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Aarhus: 10 reasons to visit Denmark’s ‘Capital of Cool’

In 2017, Denmark’s second city, grabbed our attention as a European Capital of Culture. Compact with a population of just 300,000, cultured and quirky Aarhus continues to pull in visitors. Aarhus is Denmark’s Oxford with students comprising 20% of the population, that gives the place a Bohemian twist but still structured with Scandinavian efficiency. Many creative students stay-on giving Denmark’s Capital of Cool a youthful vibe. DOKK1, a vast new library on the waterfront, epitomises Aarhus’ young spirit with a buggy park and playground. When a baby is born in Aarhus the library rings a bell to celebrate. Happy people Denmark’s population is frequently rated amongst the happiest in the world. Aarhus is known as “The City of Smiles” making the people some of the happiest in Denmark. After success as a European Capital of Culture, 13,000 volunteers wanted to carry on hosting the party, acting as guides on days when cruise ships dock. With their immaculate English and obvious pride in their city, Aarhus’s people give visitors a warm welcome. People flock in for the Jazz Festival in late July, it has just celebrated its 30th Birthday and then the cultural fest that is the Aarhus Festival in August. Skyline views The Aarhus Card, which you can purchase online of at the airport, gives you entry to ARoS, the city’s contemporary art gallery. Take the lift to the top to orientate yourself to Aarhus’s geography with a walk around the 360 degree gallery. The glass follows the colours of the rainbow. Alternatively, ascend to the top level of the department store Salling where there is a cafe and bar. Cocktails at sunset – overlooking Aarhus’s city centre, redeveloped waterfront and coastline – is a local favourite. Bike town Aarhus has strong green principles. Surrounding forests are invited into the city with leafy parks and a determination to preserve Aarhus’s natural heritage. With a 20 Kroner coin as a deposit, visitors can release bikes from their holders to cycle around Aarhus. Buses are plentiful too, with all journeys covered by an Aarhus card. So, this forward-thinking transport policy means that traffic congestion is rare in Aarhus. New Nordic cuisine Aarhus’s creative chefs are steadily increasing the number of Michelin stars held by the city’s restaurants but the food markets offer cheaper alternatives. Aarhus Central Food Market is the more upmarket of the two offerings: the one seeking a feeling of “hygge”, warm cosiness. Based in a former theatre its spotlights and dark spaces recall its former glory. Alongside Danish favourites such as smorrebrod and fish n’ chips other stalls push culinary boundaries with innovative Israeli Tapas and Tunisian salad. Based in the old bus station, more urban raw, Aarhus Street Food Market has 30 stalls offering food and drinks from throughout the world. With most stalls offering at least one dish for 50 Danish Kroner it’s a hugely popular venue with locals. A design hotel Love of creative design is in the Danish DNA. Staying at the 65 room Oasia Hotel gives you the chance to live the stylish Danish Designer life. Set in a quiet residential area but less than three minutes walk from the rail station, Oasia, with its snow-white walls and black leather chairs, is designer heaven. Guests can upgrade to one of the five Design rooms. As well as the standard Bang Olufsen telephones and televisions these carefully curated rooms feature designer chairs with the ambience of a Bauhaus design exhibition. Den Gamle by This is a historical venue that is rapidly growing. There is a village from 1864 exhibiting a life of cobbles, horse-drawn carriages, carpenters planing their wood and painters having to make their own paint. Buildings from all over Denmark have been transported and rebuilt to recreate history including a surviving toll house that once stood on stilts in the harbour to collect taxes from shipping. Again included in the Aarhus card the village also recreates scenes from 1927 and 1974. The next project on the expansion agenda is a 1974 dockyard. Beaches With a number of beaches within cycling distance of the city centre Aarhus people like to relax on the Jutland Coast. One recent innovation, in keeping with Aarhus’ green ambitions, is the Beach Chef. On summer weekday afternoons you can join a Beach Chef for free. He or she will show you how to forage for shellfish and edible seaweed on Aarhus’ beaches, cooking up a meal from the maritime produce. The Infinity Bridge Aarhus’ Infinity Bridge is the ultimate walk for achieving your daily 10,000 steps. The circular shaped wooden construction was originally destined for just one summer, back in 2015, as part of The Sculpture by the Sea event. After a deluge of requests the Municipality of Aarhus agreed to reconstructing the panoramic bridge, as a piece of art, set-up every year between May and October. Moesgaard Museum It is worth taking the bus out of town, through the forests,  to Moesgaard Museum for the architecture alone. This museum of archaeology and ethnography is a vast futuristic wedge built into the hills, giving views down towards the coast. Mooesgaard’s main claim to fame is Grauballe Man, probably a sacrificial victim from three centuries before Christ. Another permanent exhibition, using state-of-the-art technology, recreates the drama of the Viking age. The Latin Quarter Cooled streets and half-timbered medieval houses mark out Aarhus’s Latin Quarter. It’s a place where people relax, contributing to the Happiness quotient with a sensible work-life balance. Danes love to linger over a coffee and cafe society or eat in one of the cosy restaurants. Saunter past vintage clothes shops, artists galleries and yet more design shops.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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  1. Nice post. This was really helpful post, thanks! Nice on Århus as it is spelled in Danish. I will make sure to visit denmarks capital of cool… :)

  2. woow i really want to visit Denmark specially to the Moesgaard Museum, The Infinity Bridge, and The Latin Quarter these places are so damn beautiful. i love your blog THANKYOU

  3. Happy smiling people is reason enough to visit that’s an amazing trait of any place when the city welcomes and greets with open arms. I find Denmark to be such a welcoming place in general so I am now intrigued about Aarhus. With such beautiful views and beaches it is easy to see why they are so happy as well. The Latin quarter looks very cool and somewhere I can see myself having late drinks. I think I’d visit the mesum on the day after as that steep walk looks great.

  4. Great article, thanks for sharing,Such a different take on Denmark! Seems like there’s a great, cool vibe in Aarhus. Will definitely add it to my bucket list of places to visit.

  5. I worked on Moesgaard Museum back in 1979 for a year because I was a draft resister (mostly because of the Vietnam War), and I helped with conserving stuff.
    It was at that time, that two archeologists from MM had just begun to discover a massive bog offering in Illerup river valley, just South of Aarhus (as we are spelling it since a few years ago). A big part of the new building is displaying this huge Iron Age offering, and telling a story of a battle long time ago.
    About two kilometers down from MM you will find an old watermill in the Giber valley. This is now a restaurant. Very serene with the tall trees and the floating water.
    Further down the road you will come to Moesgaard Beach. Wonderful walks and swimming, you you want from sandy beaches.
    I ran in these woods as a boy, waded the Giber and swam in the sea. Enjoy and take good care!

  6. As a citizen of this cool city, I can only agree with the blog – it is awesome here.

    Welcome to all – every one of you – and enjoy “my” city :-)

  7. Great blog. As an “Aarhusianer” which means that I live in Aarhus I will recommend that you also visit the quarter of Trøjborg. Trøjborg is located about 1,5 km from the center of the City and you will find small special shops with womens clothes, assessories etc alongside with cafes and restaurants.

  8. Denmark is a great city to travel. You can Enjoy delicious food and many historic Destination…
    and also is best place for Honeymoon.
    Must visit Denmark beach.

  9. Denmark is consider to be the happy place among the world. People corporately work together with full dedication.After reading this article interested to now travel Denmark. I love this article and hope city welcome with me love. Thank you for sharing.

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