Copenhagen is growing, and visible signs are everywhere. Buildings hidden by scaffolding, and streets torn up for expansion of the swift and efficient metro system are commonplace at the moment. It’s a busy city with a population more diverse than other Scandinavian capitals, and there’s plenty of noise, but there’s minimal congestion and the air is clear. More than half of Copenhagen’s citizens use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation, and it pays off in good health, low traffic, and cleaner skies.
Perhaps the most idyllic feature are the plentiful parks, often surrounding palaces and ornate churches, and the expansive canals and waterways frequented by joggers and lollygaggers alike. Where coffee is king elsewhere in Scandinavia, beer is boss in Copenhagen. You’ll want to grab a bottle and take a stroll around the water at Queen Louise Bridge just before sunset for unforgettable scenery. At night, there’s no shortage of bars and nightclubs, and if you party past closing you can head to the dayclubs to continue the fun in what could be an endless loop of 24-hour partying. Though the Danish have some of the highest taxes in the world, one day in the capital is enough to see why they’re also ranked among the happiest.
My host here was Palle Nielsen, 38, a straight man who claims that Copenhagen is home to all of Denmark’s gays because it’s so liberal and accepting of everyone. For a more firsthand experience, I met up with 26-year-old Marco Candela to chat about his experience in Copenhagen over a beer at a small café.
Out Traveler: How long have you lived in Copenhagen?
Marco Candela:Five years. (I’m from Italy.)
How long have you been out?
I was out from the beginning in Copenhagen (21), and I told my family in Italy a year later, when I was 22.
How is it for a gay person to get along in this city?
It’s pretty easy, but people are really reserved here, so you don’t really notice couples around. That’s just because Danish people are really reserved, not because it’s a problem to be gay. It’s pretty secure in most areas here.
Two places a visitor should go with just one day here?
I like the botanic garden. It’s really well kept and it’s a nice place to be. And then something not so touristy: Frederiksberg Park. It’s another beautiful garden in a park that looks almost like woods. It’s not as full of tourists as other places in Copenhagen—it’s not as close to the center, so you have to know it’s there. You don’t just come across it just walking around.
Your favorite restaurant in Copenhagen?
Ranee’s. It’s a Thai place that’s really authentic with an enjoyable atmosphere. It’s really small but so full of things—a mix of trashy and cool—it’s almost like an art gallery. The owner is a young Thai lady and she’s often there. It’s such a friendly atmosphere, and it’s just like being in Thailand.
One thing every visitor needs to know about your city before coming here?
Use a bicycle to get around. It’s totally different than walking or public transport, and that’s how you can enjoy Copenhagen like a Copenhagener.