Just like its big sister Copenhagen, Aarhus offers explorers all manner of unparalleled adventures—cultural, artistic, culinary, and more. The city lies on the east coast of Jutland, nestled in between the peninsula’s fairytale forests and cultivated countryside and the elegant, blue-green waters of the Baltic Sea. Aarhus has been named the European Capital of Culture 2017, with festivals and events running well into the New Year, and boasts wonders that are sure to delight, thrill, and fulfill any trailblazer daring enough to seek them out. So next trip, go Danish, and check out these twelve reasons why you should put Aarhus on your travel bucket list.
If there is one major idea that defines Aarhus, it is Art, with a capital A. The ARoS Art Museum is one of the hallmark destinations in the city, known foremost for Olafur Eliasson’s Your rainbow panorama. This exhibit is a 150m walkway enclosed in colored panes of glass, providing a sci-fi-esque promenade with superb, Insta-worthy views of the city. ARoS hosts a number of other exhibitions, the latest being No Man Is An Island – The Satanic Verses. This exhibit is set to remain open into the New Year.
In a city thrumming with creative energy, art can be found in every form. If you’ve spent the day sightseeing at museums, then spend the night strolling the streets of Aarhus to catch blues, jazz, and other jam sessions around the city. Fatter Eskil, or Fatter’n, the "Blues Fortress" of Aarhus, is just one of the hot venues you might choose for a night spent dancing to Danish tunes.
Less than a ten-minute walk from ARoS, this glass behemoth stands out like a brick of gold against the night. The interior of the hall is even more sumptuous—a welcome place for any traveler who feels at home in those spaces where music lives and breathes. Check out the upcoming performances at Musikhuset Aarhus here.
Located in the center of the city, the Greenhouses and the Botanical Gardens offer a natural haven free to all visitors. Unleash your inner botanist and explore different climate zones in the Greenhouses. Take a guided tour, or simply enjoy the flora in the NATUR® exhibit. Afterward, the vibrant green utopia of the Botanical Gardens awaits. This park, rife with streams and hills and flowerbeds, is the ideal place to forget about all of those pesky burdens on your shoulders and just relax.
For the avid shopper in all of us, Strøget, the pedestrian streets running form Aarhus Central Station down through the Latin Quarter, is 850m of pure shopping bliss. Visit during Christmastime to walk beneath strings upon strings of glittering lights. And—if you prefer a less crowded shopping experience—make sure to visit the cobbled stone of the Vestergade district.
The Spanien Bath House, a six-minute walk away from Aarhus Central Station, serves as a spa and fitness retreat in the city. The building bears historical significance, once catering to working-class clientele, but is now open to the public with ice pools, massage pools, and saunas. Definitely worth checking out if you're longing for a unique (and ultra relaxing) experience!
Møllestien’s cobbled stones and colorful buildings are perfection for the Insta-savvy, and just plain awesome for those who enjoy immersing themselves in exquisite, history-rich places. The neighborhood has a dark past—two women were once accused of being witches here . So if you drop by the street, and you’ve taken a few pics, you may wish to pay your respects to two ladies who once walked where you walk…
Aarhus’ Architectural Marvels
While we're on the subject of gems like Møllestien, it'd be a crime not to mention Aarhus' other treasures like the Aarhus Cathedral, the Dome of Visions, the Iceberg, Aarhus City Hall, and of course, the entire Latin Quarter. We recommend the Latin Quarter, especially for its gothic feel and charm. Take a walk through its old streets, grab a coffee, and if you’re up to it, check out a gallery or two.
Tucked into Aarhus’ suburb of Højbjerg, the MOMU has a space-age design, highly rated exhibitions, and a sloping grass-topped roof that visitors can walk across if they wish. The museum is only a few years old and has already won awards for being an attraction of choice for travelers from around the world. Aarhus is chock-full of museums to visit, from the Women's Museum to the Viking Museum and more, but if you can only hit up a couple, make sure MOMU is on your list.
One might say that open-faced sandwiches are not only a Danish tradition but an art unto themselves. Langhoff & Juul is an organic eatery with a slow-paced atmosphere. Here, face-to-face conversations and human connection are prized, and—rumour has it—some of the most creative open-faced sandwiches in Aarhus are made. So if you’re looking for a bite to eat after a day of adventuring, venture on over.
For the actively inclined, Aarhus offers a total of seven running routes through the east coast Jutland’s gorgeous, diverse landscape. Find the routes here. Our favourites include The Pulse Route, a 3.3k run through the orest, and The Mountain Route, where you can enjoy magnificent views from atop artificially created hills in the countryside.
Situated beside the water, sleek and modern Dokk1 looks like something out of Star Trek. And—true to form—this culture centre sells itself as “a flexible and dynamic sanctuary for everyone in search of knowledge, inspiration, and personal development”. It definitely lives up to this claim. The building contains the fabulous "Library of Tomorrow", with approximately 350 000 accessible ‘media’ – books, music, games, etc., and serves as a venue for concerts, plays, and more throughout the year. Every inch of this place is a joy to sightsee—even the enormous bronze bell that hangs in the library is checking out, if just once.
If you're looking for a more comprehensive guide of what you can get up to in Aarhus, check out the city's visitor website.