Before we went to Copenhagen, we were constantly hearing about it being an expensive place to visit. Given that the whole of Scandinavia is at the top of my travel wish list, I was getting a bit anxious before we left that we’d struggle to enjoy ourselves on a limited budget. Thankfully that wasn’t true – it felt roughly about as expensive as the UK, with the exception of good craft beer, which was more.
As I wrote earlier this week, I’m hoping to travel a lot more – and my overall aim is obviously to experience as much as possible without going bankrupt. So, alongside everyday budgeting at home, one of the things I’m going to research (and share) is ways to save money on travel and experiences. First up – and purely based on my own experiences there – six ways to save money in Copenhagen.
1: Consider a Copenhagen Card.
Now, I think that this can be really good value but only if you’re the kind of person who wants to visit lots of museums and galleries. If you’re going to Copenhagen for a different kind of trip – perhaps for the great food and craft beer – then it may not save you as much as you think. I bought a 5 day card. With the public transport and attractions I visited, I saved 34DKK. Which, on today’s financial market (according to XE.com) is about £3.40…
I think that if you’re planning to visit at least one attraction from their list every day of your visit, plus do lots of train travel (the card is valid right around the wider Copehagen district) then it’s worth it. Their website has a useful list of places and you can work out what you’d save before you buy. I am hoping to go to Copenhagen again and would think twice about buying one next time. That said, the convenience of just being able to use all forms of public transport with the same card (including the Metro to and from the airport) is really helpful.
The Airbnb place we stayed in was cheaper per night than a double room in a city centre hostel. It was slightly out of the city centre, in Amstager, but that meant we just had super-easy Metro ride into town and lots of peace and quiet in the evening. Plus, a little kitchen meant we could save money on food by eating at home some of the time and by making a picnic lunch. I’m in love with Airbnb and have a wish list of places to stay!
Do as the locals do and take a picnic to the free-entry Botanic Garden. You can buy food at either a cheaper supermarket (Netto, Lidl and Aldi are all familiar faces) or go for something fancier from the Torvehallerne covered food market – which is great place to visit for food to eat now or to take home and cook. The Botanic Garden is big enough for you to find your own quiet spot to spend a sunny afternoon and makes a nice contrast to all the walking around you often find yourself doing on a city break.
4: Find the free activities.
Ny Carlsberg Gyptotek (an art and sculpture gallery) was a highlight of my trip, and is free on Sundays. Even if you’re not a huge art fan, the building itself is gorgeous, and the roof terrace gives you a great view of the local area, including the top of the Tivoli Gardens next door.
Also free is the Botanical Garden, the National Gallery and National Museum (though you might have to pay for special exhibitions) and wandering around the older parts of Copenhagen is a free activity that should be on everyone’s list. There are free walking tours to join too, if thats your thing.
5: Skip the Tivoli Gardens?
This one might be a bit controversial as Tivoli is much, much loved. And if you’re getting a Copenhagen Card anyway, the entrance to the Garden itself (though not any rides) is included. But if you’re not planning to get a card, and are not a fan of fairground/theme park places, then you’re paying entry to watch other people having more fun than you. I liked it despite that – the planting is beautiful, the ice-creams are enormous and there’s a really happy (and Disney-free) feel about the whole place… But given that this post is about ways to save money, then if it’s not at the top of your must-do list, then it’s an expensive day. Clearly, this isn’t something to skip if you’re travelling with kids – in fact, if we return to Copenhagen with the kids, Tivoli will be at the top of our To Visit list!
6: Get take-out beer at Nyhavn.
Nyhavn is one of the most well-known areas of Copenhagen, with beautiful buildings bars lining the water-front. These bars are filled with people enjoying the ambiance and soaking up the glorious architecture. You’ll notice that all of the bars have ‘take-out’ listed – this is because drinking alcohol in the street is both legal and seems pretty popular in Copenhagen. People drink responsibly, and despite seeing lots and lots of people taking this option, I didn’t see any trouble. So, you could have one expensive beer in a Nyhavn bar, and then opt for a take-out can to accompany you on a wander through the beautiful local area. Just make sure you behave sensibly!
Do you have any great ways to save money in Copenhagen? Add them in the comments…