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Travel Guide: Partying in Denmark

12th Oct 2011 1:53am | By Editor

Are Danes the world's happiest people because of the high standards of living or the free-flowing liquor? Aalborg holds the answer. Words: JOANNE CHRISTIE

With so many bars to choose from, I asked an employee of the tourist board for a tip-off. Finding ourselves in an intimate venue where two drinks cost £10, they'd clearly misread our standards - or wanted to shelter us from the raucous debauchery of the local scene. Following the music we soon found ourselves somewhere livelier.

A sign in the window advertising vodkas for the equivalent of 90p seemed too good to be true, but then this is Aalborg, where the student population dictates the prices and happy hour lasts for three. Looking round it was clear everyone else had been taking full advantage.

It was 10.30pm and already the club's patrons - teenagers to fiftysomethings - were sloshed. On the dancefloor, one over-enthusiastic man spun his partner into a wooden pole before carrying on oblivious; others were falling and swaying around us, some doing impressive balancing acts with trays of drinks.

When the happy hours ended, most of the crowd left, so we followed their trail to the numerous other bars offering drink specials along the road. It turned out it was definitely possible to get completely inebriated on the cheap in Aalborg, provided you chose your venue and drinks wisely.

When it comes to drinking, it's no surprise Aalborg residents are experts - the precedent was set long ago when the V&S Distillery, the biggest producer of akvavit, opened. Translated, the name of this spirit, consumed across Scandinavia, means water of life (from aqua vitae). It's a rather misleading description considering that drinking large quantities of this 40 per cent proof alcohol might have a less than invigorating effect, but don't argue this point in Aalborg, particularly not anywhere near the distillery.

You can take a guided tour of the plant and sample some of the many varieties of the spirit often referred to in Denmark as 'snaps'. After trying about 10 varieties, I had to conclude that the raspberry-flavoured one was the nicest. When I say had to, the alternative was being forced by my guide, Henrik, into trying all 17 and I'm not sure I would have made it out of there.

It was some comfort to know I was in the hands of a well-practised akvavit drinker, though. According to Henrik, the caraway spirit goes best with dishes that contain fat. "Of course, all Danish dishes are fatty, so you have to drink it with everything," he added, grinning. Healthy, wealthy and educated they might be, but there could well be more to Danish happiness than meets the eye.

• Joanne Christie travelled to Aalborg with Sterling (www.sterling.dk). Fares from Gatwick start at £25 one way.

When the hangover wears off

Viking land
Aalborg is home to the biggest Viking burial ground in Scandinavia, Lindholm Høje, just outside town. The site contains almost 700 graves from the Viking era, as well as an adjacent museum.

History lesson
The highlight of the Aalborg Historical Museum is the panelled Renaissance room, an authentic example of the kind of room commonly found in the houses of Denmark's middle classes during the period.

Building sights
There are several buildings of architectural interest in Aalborg, most notably Jørgen Olufsens House and Jens Bangs Stenhus, both located on the Østeragåde.

Knick-knacks
Wander down the tiny street of Hjelmerstald, home to a number of interesting arts and crafts shops.