Confession time: I’ve lived in Denmark for almost five years and prior to last weekend, I had never been to Aarhus.
I fully understand if you judge me. I judge myself! Especially since I’ve seen first-hand that Aarhus is in fact quite awesome. Denmark’s “Second City”, “The City of Smiles”, and it’s even the European Capital of Culture 2017! It’s quite obvious that I’d been slowly running out of excuses for not having visited yet.
A while back, we got a gift card for a hotel stay, which we decided to use for a weekend trip to Aarhus. It’s about a three-hour drive from Copenhagen – you can catch a train or coach, too, or even a water plane, if you’re so inclined. But we wanted to visit the boyfriend’s grandma on our way back home, and she lives about half an hour outside the city, so our choice fell on the car.
We left early Saturday morning and arrived at the hotel around noon, and promptly headed off towards the city.
Aarhus Street Food
We arrived in Aarhus just in time for lunch, so we parked the car and headed towards Aarhus Street Food. Similar to Copenhagen Street Food, the food stalls and trucks are placed in an old industrial building, so the market is available year-round. There’s outdoors seating and a bar as well as plenty of benches and tables inside.
We took a quick tour around the hall, and decided on our lunch menu. The boyfriend went with a curry and small spring rolls from Tuk Tuk, while I chose a three cheese sandwich from Grilled Cheese.
The Thai curry was really good, but I have to say I wasn’t as thrilled with my grilled cheese (which I’d really been looking forward to). The three cheeses used were mozzarella, gouda, and Danish “vesterhavsost”. None of these are very strong in flavor, so the sandwich ended up tasting a little bit bland, and after about half of it, it was just A LOT of cheese. I would’ve loved some sharp cheddar in there, to spice it up a notch. They do have two other varieties, one with portobello mushrooms and truffle oil, and one with chorizo, which I would think are a bit more exciting.
On our first walk around to check out the food stalls, I had spotted a sign that I couldn’t ignore. It said “Crème Brûlée Donuts”. I don’t think I need any more words to describe them – the pictures speak for themselves!
You can get these babies at a cake shop called Cheesecaken. On our way out, I grabbed a strawberry and champagne ice cream at Popsicle, because you can totally have two desserts when you’re on vacation. Feel free to quote me on this.
On Sunday, after our morning visit to ARoS Museum, we had originally planned to check out Aarhus Central Food Market, which is similar to Copenhagen’s Torvehallerne, but we found that most of the stalls were closed – whether that was due to the fact that it was Sunday, or July, I don’t know. Initially slightly disappointed, we decided that just meant we could try some more stalls at Aarhus Street Food.
The boyfriend went with classic Danish comfort food from Mormors Køkken (grandma’s kitchen): mørbradgryde, a sort of pork stew with bacon, small cocktail sausages, and loads of heavy cream. Served over rice, this is what your Danish grandma would cook for you, if you had a Danish grandma.
I opted for a veggie bánh mì from Bánh Mì Bandits, with avocado, pickled carrots, hoisin sauce, and chili. I really liked their bread, which was a bit more brioche-like than the usual French baguette. While I was away getting my sandwich, the boyfriend had found me a rhubarb lemonade, which was amazing, too.
If you’re in Aarhus, the street food market is a must-visit. They have a great selection, and the location can’t be beat. Side note if you’re on a budget: all stalls must have at least one dish for DKK 50 or under.
Aarhus Street Food | Ny Banegårdsgade 46, 8000 Aarhus | aarhusstreetfood.com
Walking the city
Bellies full, a little walk seemed like the obvious choice. One thing that’s really great about Aarhus is that it’s so walkable. Both days, we parked the car at a relatively central spot and simply left it there while we explored the city on foot.
From the street food market, we made our way down to the canal, Aarhus Å. It’s lined with cafes, bars, and restaurants, and is a really popular spot for a post-shopping coffee or some drinks in the evenings.
We ventured on to the cathedral, Aarhus Domkirke, where we hung out for a while browsing the flea market on the little square in front of it. The weather had cleared up considerably, and we now had blue skies with soft, fluffy clouds and sunshine.
By the cathedral, I spotted this awesome little moped – they’re called Simson Schwalbe and were produced in East Germany from the 1960s to the 1980s. I actually used to own one just like this one, just that mine was fire engine red. I loved it – they are so fun to ride!
Kvindemuseet – The Women’s Museum
Just behind the cathedral, we stumbled upon the Danish Women’s Museum and impulsively decided to head on inside. It is situated in the old town hall, a beautiful old building. The museum is focused on women’s history and the fight for equal rights. There’s a really cool exhibit that’s interesting for kids and adults alike, following girls and boys born in different centuries and examining what kind of clothes they would have worn, what toys they would have had, and generally, how their lives would have looked.
On the top floor, there was an exhibit by Australian artist Deborah Kelly called “Venus Envy”, which consists of collages displayed on large banners as well as a video installation. In a participatory art piece, visitors are invited to make their own collages out of magazines, newspapers, and other images.
I’d recommend a visit to the Women’s Museum, it’s not too huge so won’t take up endless hours, but it’s really informative and well-designed. The interactive part about girls’ and boys’ history would also be really exciting for kids.
Kvindemuseet | Domkirkepladsen 5, 8000 Aarhus | kvindemuseet.dk | entrance DKK 65
Latinerkvarteret – The Latin Quarter
From the Women’s Museum, it’s just a quick walk into the Latin Quarter, with its quaint little streets and colorful houses. This is arguably the most hip area of Aarhus, and that Satuday, it was full of students enjoying the sun with a cup of coffee or lunch from one of the cafes that line the streets.
We took a break at La Cabra, which all of Instagram agrees is the best coffee shop in Aarhus. Naturally, I had to try for myself, and their Americano was pretty good (although they forgot to add the milk I asked for and I was too lazy to go inside and get some). It’s also an excellent spot to sit and people-watch, if you’re so inclined.
La Cabra Coffee Roasters | Graven 20, 8000 Aarhus | lacabra.dk
On a side street, we also found the cutest little farm food store called Landmad Aarhus, which sells local seasonal produce, jams, oils, soaps, and kitchenware. They were just about to close when we walked in, but I wanted to buy everything! They have a little cafe attached to the store, too.
Landmad Aarhus | Studsgade 6, 8000 Aarhus C | landmad.dk
Dinner at the hotel
The gift card we had received was for a night’s stay at the hotel including breakfast and a two-course, chef’s choice dinner at the hotel restaurant.
So Saturday night, after a little rest from the day’s walking, we made our way down to the hotel’s bar for a little pre-dinner drink. Mojito for him, whiskey sour for me. Cheers!
Dinner consisted of a starter and a main course, both of which were pre-selected by the kitchen.
We started with a veal terrine with pickled yellow turnip, garlic mayonnaise, and salad, followed by cockerel with pear, pickled red onion, and ramson butter. Everything was really good, and service was nice as well. Seeing as we’d both had a cocktail before dinner, we simply shared a half bottle of Sauvignon Blanc over the two courses.
We really liked the hotel – it’s a classic Danish “kro” with quite a few rooms, a conference center, etc., modernized and with all amenities you could want. It’s about 13km outside of the city center, but it’s a super quick and easy drive, if you have a car. Alternatively, there are buses going from the hotel to Aarhus.
Montra Hotel Sabro Kro | Viborgvej 780, 8471 Sabro | sabrokro.dk
That’s about it for our first day in Aarhus – there will be a separate post on the ARoS museum up next week.
Have you been to Aarhus, or are you planning to go? What are your favorite places? Let me know in the comments, and of course feel free to share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest if you found it useful!