Aarhus Travel Guide
Aarhus is the largest city on the Danish mainland (Jutland), and the second-biggest overall in Denmark. While Copenhagen gets all the attention (and deservedly so), Aarhus is somewhat forgotten by travellers.
Nonetheless, it has scores of notable attractions. From one of the best open-air museums in Europe to a futuristic library, you’ll have plenty to do here.
Come check out our Aarhus travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Aarhus, Denmark.
Shortly after arriving in Aarhus, make Den Gamle By your first stop. Translating to “Old Town” in English, it isn’t the old centre of Aarhus, per se. Rather, it is a living history museum. While the original open-air attraction used buildings from Old Aarhus, its 75 buildings come from all over Denmark.
Other outdoor ethnographic museums found throughout Europe focus on village life. In contrast, Den Gamle By focuses on life in a typical Danish town in centuries past. As you walk its streets, you’ll get to see actors/actresses at the post office, the blacksmith, and other shops.
There are also a number of attractions within this park. You’ll find several museums, ranging in topic from clocks to toys to textiles, during your time here. A few pleasant gardens are also included – some grow food for the market, while others are decorative. In the case of the latter, you’ll enjoy the Renaissance-style green space behind the Mayor’s house.
End your day here with a meal at one of Den Gamle By’s restaurants or cafes. As you enjoy your food, watch locals go about their business, as if it was the 19th century.
In the mood to learn about local and global anthropology? Include the Moesgaard Museum on your list of things to see in Aarhus. Thanks to the work of archaeologists associated with Aarhus University, this facility’s exhibits brim with over 50,000 pieces.
While you’ll find artifacts from around the world, some of the best archaeological finds in Denmark are here. These include Grauballe Man, a corpse that was well-preserved by the bog where scientists found him. According to carbon dating, he met his end nearly 2,300 years ago. Cause of death: a slash to the throat. Thanks to his killer’s decision to dump him in the bog, his body remains as it was millennia ago.
Other Danish highlights include a large cache of medieval weapons and a collection of rune stones. Once you get to the global galleries, you’ll find pieces sourced from Asia to Africa.
If you’re more in the mood for visual art than anthropology, check out the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum instead. Its current appearance is deceiving – while it appears super-modern, the institution itself has been open since 1859. The current structure is the fourth home for the oldest art museum in Denmark outside Copenhagen.
It hosts works of art from around the world. However, its primary focus is on artists from the Danish Golden Age. These masters include painters like Bjørn Nørgaard and Ólafur Elíasson. After getting your fill of artistic brilliance, head upstairs to “Your Rainbow Panorama”, which boasts killer views of Aarhus.
If the performing arts are more your jam, take in a performance at Musikhuset Aarhus. With a listed capacity of approximately 3,600 people, it is the largest concert venue in Scandinavia.
Whenever you visit, an event will almost certainly be happening, as the complex hosts 1,500 events per year. Operas, musicals, ballets, orchestra performances, and concerts all happen here. No matter when you go, you’ll be in for a treat.
Love greenery? Make room in your travel itinerary for the Aarhus Botanical Gardens. It is a great place to relax, as it is within walking distance of touristy Den Gamle By. This attraction has been protecting and showing off the flora of North Central Europe since 1875.
The gardens show well in all seasons. However, greenhouses allow plant displays to continue throughout the winter. If you are visiting and need a respite from the cold, check out the tropical dome. A new addition to the park, its humid, warm air and equatorial flora will lift your spirits in record time!
Fans of books and post-modern architecture will want to include Dokk1 in their sightseeing plans. Built to resemble a floating metal disc, photographers will be in their element here. Inside, there’s more to do than just read books. You can check out board games, play video games, play ping-pong, and more. If you encounter a rainy day, this place can salvage your plans.
Check out the different kinds of ungulate that live in Denmark at Marselisborg Deer Park. For the past 85 years, this fenced 54-acre park has protected various species of deer. Most of the terrain is open, rolling hills, making it easy to spot these gorgeous animals.
End your visit to Aarhus by spending an afternoon or evening in Latinerkvarteret. Known in English as the Latin Quarter, it is an artist’s hub by day and an entertainment district by night. Check out galleries, go out for a meal, then spend time in one of its pubs.