Copenhagen is an urban city with a population of just over a million inhabitants. Famous for its Michelin-starred restaurants, buildings with colorful facades along the Nyhavn waterfront, bike culture that rivals that of Amsterdam, bold and unique architecture, historic landmarks and monuments and Tivoli, the second oldest amusement park in the world, there’s something here for every kind of traveler. With just a few days in Copenhagen, you can visit many of the most popular sites.
The city is also especially gay-friendly with a small, but noteworthy collection of gay bars clustered around Rodhuspladsen, the city hall square in the center. In fact, Denmark itself was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex unions back in 1989 and has since legalized same-sex marriage in 2012. Copenhagen is also known for its annual Pride celebration in August. This event is filled with drag performances, discussions related to LGBT issues, short films, parties, and of course a pride parade that had over 20,000 people participating and more than 120,000 spectators in 2014.
Table of Contents
1. General Tips
2. Transportation & Airport Transfer
3. Gay Hotels in Copenhagen
4. Sightseeing & Activities in Copenhagen
5. Gay Tours in Copenhagen
6. Restaurants & Cafes in Copenhagen
7. Copenhagen Gay Bars
8. Copenhagen City Gay Clubs & Parties
9. Copenhagen Gay Saunas & Cruising Bars
10. Copenhagen Gay Beach
11. Gay Events in Copenhagen
12. Day Trips from Copenhagen
Copenhagen has a totally relaxed, friendly, hippie vibe going on. Therefore it should be no surprise that it has a neighborhood like Freetown Christiania where its special legal status and hippie-esque inhabitants create a unique district of homemade houses, workshops, art galleries, music venues and organic eateries. The city also has one of the oldest gay bars, Centralhjørnet, which has been open since 1917 and officially became a gay bar in the 1950s.
Compared to northern European cities like Stockholm, Amsterdam, and Helsinki, Copenhagen looks pretty good financially and you’ll be surprised by how far a Danish kroner can actually go. For example, an average metro ride can cost €3 in Copenhagen whereas Stockholm would be nearly €6. Also a pint of beer in Copenhagen can cost you about €4 on average compared to €5.50 in Helsinki.
For fewer crowds and lower room rates, consider visiting in the spring (March-May) or in the late summer between June and August. Spring weather is mild with daytime highs around 50 degrees. From May through September, the city comes alive with festivals, events, and outdoor dining. Starting in October things quiet down for the winter with the exception of holiday celebrations in December.
Transportation & Airport Transfer
Copenhageners are bicyclists to the max. Incredibly, over a third of the city’s population commutes to work by bike. Over the past two years it has been voted the best cycle city by Treehugger, a top media outlet working to drive sustainability. In addition to biking, the city also has an extensive public transit network, clean harbors, many parks, clean technology and sustainable buildings. This has all led to it being voted Europe's Green Capital for 2014 by the European Environment Commission.
The Copenhagen Airport is located 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the city city center. It is the busiest airport in Scandinavia serving 60,000 passengers a day. There are 3 terminals that are all connected. Domestic flights depart and arrive at Terminal 1, International flights can be found at Terminals 2 and 3 and all international arrivals are at Terminal 3.
To get from the airport to the heart of Copenhagen, you have several options: train, metro, bus and taxi. Trains travel from Copenhagen Central Station to the airport departing every 10 minutes and the trip is about 20 minutes. However, taking the metro is the easiest option and it runs around the clock making several convenient stops. The bus costs about the same as the train and the metro, but is a longer ride. A Taxi is the most expensive choice and taxi stands can be found outside Terminal 3.
Gay Hotels in Copenhagen
There aren't currently any gay hotels in Copenhagen but there are many gay-friendly options.
Hotel SP34 – located in Copenhagen’s Latin Quarter, this hotel boasts a cool and modern style. It features 118 rooms with a minimalist, monochromatic design and all the essentials for a relaxing and comfortable stay. Guests can rent a bicycle to explore the city, dine al fresco on the rooftop terrace, enjoy a meal at Cocks & Cows (Burgers & Cocktails) or lights bits and a drink at Bar Moritz (tapas & wine).
Urban House Copenhagen by Meininger – set in the city’s pulsating Vesterbro district, this funky and urban hostel is a short walk from Copenhagen Central Station and Tivoli Gardens. Choose from multi-bed, single or double rooms that are simple yet comfortable. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, bicycle rental and breakfast buffet as well as a communal kitchen, game area, bar and lounge.
Axel Hotel Guldsmeden – this 4-star hotel is conveniently situated in the trendy Vesterbro area and boasts a Balinese vibe that is light, airy and refreshing. Enjoy one of the 212 serenely-styled guest rooms, which includes 4 penthouse suites with a private rooftop terrace and hot tub. Relax at the Axel Spa or enjoy the plush lounge and courtyard with sofas and a fireplace. Not to be confused with the Axel Hotels brand. Though the name is similar, it is not part of the gay hotel chain but still a very welcoming option.
Andersen Boutique Hotel – just a short walk from the gay scene, this boutique hotel is near the Meatpacking District and conveniently next to the Copenhagen Central Station. Its 73 guest rooms are decorated with fun and energetic color palettes. Breakfast is served until 11am with a variety of cold and hot dishes. In the evenings from 5-6pm, you can enjoy a complimentary glass of wine in the lobby.
Hotel Skt Petri – elegant 5-star hotel in the heart of the city (Latinerkvarteret neighborhood) featuring 286 air conditioned guest rooms with rich, masculine and modern style all equipped with WiFi, flat-screen TVs and minibars. Enjoy amenities such as a trendy Scandinavian restaurant, a chic cocktail lounge, cafe/bar, in-house gym and sauna.
First Hotel Mayfair – a short stroll from Copenhagen Central Station, this stylish downtown hotel is housed in a boutique building from the early 1900s. Each individually designed room features bold colors with traditional style, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and minifridges. Enjoy a daily breakfast spread with organic and local products, a drink at the bar, cozy lounge or out in the garden as well as a fully equipped gym.
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Sightseeing & Activities in Copenhagen
Tivoli Gardens – The Tivoli Gardens theme park in Copenhagen is one of the top attractions of the city and the second oldest theme park in the world dating back to 1843. After a visit to the park, it inspired Walt Disney when he created Disneyland. It continues to draw people in today to enjoy the rides, stroll the park admiring the beautiful scenery (especially when it’s lit up at night) and enjoy the various shows, concerts and special events. Book tour →
Strøget – located in the heart of the city, Copehagen’s main shopping promenade is one of the largest in Europe stretching 1.1 kilometers from City Hall Square (Rådhuspladsen) to Kongens Nytorv. Stroll past the windows of luxury boutiques and high street stores while enjoying the many street performers. Book tour →
Nyhavn Harbor (New Harbor)- dating back to the 17th century, enjoy the picturesque surroundings of colorful canal-side townhouses and bars. This popular entertainment district hosts events throughout the year. Look for some of the historic wooden ships anchored in the harbor and the famous Little Mermaid statue. Book tour →
Christiansborg Palace – once home to kings and queens and now the seat of the Danish Parliament (Folketinget), Danish Prime Minister's Office and Supreme Court of Denmark. Step into 800 years of history and tour the opulent palace including Royal Reception Rooms, Chapel and the Royal Stables. Book tour →
Rosenborg Castle – renaissance castle originally built by Christian IV as a country summerhouse in the early 17th century. It’s set in the center of Copenhagen in the King’s Garden featuring the Knight’s hall with silver lions standing guard and tapestries. Enjoy a variety of art, the Crown Jewels and Royal Regalia. Book tour →
Paper Island – When you think Copenhagen, you don’t exactly think street food. But now that there’s Copenhagen Street Food on Papirøen, it's got a diverse selection of foods to try. This is the city’s only genuine street food market with 35 food stalls and a great view of the harbor. Enjoy Korean, Mexican, Italian as well as Danish and organic foods at affordable prices. There are also events and activities here surrounding art and music that add to its charismatic charm.
Gay Tours in Copenhagen
Copenhagen LGBTI+ Historical Walking Tours – take a walk through Copenhagen’s LGBTQ+ herstory on a tour led by Bjarne Hebork, a famous author on gay rights. The two hour tour takes you to Copenhagen City Court, telling the story of the National League of Gays, and then heads to gay gathering spot Ørstedsparken. Book tour →
Restaurants & Cafes in Copenhagen
Jailhouse CPH – prison-themed gay bar and restaurant where you can get a drink behind bars. Located below street level, this is where you’ll find jail cell seating and staff in uniforms outfitted as sexy prison wardens. Stop by for regular themed nights like Bear Night and the Halloween party.
Kafé KNUD – this cafe is a meeting place and community center welcoming to anyone affected by HIV and is run by HIV-Denmark. Open only a few days a week, the cafe serves drinks, desserts and vegetarian plates. It is a source of information related to the LGBTQ community and HIV.
Oscar Bar Café – one of the most popular LGBT+ bars and cafes in Copenhagen, stop in for classic homemade food, decadent cakes, coffee, cocktails and beer on tap. This cozy spot boasts a warm and friendly atmosphere with a seasonal menu, daily specials and free Wi-FI.
Restaurant 1733 – located by Slotsholmen’s Canal overlooking Christiansborg, this unpretentious spot serves Danish cuisine with a modern spin. Here you can enjoy traditional open sandwiches and family recipes in a contemporary and down-to-earth atmosphere. The plates are served in hearty portions with vegetarian options available.
Kalaset – Possibly the most hipster eatery in Copenhagen. Kalaset (which means ‘party’ in Swedish) serves a variety of meat and fish items plus, clearly marked, vegan options including brunches, mains and snacks. Portions are extremely generous. They have a great selection of freshly made juices, smoothies and coffees and the staff are extremely friendly and chatty. This is an amazing brunch spot for a lazy Sunday morning.
Copenhagen Gay Bars
Centralhjørnet – the oldest gay bar in Copenhagen and one of the oldest in Europe, this gay watering hole is known for its over-the-top decor and fabulous shows featuring drag queens and jazz. It boasts an old-world pub-like ambience with exposed brick and a large wood bar. During the summer, there’s outdoor seating to enjoy a drink and socialize.
Kiss Kiss – opening in 2014, this is one of the city’s newer gay bars. It’s centrally-located and caters to a crowd of bears and their chasers. The fun and lively atmosphere is spread out over two floors. Stop by for a cocktail, beer, coffee or snack and enjoy the friendly service. It’s always a good time and is open every evening as well as late nights on the weekends.
Masken Bar – just around the corner from G*A*Y* night club in the gayborhood, this is Copenhagen’s neightborhood gay bar where everyone is welcomed. Even though there isn’t a dance floor, that doesn't stop people from dancing while enjoying a tasty cocktail, wine or beer.
Men's Bar – a classic leather and fetish bar without a strict dress code that attracts a mixed crowd, including bears and mature men, yet anyone is welcome. The decor is simple and black with a friendly, no-frills atmosphere. Check out happy hour from 3-9 PM and a monthly Sunday brunch.
Café Intime – boasting a history that dates back to 1922, you’ll be taking a take a step back in time. The interior is adorned with stained glass, candles and old fashioned gas light lamps, a piano and live music. Order a classic cocktail and enjoy the weekly events such as jazz every Sunday evening.
Copenhagen City Gay Clubs & Parties
Vela – located in the trendy Vesterbro-area, this is Copenhagen’s only all-girls bar and nightclub although it is welcoming to everyone. It's worth checking out their regular events like live and electronic music as well as poetry and literature readings. Go to their Facebook page for the latest.
G*A*Y Copenhagen – popular gay night club and bar in the city center. This is the place to party with live DJs, great drink specials and disco balls that add sparkle to the dance floor. The drag shows are not to be missed and themed events take place regularly. It’s busiest on weekends and caters to a mixed crowd.
Never Mind – gay night club where the party never stops and can stretch into the early morning hours. Stop by for your favorite drink and the hottest hits (you can even make song requests). It’s open 7 days a week with a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights, the staff is friendly and the dress code is casual.
Cosy Bar – located in Studiestræde, this gay bar and dance club features live Djs pumping pop music, a small dance floor and disco ball. The party usually doesn’t start until after midnight, so it’s open late and attracts a 20-30 something crowd looking to flirt and dance until sunrise.
Copenhagen Gay Saunas & Cruising Bars
Body Bio – a 10-minute walk from the Copenhagen Central Station, this dark, small basement cruise club is welcoming to all, but typically attracts gay and bisexual men. It features cabins, maze, dark room and play area as well as lockers and a small sauna and an internet cafe. Naked Night is every Wednesday.
SLM Copenhagen – self proclaimed as the largest fetish club in Scandinavia, this is the place for men who like leather, rubber and uniforms and is located just off Town Hall Square. You must be a member to visit and there are several options. Enjoy weekly themed events like Friday Cruise Night and Hot Sunday.
Amigo Sauna – Opening in 1974, this is Copenhagen’s biggest gay sauna. Here you’ll find 3 floors that include a small bar and TV room, lockers and shower facilities, a sauna, maze, private cabins, cinema screens and dark rooms. Located near all the gay bars, it’s busiest on Friday and Saturday nights.
Copenhagen Gay Beach
Amager Strandpark – popular on hot days, this seaside public park includes over 4 kilometers of man-made beach on the Island of Amager located between the city and the airport. Forming a lagoon, it’s an ideal spot for water sports like kite surfing and kayaking
Bellevue Beach – About 6 miles north of the city, this popular nude beach has a predominantly gay section along its northern end. Here you’ll find a young, carefree crowd looking to chill out. There are lifeguards, showers, sandy and grassy areas and a good view of Sweden.
Tisvildeleje Beach – an unspoiled beach with a forest behind, think of this as Denmark’s Fire Island. It’s about 1.5 hours from the city by train and then a kilometer trek past cafes and restaurants to the beach. Keep walking west beyond the family-friendly areas until you find the gay and nudist beachgoers.
Gay Events in Copenhagen
Copenhagen Pride – Copenhagen Pride hosts events on a stage in the main square of the city (Pride Square), which is free to enter. Enjoy drag, comedy and musical performances in Pride Square throughout the event. The parade is a joyous event with good vibes and a diverse mix of people who not only participate in the parade but to watch it too.
Copenhagen Winter Pride – taking place annually in February, it’s a week-long celebration including parties, performances, networking, and debates for the LGBTQIA community. Featured events are the Winter Pop party usually taking place on the last Saturday at the expansive Pumpehuset venue.
Mix Copenhagen – starting in 1986, this is Denmark’s oldest running film festival and one of the world’s oldest LGBTQ+ film festivals. It takes place annually for a week at the end of October and features a variety of films that bend gender and break sexual boundaries to reflect a diverse world.
Day Trips from Copenhagen
Kronborg & Frederiksborg Castles – escape the city to enjoy these UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites. From Copenhagen, it’s a short, half hour car ride or a 40-minute train ride to Hillerød plus a 20-minute walk to the castle. Frederiksborg Castle was built in the 17th century and once the largest Renaissance residence in Scandinavia. Kronborg is located in the town of Helsingør and is the setting of Shakespeare’s famous play, Hamlet. Book tour →
Malmö – the third largest city in Sweden, it’s just 17 miles (28 kilometers) from Copenhagen across the Kattegat Strait, which separates Denmark and Sweden. Travel by train, car and bus takes only about an hour thanks to the innovative Øresund Bridge that stretches over and under the water. This city is best known for the grand 16th-century Malmöhus Castle that houses nature, history and art exhibits. Another popular spot is the cobblestone square (Lilla Torg) lined with cafes and shops in the city center. Book tour →
Roskilde – just a 30-minute train ride from the Danish capital, a visit to this seaside town makes for an excellent day trip. A few of the top sights include the Viking Ship Museum which boasts an active boatyard, the Gothic Roskilde Cathedral holding the tombs of Danish monarchs and the Museum of Contemporary Art that sits in a former royal mansion. Just west of the city, explore the Land of Legends open-air museum that shares a glimpse into Stone Age and Viking life. Book tour →
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