Denmark’s Third Oldest City: Aarhus, a Viking Trading Town Near the Sea…


From the Viking trading town near the sea, to the world’s smallest metropolis, Aarhus, or Aros as the Vikings called the city, lies along the river Aros, which, in the old days, was the highway into the hinterland. Aarhus is Denmark’s third oldest city after Ribe and Hedeby. Late in the 8th century, the ancient trading center lay on the north side of the Aros river, making the city excellent for trading. It was easy for the Vikings to get to Aros by sea, and they could sail many miles into the hinterland using the inland river system, in their slim Viking Longships.

The town was fortified with a defense system around the year 934, possibly on the initiative of King Gorm the Old, the first King of Denmark. The defence system was built and enhanced by his son Harald Bluetooth. The Vikings earned their living with trade and crafts, and the many excavations in the city since then, have given a detailed insight into their daily lives, more than 1,000 years ago.

Aarhus lies facing the sea, and is situated between the two forests, “Risskov” and Marselisborg forest. The royal Danish family have their private residence at Marselisborg Castle, beautifully situated with view over Aarhus bay. “Mindeparken” (Park of Remembrance) is a monument for the soldiers that fell during “The Great War” of 1914-18. Marselisborg Castle is a gift from Aarhus City to the royal family.

The Danish Queen comes to town every Christmas with all her children and grandchildren, and Christmas really comes to town. You can nearly imagine the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, sitting with his candle and writing children’s stories about Christmas. Hans Christian Andersen doesn’t actually come from Aarhus, but it’s a nice story anyway.

Aarhus City has a lot to offer, from small cosy restaurants scattered across the city, to an extensive cultural scene and business life, which puts all the experiences into perspective. The city has Scandinavia’s largest container port, and giant container ships are often moored in Aarhus harbour, with their steel containers filled with merchandise from faraway countries. However, we don’t sail the goods up along the Aarhus river in longships, any longer.

Attractions such as “The Old City” (Den Gamle By) and the large art museum “AROS” draw many tourists to the capital of Jutland each year. If you like shopping, it’s only your wallet, and packing space on your bike, that set the limits.

Aarhus river has been covered over for many years, but now the river has come into view again, and has become an architectural and cultural attraction. Along the river in the city center, you will find a multitude of cafes and restaurants, and you can definitely spend some nice hours there. If you like music and dance, then take a walk around town, and find the right venue; you will find both new Danish music and international artists on the program. You have to experience the nightlife in the world’s smallest metropolis, as part of your great motorcycle adventure in Aarhus.

Dave OByrne
A traveling Motorbike Journalist, Dave has a passion for the Great Outdoors, motorbike camping, finding new trails, as well as discovering the Great Indoors, in the form of Urban Exploration or URBEX.

This has led to many exciting experiences, cultural exchanges and interesting situations over the years, as Europe is littered with post-war, post-industrial, desolate, abandoned structures and cultural sites, usually far off the beaten track. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Dave has spent the last 15 years in Denmark, which he uses as a base from which to explore the rest of Europe by motorbike, both onroad and offroad.

One of the founding partners of Motorbike Europe, with nearly 20 years experience in graphic production, over 12 years in webdesign and development, including 3 years in the design of floating structures and villages, Dave currently runs the website aka, where he covers the areas of Webdesigner, Road Writer, Photographer, Content Manager, Social Media Manager, manic networker, motorblogger, and handles any other interesting digital possibilities that might crop up.
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