Explore Aarhus, Denmark
“The City of Smiles” is the main city on the Jutland peninsula in Denmark. With a population of just over 300,000 people (1,200,000 East Jutland metropolitan area) it also holds the title of Denmark’s second largest city. Explore Aarhus.
Aarhus offers an elegant mix of cosmopolitan city and quaint small town charm, with wonderful pubs, restaurants and romantic places. The average age of its inhabitants is among the lowest in Europe. This is mainly because of the large student population.
Some interesting facts:
There are many plans for high-rise buildings in Aarhus, including the future tallest building in Denmark (Lighthouse -142 meters).
Aarhus is part of the East Jutland Metropolitan area, which has the fastest growing population in Denmark, by far.
Aarhus has a big, well known cultural festival week, called “Aarhus Festuge” (Aarhus Festival Week).
Aarhus has for many years been known as a breeding ground for Danish musicians and bands, primarily in main stream pop and rock music.
Aarhus is known as The City of Smiles (da. Smilets By). It probably just started as a slogan to improve the city’s image, but it has nevertheless caught on, and has for many years been a common nickname for the city.
Aarhus is also known as The City of Cafés – visit the city and you will soon know why.
Tourist Information Office (across from the railway station) pick up the leaflet “Aarhus – five historical walks”. The walks are all really short and you could do them all easily in a day as they are all in the city center.
The Danes are reserved towards strangers, but friendly towards tourists, and will normally be happy to give you directions and advice in fluent English.
How to get around
The entire city is clean and well organized, making walking an excellent and enjoyable way to get around.
What to see in Aarhus. Best top tourist attractions in Aarhus, Denmark
Anyone who appreciates seeing European architecture will find many points of interest in the city, not least the Concert Hall (“Musikhuset” from 1982 by Johan Richter), which is located next door to the new art museum ARoS.
ARoS (Aarhus Art Museum), Aros Allé 2. Tu-Su 10-17, except W 10-22. One of Denmark’s largest museums be sure to check out the ‘9 Spaces’, a maze of black-walled galleries.
Den Gamle By (The Old Town), Viborgvej 2. Collection of 75 original Danish buildings dating from 1597 to 1909 moved to create an open-air museum village; there are shops and restaurants, some true to the period.
Kvindemuseet (Women’s Museum), Domkirkepladsen 5. Tu-Su 10-16, except W 10-20.
Moesgaard Museum, Moesgård Allé 20. 10-17, Wednesday 10-21, closed on Mondays except in week 7 and during summer. The museum reopened in new buildings by architect Henning Larsen in 2015. The building itself, as well as the surrounding park, forest and beach landscape makes for a nice daytrip in themselves. The Prehistoric Trail (4 km) that runs from the old Moesgård Manor to the beach and back is one of the most beautiful walks in Aarhus. However there’s no denying that it is the experience-oriented exhibitions that make this ethnographic and archeological museum stand out. The main attractions are two finds from the Iron Age – the Grauballe Man, the only completely preserved bog body, and the impressive sacrifices of weapons from Illerup Ådal.
Rådhuset (The Town Hall), Rådhuspladsen 2 by the famous architect Arne Jacobsen is one of the highlights of Danish architecture. Don’t miss the Grisebrønden statue (the well of the pigs) with the drooling and peeing pigs, located in the Town Hall Square.
The University Park by C.F.Møller, Kaj Fisker,(buildings) and C. Th. Sørensen (landscape) is another noteworthy piece of architecture. Here you find the State Library, a Natural History Museum and the Steno Museum with collections on science and medicine.
Vor Frue Kirke, Vestergade 21. Church with an interesting crypt church in the basement, built about 1060. It is one of the oldest still existing stone churches in Scandinavia, maybe the oldest.
Aarhus Domkirke (Aarhus Cathedral), Domkirkepladsen 2. May-Sep 9.30-16, Oct-Apr 10-15. The beautiful cathedral is over 800 years old, and the longest in Denmark. Next to it, Aarhus Cathedral School is situated, also over 800 years old and the oldest still existing high-school in the world.
Aarhus Kunstbygning, J.M. Mørks Gade 13. Tu-Su 10-17, except W 10-21. Center of contemporary art.
Aarhus Viking Museum, Skt. Clemens Torv 6. M-F 10-16, except Th 10-17.30. Small Viking museum located in the basement of the Nordea Bank next to the cathedral. Free.
Dokk1, Hack Kampmanns Plads 2. M-F 8-22, Sa-Su 10-16. Dokk1 is the city’s main library in Aarhus. The library opened in 2015 and was designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen. The building houses Europe’s biggest automated car park and has a lot of weekly activities. The library has a beautiful playground called “Kloden” and a café Free.
Godsbanen and the Institute for X (A cultural powerhouse), Skovgaardsgade 3, 8000 Aarhus. A cultural powerhouse where the inhabitants have free roam to explore their ideas. Building houses with containers, street food projects, grafitti, and much more to discover free.
What to do in Aarhus, Denmark
Enjoy one of the many nature offerings, all of which can be reached by foot from the city: Botanisk Have (The Botanical Garden), Universitetsparken (The University Park), Vennelystparken, Riis Skov (Riis Forest) or Havreballe Skov (Havreballe Forest). The beautiful 8 km. stretch of forest south of the city is equally suited for a hike, especially the old forest around the Moesgård Museum and Skovmøllen (Forest Mill). The Prehistoric Trail (4 km) starting the old Moesgaard Manor is a beautiful trail transecting most of the 100 hectare area of garden, park, forest, fields and beaches that is owned by the Moesgaard Museum. The Brabrand Lake is ideal for biking and rollerskating, as there are 10 km of flat paths without any car traffic.
Theatre & Cinema
For independent and European cinema, visit Øst for Paradis. For mainstream movies, visit Cinemaxx in Bruuns Galleri, Biocity opposite from the train station or Metropol in Trøjborg.
Aarhus Studenternes Filmklub, Ny Munkegade 1530. The film club of the Aarhus University, but open for everyone.
Slagtehal 3, Mejlgade 50.If you’re into horror movies, movies every Thursday
Bora Bora, Valdemarsgade 1. Cozy theater with a bar near Musikhusett
Aarhus Theater, Teatergaden. The city’s main theater
Tivoli Friheden, Skovbrynet 5. 11-23 (varies greatly). Amusement park is located south of the center. Check opening days in the webpage. Also featuring concerts.
Jysk Væddeløbsbane, Observatorievejen 2. Go watch a horse race
RaceHall, Hasselager Centervej 30. Go for a go-kart race in what they claim is the largest indoor Race track in Europe
Aarhus Skøjtehal, Gøteborg Alle 9. Ice skating is possible during the winter in Aarhus Skøjtehal, or outside the Concert Hall.
Huset (The House), Vestrbros Torv 1-3. M-Th 9-21,F 9-16. You can make your own artworks in the free ateliers in this activity center
VoxHall, Vester Alle 15. Basically a concert hall, with a good, tightly planned concert schedule. Tickets are usually bought at the door, but if you’re going to a major concert, buy before-hand!
What to eat
There are hundreds of restaurants in Aarhus, reaching from cheap kebab joints, to high-class dining. Aarhus is generally known as one of the best places to eat in Denmark, probably due to the strong competition. However, the best places are not necessarily located on the most prominent addresses, so a bit of browsing is recommended. You could also try Åen – walk down “the river” in the city center, there are lots of restaurants and cafes with high standard.
The locals regularly visit the many cafés when going out for a meal. Besides being the best option for breakfast, brunch and lunch, most cafés serve excellent homemade burgers, salads, sandwiches, soups and snacks at reasonable prices. By the main bus station, there is also an extensive indoor street food market with lots of tasty world food options.
What to drink
Aarhus’s large student population fuels a lively nightlife. There is a robust nightlife for those who are looking for a night on the town. Aarhus can deliver everything from big mainstream clubs to small alternative hangouts playing niche music.
Prices for food and drink are higher than in other parts of Europe, especially near the river (Å in Danish). The favorite local beers are Tuborg, Carlsberg and Ceres (which is no longer brewed locally).
Aarhus is surrounded by beautiful beach forests; take a walk in Marselisborgskoven or in the deer park.
As a coastal city, there are many beaches to walk – just remember warm clothes October through early April. There are history trails from Moesgaard Museum right down to the water, with reconstructed Stone Age, iron age and Viking houses and tombs, rune stones etc.
Djurs Sommerland, amusement park has Denmark’s largest rollercoaster. Discount if buying your entrance ticket in the bus.
Ebeltoft is a quaint little town about an hour bus ride away. It has one main cobblestone street lined with shops and cafes and you can visit the glass museum (it has a mirror room that you can walk in!) or the world’s longest wooden ship. The actual bus ride there takes you through some lovely green hilly countryside too. Just make sure you get off at the station called Ebeltoft C rather than waiting till the end of the line which is the Ebeltoft bus station… unless you enjoy a bit of a walk which one could say is a nice way to view the residential streets one wouldn’t normally have done!
Feel free to explore Aarhus.
Official tourism websites of Aarhus
For more information please visit the official government website: