FREDERICIA – junction of all the rail routes in east Jutland, and those connecting the peninsula with Funen – has one of the oddest histories (and layouts) in Denmark. It was founded in 1650 by Frederik III, who envisaged the town as a strategically placed reserve capital and a base from which to defend Jutland. Three nearby villages were demolished and their inhabitants forced to assist in the building of the new town – and afterwards they had no choice but to live in it. Military considerations required that Fredericia be built on a strict grid plan, with low buildings enclosed by high earthen ramparts, making it invisible to approaching armies. Even the town's later role as a railway hub hasn't destroyed its soldierly air, with memorials to victorious heroes and the only military tattoo in Denmark – an event that failed elsewhere in the country due to lack of interest.
Unless you want to laze around on Fredericia's fine beaches, which begin at the eastern end of the ramparts, there's little reason to hang around for very long. There are only two hotels in the centre: the good-value Postgården on Oldenborggade 4 (Tel:75 92 18 55, Web: www.postgaarden.dk ; Price: Kr400-500, en-suite Price: Kr500-650), and the smaller, family-run Smandshjemmet (Tel:75 92 01 99, Web: www.fsh.dk ; Price: Kr650-900) on Gothersgade 40, both near the harbour and with restaurants. There's a modern youth hostel, Fredericia Vandrerhjem, west of the town at Vestre Ringvej 98 (Tel:75 92 12 87, Web: www.fredericia-danhostel.dk ), with dorms (120kr) and plenty of doubles (Price: Kr400-500); while the Trelde Næscampsite (Tel:75 95 71 83, Web: www.supercamp.dk ; April– Oct) is beautifully situated on the Vejle fjord, though it's 15km north of town and adjacent to a public beach, so can get very crowded during fine weather and at holiday times.
For food, Simon's Café on Axeltorv serves well prepared sandwiches, soups and salads, while Café Carlos, Sjællandsgade 56 (closed Mon), has good-value Spanish cuisine. For nightlife, try the popular Det Bruunske Pakhus at Kirkestræde 3 (Tel:72 10 67 10, Web: www.bruunskepakhus.dk ), which hosts a range of live bands every weekend from September till June; or Café Filmer at Jyllandsgade 20B, a café offering music, food and drinks.