Copenhagen is time and again touted as one of the world’s best cities for a weekend break. The clean, quiet urban space brims with historic culture while the ticks of bicycles embark on their daily errands. The happy Danes are a stylish nation open to the world and new ideas. However, there is always a “but” thrown in when you discuss Copenhagen: price. “But it’s quite expensive,” you say, and it’s true. That being said, is it possible to experience the city on a minimal budget? Of course it is; you just need to be savvy.
Arriving in Copenhagen is actually rather amenable from anywhere inside Europe. Flights are incredibly reasonable, especially if you avoid the peak of summer. From the UK, you can quite easily find return tickets for around £30.
If you’re in Northern Europe, buses run regularly from popular areas like Berlin for under €20. Sorry for mixing currencies already — if you thought everyone uses the euro, well, you’re about to get more confused. Denmark sticks to their own currency, the krone. If you plan on nipping over to Sweden, they to use krona, but Swedish krona, not Danish krone. Yeah, I’m confused too. Anyway, there’s no place like krone.
So, getting into Denmark is a cinch and cost-effective. Hoorah. Buses will often drop off in the center of town, whereas the airport sits just a bit out of the center. The trains provide quick and efficient travel and can get you into Copenhagen Central Station for 36Kr or just under €5.
Excellent! We have arrived without breaking the bank whatsoever.
Accommodation is going to be a little eye-watering, but there is no way to avoid this. Naturally, the budget option is a hostel. There are a few sprinkled around town, but you can get somewhere super central like Copenhagen Backpackers for around €25-€30 a night if they are not overly busy.
Keep your eyes open, though. Any savvy traveler rootles around for special deals, and Airbnb can always throw up a gem.
Hotels make life expensive, that’s a fact, but they do get cheaper slightly out of town near the airport.
Budget city breaks create a treasure trove of activities to do for free or cheap. Copenhagen organizes a pleasingly compact city manner with most tourist spots a half-hour walk of wherever you may end up. Walking is free — there’s some knowledge for you. But if you do want another cost-effective option, rent yourself a bike. EVERYONE cycles in Copenhagen. Katie Melua needs to write another hit song but this time about bicycles in Copenhagen. Although, on research, the line would be more like, “There are approximately 560,000 bicycles in Copenhagen. That’s a fact.”
Forget about paying for a sightseeing tour; why not self-guide it? If you can read a map, then you are all set. Grab a free map from your accommodation and ask for a few places to check out. You’re highly likely to get lost, which is where you will find your favorite cafe or lunch spot. Each neighborhood is teeming with energy ready for exploration. Unique vibes lay at your feet from trendy Vesterbro, hipster cafe territory Stroll Istedgade or hippy Freetown Christiania.
History packs tall around town, so don’t forget to look up and admire numerous steeples and ornate towers. Much of the architecture stuns as it mixes through the ages. Many of the towers allow access to picturesque rooftop vistas. The Round House Tower intrigues your architectural senses with a circular ramp that spirals the building to the summit. It has a small entrance fee of 25Kr or less than €3.50.
After that, you can head to the Amalienborg Palace for the Changing of the Guard every day at noon. Watch the historic ceremony up close and personal from within the palace grounds.
If it’s cold and raining (it is Scandinavia, after all) the botanical gardens provide sanctuary and a great place to warm up for free.
Museums and galleries scatter through town with various costs and charges.
Copenhagen Contemporary offers an experience for the senses depending on what exhibition lays on show. You can follow this with a hearty lunch next door at the Papirøen indoor street food market. The maze of glorious food selections is well-priced, and a big fireplace will encourage you to re-energize.
If you have a day to spare, it’s a great idea to jump on a train to Malmo. Just over the waters is Sweden, and, even more conveniently, a downright massive bridge towers across the strait. The journey takes just over half an hour and lands you in the heart of a modern Swedish city. The architecture here differs quite obviously from Denmark, with high modern intertwined with classic Scandinavian charm. There’s plenty of sightseeing to do here too, with historic castles and a few more green spaces brightening the city concrete. It’s especially beautiful in the sunshine.
Food and drink are pricey, especially in restaurants. That’s not to say you have to live off chips. Just be a little bit savvy about it. Don’t go barreling into the first place you see after a couple of beers. Keep an eye out for lunch and dinner deals that will significantly ease the pressure on your wallet. It goes without being said: stay away from tourist hotspots.
There are plenty of little eateries sprinkled through every street, from burger joints to noodle houses. Food carts are pretty regular too, often serving hot dogs for about €3.
For a healthy choice, Joe & The Juice is super trendy. Choose your freshly made smoothie or shake for a filling and ultimately delicious experience. It ould be a good breakfast option on the go as well.
Drinking is pricey too, so take advantage of cheap beer at Carlsberg museum. You definitely get value for money here. The bar pleases at half the price of anywhere else, and for the 100kr (€13) entrance ticket, you get two free beers. Not bad when you’re paying 55kr (€7) for a beer elsewhere in town. Take up the beer tasting experience to get extra bang for your buck.
I’m not going to lie: they were right. Copenhagen makes life expensive, even compared to cities like London, but don’t let that put you off. It’s a beautiful city that can be negotiated on a budget. The biggest hit is going to be accommodation, so if you can get yourself a winning ticket for a bed, then you’re set. Use your two feet that God gave you to get around, and don’t go laying out for three-course meals. You may even come back having lost a few pounds.
Eliot is a freelance copywriter with a B.A. in Journalism and years of experience working in the travel and leisure industry, with a particular focus on winter sports. His knowledge is armed with over six years at a multitude of companies and the traveling that comes with his international work life.