Tasmanian-born Crown Princess Mary hasn’t been the only Australian export to Denmark. This time last year, an exhibition entitled The Life Of Dame Edna was in full swing in Aarhus, featuring outfits on display for the first time outside Australia. Sadly it was only temporary, but even in the absence of dresses that look like the Sydney Opera House, Denmark’s second city remains rich in culture. Alongside one of the country’s best art museums, an entire town recreated as it would have looked during the Middle Ages, and a wealth of quirky shops and restaurants, Aarhus seems to hold some sort of festival every weekend. It could be the student population, the village-city vibe or the proximity to the coast, but put a lid on the capital of the Jutland Peninsula and it would burst off within seconds.
As a student town, Aarhus isn’t snobby towards those on a budget. If being central is important to you, try the Aarhus City Sleep-In on Havnegade. Otherwise, head to the woods north of the city for Danhostel Aarhus, a former 1850s dancehall.
Down by the riverside
Previously covered in concrete, the river has been allowed to see the sunlight once again. Since its opening, a cluster of bars have followed suit so that, in the words of the city guide, flirting makes for a vibrant atmosphere underneath the awnings while the Chardonnay flows gently”. What more encouragement do you need?
Taking its name from the grammar school (it’s known as a ‘Latin school’ in Danish) that used to be here, this area is a maze of winding cobbled lanes leading from Pustervig square. Explore artist studios with creaking floors, spend up in fancy boutiques bursting with unusual clothes and shoes, before refuelling in upmarket delicatessens and slow food cafés.
Worth a look
One of the largest art museums in northern Europe, ARoS hangs work from the Danish Golden Age through to the present day (including Ron Mueck’s towering sculpture Boy), as well as holding a series of high- profile international exhibitions. But even if it was filled with finger paintings from the local playschool, you should still go along for the magnificent nine-storey building.
The Women’s Museum
Based in the old City Hall, the displays here explore the life and work of women over the past 200 years. There’s a tasty, wholefood café on the ground floor and recent temporary exhibitions have included the artwork of Yoko Ono and, as previously mentioned, The Life Of Dame Edna. Men are allowed.
Den Gamle By (The Old Town)
Hans Christian Andersen never lived in Aarhus, but no self-respecting Danish town can exist without referencing the country’s most famous son. At this open-air museum, you can experience the sights, sounds and smells of a provincial Danish town as though during the time of the fairytale writer. Visit a house he used to call at when it stood opposite his childhood home in Odense nearly 200 years ago – it’s been transported and reconstructed along with 74 others from across the country. Other highlights include sampling cabbage soup cooked over a fire at the Merchant’s House and hearing the local gossip from the shoemaker’s wife.
Bonus points for: Riverside flirting
Loses marks for:Tempting you into a retail frenzy
– AMY ADAMS”