The twin city Nørresundby is 600 metres (2,000 ft) across the Limfjord. When including their population of 20.964 (as of 2021), then Municipality of Aalborg is the third most populous in the country after Copenhagen and Aarhus. 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 (often abbreviated to AAU), founded in 1974, which has more than 20,000 students (as of 2018). 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, was founded in 1881.
The football club Aalborg BK, established in 1885 and based at Nordjyske Arena, won the Danish Superliga in the 1994–95 season, the 1998–99 season, the 2007–08 season, and the 2013–14 season. Other sports associations include the icehockey 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) northwest 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.