Read on to see what we, the travel savants known as In Your Pocket, recommend as he absolute must-do things in Aarhus. This is the City of Smiles, and while we won’t go so far as to use some kind of smile-related quip, we will say that ticking all of these things off your bucket list will result in the corners of your mouth turning skyward and a pleased expression making itself known on your face. See!
Rainbow panoramas and stunning art
ARoS is the finest museum in Aarhus, the undoubted gem in the city’s cultural crown. One of the largest art museums in Northern Europe, it is home to a fantastic mix of iconic Danish art and some fabulous pieces from international artists. The highlight? Well, that has nothing to do with the art at all, funnily enough. Known as ‘Your Rainbow Panorama’, the circular skywalk at the museum’s head is a multi-coloured piece of majesty that will improve your mood and give you some immense photo opportunities in the process. Stunning.
Travel back in time
Not literally, although if you do have that ability then we’d like to have a word. Den Gamle By is Aarhus’ old town museum, the first open-air museum of its kind in the world an absolute joy to wander around. Home to 75 museums displaying the architectural trends of more than 20 Danish town throughout history, Den Gamle By is a must when in Aarhus. If you get a chance to dress up in traditional garb, you should always take that opportunity.
Get spooked out underground
The Church of Our Lady generally leaves the headlines to the massive Aarhus Cathedral, but the city’s second most important church has something significant in its back pocket, although by ‘back pocket’ we mean ‘cellar’. The crypt church here is a stone beauty dating back to the 11th century, a real piece of history that will inspire and intrigue in equal measure. Just don’t get stuck down there.
Go to jail
Don’t actually go to jail. New series of ‘Banged Up Abroad’ may have lost their previous charm, but we don’t need to see any IYP-inspired criminal behaviour, no thanks. You absolutely should visit the Aarhus Courthouse though, a gorgeous early 20th century Art Nouveau built to deal with the growing number of criminals in the city. A real beauty this one.
Head to the harbour
Aarhus Ø is the up and coming part of town, as money is pumped into regenerating the harbour and putting new life into the port. Called Aarhus Ø, the area is home to some curious spots and some seriously productive centres, although few match the excellence of the Isbjerget on the aesthetic front. These residential buildings are some of the most unusual in Europe.
Ride the rides
We love an amusement park here at In Your Pocket, so of course we annually await the opening of Tivoli Friheden with the most baited breath. The amusement park in Aarhus is a bucket of fun and then some, with a variety of rollercoasters, water rides and all the rest. It is also an absolute delight at Christmas.
Dive deep into cultural Aarhus
Aarhus is a city with multiple fingers on all sorts of artistic pulses, a town that isn’t afraid to showcase new ideas to the world. There are a number of excellent venues and centres throughout town, but Godsbanen takes the figurative biscuit. It also happens to be all sorts of beautiful. Dokk1 is definitely worth a look as well, home to the largest public library in Scandinavia. If you’re after inspiration, you’ll find it here.
Solve a millennia-long mystery
Okay, it isn’t actually a mystery, but it is difficult to avoid going into full McNulty mode when visiting the Grauballe Man at the Moesgaard Museum. This bog body has been perfectly preserved since the 3rd century BC, the victim of a murder whose body was hurled into the bog and left for history to deal with. History was a little bit busy, so the body is almost disturbingly well-preserved. The Moesgaard is full of intriguing stuff like this.
Picnic in the palace
You can’t actually eat a picnic at Marselisborg Palace, but you can definitely enjoy the gardens (provided the royals aren’t home). So pack that hamper with a fine selection of traditional treats and head here when the weather is good — if you close your eyes tight enough, you might just be the next in line for the throne.
Aarhus is a gorgeous place with plenty going on, but it is also a city that is fully aware of its struggles and how important they were in shaping it. The Women’s Museum, Ovatarci Museum and Occupation Museum are three very different museums but all play an important role in laying out struggle, development and understanding. If you can visit all three, you’ll be all the better for it.
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