Denmark’s second city is definitely on the up, a big reason for it being named one of two European Capitals of Culture in 2017. The City of Smiles, as it is delightfully known, is quite compact and small, making it easy to explore when you stop by during one of our Baltic cruises.
However, this being Denmark, it can be quite expensive to spend some time here. But that’s where our guide to ‘3 free things to do’ comes in. So, as you sail to countries like Sweden, Finland and Russia, we’ve got some must-do experiences for when the ship arrives in Aarhus.
Immerse Yourself In The Arts
One of the biggest cultural characteristics of Aarhus is the city’s love for the arts. Architecture, painting, poetry and even stand-up comedy can all be enjoyed, showcasing the blend of modern and historical aspects that exist in this part of Denmark. To enjoy some of this, Aarhus Ø is a great place to start. This new district is the result of a transformation that has been carried out on the old harbour. As the city expands, the area is growing and the plan is for it to become its own bustling town within 20 years.
As you wonder through the new waterfront, you’ll notice plenty of modern architecture that stands out. Many of these buildings are part of a project that involves five structures with designs that are linked to the sea. For example, Lighthouse is Denmark’s tallest residential building, whilst Iceberg (above) is an apartment complex with whitewashed walls and pointed roofs.
Other highlights of Aarhus Ø include the new Harbour Bath, where it’s free to swim in the circular diving pool, and Dokk1. As well as the multimedia services offered by this modern library, Dokk1 also has performance areas where free public shows often take place. And speaking of performing arts that you can enjoy for free, regular recitals are held in the foyer of the giant Aarhus Concert Hall.
Finally, as your stay stretches into the evening, you can squeeze the last of the artistic highlights out of the day. If it happens to be the fourth Thursday of the month, there’s a big chance that the Y Aarhus Poetry Club will be reading some of their work at Løve's Bog- og VinCafé. Or, if comedy is more your thing, a thrilling line-up of stand-up fills the air at regular open mic nights in Alberts Bar. Both events are free and usually in English.
Get Back To Nature
There are two main areas where you can enjoy Aarhus’s beautiful nature during your Baltic cruise. The first, the Botanical Garden, is located within the city centre and comprises a lush, green park that is perfect for romantic walks and a series of greenhouses (væksthusene) where you can learn about flora from around the world. These tropical houses include interactive displays and outside there is the opportunity to experience the type of natural landscapes that are found in Denmark.
More natural areas beckon beyond the city limits, though, and this next attraction is for lovers of fauna. The Marselisborg Deer Park is open to the public from 8am until sunset and is home to a variety of different species. Unsurprisingly, large numbers of deer roam the grassy areas, approaching occasionally to take some apple or carrot from your hand. There are also wild boar in a separate enclosure and ducks have free rein of the park.
Discover Viking Origins
The Vikings are an important part of history across Scandinavia and so a great way to learn about Aarhus’s past is by visiting the Viking Museum. Located in the basement of a bank, where a large number of Viking artefacts were found during building work in the 1960s, the exhibits attempt to show what life would have been like for the group which founded the city in this spot some 1200 years ago.
Nearby, you’ll find a place called ‘Immervad’ or, literally, ‘the place you can always cross’. This is the exact spot where Aros (the original settlement) was founded and is a great part of town in which to grab a coffee or some lunch.
If your interest lies more in modern history, though, you can find this at Marselisborg Castle. This is the official summer residence of the Danish royal family and they often spend time there throughout the year. When they are around, you can watch the traditional changing of the guard ceremony every day at noon.
Another dose of history can be found at the Aarhus Cathedral. Stretching back to 1201, the building boasts both Romanesque and Gothic features and is home to an elaborate alterpiece created by renowned German artist Bernt Notke, who made his name during the Gothic period. Admission to the cathedral itself is completely free, but there’s the option to climb the tower for a small fee.
If you would like to book a Baltic cruise that visits Aarhus, our team can help you find the perfect itinerary. You can call us on 0800 035 0701 or contact us through the website.