The Danish city which hosted the 2019 World Cross Country Championships had more to offer runners than a few hills around an extreme cross country course.

The forested areas to the north and south of Aarhus’ city centre, together with the flat cycle paths around the lakes to the west, provide wonderful variety for those looking to get in the miles.

Brabrandstien and the lakes

The Brabrandstien cycle and pedestrian path forms a loop of approximately 20 kilometres around the Brabrand and Arslev Engsø lakes to the west of the city, along the first section of the Aarhus to Silkeborg hiking trail.

The trail starts just west of the city centre and can be accessed from the junction between Skovgaardsgade and Carl Blochs Gade; at the corner between Carl Blochs Gade and Thorvaldsengade; or off Vestre Ringgade by Søren Frichs Vej.

The first section runs along the narrow Aarhus river, before opening to beautiful views of lakes. Whether watching the rising sun glistening on the lakes’ calm surface, or watching fishing boats silhouetted against the setting sun, this is a lovely place to enjoy nature and the outdoors at any time of the day.

The wide, flat, paved surface makes it an ideal place for tempo workouts. And even if you don’t fancy the full loop, there are shorter loop options available, with river crossings before and between the lakes.

Marselisborg Forests

The 10 kilometre stretch of forested sand dunes south of the city centre provides a pleasant, slightly undulating playground for all outdoor enthusiasts.

Paved cycle paths run, for the most part, along the main road through the forest, providing a crossing-free route right from the entrance of the forest all the way to Moesgaard Strand.

There are also other paved paths and dirt trails criss-crossing the beech-tree forest, some offering surprising and ever-changing views of the harbour, and glimpses of the sheltered sandy coves below.

From the trails you can access the infamously hilly fields around the Moesgaard Museum which hosted the 2019 World Cross Country Championships.

Climb the slanted roof of the museum to get some perspective of the challenge competitors faced on their way to glory and to enjoy great views of the surrounding area.

Photo: Lone Dybdal

Other options

Those staying to the north of the city will find pleasant forest trails around Riis Skov, a wooded area, which, like Marselisborg forests, runs along the coast. The route around the perimeter is approximately five kilometres.

The Botanic Gardens, close to Den Gamble By, one of the city’s main attractions, is considerably smaller than the other options but makes a pleasant extension to the Brabrandstien when not overrun with families and other users at the weekend.

The weekly Brabrand ParkRun, held at 9am on Saturday mornings, is located approximately 3km west of the city centre. The Aarhus Half Marathon is held in late June each year.

While you’re there

Among the top thing to do in Aarhus are dining in the characterful Street Food Market near Dokk1, the city’s new library; exploring Danish cultural history at Den Gamble By (the old town), an outdoor living folk museum with original buildings from all over Denmark; and visiting the many other museums and galleries around the city.

You can enjoy 360 degree views the city through the multi-coloured circular walkway atop the ARoS Art Museum and get up close to a herd of deer at the Marselisborg Deer Park.

Thrill-seekers are well catered for at the Tivoli Friheden Amusement Park. And there’s always the great outdoors, which can be explored by foot or on two wheels.

Further afield, the towns of Silkeborg and Skanderborg, linked by hiking trails through forests and along lake shores, are both worth a visit.

About the author
Elizabeth Egan is a consultant Performance Lifestyle Practitioner, the author of Notes from Higher Grounds: An Altitude Training Guide for Endurance Athletes, and a keen runner who loves exploring running routes around the world.

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