LGBT Getaways: Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen Waterfront

Copenhagen has a special place in the LGBT world; even before the rest of the planet jumped on the universal rights bandwagon, they had the first national association for homosexuals. That happened in 1948 and forty years later, its founder Axel Axgil was also one half of the first couple in the world to have a registered same-sex partnership when it was legalized by Denmark.

If that wasn’t enough pedigree, Lonely Planet also voted the city the world’s No.1 gay-friendly destination. Add to that the first gay magazine in 1949, and one of the oldest gay bars in Europe, Centralhjørnet, which opened in 1917 and it becomes clear that Copenhagen has always been a trailblazer in championing gay rights and lifestyle. That as part of the reason the city was awarded the Out Games in 2009.

Copenhagen has not lost any of its historical gay momentum either. Every August, the city puts on a massive gay pride parade called Copenhagen Pride that attracts over 20,000 participants and more than five times as many spectators. The City Hall square where the 2.4 mile parade starts and ends is named Pride Square for the day.

The parade itself is sandwiched between weeks of lead-up and after-parade events across the city, including political debates, outdoor concerts, movie screenings and drag shows.

Another major LGBT event is Mix Copenhagen, Denmark’s oldest film festival. It embraced an overt LGBT-friendly direction in 1986 when the exploration of sexual and gender boundaries was adopted as one of its prominent themes. The event attracts over 12,000 audience members every year. The 2016 event is scheduled for 30 September to 9 October.

Gay life is such an established fragment of everyday Copenhagen that you won’t usually see ostentatious rainbow flags to advertise the fact. Many businesses do not distinguish between guests of different sexuality and enjoying gay Copenhagen largely means enjoying Copenhagen, full stop.

In that vein, gay travelers would be happy to visit Noma restaurant which sits overlooking Copenhagen’s harbor. Almost all their ingredients like moss and spruce needles are foraged locally, as is all their fish and meat. Between May and September, Noma become a vegetarian restaurant This very seasonal menu where nothing is cast in stone, a truly unique dining adventure.

If you love your pig, there is probably no better place in the world than Nose2Tail. Catering almost exclusively to pork dishes, the establishment prides itself on being 100% organic and sourcing only free-range ingredients.

If culture is your thing, the National Museum of Denmark, the Danish Jewish Museum and the Danish Museum of Art & Design are three must-see glimpses into the country’s rich history.

Copenhagen’s party scene is legendary and establishments like Jailhouse CPH, Rust and Cosy Bar are some of the legends that deserve to be investigated.

A word of caution: as with a number of European cities with increasing numbers of immigrants from the Middle East, Copenhagen, too, has certain areas where the European population is in the minority. It would be advisable to either avoid these areas or not engage in open displays of affection while there.