Gay Vacations in Copenhagen, Denmark

Sailboats in Nyhaven Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark
Nyhaven Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark (Livio Sinibaldi/Photodisc/Getty)

Copenhagen Highlights

  • Even in summer, temperatures rarely get very hot, so be sure to pack sweaters anytime of year.
  • Even more than Amsterdam, Copenhagen is a bicycle city, where bike lanes are as prevalent as highways. Bike-rental shops and stands are scattered throughout the city.
  • For all its progressiveness, Copenhagen has only one dedicated lesbian bar, so women usually meld into the welcoming gay male scene.

Not as grand as Stockholm, nor as exotic as Helsinki, cozy Copenhagen wins points by retaining the feel of a small village, with winding cobblestone streets where locals greet each other like long-lost family. Although more reserved than the Latin-speaking parts of Europe, the Danes are a lot more outgoing and party-hearty than the rest of Scandinavia, making for a lively nightlife scene. And of course, it’s famously liberal—Denmark was, after all, the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage in 1989.

Gays, lesbian, bisexuals, straights, and families all merge in friendly establishments where sexual-identity lines mean little. Most of the LGBT bars and shops are on Studiestraede, close to the University of Copenhagen. Another up-and-coming queer-popular neighborhood is Vesterbro, once a haven for hookers but now emerging as a trendy area with shops and cafes. The Stroget is the city’s old-fashioned area of pedestrian-only walking streets (strøget means “to stroll”), and it fills the heart of Copenhagen with a friendly calmness. At the opposite extreme is the city’s alternative island of Christianshavn, once unincorporated and lawless with squatters and established drug shops, Amsterdam-style. There’s also the former home of (likely queer) Hans Christian Andersen in Odense, and the red-brick 17th-century Rosenborg Castle filled with artifacts from the Danish royal family. And a trip to Copenhagen isn’t complete without hopping on a quaint ride at the Tivoli amusement park when it’s open in summer.

In August, gay pride erupts in the city, and there’s also a gay and lesbian film festival in October. One very Danish celebration is midsummer on June 23rd every year, and The Danish National Association for Gays & Lesbians organizes an outdoor party at Helgoland—the Amager beach a short distance from downtown Copenhagen.

Published: 23 Oct 2008 | Last Updated: 29 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »