Guide to Aarhus. Smilets By – City of Smiles

Queen Margrethe II reigns over Greenland, Faroe Islands and Denmark. Copenhagen, The Kingdom of Denmark’s capital, is trendy. You can easily fall in love with it on your first visit. Wait till you see the rest. Aarhus was named the European Capital of Culture. I visit when it is icy cold, but I can see that it must be fantastic in summer also, with lots of cycling paths and inviting terraces near the water. I walk everywhere, seemingly everybody walks or cycles through town, it is that small. People flock to Aarhus for the Northside Festival in and the Aarhus Festival in summer. Here is why you should make your way to Aarhus. See more of Denmark than Copenhagen; you will  get a better impression of the country. 

Travel Denmark. Guide to Aarhus. Smilets By – City of Smiles

Aarhus – Quick Overview

Many islands make Denmark, Jutland is a big part of it and Aarhus in Central Jutland is easy to reach from Copenhagen in less than three hours by train. Aarhus, the so-called capital of Jutland is Denmark’s second largest town. Archaeological excavations show a settlement in today's area of Aarhus in the early Viking Ages, roughly 1300 years ago. Aros, the town's original name refers to its location and can be translated as “the mouth of the river.” The 40-kilometres long Aarhus river flows right through the centre of town which has the fastest growing population in the country. About 300,000 people (the Arhusianers) call the town their home. There is no standing still. Whole former industrial sites get newly designed and created for locals to enjoy life at its best. In Aarhus, you get to see architecture that has been built over a period of 800 years.

Orange-black-painted three-storey medieval timbered house with a green wooden front door and eight white windows.

People cycle along a long row of six-storey red brick houses with white windows.

Ten bicycles parked in front of a multi-storey red brick house with white windows and a massive wooden front door.

Places To Create Most Memorable Moments in Aarhus

Aarhus Cathedral 

Denmark's longest cathedral is dedicated to St. Clements, who was the Roman Pope 100 B.C. According to legend, he died as a martyr after he was drowned with an anchor tied around his neck. More info: Aarhus Cathedral.

A rainbow-coloured painted park bench in front of a red brick cathedral.

Shop for Danish Designers in Aarhus

Are you looking for designers like Envii, Stylepaste, By Malene Birger, Stine Goya, Ganni, and Baum und Pferdgarten. Danish design, be it fashion or furniture is what everybody loves. I highly recommend a browse on the 180 metres long Volden, one of the oldest streets in Aarhus built in the 1500s. At Magasin department store you are going to find all notable Danish designers in one place. From there you can also make your way to the Meulengracht Mansion which dates back to 1816 and houses Illums Bolighus (browsing all floors is well worth it).

Magasin. Immervad 2-8, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark.
Illums Bolighus. Lille Torv 2, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark.
By Malene Birger. Volden 25, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark.
Stine Goya, Volden 4, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark.
Støy. Store Torv 4, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.
Envii, Store Torv 9, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.
Ganni. Guldsmedgade 26, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark.
Samsøe & Samsøe, Klostergade 15, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark

The black and white mural of the upper body of a smoking wrinkly man on the facade of a blue and grey-coloured warehouse, directly next to a body of water and below a crane.

Drink Speciality Coffee at La Cabra

I often travel to find cafés that serve speciality coffee. The passion and dedication of Melbourne's baristas and coffee roasters at independent coffee shops had a huge impact on me as a customer and coffee drinker. There is so much to learn and in last June I even went so far to visit Colombia to learn more about coffee and to see first-hand how it gets cultivated, harvested and processed. I wanted to see where beans grow and better understand how the coffee journeys through the world until it eventually ends in the cups in coffee shops. While walking through the Latin Quarter I find La Cabra, a Scandinavian coffee roaster. After I have two flat whites, I can confirm that the promise to "roast lightly and with great care to retain the natural aromas and flavours that arise from the combination of specific varietals, coffee processing and roasting techniques" is adhered to. I recommend you also order Avocado on sourdough, which tastes to die for, yes really, go and taste it yourself. Coffee La Cabra, Graven 20, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark. Hours: Monday to Saturday 8am to 6pm, Sunday 9am to 5pm. Check the La Cabra website for more information.

Two medium-sized pieces of ciabatta bread with avocado puree, salted almonds, and chives served with a silver fork wrapped in a dark napkin on a dark grey potted ceramic plate.

A coffee decorated with a heart coffee art served in a dark grey potted ceramic cup.

Aarhus Theatre

You find the Aarhus Theatre, with four stages and a total of 1,200 seats, in the heart of town. The glowingly decorated façade of the property in Art Nouveau style from 1900 looks magical, like straight from a fairy tale and generates a sunshine feeling even on a cold day. The Danish architect Hack Kampmann also built the customs house in the harbour of Aarhus. Information: Aarhus Theatre. Teatergaden 1, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

The with birds, dancing, and instrument-playing figurines and ornaments colourful decorated facade of a house with two individual dark wooden entrance doors.

Aarhus Waterfront and Aarhus Ø

The Iceberg - Isbjerget and Aarhus Ø – Aarhus East

Isbjerget - the Iceberg is an apartment building in the harbour a short walk of fifteen minutes away from the centre of town. Aarhus East is the latest borough of Aarhus. The iceberg looks like one imagines an iceberg, and the blue balconies dangle like frozen drops from its facade.

Dokk1, the edgy, timeless, minimalistic culture- and multimedia house, built by architect firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen, sits prominently in the inner harbour of Aarhus, next to a canal that links the Baltic Sea to the centre of town. The harbour in Aarhus meant growth and this is true through to this day. If you arrive by car, use the fully automated parking space, which is Europe’s largest fully automated car park. There is enough space for 1,000 cars and a car can be parked in less than one minute. Visit the website for more information.

Ten see-through light blue glass balconies on the facade of a multi-storey high rise.

Several white multi-storey high rises in the form of icebergs with see-through light blue glass balconies on their facades, under a grey sky.

Large minimalist white- and grey multi-storey property on a wide empty square, under a grey sky.

Walk through Møllestien Lane - Love grows best in little houses

Walk through Indre By till you reach Møllestien Lane (Mill Lane). This is every Instgrammers dream come true cobbled street in the centre of Aarhus. Not only fans of Instagram might love to walk past the row of the tiny half-timbered houses. Most of these colourfull beauties were built in the 18th century, whereas the street has been built in medieval times, by Vikings. From here it is a very short walk of a few hundred metres to to ARoS, Aarhus Modern Art Museum. There is also a beautiful little park, the Møllestien Park.

A slightly weathered red-roofed one-storey pink mini cottage with two off-white windows and a wooden off-white entrance door.

A white-grey bicycle parked in front of a slightly weathered red-roofed one-storey dark grey mini cottage with one off-white window and a wooden off-white entrance door.

A grey and white entrance door on a white red-roofed cottage next to a dark green entrance door of an orange red-roofed cottage on a cobblestone lane.

A black bicycle parked in front of a red-roofed green-painted one-storey mini cottage with two off-white windows and a wooden off-white entrance door, next to a white bicycle parked in front of a red-roofed red-painted one-storey mini cottage with two off-white windows and a wooden off-white entrance door, on a cobblestone lane.

A black bicycle parked in front of a red brick cottage with off-white windows and a wooden off-white- and green entrance door.

ARoS Aarhus 

ARoS is one of the largest museums in Northern Europe. Walk through the rainbow panorama, a 150 meters long, circular panoramic path with 360º views of Aarhus.

Information: Aros Alle 2, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark. Tickets: Adults 130.00 DKK, children free. Tuesday, Thursday – Sunday 10am to 5pm, Wednesday 10am to 10pm. Accessibility ARoS: The museum has lifts up to the entrance, to all exhibition galleries and the rainbow panorama. Visit AroS Aarhus.

A white seagull flies in front of a multistorey cubic red brick house, where six people walk through its giant see-through glass ring on the property's roof.

Den Gamle By 

This is the old town and an open-air town museum. All houses, gardens, dwellings, shops and workshops originate from towns all over Denmark, some date as far back as the 16th century, and have been re-built in this museum. Information Den Gamle By: Viborgvej 2, 8000 Aarhus, Denmark. Tickets: Free for everyone under the age of 18. Accessibility: streets are cobbled. Visit Den Gamle By.

A white park bench next to a group of medieval red-roofed timbered white-, red-, and orange houses.

How to get to Aarhus 

You can visit Aarhus easily by car or train within a few hours from any of the North European countries. You can also reach Aarhus by plane or by ferry. Visit all websites to see what is the best option for you.

Best Time To Travel to Aarhus and What To Pack 

To be honest, you wouldn't travel to Denmark to frolic in the sun. There are sunny days of course, even in winter, but in general, it is a rather nippy-ish country. It obviously depends on how you handle or experience cold or hot climates. The average temperature is 7.5 degrees Celsius, with August, the warmest month of the year offering an average temperature of 15.5 degrees Celsius. That means when you plan to visit in winter, pack proper warm clothes (beanie, gloves, scarf and winter boots), and I would certainly go so far as to say bring a face cream that protects your skin from the cold. When you plan to visit in autumn or spring, better to bring all the aforementioned warm clothes and also lighter ones (in case it is mild already). In summer you will need a jacket, long trousers, and there will, of course, be days when you can wear summer dresses and sandals and go for a swim in the sea.

Aarhus, the city of smiles is worth a visit, be it in winter, spring, summer or autumn.

A five-storey red brick house with white windows and a brown wooden entrance door.

A yellow-painted multi-storey period property next to an advertising mural in bright yellow and red, that promotes the end of nuclear power with the words 'Atomkraft? Nej tak' in Danish.

More Denmark? 
Please read my articles about Esbjerg and Copenhagen:

Esbjerg, Denmark. Art, architecture, UNESCO listed nature and drip coffee.

Hej Copenhagen – how I fell in love in just one weekend.

Hej Copenhagen – Stay at retro Hotel Alexandra.

Copenhagen. Breakfast and a browse at TORVEHALLERNE.

From Berlin with love