they call it hygge and it is a 100% Danish concept. If we ask a native what it means, he will tell us that he does not have a literal translation. It is a lifestyle, enjoying everything that surrounds us, the beauty of our environment, the company of our loved ones, good food, riding a bicycle and shopping in street markets… In short, to be happy and avoid stress.
That is why Aarhus, a city of some 330,000 inhabitants that we can easily explore on foot or by bicycle, has become the city that best embodies the hygge, displacing the country’s capital, Copenhagen, much more bustling.
It is about a lifestyle, about enjoying everything that surrounds us, about being happy and avoiding stress
When Aarhus was declared European Capital of Culture in 2017, many of us had to look at a map to locate this town in the geography of the Scandinavian country. It is located in the province of Jutland, no less, so to add more happiness to the equation, from it you can reach both beaches and forests in just 15 minutes by car.
Museums, art galleries and Michelin star restaurants make a getaway to this city the best option to put your worries aside and be happy.
Delivered to Art
10% of the population of Aarhus are students and young artists who have found there the ideal space to enter the art circuit. The city has numerous galleries and artistic workshops are organized weekly. But the mecca of art in this city is undoubtedly the ARoS museum, with the circular panoramic walkway Your rainbow panorama, by world-renowned artist Olafur Eliasson. With an installation that simulates the colors of the rainbow, those who visit it can glimpse different colorful versions of the skyline from the city.
The collection exhibited at ARoS includes various works of light and video art, and in it, hyper-realistic sculpture stands out. Boy, by Ron Mueck, which shows a 4.9 meter tall boy with a frightened look that questions the visitor. All this added to the other pieces in the permanent collection, which offer an artistic journey from the Danish golden age to the present day.
The temporary exhibitions also delight lovers of contemporary art. Among them, from June 4 to October 23 you can visit the exhibition berl berlby Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen, a vibrant digital simulation of the prehistoric swamp formerly found in the Berlin area through the sounds and images associated with mythologies of yesteryear.
Another essential museum is the Moesgaard, dedicated to archaeology. Apart from its many treasures, it stands out for its architectural structure, which seems to come from nature. The rooftop of the building, with large garden areas, is open to the public in summer so that visitors can enjoy a snack while watching the sun go down.
Architecture of yesterday and today
From prehistory to the Renaissance and the Baroque. A few decades ago a group of 75 half-timbered houses, built between 1550 and 1800 and coming from more than 20 cities in Denmark, were moved to Aarhus and rebuilt to perfection. It is what is known as Den Gamle By (the old city), an open-air museum in which actors represent the typical life of a Danish town before and after 1800. This is an extraordinary museum, unique in its kind and ideal to visit with children.
A few meters away is the Aarhus Botanical Garden, with several greenhouses that recreate the flora and landscape of the five continents with fruit trees, cacti and aquatic plants.
The most advanced engineering and architecture are another of the reasons that have put Aarhus on the radar of many lovers of urban tourism. A good example of this is the DOKK1 library, opened in 2015. It is the largest in Scandinavia and serves, at the same time, as a cultural and leisure center. The building, overlooking the sea, was designed and built with sustainability as its leitmotif, with ecological and recyclable materials.
The most cutting-edge engineering and architecture are another reason to visit it
This green vocation can also be seen in the Aarhus Ø neighborhood, which has a large urban garden where locals grow their own vegetables. At this point in the city we also find the Isberget housing complex, an architectural jewel in the shape of an iceberg with views over the city’s bay. The floating Harbor Bath complex is located here, with several swimming pools and a panoramic platform. In summer, many Danes take a dip by jumping from The Infinite Bridge, a circular wooden bridge-walkway projected on steel pillars anchored in the depths of Varna beach.
On the most exclusive culinary map
For years, the successes of the Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, even crowned the best in the world in 2021, have served to demonstrate the creative effervescence of Nordic gastronomy. But, beyond the Danish capital, there are four establishments that every epicure has on their culinary map of the world, and that are precisely in Aarhus. We are talking about Frederiskshøj, Gastromé, Susbtans and Domestic, all of them holders of a Michelin star.
Frederiskshøj offers a sensory journey, a complete immersion in the smells, flavors and sensations of seasonal and local products from Denmark in perfect harmony with foreign ingredients. All of this elaborated exquisitely with minimalist techniques to give the quality and freshness of the product the well-deserved prominence. Dishes such as crispy duck and cherry pie, fried quail with morels and homemade consommé, and lamb with celery and pepper sauce stand out.
Gastromé, for its part, only offers its delicacies to 40 people a day. Located in the Latin quarter, with charming shops and pedestrian streets, it has a one-hectare urban garden where a large part of the ingredients for its 13 or 15-course tasting menus are grown. For its part, Substans, with an interior design clearly inspired by the seventies, is committed to presenting its sophisticated dishes at the central bar, all of them the result of solid craftsmanship in the kitchen, as evidenced by creations such as squid with black cabbage and egg yolk, the king crab with yogurt and olive oil, and the mussels with North Sea cheese and parsley.
“We strive to use 100% local ingredients that come from small suppliers, so we offer a most sustainable journey from farm to table, seasoned with a high gastronomic level and ancient fermentation and preparation methods”, explain the chefs. of Domestic, which prepare menus of 4 or 8 dishes in which its excellent offer of fresh fish stands out.
For those who want to discover Danish street food, the Aarhus Street Food has different establishments resulting from the immigration of the sixties, with Nigerian and Mexican restaurants, as well as stalls with incredible fish & chips, crepes and traditional Danish roast pork sandwiches.
For a most pleasant stay, nothing like staying at Villa Provence, with 39 Provencal-style rooms and suites. This hotel stands out for its exquisite interior patio decorated with sculptures and fountains surrounded by lemon trees and countless flowers. Opened in 1908, its city center location, 900 meters from St. Clement’s Cathedral, makes it the perfect retreat for a short break in Aarhus.
Other good options include the Comwell Aarhus Dolce by Wyndham, built in 2014 and decorated in collaboration with renowned Danish design firm Hay, and the Palais Royal hotel, which dates back to 1838 and whose Atrium restaurant features Søren Jakobsen and William Jørgensen, at charge of Gastromé, as executive chefs.
Without a doubt, a getaway to Aarhus will make us return home with the philosophy of the hygge: appreciate the small pleasures of life, of the little things and find happiness in them.