My Copenhagen | Frank Jensen’s got the whole city at his feet

Copenhagen’s leading man may be a transplant, but after more than two decades in the nation’s capital Frank Jensen is now the city’s biggest booster

As part of our summer coverage, we've met with six Copenhageners to ask them what they love about our fair city. First up is Mayor Frank Jensen.


Frank Jensen loves Copenhagen. The city’s lord mayor – as Copenhagen’s highest elected official is called – becomes more and more animated as he talks about his favourite spots and the reasons he believes Denmark’s capital is one of the world’s great cities. He is especially high on Copenhagen’s environmental record.


“I invite other mayors to go swimming in the harbor and near Islands Brygge,” Jensen says. “They are surprised that it is possible to swim in the waters around a major city, and want to know what we did to get it so clean.”


Jensen ran for mayor in 2009 at the suggestion of his party leader, the current prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. At that point, he had left politics for the corporate world after spending 20 years representing northern Jutland in parliament.


“My wife lived in Aalborg while I lived in Copenhagen for 20 years and we thought maybe we’d try living together,” he says.


The best thing about Copenhagen, Jensen says, is its diversity. “The people are open-minded and colourful. There is always something interesting going on.”


Jensen is an avid jogger and kayaker and thinks that Copenhagen is a great place to do both.


“I love to see the city from the water,” he says. “I put my kayak in near where I live in Islands Brygge and paddle around the whole city. One of the things that I always recommend to visitors is to take a harbour tour to really get the essence of Copenhagen.”


Jensen likes to start his day off with a jog through the city, enjoying the relative quiet of the early morning.


“I run over Bryggebroen bridge out to Knippelsbro bridge, around Christianshavn and back across Bryggen.”


Recognised internationally for his environmental work, Jensen is proud of Copenhagen’s many greenspaces.


“My favourite is Fælledparken, which was created 100 years ago under the auspices of Copenhagen’s first Mayor Jensen, Jens Jensen,” says the current Jensen.


Jensen is determined to make Copenhagen even more environmentally friendly and has established the lofty goal of making it the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2025.


Even though as mayor, Jensen has an insider’s view, he knows the value of his city’s major tourist attractions.


“Tivoli Gardens brings thousands of visitors to Copenhagen every year and it is something completely unique,” he says. “One of my favourite restaurants is Nimb in Tivoli. I often take guests there.”


Jensen is also proud that Carlsberg brewery, one of the world’s most recognised brands, is based in Copenhagen.


“No matter where I go in the world, everybody knows Carlsberg,” he says.


A true urban dweller, the mayor does his grocery shopping  near to where he lives. Visitors are often surprised at the mayor’s visibility and ease at simply living in his city. When asked which Copenhagen neighbourhood is his favourite, the mayor reveals why he is a successful politician.


“Every neighbourhood in the city has its own energy and its own charm,” he says.


5 of my favourite things about Copenhagen


When in Copenhagen don’t miss … 


… seeing the city from the water. You really get the essence of Copenhagen.


Where do you go to experience culture?


Operaen, the national opera house. It is one of the finest in the world. The facilities are amazing and the performances are always world-class.


Where do you go to listen to live music?


That’s the thing; Copenhagen has it all. From rock at Vega to quiet acoustic music at a small restaurant, you can find whatever you like. One of the best times for live music in the city is during the Jazz Festival in July. Over 1,000 concerts in ten days throughout the city – it the streets, in the parks, in the clubs, in the concert houses – it is a special time.


Where would you take a visitor out to eat?


It has to be lunch at Restaurant Schønnemann for ‘smørrebrød’, traditional Danish open-faced sandwiches. I take visiting mayors there, and we often go there for lunch or pick some up when we are working at City Hall. It is great food, and there is nothing more Danish.


What is your favourite greenspace?


My favourite is Fælledparken, which was created 100 years ago under the auspices of Copenhagen’s first Mayor Jensen, Jens Jensen.



Frank Jensen, 52, 

Politician, Socialdemokraterne


Frank Jensen (Socialdemokraterne) was born in 1961 and grew up in Aalborg. He represented that area of Jutland in parliament for 20 years. Throughout the 1990s, he was both justice minister and research minister in the cabinet of then-prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen. He left politics for awhile after unsuccessfully running for the leadership of his party in 2005, when he was narrowly defeated by Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the current prime minister. Thorning-Schmidt later convinced him to leave his position in the telecommunications industry and run for mayor of Copenhagen. Jensen won and has held the city’s highest political office since 2010.