Aarhus

Aarhus skyline with ARoS Art Museum and the landmark clock tower of Aarhus City Hall.
Den Gamle By (The Old Town)

Aarhus (also written Århus and pronounced Oar-Hoos) is the main city on the Jutland peninsula in Denmark. With a population of just over 300,000 people (1,200,000 in the East Jutland metropolitan area), it holds the titles of Denmark's second largest city and the city with the youngest population.

Understand

Aarhus offers an elegant mix of cosmopolitan city and quaint small-town charm, with wonderful pubs, restaurants and romantic places. Being a university city and centre for education, Aarhus has a large student population and the average age of its inhabitants is among the lowest in Europe.

Some interesting facts:

Talk

Many Danes are often reserved towards strangers, but friendly towards tourists, and will normally be happy to give you directions and advice in good English. As Aarhus is a big city, it will hardly be a problem getting help or directions in near-fluent English.

Get in

By train

Arriving at the Aarhus Central Station.

Trains run once or twice an hour from Copenhagen (København) to Aarhus and take about three hours. As of July 2015, the adult fare is DKK382, with an additional DKK30 to reserve a seat. Discounts are available for persons 25 years old or younger (if buying a WildCard), or older than 65 years—both concessions cost DKK191 (half price). Discounts can also be obtained by buying Orange Tickets some weeks in advance. Details on DSB's homepage.

It is also possible to catch a train to any other part of the Jutland peninsula, though connections are usually bad. Trains from Hamburg arrive several times a day, but they are expensive (around €50 one way). Nevertheless, if you book about two months before travelling, you can buy one of the few tickets for €29/39 (called "Europa-Sparpreis"). For more information check out the website of the German national railway company DB

Tickets used in trains are also usable in buses, and if you are travelling from Copenhagen, you can use your ticket for the rest of the day to get around Aarhus at no extra expense.

By bus

Buses have become an increasingly attractive way of travelling between Aarhus and Copenhagen due to their significantly lower prices. An inter-city bus takes roughly an hour longer than an equivalent express train, but the fares are typically between 40% (standard tickets) and 90% (the cheapest Saver tickets) lower.

By boat

The Katexpress 1 is one of two high speed catamarans ferrying passengers and cars for Mols Linien.

By plane

Get around

By foot

The entire city is clean and well organized which makes walking an excellent and enjoyable way to get around. You can pick up a leaflet called "Aarhus - five historical walks". The walks are all short and you could do them all easily in a day as they are all in the city centre. If you want to venture further out, several routes have been established for both exercise and leisurely strolls. Known as "sunbeams", they avoid heavily trafficked roads and includes nature experiences.

By bicycle

Rent a bike in Bikes4Rent or better yet, borrow a free City Bike, available at around fifty spots around the city (check the link to see a map). You just need to insert a DKK 20 coin and when you park the bike at another "bike station", you get it back. If you choose to bike after dark, remember to bring your own bicycle lights; it is illegal to ride without them and you could get fined by the police if you forget. The City Bikes are available from 1 April to 20 October.

By bus

Bus tickets for travel within the city limits (Aarhus Kommune limits) are DKK20 - or DKK10 if you are under 16 years of age. Tickets are also available in 10-trip tickets, that vary in price depending on how far you want to go (DKK120-220). Cheaper cards are also available for people under 16 year olds. Finally there are tickets that allow you to ride all you want for 30 days, with prices vary depending on how far you wish to travel. For planning bus trips, it is recommended to use the official travelplanner website for all Danish public transport: Rejseplanen.

You can also buy a cheap Aarhus Pass which covers all bus transport and all the museums.

By taxi

See

ARoS Art Museum
Aarhus University Park
Interior detail from Aarhus City Hall
Aarhus Cathedral at the square of Store Torv.
Mindeparken and the Marselisborg Palace.

Anyone who appreciates European architecture will find many points of interest in the city, not least the Concert Hall ("Musikhuset" from 1982 by Johan Richter), located next to the new modern arts museum ARoS. Many attractions in Aarhus are free and the public space has many free facilities, events and an interesting street life, so even on a budget you can have an enjoyable experience.

Do

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), Havreballe Skov (Havreballe Forest), and Marselisborg Mindepark adjacent to Marselisborg Palace, the Queen's summer residence (the private palace garden and park is open to the public, when the Queen is not in residence). The beautiful 8 km. stretch of forest (Marselisborg Forests) south of the city is equally suited for a hike, especially the old forest around the Moesgård Museum and Skovmøllen (Forest Mill). The Brabrand Lake trail, starting off from the inner city, is ideal for hiking, biking and rollerskating, as there are 10 km of flat asphalted paths without any car traffic.

Theatre & Cinema

Aarhus theatre

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.

Concerts

Musikhuset - The Concert Halls.

Festivals and recurring events

Concert (Aarhus Festuge)

Watersports

If you are in Aarhus in the summer, there are good opportunities for outdoor watersports and most of the coastline of the bay is accessible and suitable for leisure activities. Most beaches are sandy and child friendly with shallow waters. With two marinas in the central harbour and with many marinas spread across the entire bay area, some tourists choose to visit Aarhus from the waterside in the summer, in their own ship.

There are several beach parks in Aarhus. The whole Bay of Aarhus is popular with activities in the summer.

There are four beaches worthy of special mention: The beach park of Åkrogen in Egå north of the city, Bellevue Beach Park in the city district of Risskov, the sea bath of Den Permanente below the forest of Riis Skov in the city centre and the beach park of Moesgård Strand in the south of the Marselisborg Forests. There are several other small spots inbetween. Be aware that, every time the cat-link catamaran ferries enter and leave the bay, they cause an increased wave activity in the entire bay area. The phenomenon is harmless, but some small children are frightened by the experience, especially when it happens on an otherwise calm day. The waves appear quite suddenly; they only become noticeable when they break at the shoreline (like mini-tsunamis), lasting for 5-10 minutes. In theory you could predict it by watching for the catamarans on the water, glance at their schedule or be attentive to the increasing waves. Or you might simply choose not to care, as most people.

There are a total of four public indoor swimming halls throughout the city that can be used most of the year. Be sure to check up, as some are closed for extensive periods in the summer. Same prize at all venues, with discounts for children and groups. You can rent towels and bathing suits at some places, but it is expensive. Badeanstalten Spanien in the city centre is special for several reasons and is the only swimming-complex with a dedicated well-ness section.

In the summer from June to September you can rent canoes at the central community centre of Folkestedet and paddle along the Aarhus River for short or extended journeys.

Sports

Aarhus is a centre for sports in general, not just watersports. Throughout the city there are a number of sports complexes, small and large stadiums, indoor sports halls and several facilities for street sports. Apart from the free street-level activities, most places works through membership teams, but sometimes with an option for hourly rental or trial lessons. From a tourists perspective there are a number of interesting activities that you can engage in:

Full stadium for a football match at Ceres Park & Arena.

Aarhus are hosting many large sports events, both on a national and international level and you could arrange your visit in order to attend one of these events.

Golf

The East Jutland region has many options for golfers. The courses are of a high quality and often situated in beautiful nature. As part of this region, Aarhus has several options for playing golf:

View across the golf courses at Mollerup Golf Club.

Miscellaneous

Tivoli Friheden amusement park.

Learn

There are many opportunities to get a formal education in Aarhus, also for non-Danish speakers, but the city also offers a lot of informal learning activities and courses on all kinds of subjects. If you have a day time job you can usually join in on the evenings.

Buy

Strøget

The pedestrian zone in the city centre is the best place for shopping. You cannot miss it, as you will step right into it, when leaving the Aarhus central station or arriving at the central bus terminal. It is packed with small speciality boutiques and cafés, but also larger stores like the three H&M apparel stores and the department stores of Salling and Magasin du Nord and several supermarkets. Especially the main street known as Strøget, highlights upscale Scandinavian clothing, design and jewellery shops. There are a number of larger bookstores here where you can buy books in English too, including guides and maps.

If you are living on a budget and needs to buy your own everyday grocery, look for a red Fakta or yellow Netto as these are the most abundant discount stores in the city. Other discount options are Aldi, Rema and Kiwi.

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 large amount of conferences, good quality food products from local producers, major educational institutions for cooking and food production, and strong competition. However, the best places are not necessarily located on the most prominent addresses, so a bit of browsing is recommended if you have a particular interest in fine dining. Also, be aware that many restaurants are closed for extensive periods throughout the year. Usually in the summer months or January-February, so be sure to check up, if you plan to visit a specific place.

The main shopping streets of Jægergårdsgade, Strøget, Åboulevarden (aka Åen, along the Aarhus River), Vestergade and Tordenskjoldsgade has many options for a meal of all kinds. The Latin Quarter is also packed with restaurants and cafés serving food.

With an immigrant population of around 15%, Aarhus has many opportunities for ethnic food. This includes Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese food as the most common options. The price range are from Budget to Mid-range and you can find good ethnic food at street vendors to fine restaurants.

The locals regularly frequent the many cafés of the city while out and about. Besides being the best option for breakfast (around DKK 45), brunch and lunch, many larger cafés serve excellent home made burgers, salads, sandwiches, soups and snacks at reasonable prices (DKK 80-150 for a meal).

Budget

As Aarhus is a city full of students, there are many budget priced places, but they can be hard to spot for the hurried tourist and a little research (or asking) is a a good idea. You do not have to compromise on quality in Aarhus, even when eating on a budget. Many mid-ranged places usually have a few budget options: it can be a cheap good quality lunch, student discounts or special discount nights.

A Pølsevogn at the square of Lille Torv.

Mid-range

The following options have been chosen to show the diversity within the price range and only well-settled places that have proven themselves are mentioned. There are many good places that are not in the list, as there are really too many worthy spots to include. Also, quite a few splurge-level restaurants have occasional mid-range discounts.

Several larger hotels have their own restaurant and you can choose to dine there, you do not have to reside in the hotel. Most are mid-range priced and of a great quality. See the hotel section or the individual hotel websites for details.

Restaurant Johan R at the Concert Halls in Danish design
The Latin Quarter has many restaurants (Restaurant Komfur)

Splurge

There are many options for a dinner splurge in Aarhus and the variety is good. When visiting Denmark, it could be a good idea to study The White Guide a bit, if you are looking for gastronomic experiences. There are both an international version in English and a Danish version. The Danish version has the most detailed information. The White Guide claims to be the only authoritative restaurant guide for the Nordic region and started out in Sweden. The following list contains just a few selections from the Aarhus splurge scene, to cover the diversity of the city and inspire most tourists:

There are several interesting restaurants in the Marselisborg Forests (The Varna Palace)

Traditional Danish food

Traditional Danish food has seen a surge in the Danish restaurant business in recent decades. Unlike the experimental and often quite expensive dining of the New Nordic Cuisine, traditional Danish food is hearty, simple and of course sticks with tradition. Usually special dinner plans around the feasts such as Mortens Aften (St. Martin's Day 11 November), Christmas and Easter. Prices are mostly mid range.

Teater Bodega is one of several historic restaurants in Aarhus, serving traditional Danish food.

Vegetarian

There are not many purely dedicated vegetarian dining options in Aarhus, but some restaurants serve vegetarian main courses or have buffet options for vegetarians or vegans. Some places dedicated to vegetarian cuisine are:

Cafés

Café Casablanca is one of the more prominent cafés in Aarhus.

The many cafés in Aarhus span a diverse range from tiny hole-in-the-walls with two chairs where you can stop and buy something to drink on your way through the city to extravagantly decorated places with mirror rooms and waiters in fancy clothes. Some places serve only the most basic items, while other places offer lunch, evening dinners or cocktails and parties in the night. So whatever you are looking for, it shouldn't be a problem to find a café that suits your taste or pocket.

Quite a few cafés have a strong focus on quality coffee. Altura, La Cabra, Great Coffee and Bill's Coffee are four exceptional places in this regard, but they get strong competition. The coffee shop chain of Street Coffee is also doing a pretty good job and you can find them at three spots in the inner city. If you do not enjoy coffee, most places also serve hot chocolate or tea, but quality tea is only beginning to catch on and you might want to visit A.C.Perch for the real deal. It is a sister to the celebrated and historic tea store and café in Copenhagen by the same name and you will not be dissappointed. Many cafés can make you a smoothie, and Juice Stop and Joe & The Juice specialize in juicing fresh fruits and vegetables.

The majority of cafés in Aarhus are unique, each with their own individual charm and character, but several Danish café chains are also present, including Baresso, Emmerys and Anettes Sandwich, and you can find them across the city. Baresso mostly focus on quality coffee, but also serves cakes, small meals and tea. With usual spacious rooms and comfortable furniture, they are a good place to sit and chat for a while or rest your legs and read a magazine. If you want something to eat, Anettes Sandwich is a better option. Emmerys is a chain of organic bakeries, but each store is also a dining café and here you can get breakfast and brunch too.

Breakfast is served at most larger cafés for reasonable prices (DKK 35-80). At some spots it is buffet-style with a good variety, while at other spots it consists of a bun with cheese and jam. The bread is always of a good, filling quality. Some larger cafés also serve brunch and it is a popular treat on the weekends especially. A few places regularly arrange luxurious brunch servings, sometimes including champagne, like the Varna Palace in the Marselisborg Forests. Lunch of various kinds, prices and qualities can also be had at many cafés and there are quite a few deli-shops with healthy fast food options such as salads and sandwiches. Dining cafés with evening meals are plentiful at the riverside, but also in the Latin Quarter, including Gemmestedet, Englen, Drudenfuss, Carlton and Casablanca. The shopping streets of Jægergårdsgade on Frederiksbjerg and Tordenskjoldsgade on Trøjborg also have several good ones.

Although there is a high concentration in the historic inner city, cafés can be found throughout. A few special places might be hard to discover without special mention:

Cakes and bread

Denmark has a long tradition for some unique cakes and good quality breadmaking. You can buy cakes and bread in the usual cafés or in common bakeries across the city, but some places has put a special effort into the craft of baking and is well worth a visit.

Emmerys in Guldsmedgade.
Fragelité cakes on display at Schweizer Bageriet. With a French sounding name, Fragelité is nevertheless a unique Danish cake.

The traditional bread in Denmark is Rugbrød, a special kind of dark and dense sourdough, wholemeal rye bread, and it is still a popular choice, especially for smørrebrød. Common white bread, locally known as franskbrød (French Bread), is equally popular and available everywhere.

Special cakes are made around Christmas and Carnival. Special Christmas cakes includes julekage (a large Danish pastry with marzipan, Corinthian raisins, succade and nuts), pebernødder (small peppery cookies, traditionally used for a number of games) and klejner (deep fried rhombus shaped dough, flavoured with cardamom and lemon zest and only slightly sweet) and for Carnival in February it includes a variety of fastelavnsboller (Carnival-buns), which usually comprise pastry creme filled buns with icing and flaky pastry cakes filled with a whipped cream mix and redcurrant jelly.

Drink

Aarhus has a robust and lively nightlife for those who are looking for a night on the town. The city can deliver everything from big mainstream clubs to small alternative hangouts playing niche music. Aarhus's large student population fuels a major part of the partying - which tends to keep prices reasonable -, but not exclusively. Prices for food and drink are generally higher than in other parts of Europe, but cheaper than Copenhagen and with several budget options. The action tends to concentrate around Jægergårdsgade, Frederiksgade, Åboulevarden, Vestergade, Latin Quarter, Mejlgade and Nørregade. The popular fashionable riverside (Åen in Danish) has a very lively nightlife with a good variety, but it is also the most expensive area.

The nightlife in Denmark and Aarhus is quite safe. As a side note, the nightlife in Aarhus has, in the last 25-30 years, occasionally been plagued with gangs of young immigrants, primarily of Middle Eastern descent harassing people, smashing windows and bars or selling drugs. These incidents might be rarer these days, but if you are a group of young males with a Middle Eastern look, be aware that you could risk being denied access to some of the more popular spots. Young immigrants in Aarhus have raised this situation as a matter of concern.

The most widely available Danish beers are Tuborg, Carlsberg and Ceres. With a 150 year old history in Aarhus, Ceres was by many considered the "beer of Aarhus", with Ceres TOP as the flagship pilsner, but the beer is not brewed locally anymore. Most places also serve other well-known international brands and most places serve them draft. A few spots, like Ris Ras and Cockney Pub, has specialized in quality beers in the recent decade or so and offers a large variety for the beer-connoisseur. Aarhus Brewery in Viby is a local micro-brewery worth investigating. They make a good variety and is on sale in most well-assorted shops and some pubs and bars as well. There is also a small shop at the brewery and occasional events and beer tastings are arranged here. Sct. Clements Brewery across the main theatre also brews quality draft beer, to be enjoyed at their Hereford restaurant or brought home.

Riverside

Aarhus river

Skolegade

Skolegade is a sidestreet to the riverside of Åboulevarden, terminating near the mouth of the Aarhus River at the harbour front. It is an old narrow street with a long history of bars and nightclubs. Most of the action is near the riverside, but you can take a short walk up the street and change the scene, as it merges with Mejlgade in the Latin quarter.

Latin Quarter

Frederiksgade

The Golden Lion Pub in Frederiksgade. The pedestrianized city centre has a lively nightlife and bus routes connects to the suburban areas, reducing the risks of alcohol-related accidents.

Other places

The atrium at Jacob’s. Café in the day, restaurant, music venue and bar in the night.

Bodega and værtshus

Bro Café, an old style værtshus.

In Denmark, bodega means a traditional Danish bar or Danish pub if you will. Bodegas has a long cultural history in Denmark and is somewhat similar to an English pub in their concept, but only a few places offers meals and live music. You could warm up here before going to a concert or a fancy club or you can drop in for a coffee or a beer in the afternoon. It should be fairly easy to find yourself engaged in a conversation at these places if you care, as the majority of people are here to socialize and unwind. Some examples includesː

In the older days, when alcohol was seen as a basic thirst quencher for the working man, bars were much more abundant. They were waterholes with the sole purpose of serving cheap beers on all hours and all days of the week. Times have changed, but there are still some old fashioned bars left in Aarhus, some of them with their own peculiar charm. The Danish word for these bars are værtshus. Apart from the colloquial Ceres TOP pilsner, most places could also serve you an "Aarhus set", by adding an Arnbitter on the side.

Sleep

Prices for hotels are generally higher than in other parts of Europe, but there are a number budget options of a good quality.

Apart from the well known hotels listed below, there are also options for small bed and breakfasts, usually located out of the central scene, private stays and holiday rentals.

Budget

The Danhostel in the beautiful and tranquil forest-park of Riis Skov just north of the city centre.

Mid-range

Hotel Royal, right in the city centre.
The new modern Comwell hotel in the tall central Aarhus City Tower.

Splurge

Connect

Wi-Fi

Aarhus Municipality has made its Wi-Fi free and public. Known as Smart Aarhus, it can be freely accessed in and around most public institutions and from many larger public squares and parks as well, day and night.

Cope

Accessibility

In Denmark, it is easy for the physically disabled to get around on their own. All newer buildings - and quite a few older ones as well - are specially equipped for this, with ramps, elevators, lifts and sometimes escalators. With a thought for the visually impaired, the traffic lights at the busiest spots in Aarhus are equipped with beeping sounds, signalling walk or stop. Guide dogs are allowed in most places, even in some cinemas, and personnel are unusually friendly and helpful towards the handicapped.

Poverty and begging

Before the turn of the century, it was extremely rare to see anyone in Denmark begging in the streets, apart from a few native homeless people and vagabonds who often had chosen this peculiar lifestyle. In Aarhus, you will probably encounter homeless people selling the magazine Hus Forbi (House Passed). More rarely, you could perhaps also meet a few vagabonds in the summertime; easily noticeable by their clothing, pushing along a baby carriage with their dog and friends on the side. Both groups are usually harmless and do not beg aggressively. You could even have some small-talk with most of them. Since the 2000's however, Denmark has experienced an influx of foreign beggars to the larger cities. This phenomenon does not come near the levels you might encounter outside of Scandinavia. You will perhaps bump into some of these illegal immigrants on your way around the city, and they can sometimes behave quite annoying. Be aware though, that begging is illegal in Denmark and handing money to the first one you meet, will not make the next one hesitate.

Street salespeople

Foreign beggars, a possible minor nuisance, are largely overshadowed by the army of trained street salespeople, known locally as "facers", that can't be avoided in Aarhus. They are everywhere in the pedestrian zone. Their goal is to sell deals on utility bills, new mobile phone subscriptions, and just about everything you had no idea you needed. The facer-troops also include young people on persistent reconnaissance for potential subscribers to all kinds of humanitarian causes. They can be harder to dismiss, but remember that even if you sign up in support for some Amnesty International campaign, it won't stop the next facer trying to get your support for the exact same cause only 2 minutes later.

Consulates

Go next

Close by

Dyrehaven in Marselisborg Forests. Aarhus has some nice woodlands, beaches and countryside within easy reach.
  • In Riis Skov you can spice up the trip with some great dining at the romantic Sjette Frederiks Kro. In the summertime you can also buy ice creams, coffee or hot dogs at one of two forest kiosks and take a swim, play or soak up some sun at the public seabath of Den Permanente. There are facilities here for some beach grilling also, just bring coal and food. If you would like to explore the city more, you should try to take a walk through the adjacent neighbourhood of Trøjborg. It is officially part of the city centre, but Trøjborg has its own particular charm, a bit like a small town within the city.
In the Marselisborg forests you can also hike/bike/drive or take a bus to Moesgård, a section of the forests further south. Here you can experience the marked history trail from the Moesgaard Museum right down to the sea, with reconstructed Stone Age, Iron Age and Viking houses and tombs, rune stones etc.. There is a good café at the museum itself, you can choose to have an excellent lunch or evening meal at Restaurant UNICO at the golf course close to the museum, have a great lunch at the medieval Skovmøllen restaurant in the forests, or you can bring your own food as many of the locals do when they picnic at the large grassy areas at the beach in the summer months.

Day trips and further travels

Rosenholm Castle. There are several interesting historic manors in the countryside around Aarhus.


Routes through Aarhus

Aalborg Randers  N  S  Skanderborg Kolding


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