Copenhageners are a happy lot. Totally gay, you could say. Various sociological studies--using a variety of far-flung and often rather nebulous methodologies-- all managed to come to this same conclusion: Danes are simply the happiest people on earth. No surprise then that when renowned lifestyle bible Monocle publishes its list of the world's most livable cities, Copenhagen repeatedly places in the top three. And it's also no surprise that this happiness is rooted in Denmark's and the Danish people's pride in being opening and accepting of LGBT people.
And what's not to be happy about? Despite the financial crisis, the lovely capital keeps evolving, churning out new interesting neighborhoods, shops, and restaurants all the time, in the effortlessly smart, sexy, and comfortable way that made the city famous in the first place. Stellar public transport, cutting-edge design, a white-hot gastronomic landscape, plus an overt charm and hotness of a people all comes laced with the key national ingredient of hygge, which basically means coziness. It's hard to quantify, but once you get here, you'll understand.
Ten years ago any visitor, especially gays ones, would happily spend their entire stay touring the atmospheric streets and alleys in the medieval "Indre By" (City Center, pronounced more like "Indra Boo"). Nowadays a successful visit to Copenhagen includes jumping on a bike -- the Internal Cycling Union named this the world's first Bike City -- making excursions to vibrant multi-ethnic Nørrebro, joining the local hipster eye candy as they sip coffee at the laidback cafés in Elmegade, or exploring the former no-go-area of Jægersborggade, which has turned into a haven for artisan workshops, organic wine and innovative Nordic cuisine.
Another easy bike ride from the city center is Vesterbro, with its partly gentrified red-light district and the "meatpacking area" booming with informal eateries, bars, and alternative party venues.
The Copenhageners are not only happy, they also like to participate in the urban fabric. The city's ambitious fashion industry makes the bi-annual Copenhagen Fashion Week the largest professional fashion fair in Northern Europe, at the same time collaborating with local designers, shops and event-makers to ensure that the city's residents live out their love of fashion at the open-for-all Copenhagen Fashion Festival. Add to this a hotbed of culinary pleasures, like the world-renowned chef and leading light of the trendsetting New Nordic Cuisine, René Redzepi, crowned by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. His pride of regional produce filters down to other chefs, restaurants, and the locals -- and that's best experienced at the bi-annual food festival, Copenhagen Cooking, which involves the whole city. New master chefs always emerge in Denmark, including the Danish young master chef Jeppe Foldager, who at the age of 27 recently won the silver medal at a world championship for chefs in the French Lyon. The star chef was previously the sous-chef at Søllerrød Kro but will soon be master chef at the renowned restaurant Alberto K in Copenhagen.
So what's all that mean for the LGBT traveler? Happy people often make for tolerant people (Denmark was the first in the world to legalize same-sex unions in 1989 -- and the church started welcoming same-sex marriages in 2012) and thus you are equally welcome at the specifically LGBT spaces and mainstream venues alike. Nightlife here is much more mixed (including between lesbians and gay men) than you'll find in many other European cities. And Danes wouldn't have it any other way.
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