159km (99 miles) NE of Fanø; 175km (109 miles) W of Copenhagen; 43km (27 miles) E of Silkeborg
Some locals call it "the world's smallest city." Actually, it is the second-largest city in Denmark and the capital of Jutland. Because Copenhagen is so far to the east, Århus has also been called "the capital of the West." A large student population makes for a vast cultural life, which reaches its peak in late summer when visitors flock here for an arts festival.
There is much to see and do. More than any man-made attractions in Århus, we like its bustling life, which takes place in the best bars in Jutland and in its sidewalk cafes. There are sandy beaches nearby and a number of museums. Even more than the actual museums to explore, you can experience Århus life with a close encounter by walking its cobblestone streets and taking a picnic lunch to one of the city parks on a sunny day.
The city's economic growth today is based on communications, the food industry, electronics, textiles, iron and steel, and Danish design, as well as the harbor, which is now the second most important in Denmark, rivaled only by Copenhagen.
Originally Århus was a Viking settlement, founded as early as the 10th century; its original name, Aros, meaning estuary, comes from its position at the mouth of a river, Århus Å. The town experienced rapid growth and by 948 it had its own bishop. An Episcopal church was built here in 1060, and a cathedral was started at the dawn of the 13th century. This prosperity came to a temporary end in the late Middle Ages when the town was devastated by the bubonic plague. The Reformation of 1536 also slowed the growth of Århus. But the coming of the railway in the 19th century renewed prosperity, which continues to this day.
Try to plan at least a full day and night here -- or two if you can spare the time.