Aarhus, Denmark has one of the most interesting “old towns” that I’ve been to because it actually isn’t part of the city. Den Gamle By is considered to be a museum, and it’s a little outside the main part of the city. You do have to pay to enter (but I will talk about a way to get in for free below!), but it’s definitely worth it! Old Town Aarhus is one of the prettiest spots in the city, and I loved exploring the colorful, half-timber houses 🙂
Visiting Den Gamle By
So Den Gamle By is an open air museum instead of being a part of downtown Aarhus, like other European towns I’ve visited. And it’s unique because instead of just being the historic part of town, Den Gamle By was created by the city, and they actually took historic homes from all around Denmark to construct the old town. Instead of being an actual “old town,” it’s a representation of what the Danish towns would have looked like years ago, and it’s pretty cool to learn about where all the different houses came from!
Another interesting thing about Den Gamle By is that it’s laid out by date. So it goes from the half timber houses from the 1700s all the way up to modern day, so you can see how Danish towns changed over the years. They also have people dressed in period clothing, and you take rides in an old-fashioned horse-and-buggy!
They have lots of little shops, museums (including a Christmas museum!), bakeries, and houses that you can walk through. I definitely recommend stopping in a bakery because I think Denmark has the best pastries! I chatted with the “store owner” in a general store, and when he saw that I was an American, he pulled out some newspaper clippings from American newspapers during the period his store was from. So I even got to learn about my country’s history in the Old Town in Aarhus!
Getting into Den Gamle By for Free
Like I said before, you do have to pay to enter Den Gamle By. It’s cheaper in the winter, and there are discounts for students (and since I was a student from another country, I got an additional discount). From March-December, it costs 135 DKK (about $22 USD) for adults and 70 DKK (about $12 USD) for students, and it’s free for anyone under 18.
I went on a Sunday morning and it was pretty crowded, and I actually went back later for free. I was with a group of Danes from my class, and they had insider knowledge that Den Gamle By is still “open” after hours and free to visit! The stores and houses aren’t open then, but if you just want to check out the town without crowds of people around, wait until the evening. It’s such insider knowledge that I can’t find a website anywhere that verifies this! (And I promise I did not break in or anything; there were a few other people walking through the town). I was there around 8 p.m., and it’s still sunny then during the summer in Denmark.
Even if you have to pay, I still recommend visiting Den Gamle By! It was really interesting to see how they reconstructed the old town, and I enjoyed getting to walk through old stores and houses, which you often don’t get to do in old towns in other cities. Plus, you know I loved the colorful historic houses 🙂