As anyone who has ever visited the Danish capital during the spring or summer will tell you, one of a Copenhagener’s favorite pastimes is watching the city go by from the vantage point of a cafe chair—preferably on one of its lively squares.
The Danish word for square is ‘torv’: Here’s our guide to four of the best of them.
The old—Gråbrødretorv, Indre Byen
One of Copenhagen’s oldest squares, Gråbrødretorv is also one of its prettiest. The hard-to-pronounce name translates as ‘Greyfriars Square,’ so named after a monastery built on this site in the 1200s. The pretty-colored buildings on the southern side of the square are not quite as old, dating mostly from the 1700s, and include a collection of restaurants and cafes, all with outdoor seating, including Skildpadden, Sporvejen and Peder Oxe.
The transformed—Halmtorvet, Vesterbro
What used to be the heart of gritty Vesterbro’s red light district, Vesterbro’s Halmtorvet received a total makeover in the late ‘90s and was transformed from a place to score to trendy cafe square. With Istedgade to the north and Kødbyen to the south, in-spots like Carlton and Apropos can be found on one side of the square and a more culture-oriented vibe on the other, with arts cafe PH Cafeen to be found in the shadow of exhibition hall Øksnehallen.
The bohemian—Sankt Hans Torv, Nørrebro
Lively Sankt Hans Torv in Inner Nørrebro was once little more than a crossroads, but as Nørrebro’s hip factor developed in the 1990s, so did the cafe culture of this vibrant young square, where the city’s students spill out from the cafes onto the cobbles to meet, chat and occasionally study. The place has lost a little of its trade to up-and-coming squares like Halmtorvet over the past decade, but with cafe institutions like smart brasserie Sebastopol on the one side and Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus on the other, Sankt Hans Torv is a place to sample Nørrebro’s unique flavor.
The homely—Bopa Plads, Østerbro
Formerly a quiet residential neighborhood, Østerbro is the last of Copenhagen’s quarters to embrace cafe culture, and the cafes here appear to have less to prove than other places in the city. Located between Østerbrogade and Strandboulevarden, Bopa Plads is the name of a small yet green square on the corner of Løgstørgade and Randersgade, where spots like Cafe Bopa and Cafe Pixie attract not only students and the young, creative set but also local families enjoying the bright playground in the middle of the square.
Images courtesy ofXuanaxu/Flickr (Gråbrødretorv) and Iks World Trip/Wikimedia Commons (Skt Hans Torv).