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As a Copenhagen born-and-raised culture and history teacher, drag queen and author of 111 Places in Copenhagen that you Shouldn’t Miss (the city’s first LGBTQ+ guidebook), Anders Larsen is the perfect person to help you find all things queer in the Danish capital during Copenhagen 2021 WorldPride and EuroGames. We spoke to the local expert about the best places to eat, drink, gawk and more, from his favourite shopping street for an afternoon of browsing to edgy drag shows and a boozy sauna to boot.
The city’s old water reservoir, in the middle of a park next to the Copenhagen Zoo, was turned into an art destination. It feels magical, especially in the summer when it’s hot and sunny out: You go downstairs, it’s dark and the temperature drops by about 10 degrees. I saw an incredible installation here a few years ago by Japanese artist Hiroshi Sambuichi called “The Water” where he flooded the room and created an underground green landscape with light pouring in from a skylight.
Bag Søndermarken, 2000 Frederiksberg, cisternerne.dk
Ten years ago, the municipality started redeveloping the old meat packing district to turn it into a creative neighbourhood. One of the buildings was rented to a performer called Miss Fish, and she founded this amazing multi-disciplinary queer art space where you can attend concerts, cabarets and art exhibitions in an old Victorian building. One of the best performances I’ve seen there was a labia synch, which was lip synching but using the labia instead.
Halmtorvet 11A, 1700, warehouse9.dk
There are different ways to see Copenhagen from the water, including guided canal tours. Go Boat rents out little electric boats and you can sail around the harbour on your own. I like doing this in the summer, but I have no coordination. I have a friend who’s a bit more fit for the real world and sails the boat while I lie in front with a bottle of rosé, drinking wine and talking trash about his skills.
Islands Brygge 10, 2300, goboat.dk
Bonus: Day Trip
Though it’s in a different country, Malmö is just a 20-minute train ride away. The Swedish coastal city is connected to Copenhagen via the Øresund Bridge, and it’s a perfect day trip. I like to swing by Bo01, which is a neighbourhood that’s all about sustainable development and design, then I’ll check out the Disgusting Food Museum because it’s such a random place and end the day at Far I Hatten, a really nice resto bar in Folkets Park where they bake pizzas in a wood-fired oven.
Good to Know: The acronym LGBTQI is often used in Denmark to represent the Intersex community that has often been left out of the conversation, as well as a lot of cultural programming.
EAT AND DRINK
Refshaleøen is an island that used to be a shipyard and is home to this wine bar open year-round. My friends and I go out on their little pontoon in the summer, we’ll get goodies like anchovies in oil, sourdough bread and a bottle of white as people jump into the water around us. They also have a barrel that’s been turned into a sauna—I’ve taken great pleasure looking at the people using it because they’re usually very attractive.
Refshalevej 141, 1432, labanchina.dk
Next Door Café
My go-to coffee shop is this Latin Quarter spot, they know I want a small single shot oat latte and basically start making it as soon as I walk through the door. It’s owned by a gay couple named Skyler and Klaus who’ve given the place a camp style with purple walls, red lights and all sorts of tchotchkes. They also have really good cheesecake, freshly baked rolls and the best baristas.
Larsbjørnsstræde 23, 1453, nextdoorcafe.dk
This sit-down place in the city centre mixes Latin American cuisines in its delicious dishes that are good for sharing, like fried Padrón peppers, halibut ceviche and barbacoa tacos that go perfectly with their mezcal and tequila cocktails. It’s really my kind of aesthetic with walls painted black, colourful tiled floors and friendly, informal service. I also like that it’s in the basement with poor cell reception, so you spend your time talking to your friends instead of looking at your phone.
Lille Kongensgade 14, 1074,cofoco.dk/en/restaurants/llama
I really like the brunch platter here that comes with avocado on rye, a cracker with smoked salmon and this chia porridge with whipped coconut cream on top. They’ve thought a lot about balance and make sure people are getting their omega 3, fibres, vitamins and minerals, so if you want to detox after a night of re-toxing, it’s the place to go. It’s right in my neighbourhood of Østerbro and has a cute little sidewalk patio.
Århusgade 78, 2100, baryl.dk
Good to Know: Pølsevogn literally means sausage wagon, and you’ll find carts all over town selling a range of hot dogs topped with ingredients like pickles, remoulade and crispy onions, from high-end organic sausages to more mystery meat varieties.
Vela Gay Club
Vestebro was historically the red-light district and this was a bar for ladies of the night going way back. It was bought by a lesbian woman about 15 years ago, and now the crowd is predominantly female, but cis men are welcome, as long as they behave. They have a foosball table, which is a good way to get in contact with locals. Have a few frozen strawberry shots, challenge someone to a foosball tournament and you’re flying.
2-4, Viktoriagade, 1655, velagayclub.dk
Never Mind Bar
This nightclub in the city centre is predominantly popular with gay men. The music is loud, with a whole lot of Top 40 hits, so if you like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears and want to dance, this is your venue. It’s small, like everything else in Copenhagen, and almost always packed. But don’t go before midnight—bars here close between 4 and 8 a.m. and often only peak around 1 a.m., so if you go too early, you’ll miss the party.
Nørre Voldgade 2, 1358, nevermindbar.dk
It might be a tiny venue with a miniscule stage, but they put on good drag shows and most of them are in English. They do have pageant queens and the classic comedy performers, but they also feature kings and queens who are a bit more edgy, like drag king Dallas King who often does Prince impersonations and Jaxie Bearcunt, an amazing bearded queen with an over-the-top aesthetic who dabbles in fantasy and horror styles.
Vester Voldgade 10-14, 1550, facebook.com/gaycopenhagennightclub
Bonus: Café Intime
Living up to its name, this piano bar is tiny, and they play a lot of show tunes, jazz and more experimental stuff. It’s been around for 100 years and has had a queer presence since it opened—it’s also where the local lesbian movement was founded back in the 1920s and 1930s. The piano is often free, meaning you can go up and perform, but patrons have high expectations, so only do it if you’re a skilled pianist because otherwise they’ll boo you.
Allegade 25, 2000 Frederiksberg, cafeintime.dk
You’ll experience all four seasons in one day in Copenhagen, so I wouldn’t go without rain gear. This flagship store has well-designed Scandinavian minimalist pieces that are sleek and very flattering. Just because you wear rain gear doesn’t mean you have to look like someone who’s going hiking, you can look stylish even though you’re wearing something practical: I have a duffle bag of theirs that I just adore.
Amagertorv 14 1160, ca.rains.com
I’ve loved comic books my entire life and have been coming here for about 20 years. They recently expanded, so they now have an entire shop full of cosplay gear, a section with little Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars figurines, and then a section full of comic books and graphic novels. They also often host fun readings, book signings and cosplay events.
Skindergade 27, 1159, faraos.dk
Located in the trendy neighbourhood of Nørrebro, this entire street is lined with co-ops that decided they wanted to rent the basement shops to niche cultural productions. I like to go for an afternoon and browse around spots like Wilgart that sells handcrafted headwear or the gay-owned TrykkerTøsen where they print t-shirts. Then, you can get ice cream made with nitrogen at Istid or pick up a bottle of Georgian orange wine at Terroiristen.
Good to Know: There are no open container laws in Copenhagen and that means you’ll often see people sitting on docks or in parks, enjoying a beer or glass of wine.
This super trendy hotel in the city centre is right next to the central train station. There’s a stylish pool on the roof where the bold and beautiful go, so it’s really good for people watching, not to mention great seasonal food at their high-end restaurant. It’s actually located in the old post office building from 1909 and they’ve been gentle in their restoration, keeping a lot of historical touches in the woodwork. If I ever marry well, it’s where I want to get taken on my honeymoon.
Tietgensgade 35-39, 1704, villacopenhagen.com
Everyone is welcome to hang out on the property’s rooftop patio, and guests can check out their daily happy hour in the lobby bar where you can have a glass of wine on the house. The location is fantastic, especially if you’re in Copenhagen to shop, party and eat. It’s also very high-design and the interior is inspired by the Thorvaldsens Museum, with lots of beautiful tiling, textured walls and even an indoor vineyard.
Sankt Peders Stræde 30A, 1453, brochner-hotels.com/hotel-danmark
You get a lot of bang for your buck here: they have three very central locations in town that are well-designed, clean and perfect for the urban traveler who would rather spend their money on eating out or fancy cocktails around the corner. Plus, you can start your day at their breakfast buffet with fresh bread and fair-trade coffee.
Several locations, wakeupcopenhagen.com
Good to Know: There are many gay cruising areas in the city’s parks, like Amager Fælled and Ørstedsparken. Though some think it’s too raunchy to bring up, I think it’s important to talk about queer desire and sex.