There is a way to visit Copenhagen without, quite literally, smashing your piggy bank with a hammer. Denmark is damn expensive for a visitor to begin with. However, don’t let this deter you from visiting. If you’re willing to skip out on the expensive Danish restaurants and hotels, then it’s actually quite affordable.
Denmark is a beautiful country that escapes the typical tourist’s radar, which is what makes it so unique. You won’t feel like you’ve walked into a city where the majority of the population is wearing a Hawaiian shirt and an oversized camera, taking selfies in front of the building Google told you not to miss out on.
When you enter Copenhagen, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered another world. During the summer, a majority of the population will be walking around, drinking beer (no open container law- I bet you want to come now, don’t you?), and riding their bikes. This happens in the winter too, but not to the extent that the warm weather brings on. Copenhagen is a city where Danish “hygge” warms everyone’s hearts and brings people together.
Here is how to visit Copenhagen on a budget:
Rent a bike
Not only will you be able to see a majority of the city in just a few days, but there’s only a one time fee for a bike. Depending on which company you use, daily rentals can range from $15 while weekly rentals are around $150. Copenhagen Free Bike Rental rents out free bikes that were salvaged, and only ask for a small donation.
There are plenty of other options for transportation in Copenhagen, such as buses, trains, metros, and taxis if you do not wish to rent a bike. However, these can be quite expensive and easily add up over time. I highly recommend renting a bike: it’s a thrilling and exciting experience that will give you a huge taste of what Danish culture is like!
Food on a Budget
There are grocery stores all over the place in Denmark (no duh). When I was living in Copenhagen, I used to go shopping at Netto. You can’t miss it; it’s a bright yellow sign that says NETTO. This grocery store is one of the cheapest grocery store options in Copenhagen. Although the store itself is not very big, they have everything you need, from fruit, vegetables, eggs, meat, ice cream etc. They also serve beer, and serve liquor behind the counter! If you want a cheap Vodka, I recommend the Karloff… only going off of price here, NOT taste.
Banana Joes Burgers
I didn’t find out about this store until the last month I was in Copenhagen (which is probably a good thing). Their burgers are around $10, delicious, greasy, and filling. The owner is incredibly friendly as well.
Head over to Samos for lunch- but make sure you wear sweatpants. They have a $9 all you can eat buffet, with salads, chicken, pasta, bread, meat, and dessert items. My friend and I got three full plates of food when we went. The price was cheaper than that anywhere near my hometown in New York, and the food was amazing quality.
This sandwich shop is located near the Nørreport train station. They have a wide variety of huge sandwiches for around $10.
This is very similar to Couchsurfing, except you pay the owners a daily rate to stay at their apartment. This is a much cheaper option than any hotel, and you get to meet the locals.
This is one of the most social hostels in Copenhagen! It’s perfect for those of you on a budget. It’s in a great location and has a homey atmosphere. The bathrooms are clean and there’s an onsite bar, making it a wonderful place to start your nights out!
Danhostel Copenhagen City
This is a big hostel with a homey atmosphere, clean bathrooms, and comfortable beds. It’s an awesome place to meet other backpackers. It’s only ten minutes from Tivoli Gardens and Strøget shopping street.
Steel House Copenhagen
There’s an indoor pool and a bar onsite at Steel House Copenhagen. The beds are comfortable and the dorm rooms come with lockers and and personal power sockets.
National Museum of Denmark
I went to this museum three times when I was in Copenhagen, partly because it was free, and partly because there are never ending displays of Danish Viking history to the late 20th century. If you’re one that can gawk at art and history for endless hours at a time, then you should make this museum a priority.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
There is an impressive assortment of sculptures at this museum, which is free on Sundays. The statues are part of a collection of Carl Jacobsen. Sculptures include those from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
Danish Museum of Art and Design
The funky furniture, bright colors, and vibrant aura will make you think you time warped into the 1970s. This museum was one of the most unique ones I’ve ever been to. They have fabric, cupboards, lamps, and everything in between on display at this museum. It’s free for students and people under 26 years of age. Would you decorate your house with these designs?
Although I’ve gotten trapped in here before, the botanical gardens are a beautiful place to escape the busy city life for a little while. In the spring time, flowers blossom, birds are playing in the fountains, and the vibrant colors bring everything to life. It is free to enter. There is also a little shop where you can buy flowers and plants.
Pot heads, look no longer! Christiania is a free-town hippie community that sells marijuana. They do not have to abide by the laws implied by the city, which is why they are free to sell marijuana. Christiania is free to enter, and has a plethora of bars, shops, and stalls you could spend an entire day at. Take note, absolutely no photography is allowed inside Christiania, a policy they enforce, well… forcefully. Although you may leave questioning the parental authority of those who were smoking while their children were running around, you will also leave with an uncalled-for love of Christiania. There is a lake near the back of the park which is frequented by Danes in the warm weather. I managed to sneak in a few pictures!
Deer Park (Dyrehaven)
Dyrehaven is 8 miles north of Copenhagen. It’s called deer park for a reason: there is an absurd amount of deer that inhabit the park that run freely through the woods. It’s also home to the world’s oldest amusement park, Bakken. You may catch people riding horses through the park peacefully, in between old oak trees.
There is a park that is situated directly next to the castle which is packed during warm weather. Sprawl out on a blanket, sip on a Carslburg beer, and relax as the sun tans your skin. You’ll catch people riding their bikes, picnicking, and tossing around a Frisbee which makes this park seem like a neighborhood community utopia.
Nyhavn is a beautiful 17th century canal in Copenhagen. There are bars, restaurants, and colorful apartments lining the canal. Do not eat at any of these restaurants if you’re on a budget- you will leave with a hole in your wallet! Admire the canal and take in the culture instead.
Strøget is the main shopping center in Copenhagen. The cobblestone street is lined with bars, restaurants, and the occasional street performer.
Visit H.C. Andersen’s Grave
Head over to the Nørrebro section of Copenhagen and explore Assistens Cemetery. H.C. Andersen was a famous Danish author who also wrote The Little Mermaid (which is also a statue in Copenhagen you don’t want to miss!). This cemetery is lined with beautiful trees and pathways that lead this way and that, taking you to graves that make you pause and appreciate the unique feel of it all.
If you’re not looking to spend money on souvenirs but still want to collect something, there are a couple options available. There are free postcards all over Copenhagen which my friends and I used to collect. They’re strange and unique and make the perfect souvenir. I also used to collect stickers that were only a few dollars at any souvenir shop and made a collage of them.
Nørrebro and Østerbro are cheaper sections of Copenhagen when compared to the main center, and are perfect locations for the budget traveler.