Aarhus: The Cool Little Sister of Copenhagen

Tiếng Việt

Speaking of Denmark, the images of Copenhagen certainly pop-up in the head of many travellers: the colourful 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 Jutland peninsula, about 200 kilometres west of Copenhagen. With a population of 269,000 people, it is Denmark’s second-largest city, after Copenhagen. Thirteen percent 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.

ARoS Museum

With a distinctive rainbow-coloured 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 term of appearance. In 2011, “Your Rainbow Panorama” was added, boosting museum’s attendance by hundreds of thousands. It’s a rainbow-coloured circular skywalk designed by Danish-Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson.

With thousands of square metres spanning on 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”.

Your Rainbow Panorama
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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 which 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 there own flowers, vegetables and herbs, etc.

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 neighbourhood is perhaps the town’s most picturesque part. Chics shops, bustling cafes and a vibrant gastronomic scene characterise for this area. And thanks to their innovative Nordic cuisine in which regional and seasonal products are splendidly combined, Aarhus was crowned as European Region of Gastronomy in 2016.

Latin Quarter
Innovative Nordic cuisine at Restaurant Pondus

Practical Information

  • 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.
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47 thoughts on “Aarhus: The Cool Little Sister of Copenhagen”

  1. Orvillewrong – "I am well read, fairly well travelled, maybe not as many stamps on my passport as I would like. Young at Heart, Always! I like Military history. I Love Life`s variable, colour, character are potential events to record for posterity!!
    Orvillewrong says:

    Thank you Len, another fascinating article!

      1. Orvillewrong – "I am well read, fairly well travelled, maybe not as many stamps on my passport as I would like. Young at Heart, Always! I like Military history. I Love Life`s variable, colour, character are potential events to record for posterity!!
        Orvillewrong says:

        My pleasure, it was a great article

  2. I love the rainbow deck! I can’t wait to visit Aarhus one day

  3. Jolene – Sydney, Australia – Jolene is a banker by trade, a writer at heart, and is a contributor to Thought Catalog. You are welcome to peek into her adventures and reflections on films and life at "SoMuchToTellYou", her ultimate love affair with words.
    Jolene says:

    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…

    1. 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 🙂

  4. Arundhati Basu – New Jersey, US – The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.
    Dippy-Dotty Girl says:

    It looks so incredibly geometrical, full of planes and angles, till you take us into the Latin quarter. A different kind of a beauty …

  5. Nemee – Canada – Fascinated with the way ideas and institutions shape societies and how, in turn, societies shape individuals
    Nemee says:

    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!

  6. Nano @ Travels With Nano – Tokyo, Japan – Hi, I'm Nano! Welcome to my site! Travels With Nano is filled with everything I am passionate about: uncovering the world one sight, bite and cultural experience at a time. I'm here to share savvy travel tips and inspire (not influence!) your future travel adventures. Needless to say, I am thrilled to have you here reading!
    Nano @ Travel With Nano B. says:

    Wow – Boy by Ron Mueck is quite extraordinary!

    1. 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.

      1. Nano @ Travels With Nano – Tokyo, Japan – Hi, I'm Nano! Welcome to my site! Travels With Nano is filled with everything I am passionate about: uncovering the world one sight, bite and cultural experience at a time. I'm here to share savvy travel tips and inspire (not influence!) your future travel adventures. Needless to say, I am thrilled to have you here reading!
        Nano @ Travel With Nano B. says:

        Incredible!!

  7. Bama – Jakarta, Indonesia – Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.
    Bama says:

    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!

    1. 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 🙂

  8. simpledimple – Growing up, I kept a daily journal, where I scribble down random thoughts and crazy ideas that play on my mind. I write snippets of my personal life, jokes or whatever tickles my fancy. Now, I want to write to be read. My blog will consist of my daily situations, and the different cultural experiences I have garnered so far. Hopefully, I should be able to motivate, and inspire someone out there. Do share your perspectives with me when you stop by my blog. I look forward to interacting with you. Thank you. :)
    simpledimple says:

    That’s my little City, Len. And these beautiful photos come so much alive here. Brilliant photography. 🙂 Have you been in Aarhus lately?

    1. 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 😉

      1. simpledimple – Growing up, I kept a daily journal, where I scribble down random thoughts and crazy ideas that play on my mind. I write snippets of my personal life, jokes or whatever tickles my fancy. Now, I want to write to be read. My blog will consist of my daily situations, and the different cultural experiences I have garnered so far. Hopefully, I should be able to motivate, and inspire someone out there. Do share your perspectives with me when you stop by my blog. I look forward to interacting with you. Thank you. :)
        simpledimple says:

        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. 🙂

  9. simpledimple – Growing up, I kept a daily journal, where I scribble down random thoughts and crazy ideas that play on my mind. I write snippets of my personal life, jokes or whatever tickles my fancy. Now, I want to write to be read. My blog will consist of my daily situations, and the different cultural experiences I have garnered so far. Hopefully, I should be able to motivate, and inspire someone out there. Do share your perspectives with me when you stop by my blog. I look forward to interacting with you. Thank you. :)
    simpledimple says:

    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. 🙂

    https://simpledimplesite.blog/2017/10/16/7-days-7-photos-challenge-day-6/

  10. what a great design of the aros museum!

  11. My Hojgaard – I am a mid-twenties Dane, currently working on my Master thesis in Corporate Communication. My blog is centered around my personal life as I try to balance studies, work, love, friendships, family, personal development in my pursuit of everyday happiness. Feel free to follow or drop a comment :)
    My Hojgaard says:

    Stunning pictures of a stunning city

  12. Leya – Sweden – Love my family, photography, art, literature, architecture, flowers, trees and dogs, but most of all Nature itself. I also keep on travelling...
    Leya says:

    Impressive! Thank you for taking us – and for making our next trip to Denmark even more fun!

    1. 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 🙂

      1. Leya – Sweden – Love my family, photography, art, literature, architecture, flowers, trees and dogs, but most of all Nature itself. I also keep on travelling...
        Leya says:

        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.

  13. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

  14. Lignum Draco – ... A blog about nothing in particular, because "Candid photography is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get". Photography by "The Wood Dragon" since 2012.
    Lignum Draco says:

    Fascinating. This smaller city certainly packs a punch in sights. I’ve made a note of these places. Thank you.

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