As in any major port city, Copenhagen has never been short of watering holes. But thanks to a relatively large student population, the influence of its thriving food scene and a longstanding obsession with all things hygge, the Danish capital’s drinking dens have rarely seemed so diverse.
Pick your poison, quite frankly. Hometown brewers such as Mikkeller and To Øl have driven the craft beer craze, while the city’s New Nordic-inspired restaurants have helped make natural wine the go-to drink for local foodies. Add in a generous sprinkling of upmarket cocktail bars and a smattering of traditional brown bars (aka ‘bodegas’) – not to mention an wide array of clubbing options, from mega-venue to backstreet dive – and you’ve got the recipe for an excellent night out. Feeling inspired? Here’s where to find the coolest, most cutting-edge nightlife in Copenhagen right now.
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Best nightlife in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is one the world’s best cities for drinking natural wine — and it doesn’t get much cheaper than at this Nørrebro newcomer. The bare-bones bar sells wine by the glass for just 50 kroner. Pompette is French for ‘tipsy’, of course, so order a plate of cheese or charcuterie to soak up all the juice. Nearby, you’ll find other laid-back bars like Gaarden & Gaden, Paloma and the Barking Dog, making the neighbourhood ideal for a bar crawl.
A little sister to legendary Meatpacking District nightspot Jolene, this ‘music-focused bar’ on multicultural Griffenfeldsgade has drawn a trendy crowd ever since it opened in 2018. And no wonder. Befitting the bar’s name, Joy’s line-up is delightfully eclectic and guaranteed to get crowds going. Expect live music and DJs spinning everything from jazz and soul to world and psychedelia. Wander the surrounding streets and you’ll find plenty of spots for late-night noshing – including many of the city’s best shawarma joints.
Copenhagen’s premier techno palace regularly plays host to DJ legends such as Derrick May and Jeff Mills. The sound system has by far the most penetrating bass in town, the VJ shows are superb and the more sedate downstairs dancefloor is perfect for those who don’t want to sweat on the main floor. The pre-clubbing bar next door, Cocktail Box, is open from 8pm.
Surprisingly, perhaps, Copenhagen is home to none of the world’s 100 best bars. A 30-seat subterranean lounge in the Latin Quarter, newcomer Kyros & Co hopes to change that. Owner Christian Tang takes a fine-dining approach to cocktails, eschewing big brands in favour of niche liquors and distilling several ‘free-form’ spirits on site, using exotic ingredients such as oolong tea and hops. Enhancing the bar’s speakeasy vibes, as well as the creativity of its bartenders, there’s no menu. Reservations are recommended.
Rust is one of the city’s best venues for both concerts and clubbing, and an integral part of Copenhagen’s nightlife. Its evolution over the years – from political café through to dubious rock club and, finally, the more polished venue seen today – is all the more impressive for its retention of an experimental edge and an ability to roll with the times. Expect to see anyone from Post Malone to Rufus Wainwright on its artist list; it specialises in indie rock, electronica and hip hop. When live music isn’t on, the three-floor club is a little off mainstream and always busy on a Friday and Saturday night till late.
Award-winning micro-brewers like Mikkeller have helped turn Copenhagen into (probably) the world’s best city for craft beer, and while there are dozens of places in the Danish capital to sort your gueuze from your gose, none are as cosy as this inner-city newcomer. Located on the corner of Copenhagen’s most Instagrammed street — cobblestoned Magstræde — Godt Øl always has 12 craft beers on tap, most of them Danish, plus an excellent selection of bottled beer.
Housed in an old hunting lodge in the multicultural neighbourhood of Nordvest, this German-inspired bar and restaurant – think sausages and sauerkraut – gets livelier as the night goes on. With genres ranging from stoner rock and Americana to heavy metal and psyched-out fuzz rock, the nightly line-up of mostly Scandinavian live acts never disappoints, while a similarly eclectic DJ roster gets trendy locals dancing at the weekend.
Long a mecca for jazz musicians, Copenhagen boasts several brilliant live music venues, including the delightfully laidback La Fontaine. Tucked down a pedestrian street in the medieval quarter, it’s said to be the country’s oldest jazz club and remains best known for its Sunday night jam sessions. In fact, during the Copenhagen Jazz Festival in 2015, a certain Lady Gaga even dropped by for an impromptu rendition of ‘La Vie En Rose’.
Opened in 1996 and housed in a listed landmark building dating from 1956, Vega is the queen of Copenhagen’s nightlife. It features a large and small concert hall, Big Vega and Little Vega (1,200 and 550 capacity, respectively) – the latter doubles up as a nightclub; and the street-level Ideal Bar, a party institution in itself. The list of famous names to have played at Vega over the years is testament to its popularity, from secret gigs by Prince and David Bowie to concerts from the likes of Björk. The interior is superb, the service professional and the DJs among the best in town.
This award-winning cocktail bar exudes homely vibes, thanks to its friendly local crowd, old-school billiards table and saloon-inspired décor. Start with a Walnut Brown — the house cocktail that’s made with roasted rye bread and three different whiskeys — or try a G‘n’T made with the bar’s very own dry gin: it’s distilled in the basement of nearby Frederiksberg town hall, using botanicals such as coriander seeds, angelica root and brown rice tea.
Located in an Art Deco building smack in the city centre, the stylishly appointed the Hotel Cecil’s Cecil AM is a superb spot to catch live music — recent headliners have included Mercury Rev and Jamila Woods — while on Friday and Saturday nights it’s one of the best venues for throwing some shapes. Especially fun are the long-running Soul Explosion nights, where you can dance the night away to classic soul, funk and disco.
Dubbing itself ‘an extension of your living room’, Absalon is a colourful community centre housed in a repurposed church in Vesterbro. Visit by day to take a pottery or yoga class — but don’t miss the parties on Friday and Saturday nights. Following Absalon’s famous community dinner — a budget-friendly affair where nobody’s a stranger — revellers hit the dance floor as DJs play everything from Japanese funk to American disco.
If you can stand the smoke, no visit to Copenhagen is complete without visiting a ‘brown bar’ – a traditional drinking den where puffing away is permitted. Few are as charming as this bohemian spot in the city centre. It dates back to 1917, and neither its décor nor its denizens have changed much since. To blend in, pair your beer with a shot of Gammel Dansk – a bitter Danish liquor — and if you’re peckish, ask for a hard-boiled egg with mustard.
An ideal spot to wind down over a glass of wine, this low-key bar and bistro draws a mix of well-heeled locals and in-the-know foodies. The wine list is excellent, while the tiny kitchen shuttles out simple dishes such as burrata or mushrooms on toast. Located south of Copenhagen’s lakes, Nr. 30 is irresistibly cosy in winter, while summer sees crowds spilling on to the street and sharing bottles of exquisite natural wine well past midnight.