Aalborg is Denmark's fourth largest city. The twin city Nørresundby is 600 metres (2,000 ft) across the Limfjord. By road Aalborg is 64 kilometres (40 mi) southwest of Frederikshavn, and 118 kilometres (73 mi) north of Aarhus. The distance to Copenhagen is 412 kilometres (256 mi) if travelling by road and not using ferries. The earliest settlements date to around AD 700. Aalborg's position at the narrowest point on the Limfjord made it an important harbour during the Middle Ages, and later a large industrial centre. Architecturally, the city is known for its half-timbered mansions built by its prosperous merchants. Budolfi Church, now a cathedral, dates from the end of the 14th century and Aalborghus Castle, a royal residence, was built in 1550. Today, Aalborg is a city in transition from a working-class industrial area to a knowledge-based community. A major exporter of grain, cement, and spirits, its thriving business interests include Siemens Wind Power, Aalborg Industries, and Aalborg Portland. These companies have become global producers of wind turbine rotors, marine boilers, and cement.
With its theatres, symphony orchestra, opera company, performance venues, and museums such as Aalborg Historical Museum and the Aalborg Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg is an important cultural hub. The Aalborg Carnival, held at the end of May, is one of the largest festivals in Scandinavia, attracting some 100,000+ people annually. The town's major university is Aalborg University, (AAU) which has more than 20,000 students. AAU is also North Jutland's largest university and overall academic institution. The University College of Northern Denmark (UCN) is one of seven new regional organisations while the Royal School of Library and Information Science (RSLIS) provides higher education in library and information science. Trænregimentet, the Danish regiment for army supply and emergency medical personnel, is also in Aalborg. Aalborg University Hospital, the largest in the north of Jutland.
The football club Aalborg BK is based at Nordjyske Arena. Other sports associations include the ice-hockey club Aalborg Pirates, the men's handball team Aalborg Håndbold, the rugby club Aalborg RK, and Aalborg Cricket Club. Aalborg Railway Station, on John F. Kennedys Plads has connected the city to Randers and the south since 1869. Aalborg Airport is just 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) north-west of the city centre, and the E45, a European route from Alta, Norway, to Gela, Italy, passes through Aalborg. The European Commission has concluded that the citizens of Aalborg are the most satisfied people in Europe with their city.
Aalborg is North Jutland's major industrial and commercial centre, exporting grain, cement, and spirits. Heavy industry was behind the city's prosperity until fairly recently. Many of the factories have now closed, to be replaced by developments in the knowledge-based and green-energy sectors. Mobile and wireless communications industries have grown substantially since the 1990s, as has rotor production for wind turbines.
There are over 9,200 enterprises in Aalborg, employing around 109,000 people or approximately 35% of the workforce of the Northern Region. The city is focused on increasing its participation in the global economy through both existing companies and new entrants. Its efforts are focused on four areas: energy and environment, information technology, health support systems and "Arctic business". The latter covers trade with Greenland as the Port of Aalborg handles over 60% of all goods shipped to Greenland. Four harbours dot the waterfront, Marina Fjordparken, Skudehavnen, Vestre Badehavn, and Østre Havn. Tourism is also growing, with a considerable rise in the number of passengers at Aalborg Airport. Aalborg Municipality has Denmark's second highest revenue from tourism and is the only municipality in the north of Denmark where overnight stays are increasing.
Telenor Denmark, part of the Norwegian Telenor telecommunications and mobile phone company, has a workforce of about 1,100 in Aalborg, making it one of the city's largest new employers. Siemens Wind Power has rotor-blade production and testing facilities in Aaborg. The testing plant is the world's largest research test centre for wind turbine technology.
Aalborg Industries, part of Swedish Alfa Laval, and the world's largest manufacturer of marine boilers, is established in Aalborg and also produces floating production systems for the offshore market, employing 2,600 people. Using chalk deposits from Rørdal to the east of the city, Aalborg Portland, a subsidiary of the Italian Cementir is a major cement producer and is the world's largest supplier of white cement, which it exports around the globe.
Aalborg has a wide selection of shops and restaurants. In the city centre, there are both large department stores and smaller speciality shops. One of the largest shopping malls in Denmark, the Aalborg Storcenter, is to the south of the city in Skalborg. It has about 75 stores, including a large Bilka supermarket. The city has over 300 restaurants, catering in Danish, European and Asian dishes. Notable establishments include Fusion on the waterfront, Mortens Kro, run by celebrity chef Morten Nielsen, and Irish House, a pub in the 17th century Jens Olufsen's House. While Aalborg is renowned for its alcohol and nightlife, there are also a number of coffee shops.
Aalborg has 12 large hotels, most within walking distance of the city centre. The Helnan Phønix Hotel is the largest, occupying what was originally built as a lavish private residence in 1783 for a Danish brigadier. It was converted into a hotel in 1853, and in 2011 had 210 rooms, furnished with dark oak. The Chagall was established in the 1950s and has reproductions of Marc Chagall paintings in the rooms. Radisson Blu Limfjord Hotel, operated by the Radisson Hotels chain, contains 188 rooms and has the Italian restaurant Vero Gusto. The Park Hotel, opposite the railway station, was established in 1917. Other hotels include Cabinn Aalborg, Hotel Hvide Hus, Hotel Krogen and Prinsen Hotel. Several banks including Danske Bank, Forex, Jyske Bank, Spar Nord and Nordea have branches in Aalborg.
Aalborg was ranked #901 by the Nomad List which evaluates and ranks remote work hubs by cost, internet, fun and safety. Aalborg has a population of over 117,351 people. Aalborg also forms part of the wider Aalborg metropolitan area which has a population of over 142,937 people.