Set the stage in Aarhus, the vibrant capital of Jutland. A Viking city by birthright, Aarhus was originally called Ārōs. Aarhus keeps the past very much alive, with the oldest city quarters being some of the most atmospheric, bustling and trend-setting in the city. With a student population of more than 40,000, Aarhus is also Denmark’s youngest city.
The city of Aarhus is a lively university city offering Latin Quarter boutique shopping and international attractions, such as the ARoS Museum of Art and the Aarhus Old Town Open-Air Museum. Aarhus also features some of Denmark’s top dining experiences and hosts major events, including the annual Aarhus Jazz Festival (14-21 July 2012), the Viking Moot (28-29 July 2012) and Scandinavia’s largest annual arts festival, the Aarhus Festival (31 August – 9 September 2012).
In 2011, the city of Aarhus inaugurated a spectacular new attraction by leading Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson – a skywalk crowning the ARoS Museum of Art that allows you to soak in the cityscape while bathed in the hues of the rainbow. The permanent art installation completes the museum’s ambition of creating an experience themed on Dante’s epic poem ‘The Divine Comedy’. Nine spaces in the museum’s basement symbolise inferno’s fallen angels, whereas Eliasson’s rainbow lifts you up into panoramic paradise.
ARoS is one of Scandinavia’s largest art museums, attracting more than 300,000 visitors in 2011. The museum also hosts the bi-annual ‘Sculpture by the Sea’ festival (next edition 2013).
Arguably the leading Nordic cuisine-inspired gourmet restaurant in Aarhus, Malling & Schmidt moved to a leafy residential area in 2011. Here, diners experience a full view of the kitchen in action. The husband-and-wife team also run a more informal Nordic cuisine restaurant in central Aarhus, Nordisk Spisehus.
Billed as Scandinavia’s largest culinary festival, Food 2012 (6–9 September 2012) will be featured during the city’s annual arts festival week, the Aarhus Festival (31 August – 9 September 2012). Held on a festival ground by the harbour (Tangkrogen), the non-profit event will highlight Danish and Nordic produce and housewares, etc. A restaurant area will also host culinary competitions.
Leaving Aarhus, go North to the most Northern tip of Denmark, Skagen, where the sees Skagerrak and Kattegat meet. On the way you pass several highlights of art, design, charming hotels, romantic spots and breath-taking nature. You can even see some of Europe’s mightiest drifting sand dunes, engulfing the windswept lighthouse at Rubjerg Knude…
Denmark’s second-most popular tourism region after Copenhagen, North Jutland offers wide-open nature, sandy beaches and seaside towns, not least Skagen (The Skaw). North Jutland has a national park and there are classic beachside hotels and holiday cottage offerings throughout the region. Among the local attractions are some of Europe’s mightiest drifting sand dunes – and the seafood! The capital, Aalborg, features contemporary art and design and fine dining.
The eponymously named inn (owned and headed by executive chef Morten Nielsen) features a gourmet restaurant serving creative international cuisine made with local seasonal produce and a champagne bar rated among Denmark’s best by Monocle Magazine. Evening à la carte dining. Lunch must be pre-booked. Weekend stays are available in association with the nearby First Hotel Europa.
One of Denmark’s leading art museums, KUNSTEN Museum of Modern Art Aalborg (completed in 1972) is designed by legendary Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and his wife, Elissa Aalto. The museum park also features ‘Water Pavilion’, a sculpture by one of Denmark’s top contemporary names, Jeppe Hein.
The shallow waters of North Jutland’s inlets offer perfect natural habitats for shellfish and mussels and represent the northern-most boundary for indigenous European oysters (Ostrea Edulis), which are harvested from March–May and September–December. Shellfish (such as prawns), oysters and fish from local North Jutland inlets are especially rich and subtle in taste due to the low salt level and the slow growth attributed to the cool sea temperatures. Naturally, you can enjoy local seafood specialities at fine restaurants in the region, such as Villa Vest – a beachside gourmet restaurant in Lønstrup, not far from Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse.
Towering in the landscape and romantically engulfed by some of Europe’s mightiest drifting sand dunes, the windswept lighthouse at Rubjerg Knude is an awe-inspiring destination. From the top of the dunes you enjoy sweeping views across the seascape, acres of blueberry wild bush and miles and miles of wide-open sandy beaches.
Surrounded by heather-clad sand dunes and sandy beaches, Skagen (The Skaw in English) is one of Denmark’s most popular seaside towns, and also the most exclusive – and expensive – rooms. Stretching across the tip of the Jutland peninsular, Skagen is divided into Gammel Skagen to the west (with its classic seaside resorts and homes in the characteristic local style) and Skagen town to the east (with its fishing harbour and authentic waterside dining). Among the residential cottages close to Skagen harbour you will find Hotel Brøndum, a heritage mid-19th century establishment especially celebrated for its Danish open-faced sandwiches (lunches) and French-inspired evening menus made with local seafood.
The romance and myth of the seaside town of Skagen owes much to the colony of 19th century Naturalist artists, known as the Skagen Painters, who were inspired not only by the “blue light of Skagen”, rendered by reflective sunlight, but also to the simple life of the humble fishing hamlets. The Skagen Museum is dedicated to the art of the Skagen Painters and this year hosts the largest-ever retrospective of the works of Norwegian-Danish artist Peder Severin Krøyer (4 May – 2 September 2012) – an exhibition first featured at the Hirschsprung Collection in Copenhagen in 2011. The artist’s wife, Marie Krøyer (born to German immigrants), was an accomplished artist in her own right whose art has gained renewed interest in recent years. Oscar-winning Danish director Bille August’s upcoming biopic The Passion of Marie, which is based on a best-selling biography by Anastassia Arnolds (1999), was shot in Skagen in 2011 and will premiere in November 2012.
Part of the Hotel Guldsmeden chain of boutique hotels in Denmark, the downtown hotel offers 27 charming rooms with Asian décor and a private garden. The hotel is certified with the Nordic eco-label.
The only hotel in Aarhus ranked on Tripadvisor’s Traveller’s Choice 2012 list as one of Denmark’s trendiest establishments, Hotel Oasia features 65 rooms, six of which are furnished by leading Scandinavian designers, including Poul Kjærholm and Verner Panton. The downtown hotel is Green-key labelled.
Furnished in French Provencal style, the downtown boutique hotel offers 41 rooms and suites, some of which feature four-poster beds and barrel bathtubs.