Denmark’s second city, Aarhus is often overlooked in favour of Copenhagen, but the vibrant Danish city is one that deserves attention and makes for a wonderful city break. It’s filled with culture, interesting shops, pretty architecture, and some truly fabulous food. This post is a run-down of the best things to do in Aarhus, Denmark, including museums, restaurants, hotels and shops.
Things to do in Aarhus, Denmark
Bridges and Balloons favourites
- Get the perfect photo at the My Rainbow Panorama installation at ARoS Museum of Modern Art.
- Be charmed by the cute houses on Mollestein
- Experience Danish hygge at the cute restuarant Langhoff and Juul
- Try some local specialities and food from around the world at the Aarhus street food market.
1. Get the ultimate Instagram at the ARoS Museum of Modern Art
Don’t miss the ARoS museum of modern art, and specifically the Your rainbow panorama and Out of the Darkness exhibitions. All together there are nine different spaces, featuring Danish works from the Golden Age to the present day. The temporary exhibitions focus on international artworks, including film, sculpture, architecture and more. This is our number one pick of what to do in Aarhus.
2. Visit the Moesgaard Museum (MOMU)
The newly opened Moesgaard Museum (MOMU) is a fantastic state-of-the-art anthropology museum, which feature world-class temporary exhibitions as well as an impressive permanent collection. One of the highlights is coming to face-to-face with a series of hominins, an example of early human beings. The sleek architecture of the museum building makes it worth a visit in itself.
3. Wander the Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter is a charming, cobblestoned part of the city with plenty of cosy cafes, restaurants and artisan shops. It’s the ideal place to take a wander, stop for coffee and a pastry, and soak up local life.
4. Take some photos of the cutest street in Aarhus
If you’re looking for the perfect Instagram shot, Mollestein is a cute little street with lots of picturesque houses, perfect for taking photos.
5. Explore Aarhus Ø
Aarhus Ø is a brand new ‘area of the city that has arisen out of the expansion of the waterfront, providing a contrast to the old Latin Quarter. It’s home to the Strandbaren beach bar, which is popular in the summer months.
6. Delve in the city’s creative scene at Godsbanden
Godsbanen is a creative hub for the arts with open workshops, studios, project rooms, theatre stages, auditoriums and dance halls. It’s an interesting place to visit and take a peek into Aarhus’s creative cultural scene. It’s housed in what was once one of Denmark’s largest train freight yards.
7. Uncover Denmark’s history at Den Gamle By
Den Gamle By old town is a living museum where you can experience life in Denmark in the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s. It’s really well done and we particularly loved the 1970s building, which captures a time when Danes were starting to live in communes and women were becoming more independent.
8. Take a boat trip around the harbour
Take a trip around the Aarhus Harbour with the Aarhus SeaRangers. They offer a range of different guided tours, including ‘Aarhus from the seaside’, which tells the story of the vikings of Aros and the new Aarhus island. If you’re lucky, you might spot some marine life, including seals and porpoises. Another option is a trip to Tunø Island where you also get to explore and have dinner on the island.
9. Take a day trip to Samso or the Mols Bjerge National Park
Located in East Jutland, the Mols Bjerge National Park is a beautiful place to visit as day trips from Aarhus. Head 25 minutes out of the city to Djursland where you’ll find 250km of coastline where you can hike, or visit the amusement park, zoo or glass museum. Samso. Another day trip option is Samsø island where you’ll find beautiful nature, family-friendly beaches, and the perfect place to relax.
10. Do some local shopping
Aarhus is one of the best shopping cities in Scandinavia and is particularly good for independent boutiques and vintage stores. The best place to go first is Strøget, a pedestrian street filled with shops of every type.
11. Get your kicks at Tivoli Friheden
Tivoli Friheden is an amusement park in the city centre, including the Sky Tower freefall ride, which combine bungee jumping and sky diving. It’s not for the feint of heart!
12. Ride around the city
Do like the Danes and hop on a bike to get around the city. Aarhus is a bike-friendly city, and you can hire one or book a bike tour at Cycling Aarhus.
13. Visit the tropical houses at the botanical garden
Botanical gardens are always one of my favourite attractions and Aarhus has a beautiful one with four different climate zones, featuring plants from all over the world. Find out more here.
14. Enjoy some local food
Hærværk restauarnt is highly recommended. It was awarded a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin guide, and we enjoyed a fantastic meal there. They focus on unusual ingredients and catered well for vegetarians. Another restaurant we highly recommend is Langhoff and Juul, which focuses on organic food in a cosy setting filled with antiques and Danish design. It does hygge very well. And also pay a visit to theAarhus Central Food Market and Aarhus Street Food Market, which are open all year round.
Top Aarhus travel tips
Where to stay in Aarhus
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Comwell Hotel Aarhus
We stayed at a very stylish design hotel called Comwell Hotel Aarhus*. The corner rooms have fantastic views, and there’s also a great gin bar.
Rooms start at $125. Find the best deals and book now*.
Hotel Oasia* is charming hotel in the heart of the city, close to the train station and City Hall.
Rooms start at $120. Find the best deals and book now*.
Marselis Hotel-Aarhus is situated close to the bay of Aarhus with views to the beach, city and forests. It’s next to the Moesgaard Museum.
Rooms start at $110. Find the best deals and book now*.
Scandic Aarhus City
For a cool option in the city, try Scandic Aarhus City*, which is just minutes from many of the best attractions including the picturesque Latin Quarter.
Rooms start at . Find the best deals and book now*.
Radisson BLU Scandinavia Hotel
Aarhus has some beautiful AirBnB properties, showcasing gorgeous Danish design. Use this link* to get £20 off your first booking.
How to get to Aarhus
Aarhus is just 1 hour and 40 minutes from London. Ryanair do cheap flights from Stansted Airport.
You could also combine your trip to Aarhus with a visit to Copenhagen, which is 3.5 hours driving, or 2 hours 50 mins by train. We visited Copenhagen in January and loved it so much, we can’t wait to go back. We spent our time there in search of special places to stay, eat and drink and we’ve written a guide about all the best and hygge things to do in Copenhagen, as well as a reviews of a Copenhagen boutique hotel and a trendy hostel. Copenhagen is a very photogenic city so we’ve also posted a photo essay of our best Copenhagen instagrams. Let us know if you visit. We’d love to know how you like it.
Don’t forget your travel insurance
Don’t forget your travel insurance! We recommend World Nomads* or True Traveller* who both offer reliable, comprehensive cover, including medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities*. You can buy both True Traveller and World Nomads insurance even when you’ve left home, which is unusual for travel insurance companies.
If you decide to hire a car, book with Rentalcars.com*. We find they always have the best deals.
Some photo inspiration for Aarhus
The Latin Quarter
ARoS Art Museum
Den Gamle By
We also have posts that are specifically dedicated to the incredible Your Rainbow Panorama by Olafur Eliasson at ARoS museum of modern art, and the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition on Aarhus’s seafront. It’s a great city to visit for its own merits, but would also be good to combine with a trip to Copenhagen.
We went to Aarhus as guests of Visit Denmark, but as always all opinions are our own.
*Affiliate link (we get a small percentage of any booking you make, at no extra cost to you).