One of my friends recently moved to Aarhus to start the Mundus Journalism program, so I thought I’d pen down some tips for her. That list has now expanded into this blog post because I have too much to say. And after all, sharing (travel tips) is caring.
I am going to preface this post by saying this: I didn’t realize how much I liked Aarhus until I left Aarhus. It’s easy to find yourself complaining about the expensive prices, cold weather, steep hills that break your back while biking, the fact that everything closes at 5pm and nothing is open on the weekends, lack of daylight… you get the point! But, it’s been over six months since I left Denmark and what I remember the most isn’t any of the above; it’s the hygge, the coffee culture, the live music scene, awe-inspiring art, breathtaking scenery and the clean air.
So, if you find yourself in Aarhus, and aren’t sure how to navigate this little big city, then check out my tips:
For the size of the city, Aarhus has a lot of attractions to make you hold on tight to your cameras. These are the must-see spots:
Distinguished by the rainbow panorama skywalk, ARoS is one of the largest museums in northern Europe and the second-most visited in Denmark. The exhibitions keep rotating, but ‘Your Rainbow Panorama’ skywalk continues to be one of the biggest attractions (and the background for many profile pictures).
Den Gamble By
The Old Town is an open-air museum consisting of 75 historical buildings. Opened in 1914 as the first museum of its kind, the Old Town takes you to a different era at every turn. Parts of Den Gamble By are still under construction for new chapters of history to be added to this museum.
Deer Park (Dyrehaven)
If you feel like hanging out with some deer in their natural habitat, then jump on a bus (or get ready for a 20-minute bike ride) to make your way to the Dyrehaven. Make sure you go there with plenty of carrots for the deer and they’ll come right to you. If they are in mating season, they can be slightly aggressive. It’s always a good idea to keep your distance from the stag, regardless of how pretty his antlers look.
If the weather cooperates, join hoards of other sun-hungry Danes along the canal in the city centre. It’s also a good spot for snacking after walking around strøget and window-shopping (let’s be honest: us students can’t afford to really buy anything). If you have time on your hands, stroll all the way to Møllestien (pictured below), often dubbed the prettiest street in Aarhus, and for good reason.
An average Dane consumes 8.7 kg of coffee per annum (the world average is roughly 1.3), but their coffee addiction is not the same as the North American drive-thru, double-double culture. Danish cafes are where the cool kids hang out during the day, and where the caffeine addicts seek refuge. These are some of my favourite go-to spots in Aarhus for a hot beverage:
Tucked away in a small courtyard, on the second floor of a dodgy-looking building, this café is a hipster haven. Students with fashionable glasses hide behind their MacBooks and sip water out of Mason jars at this funky joint, decorated with red accents. Love the vibe or hate it, the folks at LYNfabrikken can make the meanest latte in Aarhus. Non-coffee drinkers might even find their bean a little too bold. The rooftop of the café is also the ideal place to hang out on nice day.
Sigfreds is the best coffee in Aarhus. Period. Done. End of conversation.
Actually no, I’ll say more: you can get your typical lattes or cappuccinos here, but if you are a true coffee connoisseur, you need to try a cup of their black coffee made with the inverted AeroPress. Their process gets rid of the bitterness while leaving a full-bodied taste that’s like a French press, but better (in my opinion).
Check out one of their three locations but the one under the bookstore on Ryesgade is my favourite for the atmosphere.
Located in the Latin quarter, Drudenfuss is more of a lunch place than a traditional café, but I am in love with their chai latte, so I found myself going back there often. Located on a street corner of the cobblestoned neighbourhood, one can spot this café by its signature star symbol (which is also how we referred to it for a long time until we learned how to pronounce it properly). If you happen to be in Aarhus during the summer months, definitely take advantage of their ideally-located patio.
Løve’s Bog- of VinCafe
A café meets a vine bar meets a bookstore? I am there! Decked out with comfy arm chairs, vintage memorabilia and low-hanging lights, Løve’s is the best place to go to if you can’t decide whether you are in the mood for a coffee or a glass of Chardonnay. The big table in the back of the café can accommodate a large party, and it won’t come as a surprise if someone starts playing the grand piano placed there. It’s not unusual for this cafe to host special events including live music and spoken word.
Langhoff & Juul
It’s another one of those places where you are more likely to go for lunch than justa cuppa, but oh-la-la their coffee is so good. The open faced sandwiches on their menu are my personal favourites, and so is their veggie burger, but every time I went to eat here, I found myself ordering their delicious latte. Tea lovers note that they also do good tea.
Aarhus is a university town, so naturally there are several cool bars, pubs and clubs to keep the student population happy. I am going to say the word Studenterhaus now and not mention it again, but if you feel like venturing away from the conveniently favourite spot and into the town, here is where you should go:
Øst for Paradis is an indie cinema with a café that comes live at night. If you are lucky, you’ll stroll in with a live band playing; but if you are luckier, the DJ will be spinning some old school tunes perfect for swing dancing. The drinks menu is quite standard, but folks come here to dance the night away. Paradis nights have been some of the most memorable ones for our crew of friends.
V58 is your quintessential grungy club that showcases the coolest DJs from the region. Make sure you go there quite late because the massive space can seem rather empty unless there is a full crowd.
It’s 3am. You’ve exhausted all the options along the canal but you still want to keep the party going. Or you are just craving a good dose of old school hip-hop. Make your way to Shen Mao, a Ping-Pong bar that plays a “dope” selection of tunes that teleport me back to high school days (in a good way). And yes, I said Ping-Pong. It’s fun. A lot of fun.
Craving a fancy cocktail? Hopefully your craving has peaked on a Thursday and you can head to Herr Bartels for the 2-for-1 cocktail special. This trendy bar has a wide selection of carefully crafted cocktails, but it can be rather difficult to find a seat, so be prepared to lean against the bar. Their Strawberry Daiquiri and Mojito are two of my favourites.
And now I am homesick… for Aarhus. Hope visitors to Denmark find these tips helpful, but obviously there is a lot more to do and see in Aarhus than Roop’s To-Do List. Thanks for reading! xo