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Aug 4, 2021
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Survival Guide to Aarhus

Denisa Emilia Porime
Aarhus is the second-largest city in Denmark and a place buzzing with life and opportunities. It is also a preferred study destination for many young people coming from abroad. If you are or will be a student in this wonderful city, follow this local guide to get an overview of what will await you here.
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Aarhus is home to more than 45.000 students, many of which are internationals. It is truly a young and diverse city, with lots of personal and professional opportunities, free time activities and a strongly established entrepreneurial community. Having lived in Aarhus for 5 years now, I can say that I absolutely love this city and wouldn’t move anywhere else within Denmark. The city accommodates both those looking for the young city buzz and those wishing for a more peaceful environment. 


Below, I will introduce you to some information about the city, from the existing universities to cafés worth visiting.   

Universities

There are plenty of higher education possibilities in Aarhus, the most popular one being Aarhus University (AU), the 2nd best university in Denmark, which welcomes international students for bachelor, master and even PhD degrees. If you would like to know how it is to study at AU, check out Ieva’s blog about her Master’s in Economics and Business Administration and her life in Aarhus.

Other institutions popular among the students coming from abroad are VIA University College and Business Academy Aarhus. 

VIA University College offers more than 40 programs in English within various disciplines, including pedagogy, design, engineering and so on. In addition, it also has campuses outside of Aarhus, for example in Horsens, Viborg or Herning.

Business Academy Aarhus (BAAA), also highly preferred by the international students, offers AP and top-up programs in fields such as business, multimedia design, IT, chemistry.

One difference between the three institutions is that the environment in AU is more theory oriented, the teaching is more impersonal and the learning is very much individual-based, while  in VIA and BAAA practical, hands-on work is prioritized, most of the projects being carried out in groups and the teaching being more personal, with smaller class-sizes. 


In case your desired field of education revolves around architecture, Aarhus has a specific institution that offers architectural studies also for internationals: Aarhus School of Architecture (Arkitektskolen Aarhus). Here, you can study as an exchange student, guest student and even take a full degree of Master of Arts in Architecture.

However, Denmark has recently announced that many English-taught study programs will be cut down starting in autumn 2022, and only a few programs will remain available for the international students. Thus, make sure you stay updated. Here is a video that explains the situation in brief.

Accommodation in Aarhus

In case you haven’t read in one of our earlier blogs, universities in Denmark do not offer student accommodation on campus. Instead, it is up to you to take the time to search and apply for housing.

In the Aarhus area, you can apply for student accommodation on Studenthousing (free of charge). Alternatively, you can can apply for housing in and around Aarhus on Aarhus Bolig (fee of 100 kr./year). Both websites work with a system of seniority, which means the earlier you create an account, the more chances you have to receive a housing offer later on. 

Otherwise, Facebook is another place where you can try your luck to find accommodation. Here are some useful Facebook groups for renting a place/finding a roommate in Aarhus:

Apartments for rent and sale in Aarhus

Apartment in Aarhus

Housing in Aarhus

Another Housing in Aarhus group

If your searching efforts have still not paid off using one of the above resources, you can also sign up for other Danish accommodation websites, most of which are paid. Find more information about housing in Denmark and links to these websites in our Survival Guide to Student Accommodation in Denmark. 


Danish learning possibilities

In case you are ambitious enough to start learning Danish, you might be happy to hear that there are a series of opportunities. 


Here are the language schools that offer free Danish education:

  • Clavis
  • A2B: only offers lessons to Aarhus University’s staff, students and spouses
  • UCplus 


If you are looking for extra practice during the day, you can attend free lessons mainly run by volunteers, at Stjernen in Risskov. Or, if you are into speaking and want to find a buddy to practice with, attend some language exchange meet-ups such as BlaBla Language Exchange (they organize meet-ups all over Denmark, Aarhus included) or the Language Café (Sprog Café) in Dokk1.

Attractions

Aarhus is a beautiful city also from a tourist's perspective. So regardless if you will make it your home for some time or are just passing by, you should definitely visit these great attractions. 


Den Gamle By (“The Old Town”)

Go back in time by visiting this open-air, old-school Danish museum. You can see 19th and 20th century houses  from all over Denmark, both outside and inside. There are even extra exhibitions inside some of the buildings. See prices and other information on Den Gamle By’s website.


The Botanical Gardens

If you visit Den Gamle By, then you should definitely take a walk through the park right next to it, the Botanical Gardens. Apart from the different types of plants you can see in the open air, you can enter the greenhouse and find yourself in a tropical paradise. Entrance to the greenhouse is free! Find more information here.


Aros Museum

This art museum, one of Aarhus’ landmarks, has the largest art collection in Denmark (if we count outside the capital). After you broaden your horizons by discovering their art collections, make sure to also walk through and take some great photos in Aros’ rainbow, situated on top of the museum. If you want to immortalize some collections that caught your eye and heart, you are allowed to take photos and share them on your social media, as long as they are only intended for private use. Check out more info about Aros on their webpage.

The building of the art museum
Aros is beautiful regardless of the season


Other places to visit

Walking around the city center is also quite enjoyable: see the different buildings with interesting architecture and colors (the Latin quarter is a must see!), have a drink alongside the canal or do some shopping on the shopping boulevard (that starts right vis-a-vis the main train station). If you are not tired of walking yet, head towards Aarhus Ø, where you can see the famous Iceberg buildings.

Stone paved street surrounded by colorful houses
The Latin Quarter has many cute colorful little houses


The southern part of Aarhus is also worth exploring, especially if you want to get out of the big city vibes and look for more nature instead. Go for rides in Tivoli amusement park, have a picnic in Mindeparken or walk alongside the Marselisborg beach. If you walk south long enough, you will reach the Infinity Bridge (Den Uendelige Bro) and close by, the deer park. The entrance here is free of charge, and yes, you can feed the deer!

Heading even more towards the south, you can chill at the Moesgård beach or take a cultural detour at the Moesgård Museum


Other Cultural places

A well-known, not-for-profit cultural center is Institut for (X), which you can find in Godsbanen in Aarhus’ central area. There are many events happening here throughout the year, which you can check for either on their website or on Facebook events. 

If you ever need to borrow a specific book or just seek a place to work from, then Dokk1 library might meet these needs. Apart from being a library with open working areas, there are also some events that take place here. Alternatively, you can visit other local libraries in various neighbourhoods around Aarhus.

You can also attend plays and concerts at the theater (Aarhus Teater) and the music house (Musikhuset). Most plays at the theater are in Danish, but sometimes, they also have English plays. 

When it comes to film, there are 3 main cinemas: Cinemaxx, Nordisk Film Biografen and Øst for Paradis (smaller, but they also have screenings with English subtitles). To see the weekly screenings in all of these, visit kino.dk.

For the non-Danish speakers who want to participate in Catholic church services, Katolsk Vor Frue Kirke, in the city center, is the only church that also has service in English. The service is every Tuesday at 19:00 and Saturday at 18:30. 


Cafés and bars

I would like to be able to point out which cafés and bars are the best in the city, but this depends very much on preferences and after all, there are a lot of cafés and bars out there in the city! Fortunately, this only invites you to explore them yourself and make your own top list. However, here are some suggestions. 

On a nice sunny day, relax with a drink in the harbor at Domen (The Dome). Sometimes you can also participate in various events here.

a transparent dome surrounded by green area
Domen is very comfortable on the inside

 

If you want to be more in the center of the city, visit the bars in Godsbanen or pick a café/bar situated alongside the canal or basically anywhere in the pedestrian areas in the city center (sorry there’s just so many of them!).

One café-bar with a cool atmosphere that I can recommend is Under Masken. Plantcafeen is also an interesting café, where you can purchase plants, not just coffee. There are also NGO café-bars run by volunteers, which usually have a cosy atmosphere as well (Café Mellemfolk, Gallo, Fair Bar).  

A must go to café-bar is, of course, Studenterhus Aarhus, a place for studying, meeting up with friends in a casual day or for going drinking in the evening...and even a place for events, many of which are in English. It’s basically the “student house” for all students in Aarhus. 


Eating out

Aarhus has a large selection of restaurants, so this is also something for each of us to explore and find our favorites. Worth mentioning is Aarhus Street Food, a few minutes away from the main train station. Here you can find tasty dishes from around the world. Of course, there are also stand-alone restaurants serving international cuisines like Thai, Indian, Japanese, Middle-Eastern and so on. It seems like Danes really love foreign dishes! And it so happens that the restaurants with Danish meals are most of the time more expensive than the others. 

If instead you want to eat in and don’t feel like cooking, you can order take-out on these apps: JustEat, Hungry.dk, Wolt. They will show you what restaurants offer delivery in your area. 

the canal surrounded by walking paths and tall buildings
You can also find restaurants all over the city center, including along the canal


Other places to know of

When you arrive to Aarhus, chances are you will land in the center, in or around the main train station (Aarhus H). Right inside it (and all over the center) you can find 7Eleven shops, where you can get your Danish SIM card. If in doubt over which provider you should choose, we have written a blog with some suggestions. 

Also in the center area, by the docs, you will find the Danish Agency for Recruitment and Integration (SIRI), which you will have to visit if you are a new foreigner in Denmark. This is conveniently placed in Dokk1, on the right side after you enter through the main door. Take a queue ticket number and wait for your turn. 

The Dokk1 building with tram station next to it
Dokk1  is set right in the harbor with a beautiful view towards the sea


In case of medical emergencies, you can find the municipal hospital, Aarhus Universitetshospital, in the north of Aarhus. It is a huge one, so it will be pretty obvious on maps. 

Also in the north, you can find Ikea -no explanation needed here. A tip for those who want to eat out on a budget: Ikea has a canteen with more than affordable prices. 

When you feel like going in a shopping spree and are not satisfied with just visiting the shopping street in front of the train station, there are some malls and shopping centers to calm your “shopaholicness”: Bruuns Galleri (literally in the the main train station), Salling (shopping center on the shopping street in the center), Magasin (shopping center, next to the canal, also in the center), Storcenter Nord (a bit close to Aarhus University, does not have as many stores as Bruuns).


Public transportation options

The public transport operator in Aarhus is Midttrafik. You can travel by city buses (yellow), intercity busses (blue) or by tram (“letbane”).

Tickets can be purchased in the bus, while single-, multi-trip and monthly tickets can be acquired in their mobile app: Midttrafik App

If you want to find out which bus you need to take to your desired location or what schedule it has, you can use the Rejseplanen app. It is also possible to buy tickets in the app. 

Midttrafik has one more handy app: Midttrafik Live, where you can see where your bus is in real time plus  other traffic information.  

For travelling by train, DSB is the main railway operator. They also have a mobile app, which makes it easy to buy tickets.

One note that I want to make, so that you have the right expectations when coming here: the taxis (“taxa”) are rather expensive. For example, for a trip of 10 km during day time, you would pay 199 kr. It's not really an option that many of us international students use. 😅

Local volunteering opportunities

There are lots of NGOs in Aarhus recruiting new volunteers throughout the year. To see the volunteering possibilities, check out this website, and filter for Aarhus under “geography”.


Links to useful Facebook groups

Here are some Facebook groups/pages, that might come in handy while living in Aarhus. 

Aarhus Internationals

Aarhus Internationals (English speaking)

Gives bort-Århus (free stuff that people give away)

Storskrald i Aarhus (also people giving away free stuff)

Aarhus International Buy&Sell (people selling stuff)

Facebay Aarhus (again people selling stuff)

Aarhus marked (same as above)

Aarhus Bike Marketplace (buy and sell used bikes)

Job i Aarhus (job announcements)

Events in Aarhus 

Aarhus Plant Exchange
Aarhus Girl Gone International (community for the ladies)

Aaaand...that was it; not a short article, but with lots of places you should visit at least once. If you don't already feel like you have plenty of places to see in Aarhus, then let us know about it. 😉

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Denisa Emilia Porime
🇷🇴
My journey in Denmark started in 2016 and it doesn't seem like it will end soon. Even though I came across certain obstacles (who doesn't ?) I began to feel at home here.
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