10 Best Copenhagen Cafes for brunch, breakfast, snacks and hanging out

Copenhagen's cafe culture can be chic and sophisticated or homely and nostalgic, depending on what you are looking for in a cafe. From the vintage furnishings--which are also, incidentally, on sale along with the coffee--of coffee shops like Props in Nørrebro to stylish, Pan-European eateries such as Cafe Europa 1989 on Amagertorv, cafes in Denmark's capital are ideal for meeting a new friend, tanking up on breakfast or lunch, enjoying a break from shopping, or simply watching the world go by from a picturesque square or canalside spot.

Missed out on breakfast? Cosy, retro cafes such as Mormors on Bredgade and Granola on Værnedamsvej serve croissants and even oatmeal with coffee and atmosphere by the jugful.

Copenhagen's squares are great places to people watch with a coffee or lunch. Sankt Hans Torv in Nørrebro is a great example, and French-international cafe-restaurant Sebastapol is a popular hangout whatever time of day.

Take a break from downtown shopping on walking street Strøget at Cafe Norden on Amagertorv, quite possibly Copenhagen's best-known cafe and certainly its best location: Or enjoy dainty cakes and doll-sized 'smushi' at Royal Copenhagen's Royal Cafe.

A unique character, as well as the chance to support fair trade causes, characterize downtown volunteer cafe Retro and basement Makke Kafe - which is family-friendly and ideal after a trip to the nearby Nationalmuseet. Likewise, sweet toothed museumgoers well be spoiled for choice in the cafe in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.


Cafe Sebastopol
Photo courtesy of Christian Alsing / Copenhagen Media Center

Located on the lively Sankt Hans Torv square in inner Norrebro, Cafe Sebastopol is a well-established, French-inspired cafe-restaurant with a Parisian bistro decor and smartly-attired wait staff. It always seems to be brimming with life, attracting both local creative types as well as visitors from outside this still pretty alternative neighborhood. The French aspect of the menu card is apparent in classics like crqoque monseiur and moules frites, but more traditional Danish food, as well as standard cafe fare, is also available. In the evening--particularly at weekends--the restaurant transforms into a lively bar frequented by the many students who live nearby.

Recommended for Cafés because: Sebastopol is a little fancier than other cafes in the area, but certainly not exclusive.

Local Expert tip: In addition to the tables outside, two floors of seating are available inside.

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Props Coffee Shop
Photo courtesy of Props Coffee Shop

There's generally a lively atmosphere both inside and out with Props, a tiny, cosy cafe on the paved, mostly pedestrian street of Bl?g?rdsgade in Norrebro. If you feel like you've just entered a private party, the feeling is quite usual: Many of the regulars here have been coming for decades, and in daytime, Props is frequented by local artists and musicians, who come to work on projects or just to sit and read the day's papers; at night, the party spills out onto the tables outside. Coffee is always available, but there is also a licensed bar serving stronger drinks. And yes, it does look a little like a yard sale: One interesting aspect of this place is that all the eclectic furniture--including the chair you're probably sitting on--is for sale.

Recommended for Cafés because: Great for atmosphere, Props has been one of Copenhagen's more unusual and artistic cafes for several decades.

Local Expert tip: Sit at an outside table and watch the street life on fascinating Blagardsgade.

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Cafe Glyptoteket
Photo courtesy of Kim Nilsson

Glyptoteket is one of Copenhagen's most attractive museums and its cafe has the perfect placing, in the tropical winter gardens of the museum atrium. Enjoy the cafe's breakfast plate (served until 1pm), light lunches, healthy sandwiches or just a tempting cake with your coffee and soak up the calming atmosphere of the palm trees. The cafe gained a reputation for its cakes under the tenure of its previous owner Mette Blomsterberg, but new owners Peter Stub and his French wife Stephanie Michaud are keen to maintain the reputation, with a heightened focus on organic and fair trade products.

Recommended for Cafés because: Cafe Glyptoteket has a beautiful setting and gorgeous cakes.

Local Expert tip: The museum is free on Sundays, but the cafe can get crowded.

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The Royal Cafe
Photo courtesy of The Royal Cafe

This cute cafe next to the flagship store of Royal Copenhagen on Amagertorv has put its own dainty twist on the traditional Danish lunch, building up quite a reputation for its own invention: "Smushi", a fusion of smorrebrod open sandwiches with Japanese sushi. The rye bread is cut into small, dainty fingers and makes dining here feel like a dollies' tea party, except for the fact it's all served on the finest Royal Copenhagen porcelain. Should you be in the mood for something more grown up, the cafe also has a selection of normal-sized sandwiches and cakes. It can get very busy and you may have to wait a while to get served, but the Royal Cafe has enough going on on its walls to keep you entertained.

Recommended for Cafés because: What could easily be nothing more than an in-store cafe, the Royal Cafe has elevated itself with its innovative 'smushi' menu.

Local Expert tip: Don't forget to take a look in the Royal Copenhagen store next door, even if you're only window shopping.

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Photo courtesy of Granola

Almost too cute to be true, this retro cafe is situated in the middle of 'Little Paris' Vaernedamsvej, Frederiksberg's foodie street--right on the edge of the neighbouring Vesterbro district. Granola has been completely furnished in true nostalgic '30s style, right down to the tiling, crockery and the cash register, using original and authentic materials, and the menu card is equally old school. Granola's early morning opening--7am on weekdays--make it the perfect place for an old-fashioned, feel-good breakfast, and specialities include the oatmeal with coconut, apple and cinnamon: Just the thing to start the day.

Recommended for Cafés because: Of all Copenhagen's cafes, Granola has taken its retro look to a new level. Eating here is simply a nostalgic experience.

Local Expert tip: Granola has expanded its opening hours, gotten a liquor license and now serves cocktails until midnight Mon-Sat.

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Photo courtesy of Local Expert, Jane Graham

Sandwiched between the Nationalmuseet and Gammel Strand on the canalside overlooking Christiansborg, kid-friendly cafe MakkeKafe is the perfect pit spot for tired families on a sightseeing tour or after a museum visit. Located in a basement on an old but unassuming street, MakkeKafe may not look like much from the outside, but the cafe has another room to the right, where the smart bar stools are traded for comfy sofas and a large play area for small children where they can draw, read and play. The small, select menu offered by the Italian owner is not only cheap but also extremely health-conscious and particularly well-suited to vegetarians, with a selection of homemade cakes as well as hot and cold tapas plates. To drink, choose from organic fruit juices or good Italian coffee in regular as well as caffeine-free varieties.

Recommended for Cafés because: Makkekafe is eco-friendly, vegetarian-friendly, kid-friendly - and just plain friendly!

Local Expert tip: The fat-free croissants are surprisingly tasty.

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Cafe Retro
Photo courtesy of Cafe Retro

You're more likely to hear English behind the counter at Cafe Retro than Danish, as this cafe is run by a dedicated staff of international volunteers who are only too happy to serve various drinks and a small range of sandwiches, tapas plates and soups – all at very low prices, at least compared to other downtown cafes. Retro's cosy atmosphere spreads over two floors and is accentuated by the multitude of slightly mismatched, reclaimed sofas and low coffee tables, lit with candles, in a look that somehow works. Feel free to browse the bookshelf – all the books have been generously left here by other travelling customers - or avail yourself of the cafe's wireless internet.

Recommended for Cafés because: Retro is a great cafe ideal for meeting fellow travellers and any profit goes to good causes.

Local Expert tip: Retro is closed mid July through to late August.

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Cafe Europa 1989
Photo courtesy of Cafe Europa 1989

The rather long name of this classic metropolitan cafe emphasizes not only the year it was established, but also the year that Europe finally began its long unification process, starting with the fall of the Berlin wall. Most people just refer to it as 'Europa', however, and it is almost always busy, thanks mainly to its central location on Copenhagen's busiest square, Amagertorv, slap-bang in the middle of Stroget. The cafe is a popular spot not just for a quick meeting over a cup of coffee but also for longer lunches. It's a slightly upmarket place--the waiters do at least come to your table here--but not exclusively so, and the clientele runs the gauntlet of new mums, business men, tourists and students. The menu includes breakfast and brunch--the cafe opens at 7.45 on weekdays--as well as open sandwiches, salads and steaks in the evening, with prices around DKK 150-200 for a main. Vegetarian options available.

Recommended for Cafés because: Cafe Europa 1989 epitomizes Copenhagen's chic cafe culture that takes its inspiration from across Europe.

Local Expert tip: Breakfast is served here from 7.45 every day except Sunday, when it opens at 9.

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Photo courtesy of Mormors

In Frederiksstaden, a neighborhood of exclusive stores and galleries where simple cafe fare can be hard to find, cosy Mormors (meaning "grandma's") is the perfect place to take the weight off your feet and enjoy a simple, inexpensive sandwich and a cold drink, or a coffee and even a cake. The service is always pleasant and friendly, and you'll find plenty of space, either on a stool at the window overlooking the street, or at a table, where you can really appreciate the cafe's wonderfully nostalgic interior. Breakfast (including oatmeal or a croissant) served until 10am weekdays.

Recommended for Cafés because: In an upmarket neighborhood, Mormors offers simple, quality sandwiches and cakes at reasonable prices.

Local Expert tip: Treat yourself to a cake.

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Café Norden
Photo courtesy of Ty Stange / Copenhagen Media Center

Cafe Norden's prime location on Amagertorv square in the middle of pedestrian street Stroget make this art deco-styled cafe the spot for meeting people, particularly in the summer, when its chairs and tables sprawl out into the square. The cafe can be very noisy at all times of year, making following a conversation challenging, and even with seating on two floors for 200 people, it can be hard to find a table (Norden does not take reservations). The menu offers typical cafe fare, a little expensive but of a high standard; and though hot meals and sandwiches are available, Cafe Norden is best known for its coffee and cakes.

Recommended for Cafés because: Cafe Norden is a fixture of Copenhagen's center, a place locals will always be able to locate for you.

Local Expert tip: If you don't get served at an outside table, place your order at the counter inside.

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Meet Jane Graham

After touring most of Europe in her twenties, Jane was charmed by Copenhagen's relaxed tempo and moved there from her native northern England in 1999. Four young children at home has meant...  More About Jane