Aarhus (pronounced are-hoos, FYI) is like the cool, rebellious younger sister of Copenhagen. It is Denmark’s second largest city, has been voted The European Capital of Culture 2017 and is home to the world’s largest sperm bank. Y’know, if you’re in the business for that kind of thing.
The Danish are, of course, known for their hygge-happy vibes and this is no different in Aarhus. Summer or winter, these guys are out and about outdoors and with smiles on their faces, ready to welcome us tourists. It’s under two hours from London – probably less time than you’ll spend on the Megabus down to the capital, if you’re coming from elsewhere – and flights are around £100. So, what are you waiting for?
Aarhus is on the coast between the North and Baltic Sea, so fresh fish is in huge supply. Sit at any restaurant at the marina or head to the fish market and buy some to cook yourself – if you’re staying somewhere with a self-catering kitchen, that is.
If fish isn’t your type of dish, get a Smorrebrod in your stomach. The Danish delight is an open sandwich, warming and filling after a day of sightseeing, or before a night of beer. Feeling fancy? Head to Restaurant Marselis for a selection of traditional Danish and international cuisines. Look out across the Bay of Aarhus coastline as you chow down on Danish deer with beetroot, blackberries and wild mushrooms.
Scandic Aarhus is smack bang in the centre of the city and is a modern, affordable, 4-star hotel. Close to shopping destinations, transport links and walking distance from many of the city’s tourist attractions, it’s the perfect place to rest your head without breaking the bank.
For something a little different, get your Bear Grylls on and venture to one of the city’s campsites. A few have a beach (check out Ajstrup Strand Camping or Camping Blommehaven), and you can even book into an offbeat wooden cabin at Aarhus Camping, if sleeping in a tent doesn’t tickle your frikadeller.
Get on yer bike, literally. The Danes are all about the outdoors, and cycling is definitely the best way to see the city. Once you’ve pedalled through the Marselisborg Deer Park (you can even feed them!) and paddled at Moesgaard Beach, immerse yourself in art at the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum which hosts modern art exhibitions. ‘Your rainbow panorama’ on the roof of the museum is an attraction in itself and draws hordes of people who want to enjoy a colourful view of the city below. Think Eiffel Tower or the Berlin TV tower with literal rose-tinted glasses.
After a busy day in the bustling city, get the hygge feels, which Denmark are renowned for, by sitting back and reflecting on the day. Whether it’s at the hotel bar or sat in the Botanical Garden, Danes encourage us all to just appreciate the moment. Or, if you want to get yo’ stretch on, Ashtanga Yoga Shala is a zen den in which you can unleash your inner yogi for 75. whole. minutes. Walk it off, my friend.
If a good ol’ pint is your drink of choice, head to Peter Gift: a bar that has attracted the Aarhus locals for over 100 years and serves 45 (!) different types of beer. In the summer, you can drink upon the patio, surrounded by plants, and in the winter you can get cosy by the fireplace.
Alternatively, if rum and whisky are more your tipple, the Cockney Pub is where it’s at. It’s nothing like our local tbf; jazz plays loud every Sunday afternoon and the party spills out onto the road where punters dance in the street. You don’t see that from Dave who nurses that same bitter in the corner every Wednesday evening, do ya?
For an all day venue, Cross Cafe and Restaurant is the place to hang. A quaint cafe next to the Aarhus river by day, cocktails and DJs by (Friday and Saturday) night. Oh, and a surplus of food in between, too.
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