I like to think of myself as a balanced traveler. I’ll splurge on a unique experience or a beautiful hotel and then eat stale bread to recoup my losses. Or I’ll Couchsurf and then splurge on activities and nice meals. Copenhagen is the kind of destination very few people can afford to ball out in. I have never said “pass” to so many things in my life – whether it was a $15 pint of beer, $30 zoo entrance, or $8 latte. Seriously? $8 for a latte? Come on Copenhagen. That being said, I did do (and eat) a LOT during my long weekend in this pretty Scandinavian city. Here’s how I traveled Copenhagen on a budget.
Copenhagen does have some cheaper options for accommodation but you’re kidding yourself if you think you’re going to find a $10 dorm bed. Don’t worry though, this is probably going to be the biggest chunk of your budget and you really don’t have to spend a lot of money on much else.
One of my favorite hostels I’ve ever stayed at is Globalhagen. Aside from being a very reasonable price, I loved the fact that Globalhagen is a non-profit run by volunteers AND they’re committed to sustainable and eco-friendly practices. In case that’s not enough, the location is super central and they have a budget-friendly bar and café in their lobby. If you’re visiting Copenhagen on a budget I highly recommend staying at Globalhagen.
Another hostel we looked at but didn’t end up staying this time was called Annex. This was the cheapest hostel I could find and the location is very central as well.
Globalhagen hostel is completely volunteer-run and their staff gets to stay in the beautiful hostel for free. We obviously didn’t stay long enough to volunteer but it seemed like so much fun! The staff would hang out and play games in the common areas and they had their own kitchen for cooking meals. If I had longer I definitely would have looked into volunteering at Globalhagen.
Something I have never done, but would really like to, is participating in a Workaway. This website has a huge database of volunteer opportunities around the world. You usually have to work for 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week, but room and board are almost always included. This would be a great way to experience Copenhagen on a budget.
This is almost always a cheaper option than staying in a hotel. I’ve stayed in quite a few Airbnbs during my travels and I’ve always had great experiences. If you’ve never stayed in an Airbnb you can get $20 off your first stay by clicking here.
If you want to stay in a hotel I recommend searching with Booking.com. They usually have the best prices and you’re able to sort by price to find the best deals. Never used Booking.com? Sign up here to get $25 off your first stay. Wow it’s just raining discounts on this post!
Transportation is where you will recoup your losses my friends. Copenhagen is a SUPER walkable city. We didn’t even bother with buses or the metro because everything was pretty close together.
My recommendation? Walk EVERYWHERE. The longest distance we had to walk was about a mile and a half but there were always so many pretty streets and buildings to see along the way that we didn’t even notice the distance.
Another option is to rent a bike. We really wanted to rent bikes but it was absolutely freezing the weekend we went. Like face-hurting, nostril-freezing cold. I was shocked to see locals out on their bikes without hats or scarves just cruising through the streets. Those Scandinavians are crazy, man. And I know cold — I’m from Wisconsin.
You will have to take some form of transportation to and from the airport. Luckily the airport is roughly 20 minutes from the city center by Metro and relatively cheap. A one-way ticket to the city center only set us back 36 DK (about $5.75).
Cuisine is huge in Copenhagen. There are fine-dining options all over the city and it seems like every menu has the word organic plastered all over it. If food is a big part of the travel experience for you I say go for it. You’ll probably have some of the best food of your life here. In fact, the best restaurant in the world is in Copenhagen.
Cook your own food
If you’re a peasant like me, the kitchen in your hostel will be your best friend when traveling Copenhagen on a budget. Grocery stores have standard prices for food. We got all our groceries for the long weekend for about $20. Keep in mind we eat a lot of really basic food when we’re traveling: pasta, rice and beans, oatmeal, etc.
If you’re out and about and you need a quick bite to eat you can hit up a 711. There are 711’s on pretty much every corner in the city center. For breakfast one morning I scored a coffee and two croissants for about $5. They also have a shocking amount of healthy and organic food at these convenience stores.
It will be difficult, but budget-friendly restaurants can be found in Copenhagen. The only restaurant we ate at was an authentic Italian restaurant called La Fiorita. They have huuge personal pizzas starting at 50 DK ($8.50 USD). Another option that we saw all over town were kebab and falafel restaurants. You can find meals at these places for 35 DK, although our Danish friend told us to look for the mid-range ones to avoid risking food poisoning.
If you’re a bar-hopping kind of person I have some bad news for you. Copenhagen is going to drain your bank account faster than you can say “I just paid $15 for a pint of beer??”.
I’m not a huge nightlife person anyways so this category didn’t break the budget for me. We found a couple ways around the crazy bar prices:
- Open carry is legal in Copenhagen. One night we grabbed a couple of beers from the supermarket and watched the sun set over the river. When you’re in Copenhagen on a budget, the world is your bar.
- Our hostel served beer, wine, and cocktails for pretty reasonable prices. There was live music one of the nights we stayed so we just grabbed a couple drinks from the hostel bar and enjoyed the party.
- Most bars and craft breweries offer cheaper half-pint sizes. You’re not going to get drunk but at least you get to sample some local brews. Our favorite (and only) brewery we went to was called BRUS and they had some seriously creative flavors of beer – beetroot IPA anyone?
Luckily, most activities are free or reasonably priced, which makes it easier to travel Copenhagen on a budget.
Many museums are free for students or anyone under 25. One of these bargain museums that was highly recommended to us is the Design Museum. Unfortunately, it was closed when we tried to go on a Monday. Instead we opted for the David Collection, a really fascinating art and history museum that is completely free to visit.
My favorite thing to do in the city is to just walk around and take in the sights. We did a little self-guided walking tour that included Nyhavn, the Little Mermaid statue, the Queen’s Palace courtyard, the royal church, and Freetown Christiana.
If you’re able to shell out a few more dollars, make sure to pay the Tivoli Gardens a visit. Apparently, these gardens inspired Walt Disney to create Disney world. They’re totally magical, especially at night in winter with all the Christmas lights up.
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