Copenhagen's gay and lesbian scene is open, tolerant and full of variety.

There's no doubt that Copenhagen is a great city for gay culture, with a long-standing reputation for openness and tolerance and a wide selection of gay-friendly clubs and bars that runs from old-fashioned bars with regular drag shows and lively high-energy nightclubs with an open door policy to men-only leather bars. The city's gay bars are probably at their liveliest during regular events like the lesbian and gay film festival, Copenhagen Mix and August's Copenhagen Pride Parade, but you can be sure of a warm welcome at any time of the year - and whatever you're into.

For those who love dancing, great music and a mixed crowd, clubs like Dunkel, Never Mind and Club Christopher are lively, friendly places where the party can last well into the early hours.

More old-fashioned entertainment is provided at some of Copenhagen's oldest gay bars, like the regular drag acts at Centralhjornet and piano bar Cafe Intime. Another veteran of the gay scene, downtown Cosy Bar is a great place to meet locals.  

For an unusual night out, check out Jailhouse Copenhagen: This bar and restaurant is cheekily kitted out like a jail cell, complete with prison guards behind the bar. As the name suggests, nearby Mens Bar is men only, while oriental-styled Vela Bar is mostly for girls. Oscar Bar and Cafe on the city hall square, meanwhile, is at the other end of the scale, a trendy cafe where the restaurant card is swopped for DJs at night.


Men's Bar
Photo courtesy of Men's Bar

Tucked away in the heart of Copenhagen's student-friendly Latin Quarter, this is Copenhagen's only leather bar; staunchly homosexual, it practices a strict men-only policy and the tiny premises are filled with uniforms and gay icons – both on the walls and amongst the guests. Men's Bar's most popular arrangement however is quite possibly its long-standing free brunch arrangement on the first Sunday of each month at 3pm. Note that in contrast to most of Copenhagen's cafes and bars, smoking is still allowed at Men's Bar.

Local Expert tip: Men's Bar is men only.

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Cosy Bar
Photo courtesy of Camilla Lantz/Cosy Bar

A tiny, long-running bar in Copenhagen's student-friendly Latin Quarter, the name says it all really: This place is cosy and open to all, both gay and straight. Despite its small size, Cosy Bar has a regular DJ and a dancefloor that attracts customers of all ages, many of whom show up when the other bars in the area have closed. Cosy Bar has been in existence since the '70s and hasn't changed much through the decades. Unconventional, local, generally smoky and open at weekends until breakfast time – make sure you've got the stamina to see it through.

Local Expert tip: Where the really late night crowd go.

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Vela Bar
Photo courtesy of Vela Club

A tiny, unpolished bar tucked down one of Vesterbro's more grimy streets close to the Central Train Station, Vela Bar is decorated with an oriental theme and is one of the few lesbian clubs in Copenhagen – and while the clientele is mostly girls, the bar is open to all and attracts a very mixed crowd. There's table football and small booths for somewhere a little more private. The bar serves a wide selection of reasonably-priced drinks, including cocktails – or 'pussytails', as they're called here. It's smoky, but friendly and local, with a nostalgic vibe.

Local Expert tip: Where girls can meet girls.

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Jailhouse Cph
Photo courtesy of Jailhouse Cph

Probably Copenhagen's most novel gay bar, Jailhouse Copenhagen's basement bar is decked out like a jail cell, complete with a barred entrance, scratches on the walls and serving staff in prison guard uniforms. Don't be put off by the get-up, however; all of the Jailhouse bartenders and waiters are happy to serve you with a friendly smile. Despite its quirks, Jailhouse has a decent restaurant on the first floor serving hot as well as cold dishes (open Thu to Sat from 6pm only). Regular theme nights include ABBA nights and sailor nights. Cheaper drinks are offered during happy hour, from 3-9pm.

Local Expert tip: Drinking behind bars.

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Photo courtesy of Insouciance

Downtown Centralhj?rnet – 'The Central Corner' - is the oldest gay bar in Copenhagen, dating back to the first half of the 20th century (no-one seems sure of the exact date). Open daily from noon until the early hours, this traditional, wood-panelled bar can get very busy with a wide range of gay clientele (men, mostly), especially for its Thursday night drag shows. An eclectic mix of musical acts, from disco to cabaret, also take to the tiny stage on Sunday afternoons at 4pm from October onwards. In the summer, it's possible to enjoy a drink or two at one of the bars outside tables: Christmas, meanwhile, is, 'an orgy of glitter and large decorations'.

Local Expert tip: Live shows on Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons.

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Oscar Bar and Cafe
Photo courtesy of Magnus Ragnvid

Oscar Bar and Cafe is without a doubt the respectable side of Copenhagen's gay scene. Those looking for obvious clichés of gay culture will not find them here; instead Oscar, located just on the side of city hall square R?dhuspladsen, is a smart bar filled with impeccably dressed, good looking guys, meeting for a coffee or a meal during the daytime. In the evenings, regular DJs are invited and the place evolves into a cocktail lounge where you can hang out at the bar or chill out on one of the sofas. Free WiFi and outside seating during the summer; cheaper drinks during happy hour, 5-9pm.

Local Expert tip: Food in daytime, DJs and cocktails at night.

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Cafe Intime
Photo courtesy of Cafe Intime

Cafe Intime (as in 'intimate', not as in 'time') is a small, cosy piano bar in Frederiksberg not far from Frederiksberg Have and just off the Runddel that celebrates its 100th birthday in 2013. Its crowd are gay-friendly rather than gay-only, and with its red walled interior, gilt-framed pictures and theatrical decor, it attracts a good number of acting types and other 'luvvies'. The bartender often doubles up as the night's host for Intime's regular events, from cabaret singers to magicians, and – up until 8.30pm – it's possible to take the mike for an open song session yourself – just ask at the bar first.

Local Expert tip: Enjoy an impromptu live show.

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City Centre
Never mind
Photo courtesy of Never mind

This small, gay-friendly nightclub is located on Norre Voldgade, close to Hotel Fox, and looks pretty closed up during the daytime. After midnight however, the club's small but much used dancefloor is enjoyed by a mixed crowd of music lovers, from flamboyant drag queens to more conservative gay couples; everyone, in fact, who likes to shake their thing to a Donna Summer classic or a Scissor Sisters track or two. Note that smoking is still allowed here. Never mind was recently renovated and prides itself on being a friendly, welcoming place for all types of guests.

Local Expert tip: A name that reflects a carefree attitude.

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The name comes from the Danish word for dark or murky, and this gay-friendly, open-to-all nightclub exudes a shady, dark aura of living slightly dangerously more familiar to cities like Berlin and London than to Copenhagen. Don't be afraid, however: Hidden away a little north of Radhuspladsen on Vester Voldgade (just across from Hotel Fox), the small club Dunkel exudes a friendly atmosphere and the club crowd, both gay and straight, come for a good time and to hear some of the biggest names on the international club scene. Dunkel's dance floor is not particularly large, which is why clubbers often end up on the sidewalk outside. Music is prioritized over image, which is why Dunkel has been nominated as one of Copenhagen's best clubs by readers of a local Danish guide to Copenhagen.

Local Expert tip: If the night is going well, it won't stop just because the clocks turn 5am. Dunkel's parties can last well into the morning.

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Club Christopher
Photo courtesy of Club Christopher

Named after New York's Christopher Street, the scene of 1969's Stonewall demonstrations that were to be crucial to the history of gay rights, it's pretty clear where Club Christopher's leanings are, though the club considers itself more gay-friendly than exclusive. Over the years this club has had a number of different names and ownership right back to its days as Pan, but the concept remains very much the same: Come to dance, party and have a good time, gay or straight. With a number of floors and bars, this is an open, large and well-established club.

Local Expert tip: Club Christopher's open bar means drinks are free with entry.

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Meet Jane Graham

After touring most of Europe in her twenties, Jane was charmed by Copenhagen's relaxed tempo and moved there from her native northern England in 1999. Four young children at home has meant...  More About Jane