Copenhagen on a Budget: the Free and the Cheap

March 13, 2015

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:

Transportation

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

Grocery Shopping

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.

Samos ApS

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.

Smagsløget

This sandwich shop is located near the Nørreport train station. They have a wide variety of huge sandwiches for around $10.

Accommodation

Couchsurfing

Airbnb

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. 

Generator Hostel

This hostel is near the center of the city and offers dorm beds starting around $20 a night. Hostels are an incredible way to meet other backpackers and learn the Ins and Outs of a city.

Museums

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.

Copenhagen on a Budget

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?

Copenhagen on a Budget

Copenhagen on a Budget

Parks

Botanical Gardens

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.

Freetown Christiania

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!

Copenhagen on a Budget

Copenhagen on a Budget

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. 

Copenhagen on a Budget

Copenhagen on a Budget

Rosenborg Castle

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. 

Copenhagen on a Budget

Other Activities

Nyhavn

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.

Copenhagen on a Budget

Strøget

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. 

Souvenirs

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.

Tip:

Nørrebro and Østerbro are cheaper sections of Copenhagen when compared to the main center, and are perfect locations for the budget traveler.

8 comments

  1. Comment by Rosemary David

    Rosemary David December 8, 2015 at 2:47 am

    Absolutely great and helpful tips. Thanks for all the information.

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica December 8, 2015 at 3:04 am

      You’re very welcome, Rosemary! Thank you :]

  2. Comment by Christina

    Christina January 9, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed your stay in my city 🙂 Btw, Dyrehaven means ‘The animal garden’, and not ‘deer’ 😉

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica January 9, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      Thank you Christina! And ahhh thank you so much for the correction :] That’s good to know!

  3. Comment by Larissa

    Larissa January 12, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    So glad I came across this today! I just moved to Copenhagen at the start of the year and have been trying to figure out a way to go exploring in the few hours of daylight without blowing all my rent money. Thanks for this 🙂

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica January 12, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      You’re very welcome Larissa, thank you so much for reading! Enjoy Copenhagen, you’re going to love it :]

  4. Comment by Nina

    Nina August 19, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Thank you,
    You are awesome!

    • Comment by Globe Trottica

      Globe Trottica August 20, 2016 at 3:13 am

      No problem Nina! :]

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