Aarhus is Denmark’s second-largest city and the nation’s industrial center. It has a population of about 300,000 people.
The city is also home to Aarhus University and the Aarhus School of Business.
About 50% of the city’s population is employed by businesses and industries related to trade, so the city has a solid service-based economy.
This thriving industrial city is also full of history, culture, nature, and fun things to do.
Here are the 18 best things you can do in Aarhus:
1) Enjoy the Aarhus Art Museum. (ARoS)
ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum is the largest art museum in Scandinavia and is dedicated to contemporary art.
Exhibitions here are always interesting, with a wide variety spanning all forms of modern and contemporary artwork, including paintings, sculptures, installations, etc.
The building is a masterpiece designed by famous Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen.
The entry fee includes free access to the observation deck on the top floor providing panoramic views of Aarhus at night with Skjoldhøjkilen park and Marienlyst beach in the foreground.
The museum has a collection of about 6,000 pieces, most of which come from influential Danish artists.
This includes works by Asger Jorn, Vilhelm Lundstrøm, Richard Mortensen, Robert Jacobsen, Olafur Eliasson, Elmgreen & Dragset, and more.
2) Shop on Mejlgade Street.
Mejlgade is one of Denmark’s oldest shopping streets that connects the Latin Quarter to the Aarhus River.
There are old architecture buildings with shops on the ground floor and apartments above them on Mejlgade street dating back to the mid-1800s.
You can find clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry, and more. There are also cafes, restaurants, and bars along the street.
3) Have a drink at Studenterhuset bar on Store Torv Square
Store Torv in Aarhus’s most central square with many cafes, restaurants, and bars. Studenterhuset is a popular nightlife spot that serves beer, wine, and cocktails.
There are two floors’ indoor and outdoor seating areas where you can meet up with friends, enjoy relaxed conversation, or just people-watch.
4) Have drinks at Dokk1 bar
Dokk1 is an award-winning public library designed by Danish architecture firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, which won the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award (Mudie Award) for the building’s excellence in design and functionality, and sustainability.
The library includes an elevated multi-level park above the main entrance, accessed via stairs or elevators. The park offers panoramic views of the city.
5) Attend concerts at Musikhuset concert hall
Musikhuset is a modern concert hall located near Aarhus University. It is the primary venue for classical music, opera, dance, and musicals.
The facility can accommodate almost 2,000 guests, depending on the seating arrangement.
Three auditoriums host performances by both Danish and international artists throughout the year.
6) Attend shows at Århus Teater
Århus Teater was established in 1942 as a public-owned theatre to promote original works by local playwrights, among other things.
Many well-known Danish actors have played leading roles here, including Bjarne Henriksen, who is still associated with the theatre today.
The building in which the theatre is housed dates back to 1898 and is one of Denmark’s oldest, still in use in its original form.
7) Enjoy a cruise along the Aarhus River.
Aarhus River runs directly through the heart of Aarhus, offering beautiful city views.
Cruise ships sail up and down the river, with some stopping at Mols Bjerge harbor in Århus Bugten bay to pick up passengers for day trips.
A water taxi service travels along the Aarhus River from Aarhus Harbour on one side of the river to Åboulevarden on the opposite bank.
8) Experience local life at Den Gamle By open-air museum
Den Gamle By is one of Europe’s largest outdoor museums, with over 75 historic buildings relocated here for preservation and exhibition showcasing Danish culture, domestic life, and architecture dating back to 1914.
Buildings include homes, shops, cafes, schools, etc.
Entry into the park is complimentary, while some buildings are only open during busier months, so it is best to check beforehand if you are interested in visiting specific structures.
9) Go underground at Moesgaard Museum.
Moesgaard Museum presents archaeological discoveries made in Denmark over the past 100 years, including Bronze Age burial mounds, Viking ships, etc.
The exhibits are displayed within concrete tunnels, which you can explore on foot or in wheelchairs, and via short films inside purpose-built cinemas.
The entry fee includes a guided tour of the museum, which starts every half hour apart from Fridays, where tours start every 15 minutes instead to cater to greater demand.
10) Take pictures on the Aarhus beach.
Aarhus Beach is situated between the main marina and Søbadet public swimming baths.
It has an outdoor stage facing the sea where concerts are held during summer weekends.
Plenty of cafes and restaurants serve lunch, dinner, or drinks overlooking the water, making for a perfect place to watch the sunset after a long day of fun.
11) Shop at Bruuns Galleri shopping mall
Bruun’s Galleri is one of the largest shopping malls in Scandinavia, with over 100 shops, including international brands like Zara, H&M, Emporio Armani, etc.
You can also find specialty store items like jewelry, toys, electronics, and more.
12) Watch wildlife at Aarhus Bugt Nature Reserve.
Aarhus Bugt Nature Reserve is located outside the city center near Lammefjorden lake.
You can take a short walk across one of three footbridges spanning reed beds where birds like storks, herons, and egrets are known to breed.
During winter, the reserve is a famous hunting ground for ducks and other waterfowl.
13) Have a picnic at Marienlyst Park
Marienlyst Park is a large green area with open spaces perfect for outdoor sports and entertaining kids with playgrounds and various play features such as trampolines.
It has over 450,000 visitors annually, making it one of the city’s most popular recreational spots for locals and tourists alike.
14) Kvindemuseet (Women’s Museum)
Kvindemuseet is Aarhus’s latest addition to its wide range of museums and houses exhibits on women’s lives throughout history.
The museum portrays stories from a female perspective through various media, including photos, videos, and sound recordings.
The entry includes guided tours every half hour to learn about influential Danish women from past centuries.
15) Walk Aarhus City Hall
Aarhus City Hall is a beautiful pale building with yellow and grey tiles built in the early 1930s.
You can visit this iconic landmark and learn about its history at the city hall museum inside, where you can see the mayor’s room, council chambers, former council members’ chambers, and public gallery.
There are guided tours available every half hour.
16) Visit Aarhus Botanical Gardens
Aarhus Botanical Gardens house one of the largest plant collections in Scandinavia, including rare species worldwide.
The greenhouse rooms of the botanical garden are devoted to four distinct global climate regions.
There are also indoor and outdoor cafes where you can have lunch or a coffee while admiring the garden’s natural beauty.
17) Relax at the city’s many spas
The many spas around Aarhus offer many treatments, including massages, steam baths, salt baths, mud packs, etc.
The menu includes gender-specific and unisex options from which visitors can choose according to their preferences.
18) Visit the Latin Quarter
Latin Quarter is a vibrant district with cobbled streets and even more colorful houses known for being home to the city’s bohemians, intellectuals, and students.
It has many great restaurants serving food from all corners of the world and cafes, pubs, and bars where you can chill out after a long day of touring around Aarhus.