As the capital of Denmark, the city of Copenhagen has a long and rich history. It was the center of the Danish empire for hundreds of years, and, as such, it is home to many palaces, historic buildings, and cultural relics. But modern Copenhagen is not a city steeped in the past — it is looking forward to the future. The classic architecture and canals are juxtaposed by modern infrastructure, new buildings, and a surprising amount of windmills. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. I’ve been here countless times and I never get tired of it. It’s beautiful, clean, and the locals are great and always fun to hang out with. The high prices turn a lot of people off but I encourage you to visit Copenhagen. You won’t regret it.
Hostel prices – Hostel dorms begin at 150 DDK per night but are more often than not around 250 DDK. Private double rooms with a shared bathroom cost 700-1400 DDK per night. Prices drop a lot during the winter time.
Budget hotel prices – Guesthouses and budget hotels are widespread throughout the city and their prices on par with a hostel’s private room. Furnished apartments cost 500-800 DDK per night. If you are just looking for a single room in someone’s apartment, check Airbnb, and you can find rooms for as little as 300 DDK.
Average cost of food – If you are going to eat out in a restaurant, be prepared to pay around 80 DDK for a cheap meal. You can find cheap outdoor hotdog and sandwich vendors for around 27-34 DDK. Groceries will cost around 340 DDK per week. In Denmark, it’s substantially cheaper to cook your own food than eat out.
Transportation costs – The train from the airport to city center is 40 DDK. Local trains and buses are around 24 DDK for a two-zone (regular) ticket.
Money Saving Tips
Go Orange – The Danish rail system offers cheap tickets via their online website called “Orange tickets.” They are only available via the website and you have to print out the ticket before you board the train. These tickets though offer cheap seats a third of the cost of what you can buy at the railway station.
Cook your meals – Eating out in Denmark is not cheap and since Danish food isn’t going to win any great culinary awards, you won’t miss much by cooking your own food.
Eat cheap on the street – Street stalls, such as hot dogs, sausages, and sandwiches, cost only 27-34 DDK and can save you a lot of money on food if you choose not to cook.
Eat at the buffet or during lunch – If you have to eat at a restaurant, do so during lunch when lunch specials (as well as buffets) are only about 68-102 DDK. It’s much cheaper than going for dinner when you’ll pay double the price.
Top Things to See and Do in Copenhagen
Christinia – This hippie enclave has been around since the 1970s. During that time, peace-loving hippies took over an abandoned army base and set up a commune on the base. Over the years, it has become a drug haven, with people coming to hang out and smoke the weed that is very, very openly sold here. In recent years, the government has cracked down on the area and won a series of legal victories against the area. Locals are in talks to try to save the place from demolition, but it may not be around much longer. If weed isn’t your thing, come anyway for the cool beer gardens, people watching, and colorful wall murals.
Take a boat tour – The canals and harbor of Copenhagen are very scenic and much cleaner than those of Amsterdam. (You can actually see the bottom of the Copenhagen canals.) Take the hour-long boat tour here to learn a bit more about the city. The huge boats leave from Nyhavn and, while “touristy,” you will find a surprising amount of locals on them drinking a beer on a sunny day.
Tivoli – Tivoli is an amusement park located in the center of the city. It’s not cheap to visit, and the ride tickets cost extra but this is a popular place to go for families, children, and kids on school holidays. While it may not be the most popular place for everyday travelers, I had a blast here, especially playing bumper cars with my friends and drinking beer. I love this place.
Experience the “Morning Bars” – There’s actually more than one morning bar in Copenhagen. “Morning Bar” is a term for the late, late (early morning) bars that open after the clubs close. The Danes like to drink and tend to stay out at these bars until about 9am The most famous is Louise’s.
Experience the nightlife – Copenhagen has a variety of pubs, lounges, and clubs. This city doesn’t start pumping until about 1 am and goes very late (see above morning bars). I would try to spend at least one night out.
Christiansborg Palace Ruins – Underneath this palace in the middle of the city, you can see the ruins of Bishop Absalon’s fortress, which dates back to 1167. It’s dark and damp down there, giving it a very crypt-like and ancient feel. I was really impressed with the detailed information provided about the fortress and its path to the current palace.
Round tower – Rundetaarn is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. And through a long, tiring walk to the top, it provides a sweeping view of the old part of Copenhagen.
Church of Our Saviour – Located near Christinia, this church is worth seeing for its giant spiraling bell tower. The interior of the church is basic and features a few interesting paintings, but the winding tower is what makes it worthwhile. It has always been regarded as something of a test of manhood to climb up and touch the globe on the summit, nearly 350 feet up in the air.
Hans Christian Andersen Museum – While this is really “made for children” and features Disney-like displays and sets, I really liked this museum. Inside, you get to read all of Andersen’s children’s tales, which were a lot shorter and darker than I had thought.It was quite the eye-opener. Disney lied to me all these years.
The Historical Museum – The national history museum has many exhibits relating to Danish history and Viking weapons. (Skip the Museum of Copenhagen, though. It was awful and didn’t cover much. The national museum is much better.)
Danish National Gallery – The Danish National Gallery (free entry!) has great art from the likes of Rembrandt, Picasso, and Matisse. There are also a number of paintings by Danish artists from the “Golden Age.”
Little Mermaid – It may be small, but this statue makes for some excellent pictures. And, since it is near a park that is very much worth visiting, there’s no reason not to head over and snap a photo. Watch out for hordes of tourists trying to get into your shot, though.
Kastellet Park – Kastellet used to be a fortress guarding the city, but is now a public park, a cultural-historical monument, and is also used for military purposes. The park has great gardens, trees, and ponds surrounding it. It’s right near the Little Mermaid and is a wonderful place to relax on a warm day.