Aarhus Denmark is the country’s bohemian capital, a town known most for its high student population and thriving arts scene. Denmark’s second largest city, only Copenhagen attracts more tourists year-round. A mere fraction of Copenhagen’s size and population, Aarhus does not have a Legoland or Amalienborg Palace to show off - it does, however, have the Aarhus Festival, a rollicking combination of entertainment, featuring everything from concerts and art exhibitions to interminable beer gardens and sporting events. All this happens in the first week of September and Aarhus hotels are booked months in advance of the anticipated celebration.
But Aarhus Denmark has much to offer during the remainder of the year. What began centuries ago as a Viking settlement on the east coast of Jutland, Aarhus evolved into one of the most spirited centers of higher learning in the country. It still retains some of its history as one of the busiest ports in Europe, along with a yearly reenactment of Viking battles, and proudly refers to itself as “the world’s smallest big city.”
Outside of the arts, another aspect that helps pack Aarhus hotels is the city’s fortuitous location, as it is just a few miles from a picturesque array of beaches, castles and forests. Just south is the Marselisborg Castle, a regal palace that stretches gracefully across the countryside, a castle that’s every bit the equal of Copenhagen’s Rosenborg or Amalienborg. Nearby, you can also find the Prehistoric Museum – a 250 acre forest that feels like stepping back into the Jurassic period, minus all the pesky dinosaurs.
Aarhus Denmark also stakes its reputation as one of the best places in the country to grab a drink. Stroll alongside the Aarhus Creek and you will all kinds of bars and cafes that have cropped in recent years as the city’s teeming nightlife is always a constant tourist draw. Deep in the streets near the old town, the drinking goes steady and joyfully into the small hours of the night. Some of the most unique (though not cheap) Aarhus hotels can be found here, lining the main streets of Vestergade and Gronnegade.
But if you can power through your haze of alcohol, the old town has a lot of historic monuments to visit during the day. One center of civic pride is the Den Gamle By, the national museum of urban culture and history. The place is completely open-air and houses 75 Danish buildings, perfectly preserved to show visitors what Denmark looked like hundreds of years ago. Nothing inside the museum feels touched by progress, an entirely authentic look at how the country and society as a whole have evolved.