Hamlet and Copenhagen

From being a little-known, little-understood country wedged between mainland Europe and the rest of Scandinavia, Denmark has morphed into an international cultural powerhouse.

Copenhagen is a welcoming, compact city with a centre largely given over to pedestrians and cyclists. There’s an emphasis on café culture and top-notch museums by day, and a thumping live music, bar and club scene by night. Festivals like Distortion (June) and the Jazz Festival (July) show the city off at its coolest and most inventive.

The Little Mermaid. A bronze statue of the Hans Christian Andersen character and paid for by the founder of the Carlsberg brewery, she remains the most enduring symbol of the city.

Copenhagen’s finest classical and modern art gallery must be Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. There’s a knockout selection of Greek and Roman sculpture on the first floor as well as some excellent examples of modern European art, including Degas casts, Monet’s The Lemon Grove and works by Gauguin, Van Gogh and Danish Golden Age artists like Eckersberg.

Head out on the coastal road passing fashionable and exclusive residential areas on the way to Elsinore to see the impressive Kronborg Castle, which was the scene of Hamlet, one of the most famous and frequently performed stage plays in the world. Since the 1600s, countless theatrical productions at the castle and at many other venues have endeavoured to keep the legend of Hamlet alive. That is why Kronborg is now known all over the world as Hamlets castle, and Elsinore is known as the Town of Hamlet. The castle was built between 1574 and 1585 to protect Danish interests and also to protect the Danish treasury by levying tolls on the shipping which passed through the narrow straits.