LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

10 best football bars in Copenhagen

Top spots to watch the game in Denmark’s beer capital

Where to watch the match in Copenhagen – just don’t plan on going to bed any time soon

City of Carlsberg, Copenhagen is a serious drinking town, with an abundance of pubs screening matches. There are so many, in fact, that they have elbowed out mega Scando sports-bar chain O’Learys, now with only one branch left at Copenhagen Airport.

As soon as you walk out of Central Station, you’ll be assailed by images beer revelry – although the traditional, tourist-friendly Tivoli Biergarten doesn’t open until March 22. Big tournaments are sometimes screened around the open-air stage of Plaenen just behind.

If you’re not venturing far from the centre, then a corner of the main square of Rådhuspladsen is lined with foreigner-friendly pubs of similar ilk. They all stay open till silly o’clock, especially at weekends, so no need to rush. The Old Irish Pub actively supports away days and keeps things rocking until 6am every morning.

Jernbanecafeen/Peterjon Cresswell

A short walk away on Vester Voldgade, Pub & Sport has long been the Danish capitals go-to spot for match-watching and pool-playing.

Up towards the university quarter, Den Glade Gris is an out-and-out football bar as well as being Copenhagen’s key meeting place for followers of Manchester United. Nearer Nørreport, The Globe helpfully provides a schedule of TV games on its website.

For seriously niche, head to the StPauli Minibar, previously Bodega 54, now a full-on shrine to Hamburg’s cult club.

Unrelated to football but flat-out recommendable nonetheless, the wonderful Jernbanecafeen, beside Central Station on Reventlowsgade, has been pulling pints for 90 years to regulars and travellers in a homely, train-themed atmosphere. Sales are encouraged by the awarding of a laminated portrait to every loyal customer who downs 30 of them over time. Their satisfied faces dangle from the ceiling above animated pub chatter. Unmissable.

DEN GLADE GRIS

Den Glade Gris/Peterjon Cresswell

The Happy Pig is Copenhagen’s prime destination for football followers… of Manchester United. Before you give it the big heave-ho, you should also know that Den Glade Gris sits in the narrow passageway of Lille Kannikestraede close to Copenhagen University, and so packs the place every night with students keen to take full advantage of the low prices and drinks deals. No pig in Copenhagen will ever get this happy so quickly and cheaply as here.

There’s also variety – seven beers on tap, 30 by the bottle – and variété, with Danish stand-up most Thursdays. Don’t worry, if it all gets too obvious, two-litre jugs of cocktails still go for Dkr39-Dkr49 before 10pm. Live music takes over downstairs on Fridays and Saturdays, parties and carousing upstairs. Football is a given, of course, and the place should be rocking for this summer’s post-exam Euros.

Den Glade Gris, Lille Kannikestraede 3, 1170 København. Open Tue 6pm-1am, Wed 6pm-3am, Thur 6pm-4am, Fri-Sat 4pm-5am.

the dubliner

The Dubliner/Peterjon Cresswell

Just off Copenhagen’s main strolling street of Strøget, deep in tourist central, The Dubliner performs the necessary function of allowing sightseers to take the weight off their feet and relax over a pint in familiar surroundings. Ignore the boast on the website that it’s ‘Copenhagen’s authentic Irish pub’, it’s as authentic as Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, but it’s a pleasant place to escape the crowds all the same, football shown and fish & chips served.

Beers include IPA and organic wheat beer from the pioneering brewers of Braunstein in nearby Køge, was well as Czech Budvar and Ricky’s IPA from North Carolina. Popular stouts and ciders go with the territory.

The Dubliner, Amagertorv 5, 1160 København. Open Mon-Wed, Sun 10am-1am, Thur-Sat 10am-2am.

the globe

The Globe/Peterjon Cresswell

Around the corner from Nørreport Station, The Globe is dotted with screens of varying sizes spread around nooks and crannies on both floors. It’s a deceptively large space and the modest façade on Nørregade gives nothing away, only allowing smokers to find a seat outside, overlooking the retail bustle of this recently revived part of town.

The bar counter has enough room for 20 taps, BrewDog Punk IPA, Bitburger Unfiltered and Grimbergen Double-Ambrée rubbing shoulders with Brooklyn Stonewall Inn, pioneering To Øl 45 Days Organic Pilsner from Svinninge and O’Hara’s Irish Red.

Head down to the cellar for whiskeys from Ireland, whiskies from Scotland, bourbons from the States and whiskies from, um… Denmark (“Medium body with rye and marshmellow notes…”). Food-wise, The Globe Irish Stew could sink a battleship and the house burger can be pimped up with bacon and cheese. Kitchen open until 9.30pm, 8pm on Sundays.

The Globe, Nørregade 43-45, 1165 København. Open Mon 2pm-midnight, Tue-Wed 2pm-1am, Thur 2pm-2am, Fri 1pm-3am, Sat 12.30pm-3am, Sun 1pm-11pm.

the oLD IRISH PUB

The Old Irish Pub/Peterjon Cresswell

Many pubs in European parts rub their hands with glee when hearing that fans will be arriving in numbers from the UK to sink lagoons of beer in their city – few places actively tailor their venue to these short but profitable visits. The Old Irish Pub, near Copenhagen’s main square, does. Away days here allow supporters to bring the party from Manchester, Liverpool or Glasgow to a spacious hostelry a few minutes’ walk from Central Station. Chants and songs ring out, drinks deals are offered, and scarves and flags are hung up around the bar. Think of it as a fan zone with Viking horns on.

The rest of the time, The Old Irish Pub is one of several football-friendly drinking destinations at this lively vortex where Vestbrogade and Rådhuspladsen meet, showing Premier League games, pouring the Carlsbergs and keeping things rocking until way past bedtime. In this case, it’s 6am every morning.

The Old Irish Pub, Vestbrogade 2B, 1620 København. Open daily noon-6am.

Østerbros perle

Østerbros Perle/Nikolaj Steen Møller

Walking around satisfied Østerbro, with its bistros and designer stores, you might stifle a yawn, maybe even feel a twinge of jealousy that people can live without worrying where their next bicycle pannier is coming from. And then you have a proper night at Østerbros Perle, and all is forgotten and forgiven.

This is a genuine locals’ bar, normal, everyday locals, who want to gather round the screen to watch the match, order another nicely chilled bottle of Tuborg, and engage their neighbour in conversation about the perils of the short corner. In other words, a real pub.

It’s also a short walk from Parken, and so is the best option pre- and post-match – unless you’re a fan of ambience-free bistros.

Østerbros Perle, Nordre Frihavnsgade 28, 2100 København. Open Mon-Wed & Sun 10am-midnight, Thur-Sat 10am-2am.

PROUD MARY PUB

Proud Mary Pub/Peterjon Cresswell

Until recently this was Rosie McGee’s, perhaps the least noticeable of the string of pubs in this corner where Vestbrogade meets Rådhuspladsen. As Proud Mary, however, the place has undergone a rebranding and has embraced a new direction. This can be summed up in one word: P-A-A-A-A-R-T-Y! Pint prices start at Dkr64 – on the main square of an affluent Scandinavian capital – and the same amount you pay for a pitcher of beer or cocktail mixes won’t change whether it’s 2pm or 2am.

The result is, and this is actively encouraged, dancing on tables and a seriously fun night out had by all. Football hasn’t been forgotten, you can still catch the match, but, like the kitchen closing at 10pm, this is all a preamble to clearing the decks to let loose at weekends. Earlier in the week, you’ll might stumble across music bingo or a free-to-enter, English-language pub quiz with a decent cash prize.

Proud Mary Pub, Vestbrogade 2A, 1620 København. Open Mon-Tue 11am-2am, Wed 11am-3am, Thur 11am-4am, Fri 11am-5am, Sat 11am-5am, Sun 11am-2am.

PUB & SPORT

Pub & Sport/Peterjon Cresswell

Long before the notion of a sports pub became a go-to genre on this side of the Atlantic – and just as US-style chain was opening its first franchises across Sweden – Pub & Sport nailed the concept right here on Vester Voldgade, a short walk from Rådhuspladsen. As much as a pool hall as it is a football hangout, with seven tables, it shows games on two big screens and ten TVs, religiously posting up the week’s schedule before opening up on a Monday. Board games, darts and table football keep things ticking over on quieter afternoons, and you might ask a local to teach you the Danish pastime of Klask, a kind of strategic air hockey with magnets.

There are few surprises among the draught options – Tuborg, Carlsberg, Guinness – although San Miguel adds a Latin touch and trendier customers can order a Brooklyn East India Pale Ale. Food consists of bowls of nachos and… well, you’re here for the beer and football, and if hunger gets in the way, there’s Copenhagen’s best burger joint, Kristinedal, round the corner on Studiestraede.

Pub & Sport, Vester Voldgade 7, 1552 København. Open Mon-Thur 4pm-midnight, Fri 3pm-2am, Sat noon-2am, Sun noon-midnight.

SHAMROCK INN

Shamrock Inn/Peterjon Cresswell

Opened in 1989, handily located between Tivoli and the main square of Rådhuspladsen, the Shamrock Inn got in on the ground floor in the original Roligan days, before Denmark even had a Superliga (or a Euro trophy). It has been pouring pints and screening sport ever since.

In thrall to the 6 Nations, here they also show a full schedule of Premier League fixtures as well as major internationals, with a separate area for the big screen, pool and darts. There’s pinball too, plus table football. They make sure to offer a few lesser-known Irish brews among the two-dozen options on draught. Guinness is a given, of course, plus O’Hara’s and Kilkenny. The whiskey range isn’t shabby either.

Shamrock Inn, Jernbanegade 7, 1608 København. Open Mon-Wed & Sun 3pm-2am, Thur 3pm-3am, Fri 12.30pm-4am, Sat 1.30pm-4am.

stpauli minibar

StPauli Minibar/Peterjon Cresswell

At some point in the mid-1980s, Hamburg’s anarcho-squat-punk scene seized upon St Pauli, the football team representing the city’s red-light district, and bestowed the club with an underground following. Friday night lights meant spiky-haired types carting shopping trolleys full of beer towards the Millerntor. For a while, it was fun, then it became commercialised, and now the club shop feels like Camden Market. If you had to define passé, St Pauli would be pretty close.

The trouble is, nobody told Copenhagen. Here, in what has been ambitiously termed the city’s Meatpacking District after its similarly trendy equivalent in New York, a locale called Bodega 54 started developing a yen for the Buccaneers of Hamburg, selling those stubbie brown bottles of Astra and showing every St Pauli game live. Indie tunes helped everything along nicely.

Now, Bodega 54 has gone full pirate and called itself the StPauli Minibar – it’s on the small side, for sure – without much altering the customer base or its political stance. If you’ve never actually seen Hamburg, think of this as a tribute bar.

StPauli Minibar, Halmtorvet 54, 1700 København. Open Mon-Thur 4pm-midnight, Fri 3pm-2am, Sat 4pm-2am.

the scottish pub

The Scottish Pub/Peterjon Cresswell

Tartan distinguishes this spacious establishment from its neighbours in this pub hub by Copenhagen’s main square – that and whiskies galore, lining the long, long back bar. Beer-wise, many stick to Guinness or Carlsberg, but Aberdeen’s BrewDog gets a look-in, and they also do cheap shots if there’s a group of you on the hoy.

While the outside looks more like a Parisian café, inside does feel authentic, original light fittings and dark wood lending the place a real pub atmosphere, augmented by the constant blur of match action from several screens. (Very) late weekend opening allows DJs to take over on Fridays and Saturdays from 10pm.

The Scottish Pub, Rådhuspladsen 16, 1550 København. Open Mon-Thur noon-3am, Fri-Sat noon-5am, Sun noon-2am.