Copenhagen is an absolutely gorgeous city with lots to offer a budget traveler! It definitely has a reputation of being one of the more expensive cities in Europe, but it does not have to be. There are so many free and wonderful things to see in Copenhagen, so don’t miss out on all the beautiful sights!
FREE (or cheap). I stayed with a friend of a friend for the 3 nights I was in Copenhagen, but there are plenty of hostels that will cost around 25USD/night. Couchsurfing is always an option if it is something that you are comfortable with.
The First day
I started out with a free walking tour of Copenhagen from www.copenhagenfreewalkingtours.dk. I did the Classical Tour of Copenhagen which took me to see the Cathedral, Round Tower, Rosenborg Palace, and Stroget (the walking street). I also got to hear a lot about the history of the city (there were a ridiculous amount of fires) which gave me a better understanding of Denmark.
Free walking tours are a great way to get your bearings in a new city and to also about the history from a local guide. With free walking tours the quality varies widely depending on the tour guide. At the end you tip whatever you think the tour was worth, so if you end up with a crappy guide you do not have to stay for the whole thing. I ended up tipping about 50 Kronor.
After that I headed towards the iconic statue of Copenhagen, The Little Mermaid. This was about a 40 minute walk from where the tour ended, but I was able to see so much of the city since the statue is not directly in the center. Along the way I walked through the Botanical gardens which was gorgeous, but would be even more beautiful in the summer time. The little mermaid is a bit underwhelming to see, but it is a beautiful area to go walk around in so I think it is definitely worth the trip to see. It is right next to the Citadel which is an old army fortress in the shape of a star. There is an old windmill that looks absolutely gorgeous to see as the sun sets behind it. You can definitely get some gorgeous pictures there.
After this I headed to Nyhavn, which is a collection of colored houses that are quite adorable and one of the iconic sites of Copenhagen. Because I visited in December there were Christmas stalls and lights set up along here that were fun to wander through. I had some glogg (mulled wine with raisins and almonds in it) which is a traditional Danish Christmas drink.
I then headed to the Copenhagen Street Food Market for dinner, which is a large building on the canal with lots of different vendors inside selling food for cheap. I got shawarma for around 50 kronor, but they have food from all over the world.
After that I wandered to The Marble Church which is quite an impressive sight and free to go inside. I sat inside for quite a while marveling at the architecture and warming up since it was quite cold by then.
I went to Christiansborg after that where I got incredibly lucky. There is a tower in the palace that you can go up for free that normally has a very long line. I was there around 7:30pm (closes at 9pm) and there was absolutely no line and I was the only one at the top of the tower for the first few minutes. It has a great view of all of Copenhagen and definitely worth the trip there at night time. There are quite a few towers to choose from in Copenhagen to see the entire city, but the Christiansborg tower is definitely the best to go see since it is free!
The second morning I went to Rosenburg Castle and saw the Crown Jewels. The jewels were so beautiful, but if you are not into that then I would not pay the 100 Kronor it costs to get into the Castle. I bought the combination ticket for Rosenborg and Amalienborg which costs 149 Kronors. Rosenborg is open from 10-2 and Amalienborg is open from 11-4, so make sure you plan accordingly. The tickets last for 32 hours, so I did Rosenborg one day and Amalienborg the next day. I spent around an hour and a half in Rosenborg which was plenty to be able to see it all. The crown jewels are the best part of it, but the grounds are gorgeous to walk around and completely free!
I went to Tivoli after that. Make sure you get to Tivoli around 45 minutes before sunset because it is so cool to walk around and see it in the day time and then it completely changes when the sun sets and all the lights turn on. It feels like a completely different world once the sun sets, so definitely try to plan to see it during the day time and once it’s dark outside. I was there in December, so the entire park was decorated for Christmas and it was absolutely gorgeous. They do a Christmas light show every 10 minutes in the Chinese market section starting at 5pm so check that out as well! In the summertime they have concerts in the park, so check the website to see if there are any while you are visiting.
My third and last day in Copenhagen I went to Amalienborg Palace right when it opened at 11am. The changing of the guard happens at 12pm, but its not the most impressive (Buckingham Palace in London is much better) so I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it happen. Amalienborg Palace is still the residence of the Queen and her family, so its quite cool to walk around and see the modern history mixed in with everything. Definitely worth paying to see if you like to see palaces.
I took a combination of trains and buses when I was in Copenhagen. I stayed a little ways outside of the city, so I either took the train or bus in everyday to the downtown center. However, once I was in the city center I walked everywhere. You can easily get by with taking minimal public transportation if you stay right in the center at a hostel.
I either made food at the house I was staying at or bought food from the Christmas Markets scattered throughout the city. I found most food at the Christmas markets to cost between 50 and 70 Kronor (7-10USD), so not too expensive and a lot of it is traditional Danish Christmas food! Æbleskiver can be found at all of the Christmas markets. It tastes similar to a beignet with powdered sugar on top (see photo below).
Try the Risalamande for a traditional Danish Christmas desert. It is a sort of rice pudding with almonds in it. If your at a Danish Christmas party and you find a whole almond in your Risalamande you get a surprise gift!
Also be sure to try the smørrebrød, which is an open faced sandwich. Have it with rye bread for a real Danish experience!
Have you ever been to Copenhagen? What are your recommendations of things to do?