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Copenhagen is one of Europe’s top weekend vacation destinations, however, as with most major Scandinavian cities, it can be expensive. If you want to head to the Danish capital without breaking the bank, we’ve put together a guide for how you can do Copenhagen on a budget. From the best hostels to stay in, through to the coolest neighborhoods to explore and cheap things to do, here are our top tips:
Things To Do:
Budget Boat Ride
Copenhagen has a series of beautiful waterways and canals lined by historic houses, factories, and converted warehouses. The city is best seen by boat and the cheapest way to explore the city’s waterways is by a large yellow barge, called the Movia Harbor Bus. Pick up the barge from Refshaleoen island and you can hop off whenever you please as the boat docks several times around the city. Avoid ticket touts trying to sell expensive boat tours and use the Movia Harbor Bus instead.
Explore the City by Bike
Hiring a bike is a great and inexpensive way to see the city. You won’t have to spend money on transport and you can leisurely soak in the beautiful sights and peaceful, Danish atmosphere. The city is built for people on two wheels and it’s known to be one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe, with hundreds of miles of cycle lanes. Plus, in the city center, you’re likely to see more bikes than cars.
Visit the City’s Best Neighborhoods
Head to some of the city’s best neighborhoods, such as the uber cool Vesterbro, which was once the city’s meatpacking district and is today known for its creative atmosphere. It’s packed with restaurants, galleries, tattoo studios, vintage shops, and bars, many of which are located in former meatpacking warehouses. Meanwhile, the Norrebro neighborhood is known as the city’s cultural hub and draws an arty crowd. It’s a multicultural district where you can find some of the city’s best eats, from delicious shwarmas, through to flavorsome Thai restaurants. Meanwhile, the Nyhavn neighborhood is the city’s most touristic area. It’s an incredibly picturesque neighborhood, home to the beautiful, colorful townhouses that are associated with Copenhagen. Be sure to have your phone or camera ready!
Sightsee for Free
Some of the top free things to do in the city include witnessing the changing of the guards at Amalienborg Palace, which is the home of the Danish royal family. The ceremony takes place daily at 12 pm and is great fun to watch. Alternatively, visit the famous Little Mermaid sculpture, the bronze statue overlooks the water at the Langelinie promenade, or explore some of the city’s leafy parks — the best one being the Botanical Garden, where you can spend an afternoon gazing at tropical plants.
Where to stay:
If you’re on a budget, the best type of accommodation is a hostel. Whether you’re down to sleep in a bunk, or prefer a private room here, are the best hostel options:
Photo by Sleep in Heaven Facebook
Sleep in Heaven: With a daily happy hour at the hostel’s bar, it’s easy to see why Sleep in Heaven is a favorite among travelers. It’s known for its lively backpacker atmosphere, huge common area and great location in the multicultural district of Norrebro, famous for its young creative crowd.
Copenhagen Backpackers Hostel: This hostel is also in a great location, right beside Istedgade, the main street in Vesterbro. The hostel is surrounded by cool bars, restaurants and boutique shops, and the neighborhood is known to have some of the city’s best nightlife.
Copenhagen Downtown Hostel: Copenhagen Downtown Hostel is one of the city’s most popular hostels. It boasts a perfect location, close to Christiansborg Palace and the historic city center. The hostel has a mixture of dorm rooms and private rooms both at decent prices. Guests love its social atmosphere and bar area complete with a pool table.
Where to Eat:
You can’t visit Copenhagen without trying one of the country’s most famous food offerings: The Danish Pastry. It’s a cheap breakfast option, or snack on-the-go, and can be found in just about every cafe in the city. The Danes also take coffee very, very seriously and the city is packed with cozy cafes, so you’ll be wanting to factor in drinking several coffees into your food and drink budget.
Copenhagen is known to have some of the best restaurants in the world, such as the Michelin-starred Noma restaurant that’s known for its mind-blowing gastronomy. Although Noma is most certainly not budget-friendly, there are plenty of other delicious eats in the city. Head behind the city’s opera house to Copenhagen Street Food, which is a large market set within a warehouse. Here you’ll find tons of decently priced food trucks. Meanwhile, Reffen is a delicious street food market located in the Refshaleoen neighborhood, where you’ll find over fifty start-up stalls and trucks. You’ll be spoilt for choice!