe life into the inanimate desert where no ice cream vendor or pølsemand have hithertho managed to survive. But now – now it’ll happen. The pool will make the harbour happen. I’m almost positive it will. The harbour is coming alive.

Summer and winter opening hours are different, so stop by the homepage to make sure.

  • Mon: 06.30 - 09.30
  • Tue: 18.00 - 21.00
  • Wed: 06.30 - 09.30
  • Thu: 18.00 - 21.00
  • Fri: 06.30 - 09.30
  • Sat - Sun: 08.00 - 11.00
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Atletikbanen SDU World-class track and field facilities. A playground for grownups

Atletikbanen SDU
Sights, Parks, Nature & Activities | Moseskovvej, Odense M | Written by: Anders Skovgaard | Photo: Hannibal-Bach

Run, dammit, run! I myself never run for the sake of running, but I know that a lot of people do. So why not do it on a prize-winning track?!

The University of Southern Denmark's athletics facility are the best in the world. The International Olympic Committee has, together with the Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities, nominated the facility as world's best outdoors sports center.

Boom. We can't help but recommend something so big. It's also really cool to run on it. It's not as you imagine/fear. It's a track for both competitions and play. And the latter is particularly important. Running should be fun, otherwise there's a whole lot of other disciplines that inspire more fantasy and amusement.

But running is definitely a sport of the people. Unbelievably many people run. Either for health reasons, or to win something — maybe even to win on themselves. It's all good. There is a perfect running track for all this — and it's right in Odense.

So on with your shoes, down to the University of Souther Denmark, take your kids with (if you have any) and run! Run so that you sweat it all off, and your legs rejoice in acid and oxygen!

  • Mon - Sun: 00.00 - 24.00
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This Is Odense