Speaking of Denmark, the images of Copenhagen certainly pop up in the head of many travelers: the colorful Nyhavn, the magical Tivoli, and the iconic Little Mermaid. But do you know there is another city in Denmark whose popularity is on the rise? Often regarded as Copenhagen’s Little Sister, Aarhus impresses visitors not only as a charming student city but also as a pioneer in art, architecture, and gastronomy.
Aarhus (Århus in Danish) lies on the east coast of the Jutland peninsula, about 200 kilometers west of Copenhagen. With a population of 269,000 people, it is Denmark’s second-largest city, after Copenhagen. 13% of Aarhus’ population are students, making it the youngest city in Denmark. Historically though, it’s one of the country’s oldest, began as a fortified Viking settlement in the eighth century.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lover of art, a food enthusiast, or an avid architect, Aarhus always has something to offer. From the otherworldly ARoS Museum, the futuristic Aarhus Ø to the vibrant gastronomic scene at Latin Quarter, everyone surely has a reason to visit this city.
1. ARoS Museum
With a distinctive rainbow-colored ring standing tall above the city, ARoS Museum is hard to be missed. Established in 1859, it’s the oldest public art gallery in Denmark outside of Copenhagen. After three relocations, the museum was opened again in 2004 in a building next to the Aarhus Musikhuset. The new venue is more spacious and more modern in terms of appearance. In 2011, “Your Rainbow Panorama” was added, boosting the museum’s attendance by hundreds of thousands. It’s a rainbow-colored circular skywalk designed by Danish-Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson.
With thousands of square meters spanning ten levels, cultural vultures will be happy in ARoS. The museum houses one of the largest art collections in Northern Europe, ranging from the Golden Age to today. Special exhibitions also change regularly, the latest being “The Garden – The Past”.
2. Aarhus Ø
Built on the eastern side of Aarhus, Aarhus Ø (Aarhus East) is the city’s newest district. Began in 2007, this project has been seen as the rejuvenation of the Nordhavn – a former container port and Aarhus’s waterfront. The area is filled with cutting-edge and environmental-friendly buildings.
For instance, the Isbjerget – a unique apartment that strongly resembles floating icebergs breaking up. Or the Dokk1 which is Scandinavia’s largest public library. There are canals leading to the open sea and a public garden called Ø Haven where Aarhus residents can grow their own flowers, vegetables, herbs, etc.
3. Latin Quarter
If you think that Aarhus is all about modernity, then you will be surprised when visiting the Latin Quarter. With churches dating back to the 12th century and 14th-century buildings lining on hilly cobbled backstreets, the neighborhood is perhaps the town’s most picturesque part.
Chics shops, bustling cafes, and a vibrant gastronomic scene characterize this area. And thanks to their innovative Nordic cuisine in which regional and seasonal products are splendidly combined, Aarhus was crowned as the European Region of Gastronomy in 2016.
Tips for visiting Aarhus
- Most sights in Aarhus are located near the city centre, except for the Aarhus Ø. Bus 23 or 33 will bring you directly to the waterfront. Or you can take bus 17 and 20 to station Øsbanetorvet and then walk to Aarhus Ø (15-20 minutes).
- Aarhus is covered by an excellent bus network. A day ticket costs 80 Kr. (around 8€) and can be bought online at Midttrafik.
- Trams only operate on the main boulevards. And they run less frequently than buses.
39 thoughts on “Aarhus: The Cool Little Sister of Copenhagen”
Quite a little gem without the crowd of a big touristy city.
Thank you Len, another fascinating article!
Thank you, Malcolm! 🙂
My pleasure, it was a great article
I love the rainbow deck! I can’t wait to visit Aarhus one day
A must-see in the city 😉 Honestly, I was lured to Aarhus by that rainbow ring.
Aarhus is cool, so cool that I told myself to give it a miss this time so I can return to Denmark one day to see it. 😂
The museum’s rainbow observatory is definitely eye-catching. Can you pleas explain what is that dish?? Apart from the lettuce and the chicken I don’t think I can recognise any other ingredient…
If I remember correctly, it was the slow-braised chicken with cauliflower sauce, served together with vegetables and chicken stock. The round things are mustard seeds which are strangely sweet. I thought they were peas 🙂
It looks so incredibly geometrical, full of planes and angles, till you take us into the Latin quarter. A different kind of a beauty …
These photographs are phenomenal. Denmark is high on my list of countries to visit and the ARoS Museum is one I’ve wanted to visit for a couple of years now. The architecture looks unreal as well!
Many thanks! 🙂
I’m definitely a fan of Denmark!!! Thanks for sharing these lovely pictures 🙂
🙂 You welcome!
Wow – Boy by Ron Mueck is quite extraordinary!
He looks so real! When you come closer, you can even see the veins in his eyes and tissues on his skin 🙂 The artist really has a fine eye for detail.
Your coverage of (relatively) lesser known cities and towns like this is what makes your blog so fascinating. That and the beautiful photos of the local architecture and gastronomy scenes keep me craving for more! Keep up the good work!
Thank you, Bama! You are too kind. Although small towns are less “instagramable”, I personally think they have their own charm. Additionally, it is also easier to write about an unknown place than to write about a tourist magnet where millions of people have already visited 🙂
That’s my little City, Len. And these beautiful photos come so much alive here. Brilliant photography. 🙂 Have you been in Aarhus lately?
Yes, I was there in late summer. Just a weekend trip from Hamburg. It was still cold even in August 🙂
Regarding the challenge, I must kindly deny the nomination because I found it is a bit difficult to integrate into my blog. But thanks a lot for nominating me 😉
Yeah, it wasn’t a very good summer this year and danish weather is so unpredictable. I respect your wish with the challenge. Was my way to tell you how great a blog you’ve got here. Cheers. 🙂
That’s is very kind of you! Many thanks 😉
Well, I got a little challenge for you. It’s the 7 days 7 black and white photo challenge. It’s quite easy… 🙂 I’d like to know your answer and whatever you decide is fine. You can check the link to read the details. Thank you. 🙂
Impressive architecture. This small town combines modern with traditional in a very good way.
Indeed. Aarhus is really a refreshing alternative for Copenhagen 🙂
what a great design of the aros museum!
Spectacular, isn’t it? The museum alone is interesting enough for a visit to Aarhus 🙂
Thank you 🙂
Stunning pictures of a stunning city 😊
Many thanks! 🙂
Impressive! Thank you for taking us – and for making our next trip to Denmark even more fun!
Aarhus is a bit out of the way, but the town is really interesting. You should give it a try if you like modern art and architecture. Another plus point is that the town is still under the radar of most tourists 🙂
I will definitely go – it is a bit out of the way, as you say, but looks worth it. There are more things to combine it with in that part of Denmark.
Thank you! 🙂
Yet another city I didn’t know anything about until your terrific post. I tend to like student cities for their vibrance. The architecture is stunning and I love the mix of old and new.
Quite clever, I think. A clear example is the ARoS. They put a colourful walkway on the top of an old building, and the number of visitors soar 🙂
Fascinating. This smaller city certainly packs a punch in sights. I’ve made a note of these places. Thank you.