Copenhagen has a widespread reputation for being an expensive city to visit. Accommodation rates are high, 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 several ways to visit Copenhagen on a budget without settling for hostels and street food. You just have to know where to look and do a little extra planning beforehand.
Traveling as a family is never particularly cheap in Europe, but we’ve almost always found ways to stay under our budget, and this trip was no different. The following Copenhagen travel tips are from our own experience attempting a budget-friendly trip to Copenhagen 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 the following is what worked for our family of three and kept us under our £1,000 maximum. (Pretty decent for one of Europe’s most expensive cities!)
Finding Cheap Flights to Copenhagen
From London and most other cities in Europe, the quickest way to get to Copenhagen will be to fly there. A large number of popular airlines fly into Copenhagen, but I found the cheapest, by far, to be Easyjet.
I know lots of 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 with Easyjet for only £175. That’s under £60 per person! Bringing only carry-on luggage allowed us to avoid check-in bag charges, so our flights ended up being one of the least expensive items in our budget.
Both Easyjet and Ryanair typically have decent prices on airfare on any given day, but if you really want to score cheap tickets like the ones we did, you need to follow both airlines on Twitter or sign up for their newsletters. That way you’ll be the first to know about flash sales and other good deals. (You can follow Easyjet on Twitter here and Ryanair here.)
How to Get Around in Copenhagen
After you land at the airport, the cheapest and fastest way to get to the city center is via the metro. A single use ticket for three zones (which is what you’ll need to get to the city center) costs DKK 38. You can purchase your tickets from the metro counter near baggage claim. The process is quick and easy and your journey into the city center should take around 15 minutes.
The closest metro to our hotel in the city center (more on that below) was Kongens Nytorv and from here, we never needed to use any other transportation other than our own two feet. Copenhagen is one of the most walkable cities we’ve visited yet.
That being said, if you do need to take a bus or the metro once or twice a day, single use tickets are still the best choice. They’ll cost you DKK 24 each. If you plan to only use public transport to get around, a Copenhagen city pass is probably the way to go.
You can find a map of Copenhagen’s metro stations, as well as more info about 24 and 72-hour city passes on the official metro website.
Where to Stay in Copenhagen on a Budget
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, rates at every hotel in the city were quite a bit higher than usual, making it virtually impossible for us to stay under our usual £70 per night.
Luckily, since our flights were so cheap, we were able to move a little of our airfare budget over to accommodations. After an in depth search, we ultimately settled on Hotel Christian IV because of its excellent reviews and great location.
It was a bit of a splurge, but our room rate also came with an all-you-can-eat breakfast, plus free snacks and drinks all day long. Factoring in what we would have spent on breakfast and snacks elsewhere, it was actually a pretty good deal. Plus, the location right next to Rosenborg Castle, and within close walking distance of everything else in the city, was spot on.
Our room at Hotel Christian IV was small, but comfortable enough for three people. Due to the weather while we were there, we ended up spending more time than usual in our hotel and 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.
Breakfast was filling – we were even offered a shot of some sort of liquor every morning with our breakfast, definitely a first! It was also great to be able to come back to the hotel and warm up with free hot cocoa and tea and cookies whenever we wanted.
Our room was next to the elevator and stairwell, so we did hear quite a bit of noise, but all in all, I’d rate Hotel Christian IV very highly. (If you’re a light sleeper, I suggest requesting a room away from the stairwell.) There were cheaper hotels we could have stayed at, but for the perks we got, I’m positive we picked the right place.
FYI – Hotel Christian IV is named after the king of Denmark and Norway from 1588-1648. You will hear his name often in Copenhagen as he built a significant number of the sights you’ll likely be seeing. (He also fathered 32 children!)
Cheap Places to Eat in Copenhagen
Sadly, there was no table for three for us at Noma. (Maybe one day!) Setting aside the best restaurant in the world, even many of the non-Michelin starred restaurants in Copenhagen were too expensive for us. Instead, we ate the majority of our meals at cafes and sandwich shops to save a little cash.
I’ll admit, we did get a little tired of cafe-style food after three days, but watching where we ate kept us under our £200 food budget in Copenhagen easily. Here are a few of the places we tried and liked.
Cafe Blaa Time
Our first night in Copenhagen, after watching a Saint Lucia Day celebration in Nyhavn canal, we wandered around the area looking for a yummy place to eat and stumbled upon Cafe Blaa Time (Cafe Blue Hour), 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 here) just to eat it.
Cafe Blaa Time hits all the marks – cozy, quiet atmosphere, really decent prices, delicious food in hearty portions, and friendly service.
Joe and the Juice
Joe and the Juice coffee shops and cafes are all over Copenhagen. We stopped at the one by the Round Tower while we were on our walking tour of the city for a quick lunch and drinks.
Besides coffees and juices, they also 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 had just the right amount of salt.
Given our tight budget, I had been worried we wouldn’t be able to eat very healthy while we were in Copenhagen, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Healthy, inexpensive meals are just as easy to find as the alternative.
Sankt Peders Bageri
Speaking of eating healthy – ha! Hey, everybody deserves a treat 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 we passed, but this time, I stopped for just 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 so cheap.
By the way, this 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!
How to Visit Tivoli Gardens on a Budget
Except for our ski trip in Austria last February, we have never spent as much on a single thing to do in a destination as we did in Copenhagen, all thanks to one epic day at Tivoli Gardens. (For those not familiar with Tivoli Gardens, it is the second oldest amusement park in the world, and the place where Walt Disney drew inspiration for his own theme parks.)
When it comes to expenses here, it’s not so much entrance into Tivoli Gardens that’s expensive as it is everything you need to pay for once inside – food, rides, shows, etc. If all you want to do is take a walk around (it’s beautiful in spring and summer when the park is in bloom, and super festive in December thanks to all the Christmas markets and decorations), then Tivoli Gardens is a fairly budget-friendly thing to do.
However, if you want the full experience, it’s best to go ahead and spring for the PLUS Package which includes entrance into the park, an unlimited rides wristband, and a free lunch. We went this route and 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 getting the unlimited wristband – it pays for itself very quickly!
We had about eight or so places to choose from for our free lunch and we chose The Hot Dog Corner, which was appropriate since Copenhagen is well-versed in hot dog vendors and we hadn’t yet had a chance to try any of them. The only other cost from our day at Tivoli Gardens was for dinner, and we were still full from lunch, so we just had crêpes from the Christmas markets they had set up in the park for the holidays. Not bad for a full day at an amusement park!
Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Copenhagen
No room in the budget for Tivoli Gardens? No worries, there are still plenty of other ways to fill your time.
Take a Walking Tour
Walking tours are a great way to get connected to a new city. We usually take one on our very first day in a new place to help us get our bearings and learn a little history in the process.
The cheapest way to take a walking tour of the city is to do it yourself. Here is a map of the best places to see on a walking tour of Copenhagen, but I also suggest doing a little off-track wandering as well, particularly if you’re into photography. Here are a few alternative spots you might want to check out on a photography walk in Copenhagen.
If you’re traveling solo and prefer to have someone local take you around, this welcome tour of Copenhagen might also be a fun option.
Climb the Round Tower
For a small fee, you are welcome to tread the (somewhat dizzying) winding ramps up to the top of Christian IV’s famous Round Tower, the reward being a lovely bird’s eye view of the surrounding area.
The Round Tower is in a convenient spot in the city that you’re bound to pass several times as you go from place to place, and as an extra bonus, there’s no actual stairs to climb to get to the top. But, if it’s a good view you’re after and you’re not particularly interested in the Round Tower or the observatory at the top, you might want to check out this next option instead.
Visit Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace was our favorite of the city’s royal palaces, mostly because of everything there is to see inside, but also because they offer the best view in Copenhagen for free.
The tower at Christiansborg Palace is the tallest spot in the city, and for no charge, visitors can hop on an elevator to the top and enjoy a panoramic view of Copenhagen and beyond. Note: there are still a few stairs, but at least you don’t have to climb the whole way to the top.
Besides the tower, the Christiansborg Palace Chapel (the official church of the Danish royal family) is also free to enter, but if you’ve got time and can squeeze it into your budget, paying for a ticket into the palace itself is totally worth it.
We especially loved exploring the palace’s royal reception rooms and the royal stables. You can check out everything there is to see at Christiansborg Palace via the link below.
I think that pretty well covers how we managed to visit Copenhagen on a budget without scrimping on fun! Except for our ski trip and last summer’s tour through southern Spain, we have kept 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 here, too.
We are not bare bones backpackers nor are we luxury travelers, and I figure a lot of other families fall into this middle-of-the-road travel category, too, so I hope this has been of use to some of you. If you have any other Copenhagen travel tips, please leave them in the comments below.
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