Around 50 km (31 miles) away from Copenhagen, Denmark, lies the town of Helsingør (Elsinore in English), where a 600-year-old castle rises. Its wonderful achitecture and splendid sculptures hide a long history of legends, royalty and war that turned it into a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. A rocky window to the past, right next to the modern and almost futuristic glass buildings of Scandinavian design, the Kronborg castle is a must-visit place while in Denmark. Getting there is pretty easy by train, and then just a fifteen-minute walk from the station. So make yourself comfortable while we roam around the real place behind William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Depending on where you’re staying, you’ll have to get to the nearest metro station and then head to the Helsingør Station, a trip that usually lasts about an hour from Copenhagen. Once you get to Helsingør, head out to the station square and you’ll see the castle. From there it’s just a fifteen-minute walk along the waterfront: first chasing the old railway line, then heading towards the Maritime Museum of Denmark.
After entering the external gates of the castle, purchasing tickets (80 to 130 kroner for students, 90 to 140 per adult, free for children) and entering the main doors, it’s hard not to feel transported a few centuries back into the past. Huge red gates and angelic statues lead to the courtyard, where you can feel safe but also imprisoned by the high rock walls, columns and multiple sculptures that surround you.
Touring Kronborg castle
A tour through the interiors leads to the royal family’s beautifully decorated rooms, all furnished and carefully organized to reflect the lifestyle of the time. Throughout them you can also find signs that explain what these rooms were for and details about the daily life in Kronborg.
Perhaps the best example is The Royal Apartment on the first floor of the castle, where the King and the Queen would stay while they were there. Servants would arrive before them in order to get the castle ready by bringing furniture, lighting fires in the many hearths and putting fresh food on the tables. While visiting the castle, it’s evident that the staff has tried their best to recreate those details in order to make every corner feel as real as possible.
Another interesting spot is the castle’s chapel, a sacred place where beautiful architecture and religious ornaments meet with divinity. Perhaps that’s why this is the quietest and most peaceful place in the whole castle. Besides the chapel, Kronborg has a huge ballroom with the most beautiful paintings from its time. Walk around the ballroom, imagining the music, the dancing, the gossip and the flirting that happened there throughout its history. Outside the walls, overlooking the Baltic Sea, are the old cannons used to protect the castle. They’re still lined up, reminding visitors of wartimes where the castle served as stronghold and barracks for the army.
Unfortunately, visits to this vast castle are a bit limited since visitors can’t explore certain parts. It’s prohibited to roam around the upper levels of the castle and some sections in the ground levels are locked. Remote places like dungeons, stables or the likes are off-limits, so don’t try to sneak out. At the end of the tour, make sure to check the souvenir shop, where you’ll find the most beautiful items. There you can find memorabilia related to the castle and Shakespeare’s works in t-shirts, ceramic, books, etc.
While planning your visit to Kronborg Castle, bear in mind that the Shakespeare Festival takes place during Summer. It’s an open-air theater experience that presents Hamlet and other works by Shakespeare in several shows (puppetry, traditional theater, etc.). Over time, this event has become quite iconic and many famous stars have participated on it. Michael Caine and Jude Law are amongst those who have played roles in Hamlet showings.
Summer is also very crowded so, for a more intimate experience, you should go in Fall. Although temperature near the Baltic Sea starts dropping during this season, your visit will benefit from a more tranquil experience. But if, after visiting the castle, you still feel like you’re hungry for more adventure, crossing the Øresund to Helsingborg, Sweden is a must-do!
In the end, Kronborg Castle is, without a doubt, one of the most marvelous sites in Denmark. It’s a place that survived devastation multiple times to remind us of the strength and beauty of the Danish spirit.
Have you been to Hamlet’s castle already? What was your favorite part? Tell us about your experience in Kronborg Castle in the comments section below! Are you planning to go for the first time? Tell us all the questions that you have about it!