Visiting Aarhus - What to See and Do
(Aarhus Airport AAR, Denmark)
Denmark's second city, Aarhus
, is a thriving university town and important Danish port. Founded in the 10th century, there is a lot of history on display in this compact city on the sea. The students keep the scene lively and fun, while excellent museums and historic attractions make Aarhus a popular travel destination for all kinds of people.
The greatest attribute of this city is simply its atmosphere. There's a serene pleasure when strolling along its cobblestone streets, stopping for coffee at tiny cafés and checking out the unique boutiques in the city core. Aarhus is like a city without the hustle and bustle, the noise and chaos.
Nature is never far away from Aarhus, either. Sandy beaches are right at the edge of town and city parks sprout up every few blocks or so. Renting a car is an excellent idea here, as there are so many natural and cultural attractions within a short drive of the city.
Ten things you must do in Aarhus
- Without a doubt, the coolest attraction in Aarhus is the Den Gamle By, an open-air museum with roughly 75 historic timbered buildings open for examination. It is a medieval Danish market town, relocated and reassembled to illustrate Danish country life in the 16th century. Authentic blacksmiths, hatters and other crafts shops are fascinating, and special events are staged during the summer.
- One of Denmark's first palaces is the Clausholm, located roughly 40 minutes to the north of the city. Built in the 17th century, this Baroque beauty is essentially unchanged from its royal heyday, offering visitors a rare glimpse into the life of royalty during that important era of Danish history. It may be a little out of town, but this palace / castle is ideal for a day excursion.
- The Museums at Gammel Estrup form a popular attraction. This working farm dates from the 14th century and hasn't really changed in 600 years. The Danish Agricultural Museum is onsite, showcasing the role of farming in Danish society. It is a complete Renaissance manor, with all the buildings and farmland - a very interesting look into the rural side of Danish life.
- The Cathedral of St. Clemens is the top religious attraction in Aarhus. It may not blow your mind when compared to other European cathedrals, but its whitewashed nave soars impossibly high. In fact, it is the highest in Denmark. The real highlight here is its tower, which is open to the public and rewards climbers with the finest views over the city.
- Another marvellous castle worth visiting is Rosenholm Castle, found just over 30 minutes to the north-east of the city. What makes this one special is its location in the middle of a lake on a small island. After touring its well-preserved interior, there is a 35-acre / 14-hectare garden to explore. Dating from 1559, this castle really is one of Jutland's finest.
- The Aarhus Museum of Art is definitely the place to go if you want to see what contemporary Danish artists are up to. It has one of the country's strongest modernist collections of art, but its collection of Danish Golden Age work from the 1800s isn't bad either.
- Amuse yourself at Trivoli-Friheden, the city's one and only theme park. Set in a forest just outside the city, it is a fantastic place to escape for a day, especially if you have kids with you. This is a modern park, and so everything is bright and shiny. The rides are good and the amenities are certainly up to international standards.
- To catch an evening performance of the Danish National Opera or Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, plan a night out at the Musikhuset Aarhus, the city's premier venue for its top performance arts shows. This arena boasts three stages and an outdoor amphitheatre for summer performances.
- The Danish Lake District is just outside of the city, offering travellers with a car some spectacular scenery to enjoy. There are countless natural attractions in the Lake District, but the lofty Himmelbjerget (Sky Mountain) is perhaps the most popular site since it is the highest hill around.
- The Old Quarter of Aarhus, just north of the cathedral, is the best area in town to explore the dining and drinking options available. The neighbourhoods of Guildsmedgade, Domkirkeplads and Vestergade are all loaded with eateries. Also, check out the pedestrian Sondergade strip.