Helsingør is the city of Hamlet, and historically it has been a very significant place. Therefore, Helsingør offers several cultural attraktions. If you’re looking for some things to do in Helsingør, perhaps on a day trip from Copenhagen, you have come to the right place!
The city of Helsingør was traditionally known as Elsinore in English.
The absolute highlight of Helsingør is Kronborg Castle.
It is considered to be one of the most important castles in Europe, and it has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Historically, it was a stronghold which was necessary due to the location on the northeastern tip of the Zealand island. The stronghold was founded way back in the 1420s, but it wasn’t until the 16th century that a castle was build. This first castle was destroyed in a fire, like so many other historic Danish buildings. King Christian IV decided it was worthy of a rebuild. Kronborg has a clear Renaissance architectural style, and Christian IV added a church on the inside. It was a royal residence for a while – later it turned into a military barracks. Now it almost works as a museum since many parts are open to the public, with specific exhibitions and many interesting things to see.
An adult ticket costs 95 DKK, approximately 13 euros. Children and teenagers below the age of 18 get in for free. Opening hours depend on the season, but Kronborg Castle is open to the public on most days of the year, with the exception of some Mondays and during the Christmas holidays. More information here.
Kronborg is not the only castle in Helsingør. A little bit west we find Marienlyst Castle, much smaller and with a significantly different style, but very unique in its own way.
The castle was completed in 1588 and style is Neoclassicist. At first it was a royal resident, although not permanent – rather as a part time residence that was used for entertainment and hunting. The royals later sold the grounds, and several changes were made. Much focus was put on the gardens. The castle is now owned by the municipality of Helsingør, and it works as a museum. When entering the castle, you can see exhibitions of paintings and handicraft works. Seeing the park is also highly recommended.
Just a few minutes north of the Marienlyst Castle, we find the local casino. It is considered to be one of the best in Denmark, with a clear emphasis on offering a luxury experience.
Casino Marienlyst is located very near the coast and has beautiful surroundings. The games are mostly traditional – you can play roulette, blackjack, and poker. Casino Marienlyst opens every evening at 19 and doesn’t close until 3 or 4, depending on the day of the week.
It’s necessary to show identification at the door – visitors need to be over 18 years old. Unfortunately, you must pay an entry ticket which is 70 DKK. Keep this with you, because you’ll need it again when you cash in your chips! Parking is free at the casino. The dresscode is smart casual, but the casino will refuse you entry if you are not dressed well.
M/S Museet for Søfart (Maritime Museum)
M/S Museet for Søfart, or simply the Maritime Museum of Denmark, is a world-famous museum located in Helsingør. Its exhibitions are centered around ships and everything related to the sea. With over 33,000 photographs you get the full story of Danish trading and shipping. And it’s not only a traditional, slow-paced museum – it also has games, workshops and several creative ways of learning and exploring.
Architects have a special fascination with the location. Originally, the museum was founded in 1915 in Kronborg Castle, but in 2013 it was moved. The famous Bjarke Engels Group created a new underground facility for the museum, constructed around a dry rock. The result is a modern and unique building, unlike any other museum you’ve ever seen before!
This modern house of culture is another great attraction in Helsingør.
Completed in 2010, it is one of the most recognizable structures in Helsingør with its highly modern design. On the interior it has the largest scene in Northern Zealand, used for shows, presentations, and so on. But Kulturværftet has a wide variety of things inside – there is also a museum, a great library, conference rooms, seasonal exhibitions and a restaurant.
Since a trip to Helsingør is almost always a cultural one, Kulturværftet is a house of culture that you just can’t miss!
Technical Museum of Denmark
Helsingør is also home to the Technical Museum of Denmark. The exhibitions are centered around classic airplanes, veteran cars, bicycles, steam machines, old computers, and much more.
It’s the kind of museum that every man will love. The Technical Museum is a hidden gem since it is much less visited than the other attractions in the city. There are less than 100,000 visitors per year, which is quite low compared to the quality of the exhibitions. There is a huge celebration on Father’s Day at the museum every year. During Danish holidays, there are also special events for kids.
The location by the sea has always had influence on the city of Helsingør. At the northern harbor, we find Øresundsakvariet. It’s a small but impressive aquarium with several interesting species.
Although it’s still small, it was actually expanded a few years ago. The aquarium is famous for using a highly efficient filtration system – so the water there is considered to be the cleanest in Denmark, which is quite an accomplishment.
Øresundsakvariet is affiliated with the University of Copenhagen. It is open to all visitors for entertainment purposes. Adults pay 89 DKK to enter during the holiday season, but the prices is slightly lowered in the off-season months.
St. Vincent’s Church
This is a very unique church – it is the only Catholic in the local region. Located in the center of Helsingør, it is very easy to access. Despite being somewhat new (the church was completed in 1931) it has a traditional look. The interior has a lot of open space – some people complain about the lack of decorations on the interior, but it does have some basics, for example some beautiful glass mosaics.
You can attend mass at St. Vincent’s Church in Danish (every week), Polish (every week) and Latin (once per month).
Known in Danish as Skt. Mariæ Kirke (St. Mary’s Church) and Vor Frue Kloster (Priory of Our Lady), this is the traditional place of worship in Helsingør. It was established back in 1430 and it is still considered to be one of the most influential places in Helsingør. The small monastery was very active in the beginning, but left empty after the Reformation. At a time, authorities were thinking about removing the grounds, but it was instead left to the German foreigners living in Helsingør and nearby towns. Once again it blossomed. Later, in 1900, the priory was renovated, and by the end of the 20th century the unique paintings on the ceiling of the church underwent some restorations.
You can attend mass at St. Mary’s Church any Sunday. It is famous for its choir. The church is in fact open to the public on most days, so if you don’t want to attend mass but simply see the church, that is usually an option. The monastery can be seen if you book a tour in advance. Call the church office (+45 49211774) to set up an arrangement in advance.
Helsingør has a harbor which is a fairly interesting place to go. It services comercial as well as private ships and boats. So if you’re a boat entusiast, it definitely makes sense to stop by and enjoy the surroundings.
The harbor is very close to the center, so it is easy to visit at any time. Many locals go for a walk here. We recommend you to see the nearby sculpture of Heracles and the Hydra. If you fancy it, you can even catch a ferry to Helsingborg in Sweden!
Helsingør has many attractions, and it’s a city where you can easily spend a few days and have some good experiences.
However, most tourists visit Helsingør as a day trip from either Copenhagen or from Sweden. If you only have a few hours in Helsingør, we advise you to see Kronborg Castle as the primary attraction and then select 1-2 more things to experience before heading back. In any case, you will have a great time – it’s a charming city that always gives some good memories!