When I told my friends that I was about to leave for a short trip to Copenhagen, everyone more or less said: “Great city, but… fill up your credit card before leaving!”
We all know that, in general, northern Europe is not known for being cheap, but the Danish capital is considered particularly expensive – they say that a sandwich there costs like a full restaurant dinner in Italy, not to mention the astronomical cost of hotels, public transport and museums.
Ok, I’m not saying that it’s the cheapest place on earth, but I’d like to reassure all the Scandinavia-lovers (like me) that want to travel on a budget: you can do it!
In my case, I can say that I managed to visit Copenhagen low cost: I spent (a lot) less than 100€ per day, including the accommodation! In my math I didn’t include the flight cost, because it’s too variable… you can spend from a few tens of euros to many hundreds, it only depends on when you’re leaving and which airline you’re using.
For everything else, I will try and give you some tips to help you enjoy the Danish capital city without having to open a loan!
In this case, the first suggestion I can give you is to be a bit flexible. Of course, if you’re looking for a high quality hotel in the city center, it won’t be cheap. My advice is to give up on hotels and choose other options – or, if you feel lucky enough, you can try and find a deal on Booking.com.
If you’re young, adventurous, sociable and very used to travelling without all the comforts, then you have two possibilities: Couchsurfing, which will allow you to live the city as an insider, hosted by locals, or hostels, some of which are really amazing and super cheap in Copenhagen.
Instead, if you want more privacy and tranquility, but you want to feel as a local anyway, then choose Airbnb – that’s usually my favorite option, and even in this case I didn’t make an exception. On the website you can choose the right accommodation related to your needs, based on the type of lodging, the location, the price range… anyone can find the perfect one. You will be more independent than in a hotel and in most cases you will save lots of money!
(for example: I chose a private room accommodation, with shared bathroom and use of kitchen, for 35€ per night… not bad uh?)
For the tips about food I suggest you to read my post about gluten free Copenhagen – where you’ll find advices specifically focusing on the gluten free side of the city but also many ideas and perfect locations to eat delicious and cheap food!
3) PUBLIC TRANSPORT
The city center, or the most touristic areas anyway, are all easily “walkable” – unless you’re very lazy. For this reason, I discourage you from buying the daily/weekly public transport pass: it’s not worth it since you will be using them just a little bit. This is true even if your accommodation is out of the city center (as it was for me): in that case, consider taking the train (s-tog) twice a day (in the morning and in the evening), because apart from that you will walk around, and using single tickets (24 crowns each) will be much cheaper than buying a pass.
In the city there are many train and metro stations anyway, so in case of need you can easily use them – in addition to your faithful feet.
A very Danish experience is to rent a bike and use that to move in the city, as most of the locals do, but I can’t give you information about this topic because the freezing January weather didn’t really make me want to try this thrill! 😀
4) SIGHTSEEING AND MUSEUMS
My very first and heart-felt advice is: join one or more Free Walking Tours! They basically walk through the main city spots, following different routes, and the guides are great guys (ours, Jarod, was super funny and he entertained the audience so well that we decided to have a second tour with him in the afternoon). The service is free, but at the end of the tour the guide asks for a tip (you can give them euros or dollars too)… and they totally deserve it, believe me! It’s a wonderful way to have a quick look at the city and it will give you the chance to find out hidden spots and to hear fascinating stories about people and places of Copenhagen.
My second suggestion is to inquire about museums: ideal places where to take shelter in case of rain, most of them offer free entrance on specific days of the week. If you’re interested in the detailed list that I made, just ask in the comments below or email me and I will be happy to share!
Third advice, last but not least: walk! Copenhagen is a beautiful city to see, and you will be able to fully enjoy it even just walking its streets. Keep a map in your pocket, but get lost in the alleys, following the design shops’ windows, the colorful houses or the canals… you will have time to find yourself again, but in the meanwhile you probably found out corners that you wouldn’t have reached otherwise.
5) KEEPING IN TOUCH
You probably have already thought of this, but I want to tell you something very quick anyway about the wifi situation in Copenhagen. Given that, when I travel, I keep in touch with family and friends at home only using internet and never with calls or texts – much more expensive – it’s clear that, in order to do it without spending money, the only option is using free wifi. So, first of all, make sure that the place where you’re staying has it (it’s basically everywhere now but it’s always better to be sure). Then know that, contrary to what I thought, there’s not much free wifi around the city… but it will take just a little time to notice that you can find it in all the main chains’ locations (Starbucks, McDonald, Espresso House, Joe the Juice and so on) and also getting close to the red double deck city sightseeing buses. All these are great in case of need! Apart from them, of course, pretty much all the restaurants and similar will have wifi for customers and you will only have to ask for the password.
Oh and for once I can happily certify that the airport’s free wifi works very well!
As I said before, the beauty of a city like this stand salso – or maybe above all – in wandering its streets following your instinct or inspiration. This will allow you to stumble upon unexpected surprises, that will probably turn out to be the details you will remember the most.
For example, this happened to me with street music. In the streets of the pedestrian area called Stroget, at night (during winter only until 6/7 pm) you will find many street artists, mainly musicians, that will cheer you up. My favorite was Jake Green, who played in Hojbroplads: a real soulman who was able to warm up the freezing Danish winter nights with his voice… I liked him so much that, a couple of days after the first listening, I went back there and I stayed for more than half an hour, with a hot tea to keep me company. I strongly suggest you to go listen to him!
Another thing I decided to do on my last night, partly because of a last minute inspiration and partly because the parliament tower (Christiansborg Slot) was closed during my stay (by the way: the entrance to that tower is always free and apparently the view of the city from up there is amazing)… anyway, on my last night I went up the Round Tower after dinner. Apart from the unique structure of the tower pavement (there aren’t stairs but a huge spiral ramp), you can find small treasures in there too… and the view of Copenhagen from up high, at night, is definitely romantic. To end surprises at the best, inside the tower there’s always a temporary exhibition – in my case, I found the Museum of Broken Relationships, a beautiful collection of objects and stories that hypnotized me for many tens of minutes.
In the end, I want to tell you my impression about this Nordic city: Copenhagen isn’t one of those places that made me gasp as soon as I landed there, it wasn’t love at first sight but I fell in love little by little, a bit more everyday. At every hidden corner I found out, every street I walked in, every delicious dish I tasted, every house with huge white windows that invited me to glance inside, every person muffled in scarves sweaters and jackets careless of their look that I met… every hour and every day that passed by, it made its way inside me a bit more.
There are still many things I’d like to discover about this city, I’d like to live it even in the long summer days because I can only imagine how beautiful it would be to listen to outdoors concerts in public parks, reaching them by bike… I definitely think we will meet again. 🙂
But now it’s your turn: I gave you many useful tips to live Copenhagen at the fullest even keeping on the low cost side, now you will have to tell me your adventures after you get back!