It rates as Denmark’s fourth-largest city, with around 120,000 residents, but out-of-the-way Ålborg might seem an unlikely international-travel hub.
That’s not stopping Scandinavian Airlines, which is betting on the compact, alluring city with newly launched flights from Newark Liberty International, which will run three times a week from April through October.
Wake with a cold-water dip
A popular spot in the summer months, Vestre Fjordpark is a state-of-the-art recreational area in western Aalborg that includes a large open-air swimming pool, kayaking, canoeing and windsurfing facilities, volleyball and barbecue areas. It’s also absolutely free of charge, making it a great place to start your day.
Take a tour
Aalborg Tours cover many of the city’s popular elements (street art, history, architecture), led by guide Kenneth Pinsker, who is bursting with unusual and lesser-known facts about his home city. Visit an underground museum packed with medieval ruins, a house where women convicted of witchcraft were spotted allegedly engaged in black magic (plus a dungeon where they were subsequently held before death) and learn about a Second World War resistance group composed of local teenagers.
Admire the street art
Aalborg is now renowned as one of Scandinavia’s most important cities for street art, attracting high-calibre artists from all over the world, such as El Mac, Vhils, Martin Ron and Phlegm, to create murals. Since 2014, projects including Out in the Open and WEAART have collaborated with artists to transform grey stone walls into colourful canvases. Follow an interactive guide or take a guided tour to find out the stories behind the images.
Visit a Viking burial ground
Discover one of Denmark’s most important ancient monuments at Lindholm Høje. Located a 12-minute drive from central Aalborg, this remarkable site overlooking the city is the location of 682 graves and 150 stone ships dating back to the Germanic Iron Age and Viking era. Excavated in the 1950s after being covered by a layer of shifting sand up to four metres thick, the extensive site is a remarkable slice of history. It’s free to visit, although a fee is charged at the accompanying museum, which provides further insight into the lives of these early settlers.
Feel inspired by contemporary art
The remarkable Kunsten Museum of Modern Art alone makes a visit to Aalborg worthwhile. This beautiful marble building and sculpture garden, designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, was completed in 1972, and is an attraction in its own right. The museum’s first annual budget was blown entirely on a single work, Pablo Picasso’s Face in a Star, and its custodians continue to take a bold approach to curation. Exhibitions have included the multimedia works of esteemed feminist artist Kirsten Justesen and Shara Hughes’ joyful, colourful canvases. Don’t leave without trying the sweet treats on offer at the restaurant downstairs.