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Copenhagen on a Budget: The Ultimate Guide for Penny Pinchers

14 May 2019

Copenhagen is famously one of the most expensive destinations on Earth. If you're looking to do Copenhagen on a budget, follow our complete guide.

Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, has a notorious reputation for being very expensive. This means many backpackers end up avoiding the stunning, Scandinavian city. Despite its pricey rep, Denmark accounts for almost 50% of all tourism to the Nordic region.

Do you want to see what all the fuss is about, but are not sure you can afford it? You need to check out this helpful guide on how to see Copenhagen on a budget.

Learn your best options for cheap transportation, eating out, and sightseeing in Copenhagen below.

Budget Transport While Backpacking in Copenhagen 

Copenhagen is an expensive city, but there are several low-cost transportation options for you to get around.


The compact, central part of Copenhagen makes walking around easy. Pick up a city map from the Tourist office. Then put on a good pair of walking shoes for an intimate exploration of Copenhagen.


Renting a bike is another great option for exploring Copenhagen city centre and nearby districts. The city of Copenhagen rents out bikes through a program called Bycyklen. You can rent bicycles through Bycyklen for 15 DKK per 30 minutes.

Public Transport

Walking and biking aren’t options for all budget travellers. Copenhagen also has a very reliable and easily accessible public transportation system. You can choose between buses, trains, or the metro using the same ticket.

The city of Copenhagen breaks up its public transport into 8 different zones. A single trip ticket must cover the number of zones you will pass through during your travels. Single tickets cost between 24 DKK for up to 2 zones and 84 DKK for up to 8 zones.


Consider taking a boat trip for an extra special view of Copenhagen. The Movia Harbour Bus run by the city is your cheapest option for a canal trip.

A ticket for the Movia Harbour Bus costs the same as a standard bus ticket. If you purchase a Copenhagen Card, it includes one free boat trip as well as free access to the Movia Harbour Bus. 

The City Pass vs. The Copenhagen Card

Tourists who want to save money on multiple public transport tickets have two other options: the City Pass and the Copenhagen Card.

The City Pass

You can purchase two different versions of the City Pass: the Small and the Large. You can buy the City Pass at any station, at the airport, or online. 

The Small City Pass provides unlimited public transport access from Zone 1 to Zone 4. This includes Copenhagen city centre and access to/from the airport.

The Large City Pass includes all of the greater Copenhagen area and all 99 official zones. Choose a validity of between 24, 48, 27, 96, or 120 hours for your City Pass. 

Prices range from 80 DKK for 24 hours to 300 DKK for 120 hours for adults buying the Small pass. The Large pass will run you 160 DKK for adults for 24 hours and 600 DKK for 120 hours. Expect to pay half price for children under age 12.

The Copenhagen Card

The Copenhagen Card gives you free unlimited access to all public transportation in the city’s capital region as well as free admission to 80+ museums and attractions. It also gets you discounts on sightseeing tours and in many cafés and restaurants.

This is probably your best option if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing in the capital region. You can buy the Copenhagen Card online or once you arrive at Copenhagen airport.

Choose between 24, 48, 72, and 120 hours of validity. Prices range from 54 EUR for adults and 26 EUR for children (24 hours) to 133 EUR for adults and 67 EUR for children (120 hours). 

Eating for Cheap in Copenhagen

Restaurants, cafes, and bars can be fairly expensive, like the rest of Copenhagen. One of the best ways to save money is to simply buy food from the grocery store and cook it yourself.

Don’t have kitchen space in your accommodation? You can often find cheap pre-made meals like they classically Danish sandwich, a smørrebrød, in grocery stores. 

You can also try a buffet to get a lot of food for a small price. Or walk around to find cheap eats on the streets at the many durum/kebab and hotdog stands.

Head over to the very popular Papirøen, a long street food market with about 40 different stalls. You can try food from around the world while overlooking the Royal Danish Playhouse and Copenhagen Harbour. Most dishes start around 50 DKK.

The Top 3 Free Things to See in Copenhagen

Here are three totally free things to do in Copenhagen so you stay within your budget.

1. National Museum of Denmark

Museum lovers will not want to miss the largest cultural history museum in the country, The National Museum of Denmark. It has several permanent exhibitions and a few floating ones.

You can learn about Danish pre-history, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, as well as explore artifacts from around the globe. There’s also a Children’s museum, which makes it a great choice for families travelling on a budget.

2. The Botanical Gardens

Copenhagen’s extensive Botanical Gardens have been at their current location since 1870 but first opened in 1600. The gardens contain 13,000 different plant species over about 10 hectares of land.

Aim to visit the Botanical Gardens during the summertime to see everything in bloom.

3. Freetown Christiania

Finally, no self-proclaimed backpacker can visit Copenhagen without checkout out Freetown Christiania. This self-governing, hippie-esque society follows three rules: don’t run, have fun, and no photos.

It’s free to walk around by yourself, but you can also book a walking tour to learn about the area’s history for under 20 EUR/person. 

The Best Copenhagen Hotel for Budget Travellers 

Visiting Copenhagen on a budget can happen if you take the time to do your research and learn your best options before you arrive.

Like transportation, hotels eat up a massive chunk of your budget while travelling. Most backpackers just suffer through cheaper, less comfortable accommodations.

You don’t have to sacrifice your comfort for price when you book a room at Hotel Østerport. Located directly next to Østerport Station (just minutes outside Copenhagen city centre) Hotel Østerport’s modern rooms come with smart TVs and smartphones. Guest also receive a complimentary, free breakfast.

Book a room at Hotel Østerport online today and start your budget trip to Copenhagen the right way!

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