15 tips for traveling to Copenhagen on a budget

You’ve likely heard that Copenhagen is an expensive city to visit. And while there’s no way around this fact, there are many ways to make your krone go further as you prepare for the trip.

This guide has all the insider tips you need to explore Denmark’s capital on a budget. Here are some unique tips to save money on your trip to Copenhagen. 

Daily costs

  • Hostel room: 200kr-360kr (bed in shared room); 800kr (private room)
  • Basic room for two: 900kr
  • Self-catering apartment (including Airbnb): 1100kr
  • Public transport ticket: 90kr (within city center zones 1-4)
  • Coffee: 25kr-50kr
  • Sandwich: 50kr-85kr
  • Dinner for two: 500kr
  • Beer/pint at a bar: 40kr-75kr
  • Average daily cost: 600kr-1400kr

Budget airlines fly to Copenhagen

Copenhagen has one large international airport, happily close to the city center. Since it’s served by most low-cost carriers including easyJet, Norwegian, Wizz and Ryanair, cheap flights to Copenhagen are plentiful.

Depending on where you’re coming from, you might also be able to hitch a cheap bus ride from Europe with Flixbus or even arrive by train. 

Hop on the train, or metro, when you arrive

In Copenhagen, both the metro and the train network are well connected to the airport: the metro takes you to the city center in 20 minutes, the train in just 13.

You can buy train tickets at the station or through the app, DOT Mobilbilletter (available for iOS and Android). Tickets to ride throughout the city for 24 hours cost 90kr. If you are staying in Copenhagen for longer, consider visiting a station ticket office to pick up a frequent traveler train pass (rejsekort), which will get you access to cheaper train tickets.

Check if the Copenhagen Card could save you money

Planning to visit museums while in Copenhagen? Consider the Copenhagen Card, which includes unlimited access to public transportation, discounts on stores and restaurants in the city, and free access to a long list of museums and attractions such as Tivoli. Two children under 11 are also included on your pass for free. As you plan your visit you can determine whether the card will be a good value for you. 

Do as the Copenhageners do: cycle everywhere

If you are into cycling, Copenhagen is simply heaven. Biking is the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to get around the city, as the city was planned for bike transportation. Download the Donkey Republic App to use bikes on the go throughout the city. Alternatively, visit a local bike shop and rent a pair of wheels for your time in town. 

A man comes out of the water after a swim in the harbor of Copenhagen, Denmark, Europe
A swim in Copenhagen’s super-clean water is a highlight of any visit in the summer months. It’s also totally free © Cavan Images RF / Getty Images

Take note of Copenhagen’s free attractions

There are a multitude of things to do in Copenhagen that don’t cost a cent. If the weather allows it, take a dip in the water in the middle of the city. Many consider Copenhagen the best place in the world for city swimming. If the sun is out, hang out in one of the green areas, such as Ørsted Parken or at the almost-secret Royal Library garden. You can also visit a top museum on an admission-free day. The Museum of Copenhagen is free on Wednesdays, for example.

Looking for more free things to do in Copenhagen? Save our list of recommendations

Make the most of tax-free shopping

Copenhagen delights anyone who loves shopping. And if you’re from a non-EU country, you are eligible for sales tax-free shopping, which means that you can save 25% on your purchases. If you spend over 300kr in a store, you can ask for a tax-free form. Have the forms validated at the airport or the Illum department store in the center of the city, and you should get the money back within four months.

Book a bed, or room, at a hostel

Since accommodation tends to be a hefty percentage of any travel budget, opt for a hostel if you’re on a strict budget (private rooms are available if sharing in a dorm isn’t your thing).

Hostels in Copenhagen with great locations include Urban House, Generator, Steel House, Next House Hostel, Sleep in Heaven, Woodah Boutique Hostel and Copenhagen Downtown Hostel. All have comfortable interior design (of course) and are situated in central locations, from the hip neighborhoods of Nørrebro to Vesterbro and the core of the city. 

A woman makes a selection at the counter inside Juno Bakery in Østerbro, Copenhagen, Denmark
A coffee and pastry at a typical Copenhagen bakery such as Juno is a budget-friendly way to start the day © Ulf Svane / Lonely Planet

Fuel up with a Danish breakfast 

Instead of that huge breakfast or brunch, start your day the simple Danish way. Visit one of Copenhagen’s famous bakeries (my favorites are Juno, Hart Bageri, Depanneur and Benji) and opt for a coffee and a sourdough bun with cheese. If you want a treat, end your morning meal with a pastry such as the tebirkes (Danish pastries topped with poppy seeds). 

Have a good-value folkekøkken lunch

Copenhagen is known for its folkekøkken (folk kitchen) culture. A communal dining experience, folkekøkken is a group meal prepared then shared at large communal tables. Here, you can meet new people and have interesting conversations as you break bread. One of the best spots to enjoy folkekøkken is Absalon, a former church turned non-profit communal space. A shared Folkekøkken meal here will set you back 105kr – and the food is great, too. Book ahead.

A yellow “harbor bus” passing through the harbor of Copenhagen, Denmark, Europe
The Harbor Bus provides an excellent and inexpensive tour of waterfront Copenhagen landmarks © PhotographerCW / Getty Images

Get the city’s best views on public transport

A seaside city, Copenhagen offers fabulous water views on a public Harbor Bus. Get on in Nyhavn for a cruise by some of Copenhagen’s most important waterfront sights, including the ultra-modern Opera and the famous Little Mermaid sculpture. 

For more on Copenhagen’s excellent public transport options, from cycling to ferries – read on

Bring a reusable water bottle 

Instead of using your pocket money on drinks, make sure you take advantage of some of the world’s cleanest drinking water and bring a reusable bottle with you. Refill it as you go, either by asking politely in a cafe or by finding a public refilling station. This simple tip is friendly for both your budget and the environment.

Find a low-cost caffeine kick

Coffee in Copenhagen is expensive (the average price is 40kr for a cappuccino). Luckily, if you’re a caffeine lover, there are low-cost ways to get your caffeine kick. You can hit a chain restaurant where a filter coffee is inexpensive, or go to the beloved Minas Kaffebar where every item on the menu, including coffee, is very affordably priced. 

Danish smorrebrod, a traditional open sandwich at a Copenhagen food market store
Dine like a local on a Danish smørrebrød (a traditional open sandwich) at a Copenhagen food market © Maridav / Shutterstock

You can get cheap eats in Copenhagen…

Dining out is generally pricey in Copenhagen. But fret not: the city offers plenty of yummy options that won’t dig too deep into your pockets. Have Danish porridge at Grød, tacos and quesadillas at La Neta, dumplings at GAO, the lunch of the day at Absalon, burgers at Jagger, or visit Reffen, a large outdoor street kitchen featuring food from all over the world. 

…but fine dining (on a budget) is possible too

If want to spoil yourself with a finer dining experience, there are ways to do so without breaking the bank. At Höst, an award-winning and Michelin-recommended restaurant with beautiful decor, three courses will run you only 395kr, but that’s before drinks and tips. Omar and Safari offer tasting menus with a focus on seasonal vegetables, with eight courses for just 385kr. And Italo Disco, a dinner of up to nine plates of nouveau Italian cuisine, costs 500kr. 

For more local food and drink recommendations in Copenhagen, check out these local bites

Have a bodega night out 

Going out in Copenhagen is always fun, but those rounds of cocktails can add up. Instead, visit one (or a few) of the old-school Copenhagen dive bars locals refer to as bodegas. Here, you get bottled or draught beer at low prices – and in an authentic ambiance. Classic, super-fun spots include Eiffel Bar, Bobi-Bar, Palæ Bar, Stefanhus and Nørre Bodega.

This article was first published Jul 22, 2022 and updated Apr 30, 2024.

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