Copenhagen On A Budget: Backpacking Copenhagen Guide 2024

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As a backpacker who travels as cheaply as possible, I had put off planning a budget trip to Copenhagen.

It’s notoriously expensive, right? Can you even visit Copenhagen on a budget?

I set myself the challenge to see if it was possible, and after taking a trip to Denmark, I feel confident to provide a guide to backpacking Copenhagen.

🇩🇰 When planning a trip to Copenhagen, I recommend using:
✈️ Flights: Skyscanner
🏨 Hotels:
💵 Hostels: Hostelworld
🗺 Tours & Activities: Viator and GetYourGuide
🚗 Car Rental: Discover Cars
🚌 Transport: Flixbus
🏥 Travel Insurance: Safetywing
📱E-SIM: Airalo
💻 VPN: Surfshark

Copenhagen On A Budget

Despite Copenhagen and expensive being terms that go hand in hand, it is possible to visit Copenhagen on a budget.

I spent 3 days backpacking Copenhagen, and it’s definitely worth visiting, even on a budget. People usually budget thousands for a trip to Copenhagen, which is understandable as it’s a very expensive place to visit, but you don’t have to spend this much.

During my trip to Copenhagen, I spent just under 1800 DKK, which is roughly equivalent to £217 / $261 / €241. Compare this to the thousands other people spent, it’s not bad. In my opinion, it’s pretty reasonable considering I took flights and ate pretty nicely. Here is my budget broken down into 4 categories.

Return flights from the UK250 DKK
2 nights in a hostel330 DKK
Activities750 DKK
Food450 DKK

As I said, I could have travelled even more cheaply. If I was already in mainland Europe, a train from Hamburg would have cost a fraction of my flights. My hostel was also a pretty high-class hostel (the fanciest hostel I have stayed in!) and I ate a lot of unnecessary Danish pastries.

My activities expense came from buying the Copenhagen Card, which is a great tool for visiting on a budget, as it allows you to use public transport for free, and get free access to most of Copenhagen’s main attractions.

But let’s go into further detail about how it’s possible to visit Copenhagen on a budget.

How To Get To Copenhagen On A Budget

Generally speaking, to get to Copenhagen cheaply you need to be somewhere in Europe. If you are Aussie, American, Canadian or any non-European, you’ll want to make your way to Europe first. I’d suggest coming to visit multiple countries at once. As amazing as Copenhagen is, it’s probably not worth 2 10-hour flights to spend one week in.

Once in Europe, flights are always incredibly cheap to Copenhagen. They are always some of the cheapest flights on SkyScanner, which is a great flights search engine website which allows you to find the best deals for flights and save money. If you can be flexible with your dates when backpacking Copenhagen, you can often get flights for $20-30 return. So cheap!

➡️Use SkyScanner to find the best prices for your flights to Copenhagen or anywhere else around the world you plan to fly to.

A picture of a Ryanair plane- a good airline to use when visiting Copenhagen on a budget.

Another option if you are in mainland Europe is to travel by train. Train travel is a great and cost-effective way to get around Europe and is known as Interrailing or Eurraling. You can get a train from Hamburg, in northern Germany to Copenhagen for less than €30 and it takes about 5 hours. It’s incredibly cheap.

A third option is to travel by bus. This is much slower than a train but much cheaper too. One of the best companies for cheap buses in Europe is Flixbus, who offer really cheap buses to Copenhagen. For example, a bus from Hamburg to Copenhagen costs about €15 but takes 6 hours. Swings and roundabouts, as always with budget travel.

Where To Stay In Copenhagen On A Budget

Finding the right part of the city to stay in is crucial when backpacking Copenhagen. Accommodation can make or break your budget. Random example, staying in a hotel room with a view of the coloured houses at Nyhavn will break your budget.

The best part of Copenhagen to stay in, which is also budget-friendly, is near København H (Copenhagen Central Station – København is Copenhagen in Danish). It allows you to be within walking distance of all the main attractions and there are many great hostel options, as well as budget hotels.

One of the main differences between hostels and hostels is the price difference. Hostels are significantly cheaper. And it’s worth it in my opinion. There are better things to spend money on than accommodation I think.

A picture of Copenhagen Central Station.
København H
A picture of my pod in my hostel room I stayed in during my trip to Copenhagen on a budget.
My pod in my hostel

I stayed in Next House Copenhagen and it’s by far the fanciest hostel I have stayed in anywhere in the world. Instead of the traditional bunk beds, you get your own pod which brings a lot more privacy than in a normal hostel dorm. The hostel also has 5 bars, multiple restaurants, a gym and an indoor football pitch- yes, for real. It’s the best hostel I have ever stayed in. It’s so good that I wrote a full Next House Copenhagen review!

The indoor football pitch in my hostel, with the gym in the background.

If you’re a couple, family or hostels just aren’t your jam, you may wish to stay in a budget hotel. Cabinn City is the best budget hotel you will find. It’s less than £/$/€100 a night, but highly rated with a rating of 7.1/10. And once again, it’s in the perfect area, near the central station. With budget hotels, it’s important to remember that you spend most of your trip out exploring the city, and not in your room. That being said, the rooms here are pretty damn good.

➡️ Best budget-friendly hotel in Copenhagen: Cabinn City
➡️ Best hostel in Copenhagen: Next House Copenhagen

Where To Eat In Copenhagen On A Budget

Honestly, I found it pretty hard to find really cheap restaurants in Copenhagen, but as long as you avoid the fanciest restaurants, you’ll do okay. A standard dinner probably cost me between $15-20 which I would say is pretty standard for Europe.

If you avoid eating in the most tourist-heavy parts of the city, you should avoid being trapped by the price. Don’t eat at Nyhavn in particular, it’s ridiculously expensive!

As I said when summarising my budget, I spent a lot on Danish pastries. Lagkagehuset was too tempting for me and I definitely didn’t visit on each of my 3 days in Copenhagen.

A pastry and hot drink was costing me $10 per day, meaning I added $30 unnecessarily to my budget.

But the food is simply too good. I would suggest trying authentic Danish pastries at least once on your trip.

Take a look at this Cinnamon swirl! Also- the nicest hot chocolate I have ever had.

Cinnamon swirl with a hot chocolate in a Lagkagehuset branded cup.

Top Tip: Eat where the Copenhagen locals are eating! It’s always good practice when travelling to avoid the most touristy areas (Nyhavn area) and find the best food by following the locals.

For lunch, I simply got a sausage roll from 7-11. Like all around the world, there are Seven Elevens in Copenhagen and they offer great, cheap food which you can grab and eat while exploring Copenhagen.

So to summarise how to eat while backpacking Copenhagen: walk for 10 minutes away from the tourist attractions, and find somewhere with Copenhageners eating there. You’ll probably find it slightly more expensive than the likes of Germany, etc., but you won’t pay $50 per person like in the more expensive restaurants.

How To Get Around Copenhagen On A Budget

The cheapest and best way to get around Copenhagen is by walking. Obviously, walking is free and I recommend walking as the way to get around anywhere when you are budget travelling.

Visiting Copenhagen on a budget is no different, and it’s particularly great to walk around Copenhagen as all the streets are so pretty. There are coloured houses all through the city, not just in Nyhavn.

A random street in Copenhagen with coloured houses.

Most of the main attractions in Copenhagen are within walking distance of each other too. You’ll never walk for more than 30 minutes maximum if you stay near the central station. From Next House Copenhagen, I could walk to Christiansborg Palace in about 20 minutes for example.

And yes- Copenhagen is safe, so you don’t need to have any concerns when it comes to safety while walking about Copenhagen.

10 Free Things To Do In Copenhagen

Of course, while visiting Copenhagen on a budget, you want to do as many free things as possible. But did you know you can buy the Copenhagen Card and save money (Read my review here) and get into most of the main attractions? Here are 10 free things to do in Copenhagen.

1) Admire the houses in Nyhavn: The main attraction in Copenhagen is the houses in Nyhavn, and it’s completely free. You can walk alongside up and down the canal, take photos, and do whatever you like at Nyhavn free of charge.

2) Go up Christiansborg Tower: The parliament of Denmark, Christiansborg Palace has a tower which offers amazing panoramic views over Copenhagen, and it’s completely free to do too. There is a security check though so be prepared to empty your bag and take off your coat.

3) Take a free walking tour: When visiting any city, one of the best things to do is to take a free walking tour. I use FreeTour and use it wherever I go. It’s expected that you do give a tip to the tour guide, but it’s peanuts compared to what you would pay for a paid guide. 20 DKK would be more than enough.

4) Visit the Little Mermaid statue: Another one of Copenhagen’s main attractions is the Little Mermaid statue which is located in front of the canal. It’s free too, and the area surrounding is pretty too, with a windmill, castle and church to see.

The Little Mermaid statue- a great free thing to see while backpacking Copenhagen.

5) Explore Freetown Christiania: Freetown Christiania is a hard place to describe. It’s essentially a neighbourhood in Copenhagen where laws don’t apply. But it’s still safe. It’s mainly used to sell and take certain substances, but it’s a cool place to walk around as the buildings are pretty funky. Please be aware that you aren’t allowed to take pictures here.

6) Walk around The Botanical Gardens of Copenhagen: As with most places in the world, the botanic gardens in Copenhagen are free and well worth a visit. There are lots of plants and flowers to look at, and plenty of nice walking opportunities too.

7) Visit the many museums: Most of the museums in Copenhagen are free to enter. The museums are excellent and some of the best in the world. If a museum isn’t free for everyone, it’s usually free for students. So if you are a student, make sure to bring your ID.

8) Watch the changing of the guards at Rosenborg: Every morning, the guards march from Rosenborg to Amelianborg while playing traditional band music. It’s a true spectacle and one of the best free things to see in Copenhagen. So memorable!

The guards marching from Rosenborg

9) Take photos at Amelianborg: And speaking of Amelianborg, it’s an extremely picturesque building. It’s the Queen’s winter palace, so as you can imagine, it’s a place that displays royalty, wealth and beauty. One of the nicest buildings in Copenhagen for sure.

10) Swim in the harbour baths: Islands Brygge Harbour Bath in Copenhagen are public pools for swimming in Copenhagen’s harbour. In the summer months, when it’s warm, it’s a great free activity to do when backpacking Copenhagen. I wouldn’t be doing it in Copenhagen in January unless you enjoy an ice bath! But as always with budget travel, you can save money by coming in the offseason, so this may not be an option for you.

Backpacking Copenhagen: Top Tips

There are lots of general tips for travelling on a budget, but backpacking Copenhagen has some specific tips which can help you save money during your trip. Here are 5 tips for visiting Copenhagen on a budget.

Get the Copenhagen Card- The Copenhagen Card allowed me to save money during my trip to Copenhagen. I got a lot more in value than what I paid for my card. Buy yours now!

Tips are not expected in Copenhagen- Of course, this is personal preference, you may choose to tip, but Copenhagen is not like America where tipping is expected or added automatically.

You still need travel insurance- This is a case of spending money to save money. A “better safe than sorry” scenario. Although travel insurance can be expensive, paying thousands for a doctor’s appointment is much more expensive. I suggest using SafetyWing.

You can drink tap water- Tap water in Copenhagen is safe to drink and tastes refreshing too. Avoid paying for water from shops or in restaurants, take a refillable water bottle and fill it up every morning from your accommodation.

Take the train from the airport- The cheapest (and quickest!) way to get from Copenhagen Airport to Copenhagen City Centre is by taking the train.

Copenhagen On A Budget: FAQ

Below are a number of questions related to visiting Copenhagen on a budget, along with my answers.

How much should I budget for Copenhagen?

Budget about $35 per person per day for food and drinks. In terms of attractions, the best thing to do is buy the Copenhagen Card, as this allows you free access to all of the tourist attractions, as well as free public transport, meaning you won’t have any further expenses during your trip.

Can you visit Copenhagen on a budget?

Yes! It’s possible to visit Copenhagen on a budget, despite being an incredibly expensive city. You just need to find cheap accommodation and flights and use the Copenhagen Card to save money. Also, walk everywhere. Everything in Copenhagen is within walking distance of each other.

How to stay in Copenhagen cheaply?

Stay near Copenhagen Central Station. There are a number of good hostels and budget hotels. It’s also a great area as it means everything is within walking distance. Tivoli Gardens is just across the road, for example.

How to do Copenhagen on a budget?

To do Copenhagen on a budget, you should stay near Copenhagen Central station as there are hostels and budget hotels. Everything is also within walking distance here. And buy the Copenhagen Card, this grants you access to all of the main attractions in Copenhagen, meaning it’s your only expense in terms of attractions for the whole trip.

Copenhagen On A Budget: Conclusion

And there you have it, a complete guide to visiting Copenhagen on a budget.

It’s a bit harder than other cities, but it’s definitely doable. And definitely worth it!

Backpacking Copenhagen is an amazing experience and one you won’t forget. The city is extraordinary.

Whether you choose to visit Copenhagen cheaply, or with a regular budget, I hope you have a great trip to the Danish capital!