Torvehallern – the covered market that opened in Copenhagen in September 2011 – hasn’t been declared the world’s best covered market (yet), but it certainly has the potential. During my first few hours wandering the historic streets of Copenhagen, I learned something about the Danes: they love superlatives. The Danish are proud to have Europe’s longest bridge (Øresund Bridge) and the world’s oldest amusement park (Bakken, north of Copenhagen). Around every corner I heard reports of the world’s first this, the world’s best that. Could Torvehallern Market be next, I wondered.
The two glass and steel market halls that make up Torvehallern are located in Israels Plad, a square near the busy Nørreport Station. What was once a seedy square has been transformed into an appealing covered marketplace selling both local delicacies and quality international products. A total of 80 vendors coexist under the same roof, with additional fruit and vegetable vendors outdoors. I brought my appetite with the intention of grazing my way through the best foods of this new market, including cheese, chocolate, coffee, and Danish pastries.
Upon arrival at Torvehallern, take a few minutes to browse and become acquainted before making any purchases. I started outdoors with the fruit and vegetable vendors to see what was in season. My visit coincided with the very short white asparagus season, and there were plenty of the chunky stalks to go around. In addition to artichokes and mushrooms, big piles of rhubarb and radishes were for sale. Charcuterie, cheeses, and wines all lured me into their stalls for a chat with the friendly purveyors often offering free samples.
This covered market is split into two market halls, each with its own offerings. Between the two halls is an area with communal picnic tables. I broke my own rule about buying too soon when I saw a stall with freshly shucked oysters and glasses of cold white wine. I took a seat on a stool and watched as locals met for a snack or wrapped up their Saturday shopping.
With so many choices, it can be difficult to know where to spend your kroner. There are a few vendors that have made a splash since the opening of the market.
- Coffee Collective: These small-batch roasters first opened a shop on Jaegersborggade, a formerly seedy street in the Norrebro neighborhood that has quickly earned a reputation for great food. Coffee Collective now has a coffee bar in Torvehallerne where visitors can sample the work of these coffee experts.
- Summerbird Chocolates: These local handmade chocolates are irresistible. At Torvehallerne, you can sample individual pieces – such as chocolate with raspberry or almond-based chocolates – or pick up packages of assorted chocolates in pretty packaging to bring home.
- Smørrebrød: Not a vendor but type of sandwich, smørrebrød is a classic Danish lunch that originated as the afternoon meal of agricultural workers. Try one of these open-faced sandwiches on rye bread. Classic ingredients include hard-boiled egg and shrimp, boiled potato, or herring.
Center of City Life
Torvehallerne is a great observation point of everyday life in Copenhagen. During my visit, families filled the picnic tables with snacks and couples on dates shared a cheese plate and glasses of wine. Fruit and vegetable vendors gave advice on how best to utilize their produce. In a city where food is not only important but at the center of its culture and identity, Torvehallerne is a welcome addition to the community. For those travelers like me that love to spend a few hours grazing, go ahead and plan a picnic at this marketplace for a little of the world’s best this, a little of the world’s freshest that.
Torvehallerne, Frederiksborggade 21.
Opening Hours: Closed Mondays. Tuesday – Thursday 10am to 7pm, Friday 10 am to 8 pm, Saturday 9 am to 5pm, Sunday 10 am to 3 pm.
Written by and photos by Jessica Colley for EuropeUpClose.com