Things to do in Aarhus - European capital of culture 2017
January 1, 1970
by Eimantas Zemaitis
When I think of Aarhus, vivid memories always fill my mind. I have spent few years of my life there and encountered life both as a student and as a worker. For me, Aarhus is a city of self-exploration, warm memories and good times. But most importantly, it is a city with a heart.
Speaking of the city, 2017 is a big year for Aarhus. This year the city and its municipality represent the European capital of culture. This initiative is designed to promote richness and diversity of European societies. Also, it is orientated towards increasing tourism. This means that if you decide to visit Aarhus during this period, you are very likely to encounter some kind of extra unique exhibitions, activities or events dedicated for this occasion.
Several facts about Denmark and Aarhus
- Denmark is the happiest country in the entire world.
- Approximately 5.5 million people live in Denmark.
- During my entire time in Denmark, I hadn’t met a person who wouldn’t speak English (old and young people included)(!).
- Denmark is a kingdom and also an archipelago (has only one border with Germany).
- It is considered to be the least corrupted country in the world.
- Aarhus is Denmark’s second-largest city after the capital Copenhagen.
- Aarhus is not a humongous city, its population is around 265,000 people.
Things to do in Aarhus
My girlfriend has visited me in Aarhus during the summer and honestly, it is the best period to see it. Well, unless you are a hopeless romantic and prefer walking or dancing in the rain. But don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of that anyway! It is a fact that random rains can be a lot of fun, too, but summertime weather enables more opportunities to swim in the Nothern Sea, spend days at the beach, enjoy the city parks and gardens, and that makes the trip a truly exclusive experience. Here are several attractions that we’ve enjoyed the most.
Aros Museum of Modern Arts (~17 USD)
It is the first thing every tourist visits when they arrive in Aarhus. Aros museum of modern arts (ARoS kunstmuseum) is a real celebrity of the city and is mostly known for its rainbow panorama on its roof. There you can observe the entire city through every color of the rainbow and the view is breathtaking. You don’t even need your Instagram filters anymore! Epic landscape of Aarhus makes it a great location for taking photos. Besides the panorama, the museum is also filled with beautiful, interesting and mind-boggling exhibits. While typically museums are associated with passive entertainment and boredom, this one is definitely a game changer. Quality time guaranteed!
Aarhus Botanical Gardens (free)
If you love nature, you will love Aarhus Botanical gardens. The gardens are located in the heart of Aarhus and offer a chance to observe the astonishing variety of plants. Besides enjoying the park and its environment, visitors can also enter specially constructed greenhouses, which are full of exotic plants collected from different climate zones. The best part? It is absolutely free! And if you’re not into exploring plants, the park itself is a great location to hang out with friends, have a date or just to chill out and relax.
Den Gamble By (~20 USD)
In case you are visiting Aarhus for the purpose of cultural enrichment, this one is a must see. Just outside of the botanical gardens, there is an area with old, weird but tiny and cute white houses. At first sight, they look like they don’t belong in the heart of the modern city at all and that true. In fact, they are a part of an open-air living museum of Danish urban culture and history. Living museum means actors, conversations, historical exhibits and even small shops for you to visit. Everything is made as authentic as possible, therefore, it really evokes a feeling like you traveled back in time. If you to appreciate historical context and want to experience this time machine for yourself then this is the place for you.
Tivoli Friheden (~35 USD)
One of the attractions, that evokes the warmest memories from Aarhus. Great place to bring your date, too! The amusement park is not too big, but it is cozy and has the exactly right amount of activities to spend an entire day there. There are many carousels both for children and adults. Park contains some attractions for the daredevils as well, but there are only a few. Therefore, roller coaster enthusiasts might feel slightly disappointed. But overall, it is a lovely experience. The park usually opens up in April and is open for the entire summer season. There are special programs running until the very end of the year, however, during the autumn/winter period, the park is not open every day.
Aarhus city center is the location where you’ll definitely want to spend at least some of your time. While one can do hours of shopping, the city center also is full of beautifully designed buildings. Also, the canals and the sea (port area) are nearby. One of the clearly visible monuments of Aarhus is functional city hall’s tower (Radhuset), which is one of the higher buildings in the center and is clearly visible at any time. Next to the tower, there is a cozy park and Aros museum is just a few minutes away. In general, the city center offers all of the entertainment that you could ever need – everything from shopping centers, restaurants, cinemas to bowling and bars. Use your sense of adventure and take some time to explore and something will definitely pop-up for you.
Deer park (free)
Away from the city center, the Deer park (Marselisborg Dyrehave) is another place where one can get in touch with nature. Apart from being in a nice park with a beautiful location, Marselisborg Dyrehave, as its title suggests, is full of deer! In fact, you can come very close to them and even touch the braver ones, since they are just hanging around there. Our strategy was to win them over by offering some carrots and potatoes in order to snap some nice pictures with them. As you may expect, they are extremely friendly and love treats. The park itself is very tidy and is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Marselisborg and Queens garden (free)
Not so far away from Deer park, there is the Marselisborg beach, a park, and the royal summer palace. The area is right on the sea shore and it offers one of the most beautiful landscapes in Aarhus. The view here is amazing and it is a good place for spending leisure time with your friends or family. The Marselisborg park is also very large and beautiful, with plenty of picture worthy monuments in its territory. The beach is also nearby, in case you have an urge to swim or have a walk along the shore. Next to the park, you are allowed to enter queen’s summerhouse territory (whenever the queen is not there, I believe) which is very interesting. The gardens are of spectacular beauty and for a few moments, you can relate to the feeling of being a monarch, who is having a long walk in his or hers royal gardens. This is one of my favorite locations in Aarhus and is worth visiting multiple times.
There are plenty of clubs and bars in the city center, however, in my experience, something cool usually happens in Godsbanen. When you enter the area you instantly feel the vibe of urban subculture. According to the local history, it used to be a goods station. Currently, it is utilized as a cultural center of Aarhus. I recommend visiting it, especially for younger, and more adventure-thirsty travelers. For the ones who do not find Godsbanen appealing enough, I recommend checking the “Train” concert venue for some quality music and dancing.
If you are under 26 years old and consider traveling to Aarhus, Denmark or elsewhere in Scandinavia, there’s a travel tip for you. Always check Scandinavian Air Lines (SAS) website first. The awesome thing about SAS is that they offer Youth tickets for everyone who is under 26. Youth ticket includes everything that a regular ticket has, except is 50% cheaper. Also, baggage is included (one bag). Other couriers may also have some very good offers; thus it is worth to check them, too.
For more ideas on what to do in Aarhus, check out official Aarhus 2017 website.