Kronborg Castle

Elsinore: The home of Hamlet

Photo: Lasse Bruhn

In Elsinore, just 45 minutes by train from Copenhagen, you’ll find Hamlet's castle, 400-year-old streets, an architectural masterpiece in a former ship dock, design shops and gastronomic experiences.  

Hop on the train from Copenhagen Central Station every 15 minutes, and just 45 minutes later you will be in the historic port city of Elsinore - or Helsingør - as it’s called in Danish.  

The town was founded in the 1420’s as the Danish king Eric of Pomerania established for all ships to stop in Elsinore to get their cargo taxed and pay a toll to the Danish Crown – known as The Sound Dues. The king built the fortification Krogen, which later became Kronborg Castle, as part of the taxation strategy, and the castle became the headquarters for The Sound Dues. However, the renaissance castle is best known for being the dramatic scenery and Hamlet’s home in Shakespeare’s play about the fictional prince of Denmark.

Today, the old port city combines new architecture, cobbled streets, design and gastronomic experiences, making it an ideal day trip or overnight stay from Copenhagen.

In 2024, Elsinore was awarded the Green City Award European Green Leaf as just one out of two European cities. Green Leaf is a European Commission award that recognises cities with less than 100,000 inhabitants for their commitment to sustainability and the green transition. The recognition is based on the city of Elsinore’s ability to accelerate the energy renovation of buildings and expand fossil-free district heating. Furthermore, Elsinore has decided to reconstruct the sewage system to separate rainwater and wastewater to improve water quality and efficiency. Elsinore also has a clear focus on biodiversity, sustainable land use, recycling and the principles of circular economy while also achieving a high level of engagement from citizens and local businesses.

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Facts about Elsinore

  • 63.785 inhabitants (2022). The municipality includes the city of Elsinore and the seaside villages Espergærde, Hornbæk and Hellebæk-Ålsgårde. 

  • In 2020, the historic Kronborg Castle became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

  • Shakespeare immortalised Kronborg Castle with the play Hamlet around 1599-1601. In the story, Hamlet the Prince of Denmark returns to Denmark from his studies after his father dies, and he goes to his childhood home, Kronborg Castle, where the revenge tragedy unfolds.  

  • William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet around 1599-1601, and it’s believed that the British poet was inspired by the Scandinavian legend of Amleth, which was written down by Saxo Grammaticus and printed in 1514 in Historia Danica. 

  • Kronborg Castle dates back to the start of the 1420s. It was built as a fortification as part of the taxation of the strait, and it was transformed into a renaissance castle from 1574 to 1585.  

  • The city centre of Elsinore today consists of romantic, old houses on cobbled streets like Skyttenstræde and Anna Queen Stræde, which is most likely from the 1600s. You can also make a stop by the oldest half-timbered house in Elsinore, which is on Strandgade 27. The white building is from 1577 and used to house the pub ‘Peter i Ankerets Datter’. Today, the house is a private home.   

  • The sculpture ‘Han’ (meaning ‘He’ in English) has a clear reference to The Little Mermaid, and the steel sculpture is of a young man sitting in the mermaid pose. It is on the edge of the pier of Kulturværftet and was unveiled in 2012.  

  • The entire area is great for swimming and has six beaches with good quality water and Blue Flag ecolabels (2022): Hornbæk Strand Vest, Hornbæk Strand Øst, Langebro, Marienlyst/Grønnehave Strand, Hornbæk Havn, Helsingør Nordhavn. 

  • An old dry dock from 1882 was transformed into an award-winning architectural piece when the Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group created the underground M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark. The museum opened on the dock of Elsinore Harbour in 2013 and among the prizes won is an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects. 

  • Was awarded The European Green Leaf award in 2024 by the European Commission. An award that recognizes cities with less than 100,000 inhabitants for their commitment to sustainability and the green transition.

  • Use your Copenhagen Card for free public transport to Elsinore. The train leaves every 15 minutes from Copenhagen Central Station, Nørreport and Østerport.   

Events in Elsinore 

  • Shakespeare’s plays can be experienced in an open-air theatre every August at Shakespeare Festival. For the last 200 years, Kronborg Castle has been the scenic backdrop for a range of plays and interpretations at the festival, which celebrates the famous British author.   
  • Every Summer, ironwomen and ironmen compete in the half Ironman distance in the European Championship in Elsinore.  

  • For more than 30 years, Elsinore Festival has celebrated underground music and local artists at Musikhuset Elværket. The festival is run entirely by volunteers, and the cost is 200DKK for a three-day ticket.  

  • International Street Theatre is celebrated in Elsinore at the end of July with Passage Festival. Experience performances from Denmark and abroad. Many of them are non-verbal, which means that everyone can enjoy them.  

  • Get an overview of all concerts, events and other cultural experiences organised by The Culture Yard via their event calendar.  

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Giuseppe Liverino

Senior Manager - Press & PR