It turns out that Jutland is essentially the Danish
Wales. Only bigger. In fact, in a kingdom which otherwise consists of
an impressive 443 named islands and almost another 1,000 unnamed ones,
Jutland is enormous.
"In Jutland," a Copenhagener colleague stereotyped fondly,
"the men scrape manure off their boots before they go in for dinner,
and if a girl isn't pregnant by the time she's 16, she's considered
barren." Sounds like Cardiff.
As it turns out, he exaggerates grossly. Aalborg is hardly that backwards.
It even has electricity. Not to mention a few excellent restaurants
and designer boutiques. Okay, so it's hardly the finest drinking
destination in the world, and I wouldn't advise ordering a Manhattan
anywhere, but the beer's good, the schnapps warming, and it has
a fjord. What more do you want for a weekend break?
To rest your weary head:
A 10 minute drive from the airport, Hvide Hus is a contemporarily designed
hotel perched on the edge of a cute park, a mere 15 minute stroll from
the city centre. In addition to its view, the 15th floor hotel bar also
boasts an endearingly dry-humoured bar-keep sporting a fantastic walrus
Where to eat?
Morten Nielsen is apparently the Danish Gordon Ramsey, but with less
shouting and, as one of the locals advised me, a little more swinging.
A table at his Mayfair-worthy Mortens Kro may require booking, but the
astonishing 7-course tasting menu is worth it. Lars Jeppesen's
converted icebreaker, Elbjørn, is a very different eating experience,
serving only the finest local, organic produce in its engine room restaurant.
While you're there, remember to pick up a bottle of Lars's
own delicious honey and anise-tinged schnapps, also called Elbjørn.
Where to drink?
With the most alcohol licenses per capita in Denmark, the answer is
everywhere and nowhere. Most of the big bars lie on Jomfru Ane Gade,
a singular stretch of drinking establishments that is best avoided.
Stick instead to the restaurants, hotels and smaller bars that are dotted
about, like Søgaard's Bryghus, Denmark's only combined
microbrewery, restaurant and butcher's.
What to see?
If the Viking burial-ground and Schnapps distillery don't tickle
your cultural taste-buds, make sure you pay a visit to the North Jutland
Museum of Art. In addition to Alvar Aalto's stunning architectural
design, the permanent collection of contemporary Danish art is excellent
and the tours worthwhile.
When to go?
The local tourist board has a fetish for jazz festivals and even the
odd Take That gig, so there's always something going on. Because
of its Northern location, Aalborg gets good, cold winters, and with
long stretches of beach only a short drive away, even the Jutland summers
have their attractions.
Where to shop?
Wander down the stretch from Algade to Nørregade and you're
bound to find something to catch your eye. Amongst the abundance of
minimal homeware and Hennes-styled Scandi-wear stores, make sure to
pay a visit to the bright, young design-collective The Cookie Factory,
tucked in a courtyard off the main street.
With an abundance of cafés and delis to rest those weary legs
(highly recommended is the gorgeous, family-run Penny Lane) and a growing
spread of independent design boutiques, exploring the city is a pleasure.
It's not Copenhagen, nor is it Cardiff, but for a charming weekend
escape with crisp, clean air, great Danish cuisine, and all the amenities
of a quirky Scandinavian city, it doesn't get easier than Aalborg.
fly direct from London Gatwick to Aalborg from £115 return incl.
for more information.
Vesterbro 2 - +45 98 13 84 00