Aarhus is Denmark’s second largest city, lies on the east coast of Jutland where the river Aarhus flows into picturesque Aarhus Bay. The ever-expanding menu of architectural landmarks, lauded restaurants, bars, festivals and boutiques is a mark of a vibrant city on the rise. It’s a great place to explore – compact, photogenic and friendly.
Best Time to Visit
The best times to visit Aarhus for ideal weather are May to September based on average temperature and humidity.
Top Places to Visit in Aarhus
1. ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum
The ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, one of the largest art museums in Europe, is housed in an impressive ten-story building that is itself a work of art. The real highlight of a visit though, is the museum’s stellar collection of artwork from the Danish Golden Age (1770 to 1900), Danish Modernism (1900 to the 1960s), and contemporary art. Afterwards, stick around for a little sustenance at the onsite café or restaurant, and take in a show, a lecture, or a guided tour.
2. Aarhus Cathedral
The inner city of Aarhus consists of a semi-circle enclosed by a ring road (Ringgade), and at its heart lies the Great Market (Store Torv) in which stands Aarhus Cathedral (Sankt Clemens Kirke), dedicated to St. Clement. While the original structure was begun in the 12th century, the current church dates largely from the early 1500s, with some Romanesque features still to be found in the external walls (the chapels on the east side of the transepts also date from this time). The present façade with its single tower and anchor motif dates from the same period. Highlights of the beautifully bright interior include the winged altar from 1497 with its rich array of figures, along with the beautifully carved 16th-century pulpit, two organs, and a font. The vault paintings date from the 15th century and portray St. Clement as the patron saint of the church and Christ sitting in judgment.
3. Viking Museum and Festival
In the basement of a large bank, the Viking Museum (Vikingemuseet) consists of collections based upon the discoveries made by builders when excavating the bank’s foundations in the 1960s. The museum paints a fascinating picture of the Viking community that made Aarhus its home some thousand or more years ago. Highlights include remains of the ramparts that once surrounded the settlement, a reconstruction of a typical house from the Viking period, and ancient tools. Try to plan your visit to coincide with the famous Viking Moot at Moesgård Beach event, a fascinating weekend in July that attracts would-be Vikings from across Europe to share in the culture and lore of this fascinating period of Danish history. Highlights include battle reenactments and displays of horsemanship, along with traditional Viking boat building and sailing displays.
4. Aarhus Botanical Gardens
Aarhus Botanical Garden (Botanisk Have) was founded in 1875 and covers an impressive 53 acres. Highlights are the large hothouses with subtropical plants from around the world, recently renovated with the addition of a large tropical dome. The gardens are home to a variety of fun summer programs for kids, as well as concerts and shows in the on-site amphitheater. It’s also a pleasant place for a stroll or a picnic, with numerous paths, two small lakes, and plenty of open green space.
5. The Old Town
The Old Town (Den Gamle By) is an open-air museum consisting of more than 75 historic buildings collected from across Denmark, dismantled, and reassembled in Aarhus for preservation. Dating from the 16th to the early 20th century, this remarkable collection has been assembled as if it really was an authentic old town, an effect enhanced by the superb old houses, shops, workshops, and windmills. Highlights include the old Burgomaster’s house from 1597, home to a fine collection of furniture; as well as a merchant’s house; a stilt-house; a two-storied stone house; and a storehouse.