Aarhus City of Sustainable Culture

Explore Denmark’s Second City in Jutland

Aarhus Serves up Old and New IN A GREEN WAY as a European City of Culture

When most people (outside of Denmark) think of Denmark, they might instantly conjure Copenhagen. As the capital of this country, it’s not difficult to consider why. But Copenhagen doesn’t define all of Denmark. Just ask anyone from Jutland. As the largest Danish city on this side (and second largest in the country) Aarhus offers a unique vibe from her big capital city sister. And it is decidedly worth a visit. Fresh off a banner year as a European Capital of Culture 2017, you can still come to Aarhus and experience sustainable culture in this creative town.

Art and culture can act as catalysts for sustainable development by bringing people together around big and small experiences alike, encouraging dialogue and demonstrating examples of intelligent, fun and alternative solutions to the challenges of tomorrow.”
– Aarhus 2017

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Hang with the Young People in the Old Quarter

The Latin Quarter has Great Shopping and Café Culture

This town feels both younger and older at the same time. As a university town, Aarhus is full of young adults. With nearly 45,000 matriculated coeds at Aarhus University alone, this city boasts the highest concentration of students in Denmark. Nearly 1 in 6 people in the city proper is a pupil. That fact right there contributes a ton to the energy and vibe of this place.

Head to the Latinerkvarteret, or Latin Quarter and meander through the random jumble of medieval streets and old buildings. This is classic Aarhus. And home to some of the city’s best boutiques, second-hand stores, restaurants and cafés. Close to the University, this area is decidedly happening and happily somewhat affordable. To explore and peruse. And sustainably shop. There are some seriously good second-hand stores in this section. Whether you are into vintage redux, retro, luksus genbrug (luxury resale) or just a box full of bargains, the Latin Quarter has you covered.

Kom:mode Luksus Second Hand
Graven 27, 8000 Aarhus
+45 86 12 01 13

If you’re looking for barely worn designer fashion at a little more affordable prices, Kom:mode may have what you need. Search through women’s high-end second-hand stock on color-coordinated racks. This makes mama happy. Lots of fab accessories and shoes to complete your look. Helpful style support on staff.

Mös & Flös Genbrug/Redesign
Mejlgade 19, 8000 Aarhus
+45 86 12 56 66

Located in a historic paint shop in the Latin Quarter, Mös & Flös offers second hand served up in new styles. Pick through racks of pre-worn new to you gems. Don’t miss the whole section dedicated to redesigning, mashing up old things in modern ways. Catering to the local student cadre, check the shop for special deals. My daughter may have filled a full bag of clothes for only DKK 50. That’s a deal. In any currency. Profits benefit local programs run by Korshærs Church.

Soul Shine
Graven 24, 8000 Aarhus
+45 86 12 12 07

A funky, fun and colorful spot with one of a kind vintage finds. Feel good knowing your purchases have positive impacts at this not-for-profit shop that benefits local social programs and offers jobs to vulnerable populations.

La Cabra Coffee Roasters
Graven 20, 8000 Aarhus

Step inside La Cabra in the Latin Quarter for a cup of coffee par excellence. Coffee here is house roasted, sourced from around the world. It tastes fresh, bright and modern. La Cabra wants you to think of craft coffee like you would a craft beer where you can appreciate all the nuances of flavor and techniques that go into it. Come inside or grab a table outside and soak up the Aarhus scene with a unique Nordic coffee experience.

Go Old School and Learn About Danish History in Aarhus


Even if your college days are behind you (or ahead of you), you can still learn lots about Danish culture and history at one of the fantastisk museums here. That’s Danish for fantastic.

Moesgaard Museum | MOMU

Moesgård Allé 15, 8270 Højbjerg
OPEN | Tue – Sun (Closed Mondays and 12/24, 12/25, 12/31 and 1/1)
COST | Children 0-17 free, adults DKK 140 high season

Technically not in Aarhus, but south of the city, the Moesgaard Museum is a world-class archeological and cultural heritage experience. With exhibits sharing stories from human life in prehistoric times in Denmark and beyond, it is a perfect start to your sustainable culture tour of Aarhus. The highlight of MOMU’s massive collection of artifacts is one of the best-preserved bog men in the world. The Grauballe Man gives an intimate look at life in 3rd-century Jutland.

Viking Museum

Sankt Clemens Torv 6, 8000 Aarhus C
OPEN | Mon – Sun, except Bank Holidays
COST | Children under 18 free, adults DKK 30

A small, but affordable peek into the roots of Danish Viking heritage here in Aarhus. Set on the site of excavations of the original city Aros, the Vikingemuseet gives a look at life around 980AD when Denmark’s first Viking King Harald Bluetooth ruled. Run by the Moesgaard Museum.

RELATED: Visit King Harald Bluetooth’s Viking Ring Fortress in Slagelse DK

Den Gamle By Open-Air Museum

Viborgvej 2, 8000 Aarhus C
OPEN | 365 days/year with varying opening hours
COST | Children under 17 free, adults DKK 135 high season

You too can get down, get down in 1970’s Denmark. Or 1570’s Denmark. It’s up to you. Wander down alleys and head inside historic houses and buildings relocated from across the country to this brilliant open-air experience known as The Old City. Den Gamle By in Danish. Authentic period pieces and volunteers in costume bring history to life here.

Visit Den Gamle By Open Air History Museum in Aarhus Denmark | Walk the Streets of Danish history | Oregon Girl Around the World

READ MORE: Walk the Streets of Danish History at Den Gamle By in Aarhus

Visit Den Gamle By Open Air History Museum in Aarhus Denmark | Walk the Streets of Danish history | Oregon Girl Around the WorldVisit Den Gamle By Open Air History Museum in Aarhus Denmark | Walk the Streets of Danish history | Oregon Girl Around the World

Art and culture give us new eyes to see new opportunities.”
– Aarhus 2017

Aarhus Offers An Exceptional Art Experience

Culture Gets Creative at ThIS MODERN Art Museum

One of the reasons that Aarhus was chosen as the 2017 European Capital of Culture was the presence of world-class art museums. And one museum alone is worth the trip to Aarhus. Step inside ARoS.

ARoS Museum of Art

Aros Allé 2, 8000 Aarhus C
OPEN: Tue – Sun (Closed Mondays and 12/24, 12/25, 12/31 and 1/1)
COST: Children 0-17 Free, Adults 130 DKK

As one of the most visited art museums and galleries in Scandinavia, ARoS is a tip-top art experience. Rotating exhibitions keep things fresh and an impressive in-house collection is full of icons not to be missed. From Australian artist Ron Mueck’s enormous crouching “Boy,” to Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s “Your Rainbow Panaroma” that sits atop the museum for 360° views in every color, you won’t soon forget your experience at ARoS.

ARoS Art Museum

Beautiful Botanic Gardens and Butterflies


A dedicated green space in the city since 1875, the Botanical Gardens are a beautiful setting to stroll and let littles let off some steam. Step inside the Garden’s greenhouses for a well-designed peek at flora from around the world. Upgrades finished in 2014 give Aarhus’ greenhouses (say that five time fast) a modern vibe. Built specifically for energy-efficiency through solar capture and technology that prevents heat loss, aids water recovery, monitors light usage all make the experience even more green.

Voted best family experience in 2015, we found it educational and interesting and think even the hard to please teens will probably love the Tropical House full of butterflies flitting about. Climb up into the canopy and see them from above. Bonus points? The Botanical Gardens and Greenhouses are free. Charming café with ice cream inside.

NOTE: Den Gamle By Open Air Museum sits adjacent the Botanical Garden

Greenhouses and Botanical Garden
Peter Holms Vej, 8000 Aarhus

Opening times for the Greenhouses (1 October – 30 April):
Monday–Friday 9.00–16.00
Saturday, Sunday, and public holidays 10.00–17.00
Closed 22 December – 1 January (both days included)

The new palm house is designed to use as few resources as possible, and this, together with the materials of the future, allows the architecture to express itself in a new language.”
– C.F. Møller Architect Tom Danielsen¹

See the City from the Top of Salling Department Store

Not often would I put a department store on a must do list when visiting a city. There are some exceptions. Especially when said department store offers something a little extra beyond the racks and shelves. Step into the Salling Department Store, right off Aarhus’ pedestrian shopping street called the Strøget, and take the elevator to the top. This might be the coolest rooftop setup I’ve ever seen. Layers and levels and vistas galore. Grab a drink, something to eat, snuggle in. It’s cool up here. And the views!

Salling Department Store
Søndergade 27, 8000 Aarhus C
Open: Mon – Thu 10.00 – 20.00
Fri 10.00 – 21.00
Sat 09.00 – 19.00
Sun 11.00 – 18.00
Cost: Free

We live in a world where the future is, as it always has been, uncertain. Complexity calls for new answers and this is where art and culture can deliver a blow to our conscience, encourage reflection over humanity’s relationship with nature, and provide inspiration for how we can live more sustainably.”
– Aarhus, 2017

Sample Sustainable Seasonal Street Food at Aarhus Street Food

Step inside the old bus station that has become an upcycled warehouse full of containers become food stands. While the concept might not be new, the execution is quirky and fun. Many unique vendors serve seasonal and fresh food. Vegetarian and vegan options at many stands, but currently no shop doing strictly plant-based fare. We loved the pulled duck burger and salmon poké and appreciated the interesting craft beers on tap. Especially my husband!

Aarhus Street Food
Ny Banegårdsgade 46, 8000 Aarhus
Open every day 11.30 – 21.00
Fri – Sat 11.30 – 22.00

Aarhus Street Food at Night

See the City Sustainably on Two Feet, Two Wheels, Local Train

Eco-Friendly Exploring by Walking, Bicycle and Train

Most of where you’ll want to be and explore in this city can plod on two feet. But like much of Denmark, cycling is insanely popular in Aarhus. With special roads and street signals for bicycles, it is an easy and green way to get around the city. Download the Donkey Bike app and find bikes all over town. A network of public buses, streetcars and regional trains will help you get further afield if you wish. Plot your route online in English at Rejseplanen.dk or download their app for planning on the go.

Donkey Republic Bike Rental App
Rejseplanen Travel App

Orange Donkey Bikes are easy to spot and access with app

Consider Your Stay

Choose accommodation that considers the environment

Scandic Aarhus City
Østergade 10, 8000 Aarhus

Central and modern, this Scandinavian hotel chain is clean, comfortable and eco-certified. Nordic Swan Ecolabel certified.

Oregon Girl Around the World

17 thoughts on “Aarhus City of Sustainable Culture

  1. Clare Thomson

    This looks like a seriously funky city, full of art and great secondhand finds. That rooftop is really cool. It looks like such a great base for a city break. #farawayfiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      It really is – and lots to explore in and around here as well. Isn’t the rooftop cool? I was desperate to see it from pics on Instagram – so happy we got a beautiful night for it. Cheers from Denmark!

  2. Erin, I love this post, and your photography is really wonderful! I’m definitely adding this fun and arty city to my list if/when I get to Denmark! #farawayfiles

  3. Raising my hand as an incurable history nerd over here. We learned about British Bog Men (and a woman) in high school ancient history and it was so fascinating. So my first stop would be just outside of Aarhus for the Moesgaard Museum. #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      It’s a huge draw! And a trip – they have hair! We haven’t actually been to Moesgaard – but have heard only good things. Have seen the bog bodies here in Copenhagen at the National Museum of Denmark. Cheers from here!

  4. Aarhus sounds wonderful, from the museums to the funky shops to the department store rooftop! I like the idea of eco-friendly exploring and seasonal, sustainable street food. I think the Botanic Gardens might be my favorite. #FarawayFiles

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      The Botanical Gardens were just brilliant when we were there in fall, just starting to turn colors and so many beautiful paths to explore beyond the butterflies – what a gorgeous resource right in the middle of the city. Cheers from Denmark.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      Funny – I hadn’t really done any concentrated exploring of the city since moving to Denmark, but my husband goes all the time for work. Happy we could take a couple days to properly give it a tour! You should go!

  5. Every place I hear about in Denmark seems to be packed with great art and a great food scene. I think what I would love about Aarhus the most is the shops. Coming from London, it’s always nice to go somewhere with independent shops.

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      It’s kind of crazy how those former Vikings evolved into such a civilized design loving culture. But it’s true. And independent shops rock in Denmark. As an American, I have been amazed as well how small niche shops could exist in a modern economy. I think it has to do with the social support system that Danes are more willing to take risks and try new ideas, knowing if they fall or fail, they will have some net to protect them. Anyway – my two kroner on the idea. Cheers from here.

  6. Trish @ Mum's Gone To

    I think I asked you a few weeks ago about Aarhus as a city break destination so this is a brilliant post for me. It’s been on my list for a while and now I’ve got some super places to shop and excellent attractions to visit. Thanks Erin!

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