Some cities have a reputation for being super expensive and funnily enough, they always seem to be the one with the cheapest flights to them. Over the years I have often chosen the flights over the reputation and visited them anyway. Not because I have endless amounts of money, but because I believe a budget city break is always possible. You just need to plan well and in advance. People always say Copenhagen is expensive, and like many Scandinavian countries, it is. Here is my answer to the question of ‘how expensive is Copenhagen?‘ Then my alternatives and ways to help make a trip to Denmark’s capital more affordable.
So, is Copenhagen expensive, really?
When it comes to city breaks, Copenhagen is expensive is comparison to some, if you are looking a more affordable or budget city break, I would suggest heading towards somewhere like Sarajevo. Although, the way people were speaking about Copenhagen, I was expecting extortionate prices, when actually it was more in comparison to central London prices. I understand this may be very expensive for some people, but I live in London, so, therefore, was not as shocked by the prices in Copenhagen as I thought I would be.
Thanks to airlines such as Norweigan Air you can find some great deals on flights, we paid £49 return from London Gatwick, across a bank holiday weekend. Which I do not find bad at all. When it comes to flights, my top tip is to always be flexible, make use of the Skyscanner ‘Whole Month’ search to find the lowest price flights.
Interested in finding out how I afford to travel as much as I do? Here is my guide to finding the cheapest flights online
Affordable accommodation in Copenhagen
Accommodation will be your biggest expense in Copenhagen. We stayed at the Avenue Hotel for three nights as I was working with them while I was there. It is a beautiful boutique hotel which is centrally located, however, it is also priced at roughly £139 per night. You do get a brilliant breakfast and wine hour included in the price of your stay, but if you planning on seeing Copenhagen on a budget, I would probably not opt for here.
For affordable accommodation in Copenhagen, I would suggest either the Wake-Up Copenhagen or the Urban House Copenhagen. There are also many hostels across Copenhagen and if you are happy sharing a dorm room, you can find prices as low as £36 per night. The Copenhagen backpackers hostel gets really good reviews and it is centrally located, however, as far as I am aware they only have mixed sex dorms, so bear this in mind if you prefer to only stay in single-sex dorm rooms.
Alternatively, if you are travelling in a group, Air B’n’B may turn out to be the cheapest option for you. The bonus of staying in an Air B’n’B or hostel over a hotel is the opportunity to save money on food. There are supermarkets all over Copenhagen and with access to a kitchen, you can save on a few breakfasts or lunches by preparing food there.
The price of attractions in Copenhagen and how to save money in Copenhagen
We purchased a Copenhagen card for two of the days we were there which was priced at £69 for 48 hours ( you can also get a 24-hour pass and a 72-hour pass). There are the official tourist cards for the city and alongside giving you free entry to a large variety of attractions you also get free transport around the city and discount off of various restaurants. We decided to get a 48-hour card as it was our first time in Copenhagen and we knew we wanted to do a lot of the attractions which would otherwise work out quite expensive, plus it had the bonus of free transportation.
The attractions we used our cards on:
Tivoli Gardens – Normal price £14.50 (120 DKK)for entrance only, for unlimited rides – £35.00 (290 DKK). The Copenhagen card only grants you entrance to the Tivoli Gardens, you will then have to pay extra if you want to go on any of the rides.
Copenhagen Boat Canal tour – Normal price £10 (80 DKK)
The Round Tower -Normal price £3 (25 DKK)
Rosenburg Castle – Normal price £23.00 (195 DKK). This price is for entrance into the castle, you can view and enter the gardens of the castle free of charge.
The Carlsberg Brewery – Normal price £12.00 (99 DKK). This price includes two free half pints of Carlsberg beer. For 178 DKK you can also buy a ticket which includes lunch, the options are limited at a burger or a Ceaser Salad but if you are there anyway, you may end up saving money this way.
Copenhagen Z00 – Normal price £20.00 (149 DKK)
Church of our Saviour – Normal price £4.50 (35 DKK)
H.C Andersen fairytale house – Normal price £8.00 (60 DKK)
48-hours access to transportation – normal price £17.50 (144 DKK). This 48-hour pass entitles you to unlimited access to the metro, bus and train in central Copenhagen. This also includes to and from the airport. Again a 24-hour and 72-hour pass is also available. It is worth pointing out Copenhagen is easily accessible by foot, so if you are able, walk everywhere, you will see more and save money. You will still need to access the airport by public transport, but this is roughly £4 per journey by train.
Total amount without the Copenhagen card: £112.50 (907 DKK)
Total saved by using a Copenhagen card: £43.50
I think this is a pretty good saving. However, it is important to look into the Copenhagen card before buying it. Write down all the attractions you want to visit, see how many are included in the card and then work out if it is cost-effective. Also, try to plan how long it will take you to see each attraction, there is no point trying to save money by buying a 24 -hour pass, if you cannot fit all the attractions in.
Similarly, if you are planning on visiting Copenhagen just for a drinking trip and you are not too fussed about the attractions. Then the Copenhagen card is probably not going to be for you.
Of course there are also a lot more attractions in Copenhagen that are not covered by the card including some more unique things to do in Copenhagen. Therefore it is important to do your research before visiting to ensure you choose the most cost effective way.
Starting to plan your Copenhagen itinerary? Here is my guide for a weekend in Copenhagen
How expensive is Copenhagen – Food and Drink?
Like most cities, eating out in Copenhagen can vary in price considerably. If you are looking to have a non-expensive trip to Copenhagen, in my opinion, you need to plan your food options in advance.
Unless you get free breakfast included with your accommodation, I would use breakfast as your opportunity to try traditional Danish pastries. Bakeries are dotted all across the city with traditional pastries costing around £2 each. Unless you are a massive breakfast person, use this meal as a way to save money.
When it comes to lunch and dinner, avoid eating in the Nyhavn area, it is the most touristy and in turn the most expensive. We found some great little independent places in the area of Noerrebro, including Blue Taco which sells fantastic Mexican tacos, they also have a good vegan and gluten-free selection. In this area, you can also find Grillen Burgerbar, they sell really good burgers – limited vegetarian options – and do a lunchtime deal of a burger, side and sauce for £10 (89 DKK).
We also spent a lot of time at Reffen (previously known as the Paper / Papion Island street food market). It is situated just across the water from Nyhavn, so you need to get the public water taxi. Reffen is a large street food market, selling food from every cuisine as well as craft beers. It is a great place if there is a group of you, as you will not have to decide on one place. It also works out cheaper than going for a meal in a restaurant and in general Copenhagen street food prices are around £8 per 1 dish meal (66DKK). The times of Reffen changes depending on the time of year, so be sure to check before you head there.
If you enjoy drinking alcohol, this will probably be your downfall. For a pint of beer, you are looking around £6-£9 per pint. Carlsberg is the local beer and therefore will be the cheapest, but on average you are looking at £6 a pint still for this due to high tax rates. The most expensive we had was actually £9 per pint, it was served in a plastic cup and we sat along the Nyhavn and took in the view of the coloured houses. Again, it is all about picking your locations, in the free town of Christiania you will find beer on the lower end of the spectrum. If alcohol is a big deal to you, purchase it from the supermarket to drink before going out in your accommodation.
So with regards to eating out, the average price of a meal in Copenhagen is hard to say. Like any city, it is going to vary, but set a ballpark figure of £20 per person (166DKK) for a casual sitdown meal.
For more inspiration, here are my top places to eat in Copenhagen.
So, is Copenhagen expensive to visit?
It is really all about perception and what you are used to in your hometown. I spent more in Copenhagen than I normally would on a city break weekend, however in comparison to a weekend in my home city of London, the prices are very similar. As with every city break, if you are visiting Copenhagen on a budget, planning ahead is essential. Turning up without a plan is asking for unexpected and unnecessary costs. Know the attractions you want to see and work out if a Copenhagen card is a cost-effective option for your needs.
If food is important to you, choose one or two restaurants you know you want to visit, allocate your money for these and go frugal on the rest of your meals if need be. If you visit Copenhagen in the summer, make use of the supermarkets and bakeries to have a picnic in the Botanical Gardens in order to save money.
Yes, Copenhagen is expensive to visit, but so is every city if you do not research. Know your priorities and your budget, then work inside your budget. With low-cost flights to Denmark, it would be a shame to miss out on the beautiful city of Copenhagen due to expense.
*All prices are correct at time of posting