Aarhus has long been an afterthought to Denmark's biggest and most tourist-popular city, Copenhagen, but things are shifting for the Jutland runner-up, it seems. The primarily young and progressive demographic of this western city lends to a thriving nightlife scene. Aarhus has a slew of bars and clubs that could fool visiting partygoers into thinking they've been teleported to the busiest discotheque in the capital city. Book your hotel in the center of town—more specifically Åboulevarden, a street and promenade with a lively after-dark scene—where most of the partying takes place.
There's a little bit of something for everyone in this trendy city, from hyggelige cocktail bars to LGBTQ+ dance clubs, craft beer-pouring hipster hangouts, and beyond. There's something for the traveler who drools over a well-mixed martini and the backpacker who craves cheap beer and drinking games all the same. Don't miss:
- Herr Bartels Bar: If it's a snazzy cocktail you're looking for, this is the place. Although the minimum age to enter here is 20, the crowd errs on the older side. Sit down with a well-mixed martini after eating your weight in frikadeller and flæskesteg.
- St. Pauls Apothek: Now, this qualifies as a nightlife experience. This bar was once an apothecary—established in 1899!—and now serves some of the most delicious and aesthetically pleasing drinks in town.
- The Australian Bar: Sure, you came to Denmark to drink in a bonafide Scandinavian pub, but the friendly chatter coming out of Aarhus' Australian Bar is hard to pass up. Here, you'll find a more relaxed atmosphere, reasonably-priced drinks, and plenty of locals, likely playing beer pong.
- Sherlock Holmes Pub: Boasting a similar party vibe, this casual pub features frequent karaoke nights, bar games, and the like. It's slightly more sophisticated than a college bar, but is less formal than somewhere like Herr Bartels.
- GBAR: Queer revelers will most definitely want to start their night at GBAR, the most gay-popular bar in town and one of the most tourist-friendly, too. You simply cannot miss its numerous rainbow-clad flags flying overhead as you explore the always-buzzing street of Skolegade. GBAR primarily caters to an LGBTQ+ crowd, but all are welcome for a pregame cocktail or to dance until an early-morning hour.
- Fairbar: The hipsters hang out at Fairbar, a nonprofit-driven nightspot that offers a vast selection of craft beers on tap (because what hipster bar doesn't?) and regular lectures, music sets, and other events.
Bars reign over dance clubs in this popular city, but there is at least one: Train is Aarhus' version of a big-city Scandinavian club. Open until 5 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, you'll find this popular nightlife location always raging in its hip converted warehouse location. There are three levels, each having a different ambiance and music, so every clubber can find something suitable. However, you must be at least 23 years old to enter.
When they're not out dancing until the sun comes up, Danish folk love to sip their liquor drinks to live music. There's never any shortage of musical happenings going on in this city, whether it be an acoustic set, a rock band, or an internationally-known DJ.
- Café Rømer: It isn't where you would go to dance until 3 a.m. (mostly because it closes at midnight), but Café Rømer can be relied upon for good food served with a side of equally good music.
- Huset Carmel: The bar at this historically charming hotel offers a low-key atmosphere for evening drinks any day of the week, but on Fridays and Saturdays, guests are also treated to a live band.
- The Musikcafeen: Danish for "Music Café," The Musikcafeen is an active venue for music events and nightlife in Aarhus. It's open every weekend from 8:30 p.m. until around 2 a.m. and hosts around 120 nightlife events per year.
Tips for Going Out in Aarhus
- Bars and clubs in Aarhus are open until at least 2 a.m. In fact, many remain open until 5 a.m. Thus, don't get in a hurry about going out in this Scandinavian city because some of them don't even open until 10 or 11 p.m.
- Although the drinking age in Denmark is 18 years old, some nightclubs enforce a 21- or 23-and-over rule.
- While not required, it is standard to tip your bartender 10 percent.
- Aarhus offers plenty of transportation for late-night revelers, including a handful of night routes on the city bus (which are different than daytime routes, by the way). Otherwise, Aarhus is a walker-friendly city.