Friday , May 20 2022

A local’s guide to Aarhus: live music, beautiful parks and Nordic street vibe

Food

Aarhus has both Michelin-star dining and cheaper options loved by the locals. For the latter, Teater Bodega serves traditional Danish cuisine that is affordable yet great quality. Here you’ll get the best stegt flæsk med persillesovs (fried pork belly with parsley sauce), with a glass of the strong local spirit, snaps. It also serves good vegetarian dishes, if you ask for them, and the place oozes Aarhus history, being more than 100 years old.

For shared dishes, such as khinkali (meat-filled Georgian dumplings), visit the Eastern European-inspired Bardok, which has a great bar. The best affordable meal is at down-to-earth food pub Vesterlauget, whose blackboard menu might include wild boar ragout or mushroom risotto.

Inspiration

It’s impossible to talk about Aarhus without mentioning ARoS: it’s one of the largest art museums in northern Europe, with its much photographed rainbow-coloured, glass-walled “skywalk” by Olafur Eliasson on top. It’s a very unorthodox and modern museum, with exhibitions from all over the world.

Moesgaard Museum, a few miles out of the city, explores the evolution of mankind through ancient times and the Viking age. The museum is surrounded by breathtaking nature and its design is very innovative. The cafe has big windows over a lawned rooftop where you can walk and breathe in the feeling of infinity.

Neighbourhood

Aarhus is a university city, with a vibrant atmosphere. The cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter have great shopping and independent cafes and bars. Visitors shouldn’t miss secondhand shop Soul Shine, and beer and coffee place Ris Ras. The Quarter seems unaffected by Aarhus’s recent urban development. The same is true of the Jægergårdsgade, Frederiksbjerg and Marselisborg neighbourhoods, which remain unchanged and are great places to enjoy lunch or stroll with an ice-cream.

Green space

Bellevue beach, Aarhus, in summer.
Bellevue beach, Aarhus, in summer. Photograph: Michael Drost-Hansen/Getty Images

The Botanical Garden is a must, with superb tropical houses and plant collections. Aarhus also has many beautiful parks; try Tangkrogen, Marselisborg Memorial Park, Riis Skov and Marselisborg Dyrehave (deer park). If you are after sea views, check out Lystbaadehavn (Aarhus Marina), where you can grab an ice-cream on the pier and pop into one of the cafes.

Nightlife

For mainstream music and a dancefloor, go into the city centre where there are loads of options. If you are into rock music and beer, visit Sway or Escobar. If you like an unpretentious atmosphere on a dancefloor with room for your dodgy moves, visit HeadQuarters, which I own. At weekends, HeadQuarters turns from a music venue into a nightclub, which will take you back to the original discotheques with a soul and funk vibe. Or try Café Paradis, a hot club with good cocktails and a cool urban atmosphere.

Musical Aarhus

Aarhus has a long music history, and the city’s Royal Academy of Music produces brilliant musicians, who often play at local live music venues and festivals. Spot Festival in May focuses on up-and-coming music, and there’s the sustainable NorthSide Festival in June. Venues such as the Musikhuset concert hall, Radar, VoxHall, Godsbanen and Train offer a full range of live music.

Stay

For an affordable option, the newly opened boutique hostel BOOK1 (dorm beds from £28, doubles £89 room-only) is right in the city centre and has suites as well as “pod dorms”. It is in a former library and the design is very cool. Villa Provence (doubles from £146 B&B) is a small, French-inspired, family-owned hotel towards the waterfront, with Nordic vibes and lots of hygge.

Amira Gluhic has lived in Aarhus for 15 years and is owner of the HeadQuarters music venue

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