Copenhagen has a widespread reputation for being an expensive city to visit. Accommodation rates are higher here than anywhere we’ve been in Europe yet, a meal at a nice restaurant might set you back your first-born, and don’t even get me started on the shopping! That being said, there are still many ways to visit the city without blowing your budget or settling for hostels and street food. You just have to know where to look and plan ahead. Traveling as a family is never particularly cheap in Europe, but we’ve almost always found ways to stay under our budget, and Copenhagen was no different. The following tips are from our own experience visiting Copenhagen on a budget as a family, but they could easily apply to couples, or even solo travelers, as well! I’m sure there are plenty more ways to save a buck here, but this is what worked for our family of three and kept us under our £1,000 budget.
Flights & Transportation
From London, certainly the quickest and cheapest way to get to Copenhagen is to fly there. A large number of popular airlines fly into Copenhagen, but I found the cheapest, by far, to be Easyjet. I know many folks cringe at the idea of taking budget airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair, but as a frequent traveler, there’s no one else I’d rather fly with in terms of price. We were able to secure round-trip flights from Gatwick to Copenhagen for only £175. That’s under £60 per person! Bringing only carry-on luggage to avoid the check-in bag charges, our flights ended up being one of the cheapest parts of our budget, leaving quite a bit more leeway for other areas.
Once in Copenhagen, the cheapest way to get to the city center is via the metro. We bought single use tickets from the metro counter near the baggage claim, and our fee was a whopping £10 total. Much cheaper than taking a taxi! The closest metro to our hotel was Kongens Nytorv and from here, we never needed any other transportation other than our own two feet. Copenhagen is one of the most walkable cities we’ve visited yet.
We were traveling to Copenhagen just two weeks before Christmas, one of the most popular times of the year to visit the city. Because of this, price per night rates at all the area hotels were quite a bit higher than usual, making it practically impossible for us to stay under our usual £70 per night. Luckily, since our transportation costs were so much lower than usual, we were able to move a little of that over to our accommodations budget. That was when we settled on the Hotel Christian IV. At £125 a night, it was a huge splurge, but our room also came with an all-you-can-eat breakfast, plus free snacks and drinks all day long. So factoring in what we would have spent on breakfast and snacks elsewhere, it actually wasn’t that bad of a deal. Plus, the location right next to Rosenborg Castle, and within close walking distance of everything else in the city, was pretty spot on.
Our room at the Hotel Christian IV was small, but comfortable enough for three people. Due to the weather while we were there, we ended up spending much more time than usual in our hotel and we were grateful for the many English channels on the TV (that was a first for us in Europe!) and a strong WiFi connection. The staff were all very kind and accommodating as well. My only complaint was the noise. Copenhagen is a late-night city. People stay out at the pubs often until daylight which means people are constantly coming and going. Our room wasn’t exactly soundproofed well, so being a light sleeper, I didn’t really end up spending much time actually sleeping. All in all, though, I’d rate this place pretty highly. There were cheaper hotels we could have stayed at, but for the perks we got, I think we picked the right place.
Food & Drinks
Sadly, there was no table for three for us at Noma. (Maybe one day!) Setting aside the best restaurant in the world, even the non-Michelin starred restaurants in Copenhagen were too costly for our budget – instead, we ate the entirety of our meals at sidewalk cafes and sandwich shops. I’ll admit, we did get a little tired of sandwich-style food after three days, but at least what we had was excellent! I feel like we ate really well in Copenhagen, and watching where we ate kept us under our £200 food budget easily. Here are a few of the places we tried and liked quite a bit.
Café Blå Time
Our first night in Copenhagen, after watching the Saint Lucia Day celebration in Nyhavn canal and after an unsuccessful search for a restaurant in the area within our budget, we finally found Café Blå Time, a French-inspired cafe where we proceeded to eat the biggest chicken and vegetable sandwiches ever. I had to turn mine into an open-faced sandwich (which is actually a thing in Copenhagen) just to eat it. This place hits all the marks – cozy, quiet atmosphere, really decent prices, delicious food in hearty portions, and friendly service.
Joe & The Juice
Joe & The Juice coffee shops are all over Copenhagen. We stopped at the one by the Round Tower on the day we took a walking tour of Copenhagen for a quick lunch and drinks. Besides coffees and juices, they serve a variety of salads and sandwiches – I had the tomato, mozzarella and avocado sandwich and loved it! I totally dug the weird bread our sandwiches were served on, too. They’re much softer than they look, and with just the right amount of salt. Knowing our small budget, I had been worried we wouldn’t be able to eat very healthy while we were in the city, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Healthy cheap meals are just as easy to find as the alternative.
Sankt Peders Bageri
Speaking of eating healthy – ha! Hey, everybody deserves a treat at least once when on vacation, right? To tell you the truth, I’ve actually started outgrowing my sweet tooth. A year ago I would have wanted to stop at every bakery I passed, but this time, I stopped for just this one! Sankt Peders Bageri is the oldest bakery in Copenhagen. They are famous for their onsdagssnegles, or Wednesday snails. Every Wednesday, the bakery sells thousands of these cinnamon rolls to customers, but since we visited on a Tuesday, I’m not sure what we had – just regular snegls, I guess? Either way, they were delicious and oh so cheap. Be aware – the bakery is tiny with only five stools along a bar, so if you’re looking for a place to sit down and eat, this might not be the right place!
Except for our ski trip in Austria last February, we have never spent as much on things to do in a destination as we did in Copenhagen, all thanks to one pretty epic day at Tivoli Gardens. For those not familiar with Tivoli Gardens, it is the second oldest amusement park in the world, and it’s also the place where Walt Disney drew inspiration for his own theme parks! When it comes to expenses here, it’s not so much the entrance into Tivoli that’s expensive as everything you need to pay for inside – food, rides, shows, etc. Knowing we would be spending the entire day there, we went ahead and sprung for the PULS Package which included entrance into the park, an unlimited rides wristband, and a free lunch. The total for all three of us came to £105, and it was worth every penny. (If you plan on riding more than 2-3 rides, I highly recommend paying for the unlimited wristband – it pays for itself very quickly!) We had about eight or so choices for where to get our free lunch and we chose a place called Hot Dog Corner, which was appropriate since Copenhagen is well-covered in hot dog vendors and we hadn’t yet had a chance to stop and try any of them.
Because our lunch was free and we didn’t end up paying extra to see any shows or go in the aquarium, the only other cost from our day at Tivoli was for dinner. We were still full from lunch, so we just had cheap crêpes from the Christmas markets set up in the park for the holidays. Not bad at all for a day at an amusement park!
Besides Tivoli Gardens, the only other entertainment in Copenhagen we paid for was entrance into Christiansborg Palace, which cost under £30 for all of us, pretty standard for things like that in Europe. Everything else we did in Copenhagen, including our walking tour, was free!
And that is how we did Copenhagen without scrimping on the fun! Save for the Austrian ski trip I mentioned earlier and last summer’s tour through southern Spain, we have managed to keep all of our family trips in Europe below our £1,000 budget – most even hundreds of pounds cheaper than that – and I’m really glad we were able to keep that streak going in Copenhagen. We are not bare bones backpackers nor luxury travelers, and I know a lot of other families fall into that same middle-of-the-road camp, so I hope this has been of use to some of you! If you have any other tips for visiting Copenhagen on a budget, please leave them in the comments below!
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