Party hard in Denmark!
Arriving in a relatively unknown city on one of just a few daily flights, you might think it would be hard for Aalborg to make much of an impression with its remarkably small airport. Not so. In place of the usual airport signs that say ‘two-minute drop-off’ or similar, the cheeky Danes have put up signs that read ‘kiss and goodbye’.
When greeted with our fits of laughter, the taxi driver explains that those parking bays are especially for husbands and wives to say goodbye to each other when one of them has to go away and they have to suffer the torture of being separated. Sounds a bit corny, but hey, it’s a nice story.
See the sights
The highlight of Aalborg’s Historical Museum is the panelled Renaissance room, often referred to as the Aalborg Room. Installed in the museum about 100 years ago, it is widely believed to be the best preserved example of this type of room, commonly found in the homes of Denmark’s middle classes of the Renaissance period. There’s also an interesting exhibition dedicated to recycling just inside the museum’s entrance.
Around the corner, you’ll find Budolfi Cathedral, an interesting 12th century church boasting some impressive frescos and extravagant altars. The Helligandsklostret, or Monastry of the Holy Ghost, is also worth a visit, though you need to book a guided tour at the tourist office if you want to see inside.
Take a stroll
Aalborg’s town centre is relatively small, making it easy to navigate on foot. There are some fine examples of Renaissance-style architecture, the most famous being Jens Bangs Stenhus. The stone house, located above a pharmacy, is the city’s most revered building, and it’s well worth the trouble it takes to go far back enough to get a nice photo. Further down the same street, the Østeragåde, you’ll find Jørgen Olufsens House, a similarly well preserved example of a merchant’s house from the same period.
It’s also worth seeking out the Hjelmerstald, a tiny street tucked away behind one of the main shopping districts. Full of brightly painted houses, there are also lots of unusual arts and crafts shops located in the cul-de-sac. If you’re after unusual goodies, there are several glass and jewellery stores around town. One local glassblowing artist makes her wares as you watch in her studio at waterfront boat-cum-restaurant Isbryderen Elbjorn. You don’t need to eat at the restaurant to watch her work, or visit the glass shop.
If you’re in the shopping mood, there are plenty of international and local stores to choose from, and with such a chilly climate, it’s a good place to stock up on winter woolies. To sample some of the local food, head to Penny Lane in the historic centre.
No trip to Aalborg would be complete with a visit to the eery ancient monument of Lindholm Høje. This hill top burial site dates back to the Iron Age and the Viking era and holds almost 700 graves, making it the largest Viking burial ground in Scandinavia.
A grand-scale excavation back in the 1950s revealed a previously undiscovered Viking village and newly ploughed field. The adjacent museum provides further analysis and explanation of the area’s previous inhabitants, so it’s worth ensuring your graveyard visit coincides with the museum’s opening hours. It’s a bit more of an effort to get to than Aalborg’s other sites, but it’s well signposted for those with their own transport, or it’s just a short 15-minute bus trip from the city centre.
Aalborg is most famous for its party street, Jomfru Ane Gade, one of the most lively nightlife areas in Scandinavia. Packed with drunken revellers on the weekends, and with midweek party-goer numbers boosted by the large student population, this street is the prime reason many people visit Aalborg.
Though Denmark has a well-deserved reputation for being expensive, particularly when it comes to alcohol, you can find a fewbargains and drink specials on the Jomfru Ane Gade, and if you choose your venue wisely, you can get drunk fairly cheaply.