Its no secret that Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, hence why most people only spend a short amount of time here. But exactly how expensive is Copenhagen for visitors? Well, despite its rep for being the third most expensive city in Europe, there are actually a lot of ways to see Copenhagen on a budget.
A trip to Copenhagen isn’t complete if you don’t sample the food that the Danes are so well known for. However, you might have to come to terms that you probably wont be eating gourmet food from the likes of Michelin starred Noma because it will be the food that is likely to break the bank. Even a McDonalds Big Mac equates to a hefty £5!
To compensate for the price of food we ate larger breakfasts (which was the cheapest meal on average), had a snack half way through the day and then shopped around to find a reasonably priced dinner. But our favourite way to save money on food was to embrace the street food culture of Copenhagen. Not only do they sell hot dogs and famous Smorrebrods, but Copenhagen has many places like Paper Island where locals and tourists alike can walk round the sense-tingling street food markets.
We were tipped off by a friend that eating in the district of Nørrebro is expensive due to how touristy of an area it is. So if you are looking to cut back on food costs stay away from this area in particular and venture further out of the city centre. See all of our food recommendations over on our Best Places to Eat in Copenhagen post!
Copenhagen is surprisingly a small capital city meaning that the longest you would be walking to get to attractions in the city would be an hour. This means that everything that you would be most likely to want to see is in walking distance of where you are and free for you to walk to. Keep that in mind before you jump on a bus for a 5 minute ride around the city. Is it worth the money when you could be walking there and reaching the destination 15 minutes later?
You also get to see more on foot. Copenhagen has many small backroads, hidden parks, street art and a tonne of amazing attractions (The Little Mermaid, The Round Tower, Rosenborg Castle, Amelienbourg Palace, Nyhavn, Tivoli, Christiana) that can all be reached by foot and seen for free. However, when you want to go inside these popular attractions, thats when the prices start to rack up.
We used trains for the longer journeys – A train to and from the airport and a train to and from Christiana – during our time in the city. Each ticket was around 35DKK which is about £4 and extremely reasonable. We laughed about how a bag of chocolate is about 20DKK and a train ticket is almost the same price (that must be why they are all so slim!). Keep in mind that trains, buses, harbour buses, and the Metro all use the same ticket so if you do want to use this transport you will only need the one ticket per location.
Don’t want to walk? Don’t want to get a train? Then do like the locals and rent a bike! Similarly to Amsterdam everyone, and we mean everyone, rides a bike in Copenhagen. During our trip we didn’t rent a bike but would have gone for the Copenhagen city bikes, Bycyklen, if we did. They are ideally placed in many locations around the city and even have a interactive map to help visitors get to their desired destinations. There are more bikes then cars which makes the streets quieter than those in other cities. Make sure you don’t wander into cycle lanes as locals can get a little happy with their bike bells.
As we said earlier, a lot of Copenhagen’s attractions can be seen for free from the street. However, when you want to take a closer look the prices quickly stack up.
The Round Tower : we would highly recommend the 25DKK (£3) to climb to the top of the Round Tower, which gives you amazing panoramic views of the city. It is also a beautiful building inside and has a rich history for the city. So really £3 is a steal.
Tivoli Gardens: Millions of tourists flock to Tivoli, the oldest amusement park in Europe, every year. Tivoli is best known for its wooden roller coaster and is home to the second tallest carousel in the world. However, most go to enjoy the well kept gardens as well. A day will set you back 110DKK (£13) Monday-Thursday / 120DKK (£14) Friday-Sunday.
The Spire (Church of our Saviour): The spire is an amazing piece of architecture that really stands out in the city skyline. As the walk up to the spire is very narrow there are only a limited number of people allowed up at a time which can cause long queues. However, once you reach the top you can see why so many people want to visit, the vies over the city are sublime and only costs 35DKK (£4.50)! In December the spire is only open on certain days and is closed for January and February, reopening in March.
Boat Tours: Where there is water in Copenhagen there is a tour boat. If you want to take a different view of the city or ride past the Little Mermaid statue then a boat tour is for you. From what we can see most people recommend Grand Tours Copenhagen for these boat tours which are priced at 40DKK (£4) for children and 80DKK (£9) for adults!
Amalienbourg: The current home to the Danish Royal Family, Amalienbourg has many links to other European history including English, Greek, Russian and Danish due to how the Royal family married. It is 95DKK(£11) for adults and free for children to visit the state rooms. We decided to give this a miss as we got quite confused about where you had to go for the tour, and decided to visit Christianborg Palace instead.
Christianborg Palace: Parts of the palace are still used by the Royal family for functions and events, but it is the government who use this building the most. During our tour around the Palace we were amazed at its opulence and how much we learnt from our guide; including that there is a portrait of the Queen painted into the marble walls in the incredible Great Hall. We also got to see the Royal thrones, which for fans of Royal history, we were very excited about. The tours around Christianbourg Palace can amount to 150DKK (£17.50) if you choose to visit each section, and we highly recommend it!
If you are planning to go inside all of these attractions it is worth checking out the Copenhagen Card which will make many of them free to enter! Many of the museums are also free on one day of the week so it is worth researching which days which museums are free, if you want to visit, to stop you paying the pricey entrance fees.
When we were planning our trip to Copenhagen our biggest brick wall was finding affordable accommodation. Many hotels are far too expensive for the budget traveller in and around the city. However, there are LOADS of AirBnb apartments throughout the city that, depending on location, are pretty cheap and a walkable distance from the city centre.
Alternatively, you could opt for a hostel that averages at around £15 per night; more than most European cities. But hey, this is Copenhagen, third most expensive city in Europe, what more can you expect?
So, yes, visiting Copenhagen is more expensive than other European cities but it is possible to not break the bank and feel like you have seen and tried everything this beautiful city has to offer. We saw everything we wanted to during our 4 day (3 night) trip, ate everything we wanted to and had a great old time on a budget. You have our hearts, Copenhagen.
Any more tips to add? Let us know in the comments!