Aarhus, a tiny sleeping beauty at the coast of is a perfect weekend gateway from Copenhagen. However, my visit to this less frequented city made me realise that it can be a base to visit many remarkable towns in Denmark including the hometown of H.C Anderson, Odense, and Skagen. Aarhus has been like a discovery during my months-long solo backpacking trip to Europe. Hereby, I have tried compiling some of the best things to do in Aarhus.
Otherwise, a quiet and peaceful town turns into a bustling city with a number of music events and festivals. Summer is also the best time to explore Aarhus and nearby places. I visited it in the month of May and it was a perfect time with sunny days and cool nights. Considering I covered almost all the places included in the Aarhus City Card, here are some of the top things to do in Aarhus and places to visit in Aarhus.
Møllestien – The Oldest Street in the City
Among all the modern multi-floored building in this developing town, a row of houses hidden in its city lanes would give you a glimpse of the old town. ‘Møllestien’, literally means ‘The Mill Lane’. The houses are single floored and some of them date back to 19th Century. The current structure is a renovated and restored architecture that fell prey to the wrath of nature and wars. Some of the houses are converted into heritage hotels while one of them has become a craft museum. However, I found the whole lane to be a little museum of single storied colourful Latin houses. A stroll through this cobblestoned lane is one of the topmost things to do in Aarhus.
At the end of Møllestien is the Molleparken (A public garden), and from here, if you take right along Mollegade and move further on left along Vestergade, you will arrive at No. 58. It is the merchant’s house which was built in 1651. Since then, it has been a workplace of a shoe-maker, a butcher and a seed trader. In the 1980s it used to be a meeting place for the musicians creating a lively musical scene. This music soon became famous in Denmark as ‘ Aarhus Sound’.
This lane has also become one of the most instagrammable places in the city. Photography and a visit to the crockery museum in Møllestien are the two most recommendable things to do in Aarhus.
The Theater Square
The old town square has now become a hangout place for the locals and visitors. The old Cathedral and a 19th Century theatre stand nearby knitting the ancient culture in this big square. The paintings on the walls of the theatre depict the splendid culture and theatric art of the city. You can buy the tickets to watch some of the terrific performances in the building.
The Spectators Room is known as ‘The Golden House’. It is decorated with the designs of natural elements like creepers, flowers, and birds. The ceiling has a magnificent design giving it a look of a huge magical chandelier. The architecture of the building represents ‘Art Noveau’ style and is quite similar to an opera house built during the Renaissance Era. Visiting the theatre would definitely be one of the interesting things to do in Aarhus.
Time Traveling to 19th Century in Denmark
Dan Gamble By is a fascinating restoration of 19th Century houses from different parts of Denmark. More than the architecture, it’s the culture that comes alive at Den Gamble By. He had put his heart in pouring life into these real structures brought from different places in Denmark. It is one of the most frequented and bustling open Air Museum when compared to other museums of its kind.
The volunteers here are dressed up as men and women of the 19th Century. They are enthusiastic enough to explain to you about the place and the work they are doing as a person of the bygone era. I met a woman knitting the cloth and another one cooking a traditional dish. The smiling and friendly people of different small museums set up within this time-travel town really make you feel curious and amazing.
I would never ever recommend a museum visit unless it is so interesting as this one. The vintage horse carriages, flour mills, bakeries and the bookstore that sells the books popular in the 19th Century makes Dan Gamble by one of the most recommended things to do in Aarhus.
An Evening at the Botanical Garden
It might be surprising for you to see only the locals enjoying a picnic on a sunny evening at the Botanical garden. This place is a combination of natural beauty and knowledge. It is totally free of cost for anyone to visit and understand the importance of the greenhouse effect in a country like Denmark which barely receives sunshine most of the days in a year.
It is located right beside the Den Gamble By complex and you can visit both of them one after another.
Icebergs at Aarhus Ø
While one part of the city takes you on a Time-Travel, the recently developed architecture at Aarhus Ø is a glimpse of the futuristic phase of art and architecture in Aarhus. These buildings are an example of modern art. If you would be taking a ferry to Copenhagen from here, you would be seeing these man-made icebergs literally floating on the sea.
You can even enjoy a walk at the promenade while observing the art of these unusually designed buildings. There are speedboat-rides and other water sports organized near this area.
Playing with the Free Wild Animals at the Deer Park
It is one of the places where man and animals share equal freedom. Whether you are travelling solo or with family, deer park can never be missed. Carry some carrots for them and they will come running to you. I was even astonished to see the kids feeding and caressing the deer as if it were a pet. This was something very different from my home country. It is also a perfect place for a picnic in the wilderness. If you are visiting it in lunchtime, do parcel your food here and enjoy it amidst the beautiful art of nature.
I avoid any place that cages the animals. In fact, I wanted to avoid the deer park for the same reason. Surprisingly, it turned out totally opposite to my expectations. It is a home of the beautiful animals where they wander around freely and you would a guest whom they welcome warmly. It is thus obviously one of the best things to do in Aarhus.
How to Reach: Local buses frequently ply from the city centre to the deer park.
The Infinite Bridge: The Man-made Heaven for some Vitamin Sea
Walk along the woody pathway from outside the deer park towards the city and you would be flabbergasted by the sight of this infinite bridge sculpted by the artists Niels Povlsgaard and Johan Gjødes as a part of an event in 2015. Owing to the public demand, the municipality has installed it as a permanent structure open for the public. It would literally let you walk incessantly on the glittery waves of the Danish sea on a sunny day. A 360-degree view of the Danish coast exposes you to the beautiful “happy” city surrounded by the sea, forest, historic architecture and some modern craft. Both Morning and sunset are great times to enjoy some solitude during summer. The bridge is taken down during winters and usually reopens from the month of May.
Explore Under the Earth at the Viking’s Museum
The Viking Museum which is probably the birthplace of Aarhus. You need to go a little under the ground where an artificial set-up would teleport you around 1100 years back in the Viking Age. The town planning and architecture of the early Viking age is explained here through graphics. You can know everything about the history of Vikings in Aarhus in this Museum. However, you may skip it if you are not a history buff.
See the World Through a Rainbow at ARoS
Created by the famous artist Olafur Eliasson, the rainbow panorama is a circular walkway covered with the rainbow coloured see-through glasses. It is literally amazing to see an art-work that allows you to walk into it and let you see the world through the eyes of the artist. There is also an open terrace below the panorama structure for the recreational purpose.
How to Explore Aarhus on a Budget
Considering the high travel expense, the all-inclusive Aarhus Card would be a great option as it includes almost all the must-visit places in Aarhus. It is easy to cover most of the places in two days if you have planned well. The charges for the adults are 449 DKK(For a 48 Hours Card) which includes all your travel expenses except food and stay. However, proper research is needed in order to get the best out of the card. If you are not sure of visiting certain places then you must count your totals with/without the card. Check the offers and prices for Aarhus Card Here.
Where to eat: There is an end number of restaurants serving the finest Danish Cuisine and for the budget travellers, either self-cooking or the Super Markets are the options.
Where to Stay in Aarhus
I stayed at Cabinn Hotel which, I think, was one of the most convenient options in Aarhus.
- Quite comfortable and pocket-friendly (comparatively) for the solo/couple travellers
- Located in the heart of the city at Theatre Square
- Unlimited Buffet Breakfast available
- Single rooms and bunk beds available for travellers.
- Luggage Storage Available
Note: This blog is written in collaboration with Visit Aarhus. However, the exploration was done independently and all the views/opinions and suggestions are of my own.
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