In 2017, the city of Aarhus, located on the east coast of the Jutland peninsula, was granted the prestigious title of « European Capital of Culture ».
A well-deserved honor indeed for this vibrant, eco-conscious, youthful city in full development, with a daring waterfront regeneration program that has transformed the old, rusty container harbour into an impressive recreational and cultural environment. A hotspot for research and technology, and an incubator for innovative ideas, the country's second largest city, where courtesy and politeness rule, has successfully worked its way towards becoming a European destination for the hip and the trendy, while retaining an indefinable, quaint small-town feel. Quite a challenge to meet!
An original artistic and cultural landscape
People in Aarhus have found a very special way of embracing in the urban space their rich cultural heritage going back to the latter decades of the 8th C, when fierce Vikings raided England aboard their ships. They have managed, against all odds, to give it a sharp, refreshing contemporary twist that makes the city so unique.
One of the most striking things, walking down the streets of Aarhus, is the unexpected concentration of outstanding, yet accessible museums, such as the Old Town Museum or the Moesgård Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography (located in a suburb south of town), which gives visitors rich insights into Danish history.
Another remarkable thing to notice about the city is the audacious eclecticism of its architectural styles, from medieval times to the present, giving the sense of « Old meets New ». The cute, pastel-coloured cottages on the picturesque cobbled street named Møllestien, the Rainbow panorama on the roof of ARoS, granting an outstanding view of Aarhus through a colourful glaze of blue, red and yellow, the architectonic Iceberg building and the futuristic Lighthouse, overlooking the bay and meant to become the city's new landmark, all participate in creating a strange, yet harmonious mosaic of colours, shapes and materials hiding architectural gems well worth the look while exploring the city...
Denmark's new capital of « Cool »
An easy-going college-town atmosphere, mixed with a certain dose of Scandinavian efficiency and youthful energy, is prevailing over Aarhus, one of the oldest cities in Scandinavia, yet one of the youngest due to the average age of its important student population. Proud of its dynamic campus, consistently ranked among the world's top universities, the city is multiplying green initiatives and efforts to find practical solutions to some of its urban problems, such as a bicycle-friendly traffic regulation and the protection of Aarhus parks and natural spaces.
Downtown Aarhus, visitors and locals will enjoy an atmospheric cityscape reminiscent of Parisian bohemian settings, with cosy sidewalk cafés, where they may indulge in a cappuccino, a brunch, a dinner or just perhaps a drink. A thriving musical scene, attracting iconic bands and all kinds of festivals, including the fantastic annual NorthSide Festival and the famous Aarhus Festival, one of the major cultural events in Scandinavia, complete this portrait of a city where the practice of Hygge, a typically Danish « quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being », is taken very seriously. Now, that is cool!
The city of Aarhus not only benefits from a great deal of urban parks, particularly popular with joggers and citizens eager to relax and enjoy picnics, weather allowing, but it is also blessed with an exceptional coastal location facing the Kattegat Sea.
North and south of town, several beaches, including Den Permanente, the most popular stretch of sand in the area, lend themselves to scenic walks along the water’s edge. Stretching 7km along the coast, the Marselisborg forests, south of town, are also very popular places for enjoying nature, walking, hiking and of course cycling, the bike being « the Dane's best friend ! »