If you are a wanderlusty little boy like me, then chances are you keep up to date with the over-saturated world of travel-related journalism. National Geographic, Condé Nast, Lonely Planet, and countless others have been helping fellow rambling souls unravel the globe for decades. New York Times is one of my particular favorites, but their most recent “52 Places to Go in 2019” gave me a bit of a hiccup. Puerto Rico: Great. Panama: Gorgeous. Munich: Cultural. Aalborg: …
I had to do a double take, spit out my coffee, and take another sip just so I could spit it out again in disbelief. No way could the third biggest Danish town, the town I have called home since 2016, be ranked Numero 8, above The Azores and Mexico for top destinations of 2019.
After reading that article, I went for a little walk around town. Aalborgenser’s seem to walk around looking only at the ground, not aware of the beauty of the city. Some of the buildings are quite old and beautiful. I noticed an elderly Chinese couple shuffling around, delighted by the quaint architecture. And I thought to myself, “How’d they get here?”
I suppose Aalborg is a pretty cool city. I am unsure if it could rank above The Azores, but it certainly is one of the coolest towns in Denmark. Aalborg has a good soul, and a good little pinch of grunge. Aalborg is like the Seattle of Denmark, with a lot of post-industrial architecture and a beating core of punk and dirt. It even has its own lil Space Needle. (Aalborg is actually called the “Paris of the North” but I think that’s a whole lotta bahooky, it should definitely be renamed to the “Seattle of Europe” so hush up.)
With RyanAir, you can now officially get from Aalborg to London cheaper than you can get from Aalborg to Copenhagen. For any of you wishing to come to the Great North Jutland, let me try and give you my best tips on what you can do with your time up here. So without further ado, let me clean up the spit-coffee from the floor and give some goddamn advice on the Number 8 city to visit this year.
For the City Strollers
Wander around town as much as possible. Start around the symbolic Budolfi Cathedral and head East towards Ålgade to soak up the main shopping street (although it’s identical to every other shopping street in Denmark). Around there and Vor Frue Kirke, there are some little old-time houses that give the town a cute vibe. This is the cities “Old Town”, complete with cobblestones and quirky houses.
To continue your rambling, head towards the fjord and walk West until you get to the docks. Here (if it’s sunny,) you can enjoy the sun and watch the sailboats wizz along the Limfjord.
Continue West along the fjord, and eventually, you will end up in the little fishing town Fjordbyen. The collection of old fishing villages and retired hippies is reminiscent of Christiania in Copenhagen but on a much cuter and less drug-centered scale. Bring some food for a picnic, or head over to the Kulturhus to enjoy Aalborg’s cheapest coffee or a beer with some fisherman. If you plan on sitting inside, do wear clothes that you don’t mind getting drenched in pipe smoke.
Aalborg is a small town, and very easily walkable. Enjoy a good wander and explore as much as possible.
For the Street Art Aficionado
This goes in hand with the wanderers, because Aalborg has a great street art scene. Check out this guide to the city’s many murals adorning random walls across the town. Or better yet, explore on your own and find some treasures.
For the Drinkers
If you are a binge drinker or just want to stop in for a pint or few, Aalborg has all of your drinking needs covered.
Feel like getting drunk with the students of Aalborg? Feel like experiencing one of Europe’s youngest alcohol abusing communities? Well, stop on down Aalborg’s enigmatic and infamous Jomfru Ane Gade, a street long collection of clubs and bars open at all times for your debaucherous pleasure. There are chill bars, beer bongs, bumpshi clubs and everything in between.
Alrighty tired of Jomfru Ane Gade? Me too. Head to one of Aalborg’s many chill bars for a pint. Smoking is allowed in most bars, so bring a change of clothes if you don’t want to smell like an ashtray. Here are my favorite smokey chill bars:
Susan Himmelblå: Vesterbro 83, 9000 Aalborg
Smede Kroen: Niels Ebbesens Gade 19, 9000 Aalborg
Munken: Absalonsgade 29, 9000 Aalborg
Cafe Alpha: Jens Bangs Gade 8, 9000 Aalborg
Promenaden: Poul Paghs Gade 18, 9000 Aalborg
Feeling like a bit of a classier pint? Head to The Wharf at Borgergade 16 to taste a wide range of delicious beers.
Want to play board games and enjoy a tasty beer? Head to Basement Beer Bar at Løkkegade 18 or Dice n Drinks at Sankelmarksgade 15.
Cocktails? Check out Cafe Vesterå V4 at Vesterå 4.
Drinking is a big part of Danish culture so get out there and put that liver to use.
For the Music Lovers
For the Underground Music lovers, there is really only one place to go in town. 1000Fryd is a local Culture house showcasing many local and foreign acts from all walks of musical life. Shows are usually Thursdays to Saturdays, but there are often free movie events on Wednesdays and Sundays and art galleries throughout, so check out the website to see what is happening when you arrive. Come on Tuesdays for 35kr all-you-can-eat vegan dinners. You may even see me there.
If nothing at 1000Fryd is piquing your interest, check out the Student House for more varied acts. The venue is much larger, so they often accommodate big acts from around the world.
For some Acoustic, Classical, and Jazz vibes, check out Huset to see the rotating collection.
For the Artists
Kunsten is Aalborg’s local art museum, with a rotating and regular collection. Mainly contemporary in nature, a walk through Kunsten is always a good activity for a rainy day.
If it is nice, head towards the Aalborg Tårnet for views over the city and a walk through a lovely forest. Best in Spring when everything is in a flourishing bloom.
There is also a free rotating gallery on the upper floor of Nordkraft, and they also have free coffee to enjoy the art with. You can also take the elevator to the “Viewing platform” and get a great view of the whole city.
For the History Buffs
In Nørresundby, the town on the other side of the fjord, there is a stunning Viking burial called Lindholm Høje. It is one of the best preserved and largest Viking burials in the World. Come in the sun for the warmth or come on a foggy day for a Lord-of-the-Ringsy kind of feel.
There is also a secret museum in front of the Salling Department store on Ålgade. What may look like a glass box is actually an elevator to an underground Franciscan Monastery from the 1200’s. There is no staff to the museum, and the entry fee is 40kr which you pay to operate the elevator. I just went for the first time last weekend, and I must say it was pretty cool and spooky! Well worth the visit if you are in the neighborhood.
To Escape it All
Head to Nørresundby and go West along the fjord. Eventually, you will reach a little grassy area along the fjord with a lovely bike path. Keep going, and you will come upon some shelters where you can light a campfire and enjoy as long as you wish.
For the Day Tripper’s
Aalborg is the gateway to North Jutland. The best day trips from Aalborg are into the depths of the Danish countryside. Head to Løkken to view one of the largest dunes of Europe. This trip is better if you have a car, however.
If you do not have a car, consider taking the bus to Blokhus. This is a cute town by the sea, where you can enjoy the sunset and grab an ice cream or a beer. Likewise, you can take a pretty quick bus to Hals on the East Coast for a cute small town experience.
If you are a surfer, I hear good things about Klitmøller, nicknamed “Cold Hawaii”. This is a bit more of a weekend trip than a day trip, as it will take about 2+ hours and two buses to get to, but you will be rewarded with some great waves (hopefully)!
Another popular day trip is to Skagen, the tip of Denmark. The town is a former turn of the century art colony, so it has a great art museum and cute houses everywhere. Getting there is a bit nonsense and involves switching trains in Hjørring or Frederikshavn. But it is a pretty cute town, and you can see the point where two oceans collide on the very tip of Denmark.
Where to Stay
Denmark, in general, is still lagging in terms of budget accommodation. There is a Hostel/Campground on the outskirts of town near Fjordbyen, but it is not cheap by any means. The best bet for budget travelers is to head to Couchsurfing. There are tons of good hosts (including me) who would love to show you around town. If not, Airbnb is a good alternative.
I hope this was an okay guide to some of the highlights to the Number 8 destination to visit this year. I am not sure if it compares to The Azores, but Aalborg is a pretty special town. It does have a heart and soul, and it worth visiting to get a “real” Danish experience. For any gaps that need filling, please head to Visit Aalborg to make your trip perfect. As well, feel free to comment if you would like some more specific advice. So hop on your bike and I hope to welcome you soon!
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One thought on “Aalborg: Where to Go and What to Do”
I love the image your description invokes of standing on the tip of Denmark watching 2 oceans collide.
Incredibly powerful and lovely.