Copenhagen’s Cooler Little Brother
By Sean Earley
Denmark seems to be having a moment. With ‘nordic noir’ more popular than ever (The Killing, Borgen, The Bridge); Danish actors such as Nikolaj Coster Waldau (Game of Thrones) and Sidse Babett Knudsen (Westworld) taking Hollywood by storm; and the phenomenon of ‘hygge’ – the Danish concept of cosiness – there has been no better time to head north. Many suggest Copenhagen, but the capital is so 2016. The place to be seen is the 2017 European Capital of Culture – Aarhus. As Denmark’s ‘second city’, it’s less Birmingham and more San Fran, with impressive architecture, great coastal location, fantastic retail opportunities, and a cultural scene most cities would envy. The 2017 European Capital of Culture is set to put Aarhus on the map, with the year-long festival attracting huge investment and international attention. Make Aarhus your next weekend get-away and experience exhibitions, performances, concerts and events all-year-round.
To fully experience the Danish way of life, the best option is to stay in an Airbnb. This allows you to become a fully-fledged local, allowing yourself to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, to a ‘hyggeligt’ (cozy) and stylish apartment above the cobbled streets. An Airbnb is also the cheapest option – with an entire apartment for two adults costing between £50-£70 a night. A hotel room could set you back upwards of £90.
The city is split into various quarters, each one different from the next. If you’re a fan of people watching and have an appreciation for architecture then head straight to the Latin Quarter. The area, located in the city centre, feels like a quaint French village with its winding side streets, smoky bars and boutique stores. Grab a beer and watch the world go by, or explore the alleyways whilst admiring the architecture of the nearby Cathedral and Theatre.
After exploring the Latin Quarter it’s time to grab some dinner. For the Danish experience, with a Mediterranean twist, nothing beats Den Russtikke. Located near the harbour, the restaurant’s romantic candlelit ambience is the very definition of ‘hygge’. Find an intimate table for two and enjoy the pork-heavy menu over a glass of wine. Although it won’t break the bank, it is a little pricy and you will need to book.
A cheaper option whilst out-and-about is Aarhus Street Food. The converted parking garage, which houses the indoor food-hall, offers a host of international cuisines from Ethiopian to Korean. Grab a seat in the communal dinning area or ascend to a bar atop the many shipping containers (the food stalls). Dishes cost around £5-£7.
If you’re looking for a more bizarre Danish night out then Shen Mao is the place for you! Known locally as the ‘Ping-Pong Bar’ the basement club has an unusual twist on the traditional night out. Large ping-pong tables can be found throughout the venue, around which crowds form circles allowing for mass games of table tennis. Cheap beer and 90’s house music make for a night to remember. Adidas tracksuit bottoms are compulsory.
You can’t go to one of the major creative cities of Northern Europe and not visit a world-class museum. For art lovers, ARoS offers incredible exhibitions and is home to works by the likes of Ai Weiwei and Monet. Do NOT miss the iconic ‘rainbow room’ on the roof of the museum – an ‘Instagrammer’s’ paradise. For the history buffs – Moesgaard offers an interactive look at Viking life in Aarhus as well as other visiting exhibitions.
Ryanair fly everyday, direct to Billund Airport, for very reasonable prices. Billund Airport is the easiest option as flights are frequent (twice daily) and is located about 50 minutes from Aarhus. Billund offers car rental services and has coaches direct to Aarhus city centre.