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The Appeal of Aarhus

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I once spent a bit of time in Copenhagen… a few months, to be exact. I wrote about why I lived there – and why I love the city so much – in this post. While I spent all that time in Copenhagen, however, I never really explored the rest of Denmark. Call it naivety, call it being broke, call it whatever you want, but the fact is that I never really saw another side of the country.

Fast forward nine years, and I ended up meeting Kathrine at a travel blogging conference. We instantly hit it off and I learned she works for Visit Denmark.

“You should come to my hometown sometime!” she told me. “It’s called Aarhus.” The name rang a bell – I knew that I had met a few people from Aarhus before, and after a bit of research found out that it is known as Denmark’s second city. Only three hours by train from Copenhagen, I was a bit embarrassed that I never made the journey there while I spent time in Denmark.

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View of Aarhus from the Comwell Hotel

True to her word, Kathrine ended up inviting me to Aarhus over the summer. And if I thought I loved Copenhagen… I loved Aarhus just as much. I can’t believe that I didn’t know very much about this city before, but if you are looking for a quintessential European city, look no further than Aarhus. It’s beautiful. It’s full of things to do. It’s chock-full of amazing restaurants. It’s home to some of the most stunning people in all of Europe (OK, that one might be a personal preference). Basically, it’s just so goddamn appealing in every single way.

But I won’t keep blabbing on about why I’m so crazy about Aarhus, and why I think it makes for an amazing place to visit. I’ll just let the photos do the talking.

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My visit to Aarhus coincided with the 2015 edition of Sculpture by the Sea. Denmark’s biggest and most unique outdoor sculpture exhibition, I was able to see over sixty sculptures by artists around the world. As the exhibition happens every two years, make sure to be there summer of 2017!

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Even on a rainy day it was so beautiful to be on the water, which is another reason Aarhus is so appealing. What’s not to love about a city on the sea?

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As I mentioned in my post about Copenhagen, I was totally blown away by the quality of the food in Denmark. I had the chance to visit Haervaerk for an amazing menu that paired wine tastings with locally-sourced food. They base their menu off of the ingredients available to them that day, so expect ever-changing and exceptionally fresh dishes.

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Another absolute winner was Langhoff and Juul, a gorgeous restaurant that focuses on local, organic food. They believe that good quality and good craftsmanship make all the difference, and their beliefs certainly shone through in the meal.

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Even the breakfast buffet at my hotel was to die for.

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I already wrote about how much I loved the ARoS Museum of Modern Art; not only can you visit the beautiful Your rainbow panorama, the museum is filled with floors and floors of eye-opening, though-provoking pieces from Danish and international artists. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Aarhus, and I dare say I’d consider making a trip to Aarhus specifically for this museum.

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Den Gamle By, meaning ‘the old town’, is an open-air museum that showcases the history of Denmark, specifically its culture and architecture. Focusing primarily on three time periods – the 1800s, the 1920s, and the 1970s – you can wander in and out of homes that have both been replicated and restored. You might even meet one of its costumed members of staff, who will be more than willing to chat to you about Danish history.

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But even more than the museums and the restaurants, as always my favourite thing was just to wander around the city and take it all in. Aarhus is small enough to easily explore on foot, but large enough that you’ll need at least a few days to cover it.

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For more shots of the bicycles of Aarhus, check out this post

Aarhus is clean, safe, and the perfect location for just about any traveller: solo females, families, those looking for a weekend getaway, art-lovers, you name it. While all Scandinavian countries are known for being expensive, Aarhus is the kind of city that allows for budget travel: there are hostels in town, and most of what you’ll want to see is outdoors. As Kathrine and I have now become good friends, I know that I’ll be returning to Aarhus in the near future – it’s only about an hour and a half flight from London, after all.

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So, did I convince you? Do you see the appeal of Aarhus? Does it seem like a place you’d like to go?

Check out Visit Denmark for more things to do in Aarhus. Many thanks to them for an amazing trip to Denmark. 

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21 Responses to The Appeal of Aarhus

  1. Ella October 8, 2015 at 1:47 am #

    I love how the rows of houses open onto the cobblestoned roads. Dream!

    • Brenna Holeman October 8, 2015 at 1:56 am #

      I know! It’s so pretty… I love all of the cobblestoned streets of Europe.

  2. Andrea Anastasiou October 8, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    Oooo, pretty! I love the idea of Sculptures by the Sea! I love towns that are artsy. It’s a shame it’s only on once every two years…

    • Brenna Holeman October 9, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

      Thanks for the comment, Andrea! Even without the exhibition the city is very artsy… I hope you get to visit soon. 🙂

  3. Audrey October 8, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

    Well you’ve certainly convinced me to see more than just Copenhagen when I finally do make it to Denmark. It looks like such a fun, artsy city!

    • Brenna Holeman October 9, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

      Ahhhh you guys would love Denmark so much, I just know it! Hope you get there soon.

  4. Katie October 8, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    Wow it does look really nice. I used to book my old boss to fly there all the time because he was part of a research project there but I never knew much about it

    • Brenna Holeman October 9, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

      Ah ha, well I hope that this post inspires you to book your own flight there! 😀

  5. Leah October 9, 2015 at 4:04 am #

    Wow, what a gorgeous city! And I absolutely love all the art installations! It’s a shame the ones by the sea are not permanent or annual. I hope to be back in Scandinavia soon but I don’t want to have to wait until 2017 🙁 Anywho, thanks for introducing me to this beautiful place, it’s on my to-do list now for sure!

    • Brenna Holeman October 9, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

      Yes, it’s too bad they’re not there all the time… but even without the exhibition Aarhus is such an amazing city. I hope you get there soon, I’m sure you’d love it!

  6. Mary October 9, 2015 at 6:58 am #

    Great post and superb photos!

    • Brenna Holeman October 9, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

      Thank you so much, Mary!

  7. Emily October 12, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    So I happened to check your blog just as I was trying to plan where I’ll be traveling during my fall break. I was thinking somewhere in Northern Germany or the Netherlands, but I think Aarhus just got added to the list.

    • Brenna Holeman October 12, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

      Aw, that’s amazing news! I promise you’ll love it! 🙂

  8. Ulla-Brita Carlsen October 20, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    I grew up in Aarhus, and it is certainly far more attractive now than it was in the latter part of the previous century. However, the cobbled streets and cutsey little squint houses are over-represented somewhat in these pictures. They appear to be the norm – that is not the case! Best to avoid presenting a picture that will cause disappointment in those who visit – much better to discover the little gems by happy accident while appreciating a modern city. That is what Aarhus is. Den Gamle By (The Old Town) is a museum, and there is an entrance fee. An excellent museum, but not an integral part of the city as it appears from this post.

    • Brenna Holeman October 20, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

      Thank you for your opinion, but as a tourist, these are the places I saw – I don’t think it’s fair to say that I over-represented or somehow “presented a picture” that will disappoint future tourists. In the three days I spent in Aarhus – three days of walking around a lot – this is what I saw. You could argue that any tourist in any city will usually focus on seeing the “highlights” of a place, so to speak. Imagine what a tourist in London sees in three days compared to what someone who lives in London, like me, sees on a day-to-day basis. I also clearly show photos that aren’t just cobblestone streets, and I clearly state that Den Gamle By is a museum.

      As a new tourist to the city, I feel that my photos very accurately represented what I saw during my visit. Locals will always have a different view.

  9. Zalie October 22, 2015 at 1:20 am #

    I simply adore all of the little houses with their bright colours and flowers outside.

    • Brenna Holeman October 22, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

      Me too, I’d love to live on that street!

  10. Erika (Erika's Travels) October 27, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I consider myself a geography nerd and I’ve never even HEARD of Aarhus. Just goes to show how the picture I had in my head of Denmark is pretty much synonymous with Copenhagen. Glad you enjoyed Aarhus so much and that you introduced me to a new European city!

    • Brenna Holeman October 27, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

      Oh, that’s great to hear, Erika! It’s a terrific city, I hope you get to visit one day 🙂

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    […] in Denmark. I took it, with the condition that I would be able to revisit the capital, too. After an amazing time in Aarhus, I took the three-hour train journey to Copenhagen on my own. As I made my way to my hotel, I […]

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