In the dead of winter, returning home on a surprise mission for Christmas from the warmth of Australia, we found ourselves in Copenhagen (We look forward to returning in warmer weather!). A city we had longed to see and where at the time, no one knew we were!! It was bitterly cold and snow was in the air, but there was a warmth in its charm and embrace. Copenhagen was one of those cities we instantly loved, its ancient fairytale cobbled streets alongside its contemporary feel makes it such a pleasant place to just be! It’s no lie that it is also expensive, though nothing in comparison to the other Nordic countries it is actually quite a bit cheaper. There are though many amazing things to do in Copenhagen for Free, here’s our guide to Copenhagen on a budget!
Copenhagen on a budget:
Stroll around the picturesque Nyhavn
Nothing says Copenhagen more than Nyhavn, this canal lined street with its narrow brightly coloured gingerbread houses has become an icon of the city and its easy to see why. The 17th century waterfront that sits on this picturesque canal draws in many visitors with its striking and almost unreal townhouses, bars and restaurants. The canal is also home to many of the cities historic wooden ships and is a wonderful place to soak in the history of this wonderful city especially on a warm sunny day at one of the many canal side cafes.
The area has changed in many ways since it was first established but still retains that old world charm. Nyhavn was originally constructed between 1670 to 1673 by King Cristian V by Swedish prisoners of war as a gateway from the sea to the inner city and Kings Square for cargo and trade, particularly fish. The area wasn’t the pleasant experience it is today, it was notorious for prostitution, drunken sailors and violence. The well know Danish Author Danish author Hans Christian Andersen lived at Nyhavn for around 18 years between 1845 and 1864. This is a great thing to do in Copenhagen on a budget!
The street and area around here is of course FREE to visit!
The Little Mermaid
Continuing the Hans Cristian Andersen theme is “The Little Mermaid” statue based on the fairy tale of the same name by this revered author. The statue is another icon of the city and a symbol of Copenhagen around the world in a similar way that Christ the redeemer is to Rio or The Statue of Liberty to New York, however its rather unspectacular size may leave you somewhat underwhelmed! Cast in bronze by Edvard Eriken in 1913 it sits unassumingly on rocks at the waterside at the Langelinie promenade and is rarely seen without a crowd around gathering around the 4ft statue! Another free thing to see its a great thing to do in Copenhagen on a budget.
Visiting the statue is FREE
Opened in 15 August 1843 Tivoli Gardens the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world (the first is also in Denmark!) From it’s beginnings as a way to entertain the masses of Denmark it has seen generations of Danes pass through its gates before becoming internationally renowned and a major tourists attraction. The park retains its original charm as it continues to develop. It tows a great line between retaining the traditional feel of the park, which for many visitors is the motivation for visiting, and also in creating a park with modern and exciting rides! A great example of that is the combination of rides such a victorian style carousels alongside large metal rollercoasters! During the winter months the park is also host of the cities wonderful Christmas markets in one of the most enchanting locations ever imaginable! It’s not free like many things on this list but you can still visit and have a great day for not a lot of money so its made our list of things to do Copenhagen on a budget.
Entrance to the park costs: 120 DKK/ £14.00 / $19.00
Rides inside the park cost 30 DKK each / £3.50 / $4.75
Visit Amalienborg Palace
Another thing you can see for free its added to our list of things to do Copenhagen on a budget. The home of the Royal Family of Denmark this ornate and beautiful palace is a must visit in Copenhagen. It consists of four identical classical palace facades that face out into a cobbled octagonal courtyard which features a large statue of King Frederik V built in 1771.
The palaces themselves were constructed between 1750 and 1760 and have been the home to noble families and royalty ever since. One of the traditions that is maintained to this day is the Royal Guard, their bright red dress uniform and bearskin caps resembles that of the Foot Guards at Buckingham Palace. Everyday at 11:30am they march through the streets of Copenhagen from Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg to perform the changing of the guards in front of the later.
Visiting the grounds and seeing the guards is FREE
Stroll down the centre of the city at Strøget
Stroget is the city’s main pedestrianised street and is a great place to see where the old and the new sides of this beautiful city collide in perfect harmony. A main shopping through fare it is likely to be busy with locals going about their daily business or taking in some retail therapy. But glance up from the modern shops on the lower level of the street and you will be able to take in the sheer beauty of what is the heart of the old town of Copenhagen. Colourful facades and centuries old wooden and plaster shops can be seen behind the modern centre of shopping we see today. The stunning plazas and squares at either end are also a meeting place and central hub for many of the city’s residents. This is a great thing to do in Copenhagen on a budget as long as you don’t get temped by all the shops!
Visiting the street is FREE!
One of the most beautiful buildings in the whole of the city, which really is saying something in a place like Copenhagen. It’s ornate copper green dome looms large over the city and is in fact the largest church dome in Scandinavia. Popularly known as The Marble Church it was built from 1749 to 1894, it stood in ruin for almost 150 years after funds ran dry but was finally finished when it was controversially sold off. Visiting this amazing church is a great thing to do in Copenhagen on a budget.
Visiting the church is FREE, Visiting the dome costs 30 DKK / £3.50 / $4.75
Take in the panoramic views of Copenhagen from the Rundetaarn
The Round Tower in English sits in the centre of the city and was originally built in 1642 as an astronomical observatory. One of its characteristic features is a large interior spiral ramp designed for horse and carts to move books into the Library Hall for which it is the main entrance. Visiting the Rundetaarn is really great for Copenhagen on a budget too as it is really well priced.
The tower these days serves mostly as an observation and lookout deck over the city, providing amazing panoramic views over the charming streets of Old Town Copenhagen below and is a must do when visiting Copenhagen.
Entrance costs 25.00 DKK/ £3.00 / $4.00
Head out of the busy city to the quirky Superkilen
A public park a little outside the centre of the city it was designed by the arts group Superflex in he Nørrebro neighbourhood and a great thing to do in Copenhagen on a budget. The park consists of many different statues, pavilions and unusual layouts to promote diversity and the sharing of cultures. It is also a mecca for local skateboarders with the undulating design of the park and additional features intended to be used my skaters too. Its a very different Copenhagen experience than many might expect and to the other things we have on this list, but it perfectly illustrates the modern side to this wonderful city.
The park is FREE to visit, be sure to come on your bike!
Enter the world of hippy Freetown Christiania
The Christiania district of the city is another Copenhagen experience many might not have expected when they envisage the palaces and charming cobbled streets of Nyhavn, but it is still essential viewing. Creating an antidote to all that aristocracy and properness, the Freetown of Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous anarchist district. The area is famous for its artistic communities, legalisation of weed and general hippy vibe with a very open and liberal attitude. It makes it a really wonderful place to visit in Copenhagen on a budget.
Many of the people of Copenhagen see it as a successful social experiment and it really is a fascinating place to visit that reminds us very much of Užupis in Vilnius and Metalcova in Ljubljana and adds to the bohemian charm of Copenhagen. The highlights for us are the homemade sprawling skatepark that takes over both the interior and exterior of one of the buildings and the amazing markets here that sell some really cool things!
Visiting Christiania is FREE!
Rent a bicycle and see Copenhagen like a local
Did you really visit Copenhagen if you didn’t rent out a bike?!? The city is synonymous with the city bike and they are literally everywhere!! It is the go to mode of transport throughout the city whatever the weather and the design and layout of the streets really makes it easy to get around making it one of the most cycling friendly cities in the world! It is the perfect way to explore Copenhagen given its relatively small size but the spread out nature of some of the districts. Make sure to wrap up warm in the winter and pay attention to the traffic lights, but flying around on a bike is just a way of life here! Renting a bike isn’t too expensive either and saves on other travel costs so its a great way to see Copenhagen on a budget.
Renting a bike costs between 90-120 DKK ( £11.00 / $14.20 – £14.00 / $19.00) for between a few hours and a day.
Here are some useful websites for bike rental in Copenhagen:
Have you been? What would make your list of things to do in Copenhagen on a budget?
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