Quality food and plenty of culture are staple parts of any good city break.

So there was quite rightly a buzz in the air from the residents of Aarhus when it was announced the Danish city and its surrounding region will fly the flag for both food and culture across Europe.

The city will be the first settlement ever to hold the titles of European Capital of Culture and European Region of Gastronomy in the same year, when they are honoured with the accolades in 2017.

Situated in the Jutland region of Denmark, the city is busy preparing for a yea-long display of its finest assets, from its fancy food to its creative culture.

And with the city boasting a growing number of top restaurants and an even more impressive line-up of museums and art displays the city has much to show.

In fact, Aarhus is now hot on the tail of big sister city and Denmark's capital, Copenhagen, after two of the city’s restaurants achieved a Michelin Star last year.

Substans and Frederikshøj were rewarded with the prestigious accolades in 2015, making them the first two restaurants in Denmark to be awarded a Michelin Star outside of Copenhagen.

Both retained their star again this year, while Gastrome made it a hat-trick of Michelin Star restaurants for Aarhus, achieving the award in 2016.

Alongside the food, the city’s cultural capabilities are not just varied - they are visible.

The city’s most striking feature is without a doubt the ‘Rainbow’, a colourful, 150 meter long, three meter wide, artistic walkway which sits comfortably atop of the ARoS museum.

The piece, designed by famous Scandinavian artist, Olafur Eliasson, provides a bright and attractive focal point from below.

But from within it provides a stunning and colourful 360 degree look at Aarhus, allowing visitors to walk round and see the city through the changing colours of a rainbow.

Access to the Rainbow is through the ARoS museum, which is a spectacle itself.

The 17,700 square metre building, which appears cubed from the outside, boasts ten floors and art and exhibitions from the likes of Bill Viola, Wim Wenders, Paul McCarthy and Shirin Neshat.

The museum also hosts a restaurant which serves some clever and well thought out food at reasonable prices.

ARoS museum will play a major part in the events, displays and activities held throughout the city's year as European Capital of Culture.

Its main contribution 'The Garden’, a visual art project which will be held throughout Aarhus.

The 4km 'art zone' which will feature a triennial of visual displays representing the past, the present and the future.

The focus of the art will be man's relationship with nature.

The Garden will run throughout the summer of 2017.

Meanwhile Aarhus’ centre point when the city is made European Capital of Culture in 2017 will be the newly constructed Dokk1 building on the city’s waterfront.

The £210 million construction is designed to become the city’s new community hub with the library, public learning facilities and citizen’s services all now based within the multi-floor building.

The building was opened in June 2015 and already averages around 4,000 unique visitors per day.

It is the first part of a major re-development for the city’s waterfront, which includes plans for a sea front promenade.

As well as investment in new buildings and infrastructure, organisers behind the European Capital of Culture events have also enlisted the help of Denmark’s leading artists and cultural experts to lead performances throughout the year.

Artist Olafur Eliason has leant his talents to the city again, helping to create the screen play for a spectacular modern ballet performance named Tree of Codes.

The work of Danish Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier will also feature heavily as part of a trilogy of performances .

Her films, 'Brothers', 'Open Hearts' and 'After the Wedding' will all be transformed as part of the project, named 'The Bier Trilogy'.

The National Danish Opera will work with Brothers, directed by acclaimed Danish director Kasper Holten.

Choreographer Palle Granhøj will transform Open Hearts into a ballet, while After the Wedding will be made into a musical drama.

By far the biggest event of the year will be the performance of Viking saga “Red Serpent” which is expected to bring in a crowd of around 100,000 people.

The event will take place from May 29 next year on top of the roof of the city’s famous Moesgaard Museum.

The museum, which lies a taxi or cycle ride away from the city centre, features a completely accessible sloping roof which is often used by visitors for picnics in the summer months and as a ski slope for residents during periods of snow.

However what is inside is equally as interesting.

The museum, which opened in 2014, hosts a variety of exhibits looking into Denmark’s ancient past.

But the museum is most famous for holding the world’s best preserved Iron Age body, known as ‘Grauballe Man’.

The bog body was discovered in the 1950s and is believed, through carbon dating, to be of a man from the late 3rd century BC.

It is thought he was sacrificed by his own people and thrown into the bog to appease the gods following a bad harvest.

Grauballe Man was discovered by peat diggers in 1952 and following research and chemical preservation was given up as the world’s finest example of an intact Iron Age body.

He resides, carefully monitored, within the museum's fascinating Iron Age display.

Further outside the city of Aarhus, the region of Jutland has much to offer.

Though Denmark’s two most famous export is of course its bacon, followed ever so closely by its delicious pastries, the true Danish delicacies lie in the surrounding sea waters.

With the Jutland region surrounded by water, and carved by its many inlets, rivers and fjords, seafood features high on the agenda.

Smoked and even salted fish are two particular favourites.

However for those fans of the ‘Marmite-esk’ oyster, with its love it or hate it charm, they come no fresher and tastier than picked from the nearby Limfjord and eaten moments later.

For those in the ‘love’ category, Jutland is the perfect place with oyster safaris available to members of the public.

For around £30 participants can wade into the cold North Sea with oyster expert Alex Munch and pick to their hearts content.

Groups then return to the shore were they can sample their catch in style with a bottle of bubbly a squeeze of lemon and the comfort of warm a barbecue.

Other tourists attractions in the region include a visit to the Jutland War Museum, located on the coast nearest to the famous World War One sea battle, or a trip to the small island of Fur.

Despite having less than 1,000 residents, the island welcomes over 200,000 visitors a year, many of whom come for its scenic views and, lately, its growing reputation for producing good beer.

The island is home to the Fur Bryghus, a brewery which is growing in size and reputation, due in part to its highly rated restaurant.

The eatery boasts good good and a fresh supply of beer with visitors literally sitting above the working brewery.

The island, which is easily accessible by a small ferry trip, is a perfect snapshot of the the scenic beauty that Aarhus's surrounding region has to offer.

When combined with the city's growing reputation as a centre point for food and culture, the Jutland region as a whole has the ability to host any type of weekend getaway.

With civic chiefs in Southampton announcing last month that they plan to bid for the title of European Capital of Culture in the near future, it’s an offer residents in Hampshire might well want to sample.


Getting there: Ryanair has direct flights from London Stansted to Aarhus and Billund from as little as £19.99 one-way.

Alternatively, from 3 May 2016 British Airways will be offering daily flights from Heathrow to Billund with return prices from £120. These are in addition to the flights currently offered from London City Airport and Manchester to Billund through the airline’s franchise partner Sun-Air.

There are also plenty of flights from the UK to Aarhus via Copenhagen. SAS operates from Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Heathrow, Newcastle and Manchester. Alternatives include easyJet from Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Luton and Manchester; and Norwegian from Gatwick to Aalborg.

Where to stay:

There is no better way to get a real taste for the Denmark's history, delicious cuisine and genuine Danish hospitality than by staying at one of Small Danish Hotels' beautiful inns, modern hotels and fairy tale castles dotted along the country's regional cities and surrounding countryside.

Small Danish Hotels represent 85 privately-run 3 and 4 star hotels, inns, castles and mannor houses. To book go to www.smalldanishhotels.com

We stayed at Hotel Oasia in Aarhus (www.hoteloasia.com), Hotel Svanen in Billund (www.hotelsvanen.dk) and Hvalpsund Færgekro (www.hvalpsund-faergekro.dk).

Getting around: Prices from £145/3 days rental with Europcar (www.europcar.com)