Copenhagen is known for its world-class architecture, fantastic design and top-notch restaurants. But if there’s one more thing that you can say about this vibrant city is that it’s not easy on your wallet. Na-ah, not at all. Great news is, you can actually enjoy all the city has to offer without breaking the bank. How to do it? Read on and find out how to visit Copenhagen on a budget!
Flying to Copenhagen on a budget is actually quite easy. There are plenty of low-cost flight connections from all the major European airports with tons of seasonal deals. The cheapest airlines are Ryanair, Wizz Air and EasyJet. As with most of the capitals in Europe, January and February are the cheapest months to travel by air but the prices in the season are also relatively reasonable.
We were actually very lucky and got our tickets on sale just a month before departure. It was only £28 from Edinburgh return ticket per person! Insane, right? A lot of our friends picked up quite cheap flights for January as well. Be sure to stay on the lookout for fresh deals. To help with that, we always use azair.com to check the best possible options. Especially when we’re trapped in wanderlust 😉
When it comes to a good night sleep, we’re huge fans of AirBnb. If you are considering staying in Copenhagen on a budget, we strongly suggest the platform as it is a lot cheaper than most hotels. Of course, there are hostels in the city, however, since we travel with equipment, we always prefer something more private. Another upside to AirBnb in Copenhagen is that you can use the kitchen to prepare your own breakfasts and on-the-go meals. That will definitely cut your costs as Copenhagen restaurants are expensive, even if it’s lunch or breakfast. An entire flat on AirBnb will cost you at least £45 per night, while private rooms start from £35. These are based on 2 guests.
If you’re new to AirBnb, pick up your £25 in travel credit by clicking above or using this link!
In hostels, be prepared to pay around £45 for double room and no lower than £11 for a bed in mixed 8+ bed dorm room. With Copenhagen Downtown Hostel, you get a free dinner when you booking with them directly. Great stuff!
When it comes to hotels, we found double rooms with shared bathroom for as low as £80 per night off-season. These, however, almost double in-season!
3. GETTING AROUND
If you’re visiting Copenhagen on a budget, getting around might seem like a pricey business. Not to worry though! There are a couple of ways to move around without wasting money.
The best way to travel around the city is to get a City Pass. Great news is, you can actually buy it online (click!) and the ticket is delivered to your phone. Convenient, huh? If you’re more of a ticket collector, you can buy the pass at the airport. It’s located next to a luggage drop at the terminal 3 and it does accept cards. The prices are 80DKK for 24 hours, 200DKK for 72 hours and 320DKK for 120 hours. Children over 12 years of age get a 50% discount while the younger ones travel free of charge with you if you have a City Pass.
If it sounds a bit excessive, hear us out. You’d have to pay 24DKK for a single ticket for two zones and 36DKK for three zones. The latter is exactly the kind of ticket you’d have to buy to get from the airport to the centre. It’s really a better option, if you consider both the price and the comfort. The city pass allows you to travel freely using buses, trains and metro, all within the four main zones.
Just as a side note, travelling without a valid ticket will result in a hefty penalty. It’s up to 750DKK. Of course, we’re not suspecting you of wanting to save money this way 😉
If you want to know more about the public transport in Copenhagen, check out these links:
You might find biking is a great way to travel around Copenhagen. And let’s face it, most of the locals are doing it. What is the ideal way to move around on a bike? Well, you might be quite lucky and get a free or cheap bike along with your accommodation. In that case, hooray! If not, not to worry. You can rent a bike easily. It is a great option if you are into biking as the infrastructure of the city is insanely good and bike-friendly. Seriously, it’s a land of bike lanes 🙂 Bear in mind, however, that renting a bike is not the cheapest here and will cost you roughly around 100DKK for 24h. Don’t forget to add a cost of a helmet which is usually around 40DKK.
But don’t lose hope yet, we actually found cheaper options as well! Probably the most popular rental is Baisikeli with 80DKK for 24h. Another one, Lucas Cycler will get you sorted in no time for only 65DKK for a full day. Both are located quite centrally, so it’s very convenient!
On a final note, if you’re planning on renting a car, don’t. Public transport in Copenhagen is very well-designed and will take you pretty much anywhere in no time. That is, unless you want to spend some time outside the capital. In that case, by all means, go for it 🙂
One thing that we really need to mention is that the city centre is very compact. That makes it very walkable! So try not to shy away from strolling around because you’re bound to be amazed by the beautiful views. Plus, it’s a great way to make your Copenhagen trip a bit more budget-friendly!
4. WHAT TO DO
Although admission fees for many staple attractions are quite high in the capital, you can still enjoy some free or cheap activities.
First off, be sure to check out our 11 things to do in Copenhagen article. A lot of the options mentioned there are either free or budget-friendly.
The admissions to museums of Copenhagen start at 80DKK for an adult. If you were to see all of them, well, let’s just say your wallet wouldn’t thank you for it. Luckily, there are a couple of options for visiting at least some of them.
The best way is to make use of the free admission days or free periods. Moreover, there are some museums that do not require a ticket at all. We’ve listed all of them for you here:
- Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek – free admission on Tuesdays (only 50DKK if you’re under 27)
- Thorvaldsen Museum – free admission on Wednesdays at 5pm-9pm
- Danish Architecture Centre – free admission on Wednesdays
- Design Museum Denmark – the shop, café, library, and the museum garden Grønnegården can be seen without a ticket (+ free admission to the museum under 26)
- Geological Museum – free admission in January
- Botanical Garden – free admission
- The David Collection – free admission
We’ve also found two smaller museums that have considerably lower admission. If you’re into photography or would like to see amber in a beautiful building at Nyhavn, be sure to check them out.
PALACES AND CASTLES
Despite the pricey tickets, it’s still possible to explore the many castles and palaces of Copenhagen on a budget. First of all, go ahead and actually see them as is. Most of the castles here are actually quite stunning on the outside!
But what if you really want to see more than just the exteriors? Well, there are a couple of ways.
First on the list is Amalienborg, a current residence of the Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II. It is guarded by the impressive Den Kongelige Livgarde in red and blue uniforms. You can enjoy the guard change completely free of charge.
Another remarkable palace, Christiansborg, is the seat of the Danish Parliament. Make sure to check out the guided tours of the Parliament which are free of charge. Apart from that, you can also enjoy the view from Tårnet, the tower which we’ll mention in a moment.
When it comes to the two most impressive castles in our opinion, Frederiksborg and Rosenborg, they’re definitely worth visiting. However, they cannot be accessed without a charge. Don’t be discouraged, the exteriors are really incredible. If you’re interested in exploring the insides, these two are probably the ones that we would recommend most. The ticket for Frederiksborg is 75 DKK and lasts all day. You’ll get to experience the lavishly decorated chambers of the biggest castle in Scandinavia! Alternatively, Rosenborg boasts an extensive collection of royal treasures and gems which is not something that you can easily admire in any museum. The ticket is 110 DKK but for only 45 DKK more, you can explore it along with Amalienborg.
Rundetårn is the most commonly recommended viewpoint to admire the Copenhagen skyline. It’s not expensive as it costs only 25DKK to get on top. However, there is a free (and better!) way to get up high. Walk up the Tårnet, the tallest tower in the capital of Denmark, which has incredible four direction view of the city. And there is no admission!
Don’t forget to pop in Frederiks Kirke, which is a truly splendid sight in Copenhagen! You can enter the church free of charge, too.
If you want to learn a lot, you might consider free walking tours around the city. That will give you a great overview of the history and culture of the capital of Denmark without really ruining your budget. There are three main tours, mainly the Grand Tour of Copenhagen, the Tour of Christianshavn and the Classical Tour of Copenhagen. All of them cover different aspects of what the city has to offer. As a bonus, the company came up with a nighttime get together – The Pub Crawl. It might be a great way to meet new people and have fun!
Although the walks are called free, it is customary to tip a guide around £5 for the amazing effort. Still, it’s not a big expense for the amount of knowledge you’re getting. You can read all about the tours on this website.
Be sure to check out other districts of Copenhagen, too! Nørrebro, Amagerbro or Frederiksberg are all magnetic and vibrant areas that will do great for a walk.
When visiting the city, it is impossible to forget about the Copenhagen Card. It gives you access to 79 attractions and free transport (by buses, trains, metro) in the entire Copenhagen area (zone 1-99). It’s not only that! Some sightseeing tours are also included. And if the attraction you’re interested is not covered by the card, you also get discounts for not included museums and entertainments.
Bear in mind though, the card itself is pretty expensive. It’s €53 (~£46) for 24h, €74 (~£64) for 48h, €84 (~£77) for 72h and €120 (~£104) for 120h. You can get it from the Kastrup Airport Service Center, one of many sales points across the city or simply buy it online. If you pick the last option, the voucher is sent to your email address which then lets you collect the card from four locations, including the airport.
Image Source: Visit Copenhagen
Would we recommend getting the Copenhagen Card? Well, yes and no. Depends entirely on your preferences for the trip and the way you want to experience the city. We chose not to buy it as we’re not really museum buffs and we prefer to enjoy the atmosphere, culture and food of the city. However, if you’re planning on seeing a couple of attractions, go ahead and get one. It might really help you save!
Still confused if you need the Copenhagen Card? No worries! There is an online calculator which will show you if it’s beneficial for your itinerary. Simply tick all the attractions you want to see and it will give you an estimate of how much you’ll spend with or without the card.
5. WHAT TO EAT
A man has to eat, right? Well, definitely, and you’re reading a blog of two people who understand it more than anyone 🙂 We just LOVE food. But imagine our disappointment when we realised a dinner in a restaurant here is around 130DKK. And we don’t mean a fancy, fine dining type of place. No, a regular, sometimes even very basic spot.
What can you do then if you want to save some money? Well, there are actually a couple of options.
MAKING YOUR OWN MEALS
When it comes to breakfasts, we are huge fans of always making them ourselves. First of all, as we’re normally opting for Airbnb, a kitchen is always available to us. Secondly, we’re not really morning people so we love to take some time and start our day off easy. By making our own meal, we’re actually gathering energy that we’ll need later in the day. And finally, it’s a real money saver. So if you’re in Copenhagen on a budget, consider preparing your own breakfast.
If you don’t mind making some more food, you might think of preparing something to eat on the go. And yes, we do realise how brilliant it is to discover different tastes in a new place… But it can be done this way too! Think about it. You can pop in a supermarket, look around, and you’re bound to find some new (and sometimes bizarre) product, that you’ve never seen before. Be brave! Try out these things for yourself and cook with them. And it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. For example, we found some fish pastes/spreads (the ingredients of which we cannot even remember), that were actually really good. We decided to make some sandwiches with them and threw some veggies in for that extra nutritional value. Voilà, our quick on the go meal was done!
The best places for grocery shopping are Netto, Lidl or Aldi. You’ll find cheap yet good quality products there.
Moreover, when you’re walking around, try less expensive foods in Copenhagen. These include the famous Danish hot dogs which are called rod polse. You can find the stands all over the city and you’ll snack on something that is around 25DKK. Moreover, become like a local and grab a sandwich! Apart from the amazing smorrebrod, you can also try other options. There is a great place called Foodie and it is, indeed, foodie heaven. For about 60DKK, you’ll get a really big sandwich that tastes amazing. And the choice is quite extensive, too! This place was actually recommended to us by Marina, our lovely AirBnb host.
Since Copenhagen is a home for many international restaurants, you might want to check out some ethnic cuisine. We were very impressed by the city’s wide choice of food from around the world. These places can be a bit cheaper than the regular restaurants, so you can save a bit of money. A couple of places really grabbed our attention! Check out Ma’ed Ethiopian restaurant in Nørrebro or a Thai restaurant Scurry Hub in the city centre. Both with great reviews and very budget-friendly!
This tip will be a bit less conventional, but bear with us. When was the last time you had a picnic? Yes, a picnic! It’s a great way to eat in Copenhagen on a budget. If the weather allows, settle yourself in one of many parks in the city and enjoy the atmosphere. Grab something from a supermarket or check out one of the bakeries and just cosy up on a blanket. It’s a perfect combination of great things in the capital of Denmark – open sandwiches, pastries and beautiful surroundings. You can also enjoy some beer as it’s perfectly fine to drink in public! Just don’t go crazy, kid 😉
If you are a bit of a conscious consumer, consider an app called TooGoodToGo. The idea is very simple – you get a considerable discount on the food that would otherwise be thrown away. The app shows you a list of restaurants, cafes, bakeries etc., all rated by other users, and you see that there are 5 items available before closing time at a lower price. Just click, order, pick up and enjoy some food while knowing that you’re doing something to reduce the waste. And save money too! Brilliant, huh? It actually works in 6 countries and growing fast! You might want to check out if it’s available in your city 🙂
Don’t forget your hydration! Refill your bottle with tap water which is very clean in Copenhagen. Normally, a 0,5l bottle might cost you around 20DKK! If you do opt for buying one, be environmentally friendly and put the Copenhagen’s recycling system to good use. You can actually get a refund for an empty bottle or a can at deposit stations. These machines can be found in many shops around the city. Check out more about this here!
If you’re visiting Copenhagen on a budget, you might want to know the prices in the city. We come to the rescue! The prices in the capital of Denmark may be compared to London or Dublin. Here is a list of the items that might interest you the most:
- Taxi from airport to the city – ~300DKK
- Metro to city centre – 36DKK (3 zones)
- Single ticket – 24DKK (2 zones)
- Single ticket all zones – 108 DKK
- Bike rental – 65-130DKK for 24 hours
- 24-hour City Pass – 80DKK
- 72-hour City Pass – 200DKK
- Inexpensive meal – 100DKK-140DKK
- Buffet – 60-90 DKK
- Coffee – 25-34DKK
- Water – 25DKK
- Beer – 40-60DKK
- Soft Drinks – 34-45DKK
You don’t need to tip in Denmark. Of course, it is highly appreciated but not really expected of you. So if you loved the service, go ahead and offer 10% of the bill.
- Smorrebrod – 40-50DKK
- Hot Dog – 20-40DKK
- Kebab – 65-80DKK
- Sandwich – 40-60DKK
Cheapest grocery shops: Lidl, Aldi, Netto, Fakta
- Small water of bottle in the city centre – around 25DKK
- 12 Eggs – 25DKK
- Bread – 20DKK
- Milk – 1l – 7DKK
- Butter – 10DKK
- Cheerios – 30DKK
- Water – 1,5l – 13DKK
- Imported Beer – 20DKK
- Cigarettes – 40DKK
Off-season accommodation in the city centre:
- Entire place – around 390DKK
- Private room – around 300DKK
- Cheapest dorm (10ppl mixed) – 120DKK per person
- Private room (single) – from 353DKK
- Private room (double) – from 455DKK
- Double room – from 670 DKK
In the season, the prices nearly double in hotels.
7. HOW MUCH WE’VE SPENT
When it comes to our December trip, we did want to visit Copenhagen on a budget. Whenever we plan to economize, we set a clear goal for ourselves. That means we establish some ground rules for our trip, put a cap on accommodation and set a budget for day-to-day spending.
Our all-time favourite budget travel formula is quite simple. Just as we mentioned, we make breakfasts ourselves and eat the rest of the meals in restaurants. With the high prices in Copenhagen though, we decided preparing a meal on the go won’t really hurt us.
We were staying in Copenhagen for 3 nights. After researching accommodation options, we decided getting a room on Airbnb for up to £40 per night was the best option (duh!). We picked this lovely place hosted by the amazing Marina.
Great, so with our rules set and the room picked, all we had to do is work out a budget. Given the prices in Copenhagen, we decided £200 would be a reasonable plan for our spendings. That set us nicely at around £375 for the whole trip including flights and accommodation.
SO HOW DID WE DO?
Actually, we did amazing! Here is the breakdown of our costs.
- Flights: £56 (£28pp return ticket)
- Accommodation: £128 (£37 per night + service fee)
- Getting Around: £52 ( £23 city passes + 2 single tickets)
- Food & Attractions: £71 (dinners and admissions)
- Other: £5 (gifts for back home)
TOTAL COST: £310
Not too bad, huh? £65 less than our estimated expenses is quite a good outcome. We’re actually very happy that we managed to save up a bit. And all the while enjoying ourselves so much! The only thing we would do differently is maybe eat out a bit more. So yes, all in all, we consider our Copenhagen On A Budget Mission accomplished.
So that concludes our guide to visiting Copenhagen on a budget. We really hope this guide will help you save up a bit and enjoy the city without feeling like you’re missing out.
Now, we’d love to hear from you. Did you find the article helpful? Have you got any other tips on visiting Copenhagen on a budget? Share it with us in the comments below.
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