Copenhagen Red Light District

Copenhagen red light district: Where is it, and is it safe?

The Copenhagen red light district might well be on the curious traveler’s list of things to do in the Danish capital. But if you’re expecting something on the scale of cities like Amsterdam, you’re going to be a little disappointed.

Denmark is one of the world’s most liberal countries, and topics like sex and nudity are nowhere near as taboo as in other places. And while it’s not particularly visible, Copenhagen does have a sex industry.

If you’re coming to visit Copenhagen and are interested in learning more about the city’s red light district, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to find out where it is, along with what you can do and whether or not it’s safe to do so.

Is there a red light district in Copenhagen?

Denmark’s largest city does have a red light district, but it’s pretty tiny. To be truthful, you could probably walk around without even noticing that you’re in it.

Copenhagen’s red light district used to be bigger than it is today. In the olden days, sailors would go to Nyhavn to blow off steam. Now, however, you’ll find plenty of (pretty expensive) bars and restaurants there instead.

So, where is the red light district in Copenhagen today?

Today, the Copenhagen red light district is concentrated within the Vesterbro neighborhood. The primary street for activity is Istedgade, behind the city’s central train station. You’ll also find some spots of activity on Vesterbrogade, most of which will be at the end of the street closer to the city’s central train station.

What are the prostitution laws in Denmark?

Prostitution is legal in Denmark and has been since 1999.

As we’ve already seen, prostitution existed in the country before that date. But to the police, it made sense from a logical perspective to monitor something legal.

In Denmark, only the person offering their services can make money from selling sex.

Because nobody other than the seller can profit from offering their sexual services, it’s also illegal to rent rooms for this purpose. As a result, you’re not going to see the same “window shopping” as is common in Amsterdam.

Buying and selling sex in Denmark remains illegal if you’re under 18 years old.

How do I get to Copenhagen’s red light district?

Copenhagen’s red light area is behind the central train station. Instead of going toward Tivoli, walk in the opposite direction. If you’ve come by bus, go down the steps on Ingerslevsgade and keep walking until you see Istedgade.

Copenhagen Red Light District

What can you do in the red light district in Copenhagen?

If you’re into sex tourism, hiring someone for their services is possible. Usually, you’ll find the prostitutes on the main streets we mentioned earlier in the article; you can negotiate a price and place to do the deed beforehand.

However, Copenhagen’s red light district has much more to it; arguably, prostitution is the last reason you’d end up here anyway. Below, we’ve listed the other activities you can participate in when you’re in this part of the city.

Strip clubs

Vesterbro has a small selection of adult entertainment clubs that you can visit during your time in the city. These are pretty much exclusively on Istedgade.

Many of these establishments stay open until 6am throughout the week, which is later than many pubs and clubs in the city.


If you’re not overly interested in visiting strip clubs, don’t worry. Vesterbro is one of Copenhagen’s liveliest districts for nightlife, and you’ll almost certainly find something to stay entertained.

Many Copenhageners head to Kødbyen, or the Meatpacking District, for their night out. Here, you’ll find several drinking establishments that offer both the standard Danish beers — such as Carlsberg and Tuborg. Many will also serve a wide selection of craft beers if your taste-buds fancy something different.

Kødbyen is also a fun place to spend the day with your friends. Camping Kødbyen is a local favorite; here, you can play mini-golf and enjoy a wide selection of drinks. The venue also sometimes shows live sporting events and serves food.

But Vesterbro has a lot to offer outside of the Meatpacking District, too. You’ll find bars catered to all budgets, including higher-end options like Liedkøb and a couple of Bodegas where you can enjoy a night out without hurting your wallet.


Vesterbro is arguably Copenhagen’s best district for food. Again, Kødbyen is a superb choice; WarPigs is renowned globally for its American-style menu and is a popular place to fill your stomach while sampling a couple of Mikkeller’s world-famous craft beers.

Elsewhere in this part of Vesterbro, you’ll also find Kødbyens Fiskebar — a coveted seafood eatery — plus a couple of alternatives.

Along Vesterbrogade, you’ll find places to eat that span across all corners of the globe. GRØD is an oats-themed chain with several stores in Copenhagen, plus one in Aarhus; here, you can get some of the best porridge you’ll try anywhere.

Another must-try spot in Vesterbro is Iki Sushi. Located at the end of the street closer to Frederiksberg, this Japanese-themed restaurant offers both takeout and eat-in options. The menu is a little pricey, but you won’t regret visiting.

One spot in the district that is particularly popular with locals is Madklubben Vesterbro. The inside has something of a street food vibe, and you can get excellent grub for a good price.

You can find several Madklubben restaurants throughout Copenhagen, including in Frederiksberg and Østerbro — plus establishments in Odense, Aarhus, and Esbjerg.


The Copenhagen red light district has a wide selection of sex shops where you can get various items to help spice up your personal endeavors. Beyond that, you’ll also find a selection of both independent stores and larger chains.

Denmark has a huge second-hand economy, and one of the best places to try it out for yourself in Copenhagen is PRAG on Vesterbrogade. You can find jackets, blazers, and many other clothing items for a reasonable price.

Vesterbrogade has several other stores worth checking out, especially if you’re shopping for women’s clothing. Mania is a popular choice with Copenhageners, and so is Annabel v/Johnna Tram.

If you’re looking for everyday items, the main street in Vesterbro has a huge Føtex store with all the food choices you could ever want — plus household items and more. You’ll also find a sizable Netto, which is a good place to buy beer and things for basic meals.

Copenhagen Red Light District

Is it safe to walk around the Red light district at night?

In many cities, red light districts have a seedy reputation. This is especially the case in countries where prostitution is illegal, as it’s more difficult to police — and they might also be cornered into less wealthy parts of major cities.

The Copenhagen red light district, however, is nothing to be scared about. Vesterbro is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city, and real estate here has risen dramatically in recent years.

The area around Copenhagen’s main train station can feel a little sketchy at night, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. You might get asked if you want to pay for services, but you’ll be left alone if you don’t want to.

Violent crime in this part of the city is extremely uncommon. Keep in mind that Vesterbro is busy at all times of the day, and you’ll almost certainly have plenty of people around you. If you do end up in trouble, the Danes are both friendly and helpful — and someone will likely give you a hand.

Moreover, Copenhagen’s police department has a station close to Istedgade.

While you shouldn’t need to worry about violent crime, petty crime is a little more prevalent. Copenhagen is one of the safest cities globally, but pickpocketing can and does happen around the red light district and train station.

If you reached Vesterbro by bike, remember that thousands of bicycles are stolen each year — and the busiest spots in Copenhagen are particular hotspots. Double-locking your bike is a good idea, and where possible, try to tie it to an object like a post.

To stop your bike from getting stolen, you might also want to park it down one of the quieter side streets.

A Guide to Respectful Engagement and Cultural Insights

Cultural Awareness and Respect

While exploring Copenhagen’s red light district, it’s important to approach the area with respect and an understanding of Danish values regarding sex and sexuality. Denmark is known for its progressive attitudes, and this extends to the sex industry. Visitors should remember to respect the people working in the district, acknowledging their rights and dignity. Engaging with the community or participating in any activities should be done with consent and mindfulness of local laws and customs. An awareness of the cultural context can enrich your visit and ensure respectful interactions.

Safety Tips and Etiquette

When visiting any city’s red light district, including Copenhagen’s, maintaining personal safety and being aware of your surroundings is crucial. While the area is generally safe, as with any busy urban area, there can be risks, especially late at night. It’s advisable to stay in well-lit areas, avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and be cautious of overly friendly strangers offering unsolicited help or services. Furthermore, if you’re participating in the nightlife, monitoring your alcohol intake can help maintain your awareness and decision-making abilities.

Alternative Cultural Attractions

For those curious about the broader cultural landscape of Copenhagen beyond the red light district, the city offers a wealth of museums, galleries, and historical sites that provide insight into Denmark’s rich heritage. The National Museum of Denmark and the Danish War Museum offer fascinating glimpses into the country’s past, while the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, located just outside Copenhagen, presents contemporary art in a stunning setting overlooking the Øresund Strait. These alternatives offer opportunities to experience the diversity of Danish culture and history.

Copenhagen’s red light district is relatively low key

Copenhagen’s red light district is very tame compared to cities in other parts of the world, and you don’t need to be looking for sex to find something to do here. The area is much less industrialized than Amsterdam’s equivalent and has a good range of bars and restaurants for you to enjoy.

You shouldn’t need to worry about safety, but remember to take precautions. Don’t go around walking like a million bucks, and lock your bike up properly. If you decide to hire a prostitute for their services, remember to use protection.

One of the best times to visit Scandinavia is during the summer. The days are long, and in some cases, never-ending. You’ll also get favorable temperatures and less crowded cities compared to other parts of Europe. Why not read this article and decide on where to go?

Scandification: Discovering Scandinavia.

Now read these:
Get to know Copenhagen’s neighborhoods
Nørrebro, Copenhagen’s intriguing melting pot
Vesterbro, the hipster district of Copenhagen
Indre By, Copenhagen’s central district
Østerbro, the paradise of Copenhagen
Frederiksberg, Copenhagen’s leafy enclave
Amager, explore nature in Copenhagen
Strandvejen, Copenhagen’s coastal suburbs
Valby, Copenhagen’s lesser-known district
Unpacking Copenhagen’s meatpacking district
Exploring the charms of Nyhavn, Copenhagen
Enjoy the sea and sunshine in Islands Brygge
Circumnavigating the Lakes of Copenhagen
What is Denmark famous for?

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