Between charming cobblestone streets, elegant museums, colorful waterfront shops, and all the class of any European city, Copenhagen is calling your name for your next gaycation. Other than all the charming sites and sounds across the city, Copenhagen is famous for its open-minded, relaxed, and progressive attitudes, making it the absolute perfect destination for you and your partner.
Denmark has always been at the forefront of LGBT rights and its fairytale-like capital city, Copenhagen, has always been at the center of it all. It’s no wonder then, that this city is at the top of the list of magical vacation destinations. Locals describe Copenhagen as full of things to do, diverse, and a place where discrimination based on sexuality or gender expression rarely occurs.
Described as the “gay-friendliest place on earth”, Copenhagen’s culture of supporting equality runs deep. In 1917, while much of the world was vehemently against homosexuality, Europe’s first gay bar, Centralhjornet opened its doors for the first time in Copenhagen’s Indre By area in the city center. In the years after, the city stayed on the progressive side of LGBT rights, fostering a massive queer culture and in 1948, the National Association for Gays and Lesbians was founded in the nearby city of Aalborg. 72 years after the opening of the first gay bar, Axel and Eigil Axgil became the first gay couple in the world to be married, right on the steps of Copenhagen City Hall after Denmark legalized same-sex registered partnerships in 1989. It wouldn’t be until 2012 that the country legalized gay marriage, however even in the years between, the country maintained a welcoming and progressive attitude.
Denmark is also at the forefront when it comes to trans rights. In 2017, Denmark became the first country in the world to no longer classify being transgender as a mental illness and trans people do not need a psychological evaluation before undergoing surgery, not only giving access to surgery to many more trans people, but also fostering a more accepting environment by signaling that there is nothing wrong with being trans.
In between the historic steps Denmark has taken, it’s no surprise that the capital city has become a gay haven. Full of bars, clubs, one of the world’s biggest pride events, and more, your trip to Copenhagen will never see a dull moment.
As such welcoming city, it’s hard to define exactly what parts of Copenhagen are considered the best gay neighborhood, as most of the city is going to be a safe spot. That said, there are spots in Copenhagen that have more gay bars, or more gay hotels than other parts.
Vesterbro, once known as the seedy Meatpacking District, is now a must-visit destination, especially in the LGBT community. Centrally located, just to the west of the Center station, Vesterbro is filled with trendy stores and delightful cafes. With cobblestone sidewalks and hipsters all around, the area perfect for a daytime stroll or for a night out on the town. Grab breakfast at Granola, let out your inner child and thrill seeker at Tivoli Gardens, see a show at Det Ny Teater, or wander through any of the area’s parks and gardens.
Don’t forget about Vesterbro’s nightlife. Head out for a night at Jolene. The space which was once a slaughterhouse is now one of the city’s most popular bars. Jolene has a casual, industrial chic type of theme inside, and offers a restaurant, cafe, and bar, and is best compared to Oscar in that it is a great, relaxed atmosphere to chat with friends, take a date, or get to know new people. Despite the calm vibes at Jolene, the bar hosts regular monthly LGBT parties. THROWback is a popular night open to queer people and allies.
Ladies, Copenhagen’s only lesbian-exclusive bar is calling your name. With sofas to chat up new women, plenty of games to play, and room to dance, Vela has it all. The Vesterbro bar is described as the perfect place for some beers in a relaxing, safe space for women. Don’t forget to check Vela’s events calendar, full of cultural events, literature readings, speed dating nights, live music, poetry events, and more.
Warehouse 9, in the Meatpacking District, is known to have monthly T-lounge sessions, specifically designed for trans people in the city to come together for film events, speakers, workshops, or just to hang out and get to know other trans people in Copenhagen.
The city center is also a great gay neighborhood. The city even renamed the main square Rainbow Square, for the LGBT community. Plus with so much to see and do, you can spend days in the city center alone.
Have a picnic or go for a stroll in Orstedsparken, a large public park with a lake in the middle, tour a real-life castle at Christiansborg Palace, or stroll through the halls of any one of Copenhagen’s world-class museums. Statens Museum for Kunst holds collections of famous Danish works of art and Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek houses statues and paintings by artists around the world. Or you can learn about centuries’ worth of LGBT history in the city and country on the free LGBT Historical Walking Tour. Join Copenhagen’s LGBT Society for a tour through Copenhagen City Court, Knabostraede, the first home of the National League for Gays, and Orstedsparken. The two-hour tour is conducted in Danish, German, or English.
Fan of the 2016 movie The Danish Girl? Follow the tour yourself to see the sights and scenes featured in the biopic based on the life of Lili Elbe, a Danish trans women and one of the first women in the world to undergo sex-reassignment surgery in the 1930s. The self-guided tour through downtown Copenhagen takes you down the winding streets of Snaregade, whose twists and turns are lined with some of the city’s oldest buildings. Make your way to Borsen, The Royal Theater, Charlottenborg, Nyhavn, the Marble Church, Nyboder, Fiolstaede Reading Room, and more, all spots where the movie was filmed.
Warm up from Copenhagen’s cool winters at Amigo, the city’s most popular gay sauna. With three floors, Amigo gives you steam baths, sunbeds, cabins, mazes, and more for a relaxing lazy day. Located right in the center of Copenhagen, Amigo is an experience you can’t miss. Head over on a Friday or Saturday evening for the best crowds, though be aware that these days are always packed.
If you’re looking for the nightlife in the city’s always-beating heart, you don’t need to look very far. Never Mind is a popular bar in the city center, right next to Orstedsparken. The smoking-allowed bar is always busy, but this just lets you know that you can be sure it’ll be a great time. Nevermind officially closes at 6 am, but if the party is still going, DJ’s will keep playing until later. This bar is best for those night owls who can really keep the party going, no matter the hour. Never Mind is even open most weeknights. This is perfect if you want to enjoy a drink in a safe atmosphere without the wild party.
Whatever mood you’re in, Oscar Bar and Cafe is the place to be. The gay bar/cafe/lounge is right next to Copenhagen’s City Hall in the heart of Rainbow Square and has been described as the best atmosphere in the entire city. The cafe and lounge boast a menu full of great food and a quieter space ideal for talking and getting to know new people. With a relaxed, yet classy atmosphere and happy hour drink deals from 5-9pm, there really is no way to go wrong at Oscar. Plus, on Fridays, the bar turns into a dance floor with a DJ spinning out all the best hits. Staff typically have great English, so don’t worry if you forgot to brush up on your Danish. While the crowd may be more toward the older side, young people are more than welcome at Oscar.
Head into the cells at Jailhouse for a unique night on the town. The first floor is a restaurant Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights serving up a full menu of delicious, Danish options, while the basement is where all the fun is. The bar, as suggested by the name, has a full prison theme, complete with jail cells, bars on the windows and bar, and all bartenders donning full police uniforms. Happy hour runs from 3 to 9 pm and the bar regularly hosts special theme nights. Look out for some of the popular events, including sailor night and ABBA night.
G*A*Y Copenhagen is a new bar in the center. Opened in 2014, G*A*Y is exclusively gay (meaning everyone is welcome, but the location is designated as gay location), serving queer men and queer women. It’s also trans-friendly. With a happy hour until midnight, a night at G*A*Y is sure to be a wild party. The club is usually loud and the main dance floor is strictly smoke-free.
Of course, you can’t do gay Copenhagen without a trip to Centralhjornet. Opened in 1917, Europe’s oldest gay bar is still in operation 101 years later. The iconic bar is open every day of the week for you to stop in for some cheap beers and good conversation. The bar is also known to host live music events and shows. While officially an LGBT bar, Centralhjornet is straight friendly, as well.
Photo by: Hotel Windsor
Hotel Windsor is in the heart of Copenhagen, in Norrebro area, giving you easy walking access to the city’s best sites and sounds. The rooms in this non-smoking hotel are simply decorated, but cozy and perfect for a weekend away with your partner. Each room has a tv available and all the amenities you need to make it an all-around great stay. Hotel Windsor also offers a continental breakfast every morning and plenty of common space, including office space, for you to use during your stay.
Andersen Boutique Hotel, set in Copenhagen’s old Meatpacking district, is a chic boutique hotel that will fill all your needs. The charming space is not exclusively gay, but is well known throughout the city as a gay-friendly safe space for queer travelers and allies alike. The bright and sunny decor of the hotel will be the first thing you see from the lobby, welcoming you right away into the delightful space. With friendly staff, free wifi, a full breakfast spread until 11 am, free wine hour from 5-6 pm, and a unique booking feature that lets you book for 24 hours regardless of check-in or check-out time, Andersen Boutique Hotel is the perfect spot for a vacay with your bae. The various room options ranging from a standard spot to junior suites complete with sofas, space for relaxing, and even a bathtub with a rubber duckie waiting for you just make the stay that much sweeter.
Axel Hotel Guldsmeden is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a high-class experience in a gay-friendly, eco-friendly, yet luxurious space. With over 200 rooms, plus four private penthouse suites, a spa, courtyard, and lounge space, you and your partner will be in heaven in one of Axel Guldsmeden’s rooms. Right in the heart of Vesterbro, Axel Guldsmeden gives you perfect access to Copenhagen’s best bars and clubs.
With such a rich LGBT culture, Copenhagen Pride is a week-long event you truly cannot miss. Each year in mid-August, thousands of people hit the streets for one of Denmark’s biggest events — the week-long, entirely free Copenhagen pride. During the week, City Hall Square is renamed Pride Square and serves as the city’s center of all pride-related activities. Typically, Pride week is filled with live concerts, deals at all the best gay bars, workshops, speakers, and more. Last year’s Pride featured Europe’s best and biggest drag show, and concerts showcasing up-and-coming LGBT artists. Week-long events in 2017 included Pre-pride, an all-night dance party celebration at the LGBT center Bossehuset in Christiana, LOVE FEST, featuring pop-up bars and a sectioned off stretch of street for a daylight dance party, parties at Oscar, and more.
Copenhagen has such an open culture that the city was even selected to host the 2021 World Pride event. World Pride, set up by InterPride, happens in a different city around the world every two years to promote LGBT rights and topics on an international level through cultural events. Copenhagen was chosen after over 20 years of hosting one of the largest LGBT pride events worldwide in the city, assuring everyone that Worldpride 2021 will be well worthwhile.
Fan of the movies? Don’t miss out on MIX. MIX Copenhagen is an international film festival centered around LGBT films and media that happens every fall since 1986, with the 2018 festival taking place from October 26th through November 4th. MIX’s goal is to highlight movies that could “affect personal and societal expectations” in terms of acceptance of the LGBT+ community. Tickets to attend the film festival go for around 85 DKK, or about 14 USD. MIX’s closing night is awards night, and the best feature film takes home the Lili Award, named for Denmark’s Lili Elbe, for her openness and courage in living openly.
Speaking of awards ceremonies, Danish Rainbow Awards AXGIL, held every year, honor companies and organizations in that work hard to make significant and positive changes for the LGBT community. The name Axgil, honors the Axgils, Axel and Eigil, who were the world’s first gay couple to be married, right in the heart of Copenhagen.
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