At first glance, Copenhagen may seem like an expensive city that’s not worth visiting. But if you give it a chance, it might surprise you. It sure surprised us! There is just a different atmosphere that you don’t get from a regular city. Not to mention it’s missing the “cater to tourists” feel. In this guide we will show you how to backpack Copenhagen on a budget while still enjoying all its beauty.
What You’ll Find in This Guide
- How Much to Budget for Copenhagen
- How Long to Stay in Copenhagen
- Cheap Places to Eat in Copenhagen
- Cheap Places to Stay in Copenhagen
- Top Things to Do in Copenhagen
- What to Skip in Copenhagen
- Popular Events & Festivals in Copenhagen
- How to Get Around in Copenhagen
- General Travel Tips for Copenhagen
- Day Trips from Copenhagen
How Much to Budget for Copenhagen
Though Copenhagen is an expensive city, if you follow our travel guide, backpacking Copenhagen can easily be done on $50 – 80 a day, depending on how frugal you are. We stayed for three full days and spent an average of about $110 a day, for the both of us. We ate out quite a few times during our stay, so it is definitely possible to backpack Copenhagen on the lower end of the spectrum.
How Long to Stay in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is a beautiful city to visit, and we recommend staying at least 2 – 3 days. There are also many day trips that can be done from Copenhagen (see below), so if you want to do some of those, just add a few extra days to your stay.
Cheap Places to Eat in Copenhagen
If you want to find cheap food in Copenhagen, you need to remember three things – hot dogs, kebabs, and all-you-can-eat buffets.
Hot dog stands are like Bank of America in the states, they are everywhere! This cheap fix costs around 19-35 DKK (~$3-5 USD), and 2 should fill you up if you order it with all the toppings of course.
For cheap and good kebab shops, you will have to go to Nørrobro or Vesterbro. Prices range from 20-40 DKK (~$3-5 USD).
All-you-can-eat buffets can be found around the city center, as they are mainly catered towards tourists. The price ranges from 50-90 DKK (~$9-13 USD).
Below is a list of our top cheap eats in Copenhagen.
Banana Joe’s – Small but delicious burger joint with an affordable menu. Prices range from 35-75 DKK (~$5-11 USD).
Rita’s Smørrebrød – With over 40 authentic Danish Smørrebrød starting at 12 DKK (~$2 USD), Rita’s is the place to go to taste the Danish delicacy without breaking the bank.
Tria Deli – Bagel and salad shop that sells sandwiches for less than 45 DKK (~$7 USD).
Samos Greek – A decent Greek buffet for those who enjoy Mediterranean food and are on a tight budget. Lunch buffet for 49 DKK (~$7 USD) and dinner buffet for 79 DKK (~$12 USD).
Torvets Kebab – Considered to be the best kebab place in Norrebro. Prices range from 20-33 DKK (~$2-5 USD).
See Also: Gluten Free Guide to Copenhagen
Cheap Places to Stay in Copenhagen
Just like any place you travel to, accommodation will be the biggest expense, especially in Copenhagen. However, there are a few accommodation options available for people on a budget.
Copenhagen has a wide variety of hostels but unlike most hostels around the world they are a quite pricey. The average cost for a bed in a shared dorm is ~150 DKK (~$23 USD) and private rooms start at 520 DKK (~$78 USD).
Our recommended hostel in Copenhagen:
Like most hostels we chose to stay in, Globalhagan breaks the stereotype of hostels. This volunteer based NGO hostel has a greater mission than just profit. All profits made from the hostel and the connecting bar are donated to an Action Aid Denmark project in Zambia called Global Platform, which helps to strengthen human rights and eradicate poverty.
Another reason why we really enjoyed and recommend Globalhagen is because each room is furnished with donated recycled materials, and are themed and inspired by different countries around the world such as Nepal, Zambia, Palestine etc. Oh, and the attached bar in the basement has a nice and relaxing atmosphere (not loud and obnoxious) where you can hangout and have a beer, play board games or attend one of the many events hosted there each month. We happened to be there during the drink and draw night and had a blast.
So what do you say, want to stay at a place with a great cause? Then click here to read reviews and check availability.
Other Cheap Hostels in Copenhagen:
There are a few cheap camping options not too far from the city center. The cheapest option we know of is at Bellahoej Camping, which starts at 68 DKK (~$10 USD) per adult per night.
Another option is Airbnb. You can find rooms to rent for as cheap as 125 DKK (~$19 USD) a night. That’s not bad considering you get more privacy than in a hostel, and a kitchen to make your own meals. Click here to get $35 off of your first stay with Airbnb with our Airbnb coupon code.
Of course the cheapest option would be Couchsurfing, but remember, Couchsurfing is not a free place to stay. It’s an opportunity to connect with locals, share stories, build friendships, learn about different cultures and so much more. So please, don’t just sign up to find a free bed or a one-night stand. Don’t ruin our community.
Top Things to Do in Copenhagen
Now this, in our opinion, is probably by far the coolest thing about Copenhagen. It’s a city within a city with its own flag, rules and way of life. The area is filled with beautiful art, interesting people, beautiful nature, music venues, and Pusher Street, where people go to openly purchase and smoke weed. Rules to know: No cameras or taking pictures on Pusher Street.
The National Museum is one of those sites that is great to visit on a rainy day in Copenhagen. The museum does a great job of transporting you into different time frames, and will have you wondering what it was really like back then. We spent about four hours there and still barely saw everything. There is no entrance fee for this museum.
Free Walking Tour
One of the best ways to see a city and learn about its history and people is by doing a walking tour. For a grand tour of Copenhagen, meet the group in front of City Hall at 11:00am. The tour lasts 3 hours and best of all, it’s free. For more info on the walking tour, click here.
Oh and instead of a boat tour which costs money, you can just hop on one of the harbor buses that are free with a Metro pass.
Not your average Six Flags amusement park, Tivoli Gardens boasts old roller coaster rides, carnival games and open-air shows tucked away in the middle of the city surrounded by a beautiful garden.
Copenhagen Street Food (Papirøen)
Not too far of a walk from Christiania Freetown, this is a place to find some tasty indoor “street food”.
Just like in any concrete jungle, people want some green. No, not money. I am talking about green parks and gardens. Frederiksberg Gardens provides that beautiful oasis for locals and tourists in Copenhagen. The garden is a great place for a walk, picnic or to relax and enjoy the beautiful landscape.
If you’ve ever seen a picture of Copenhagen, it was probably a picture of these beautiful colored houses and restaurants by the harbor. They’re nice to look at and take pictures of, but otherwise there is not much else to do there if you are on a budget. Restaurants and stores are very expensive in this area.
For more awesome things to do in Copenhagen click here.
What To Skip in Copenhagen
Little Mermaid Statue
Just a small statue not worth waiting in line to take a picture with.
Popular Events & Festivals in Copenhagen
Copenhagen Jazz Festival
The Jazz Festival in Copenhagen is held every July for ten days, and is considered one of the biggest jazz festivals in Europe. There is no fixed venue for this festival as concerts are held all over Copenhagen.
Roskilde Festival is a four day open-air music festival held in July. Every year, the festival hosts nearly 200 bands and solo artists on eight different stages.
CPH PIX is an annual film festival with hundreds of high quality screenings from all over the world.
Strøm Festival is an annual electronic music festival held in August at different venues around Copenhagen.
Wander through museums, art galleries, churches, the supreme court, the parliament and many other places on Culture Night, and see Copenhagen in a different light.
How to Get Around in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is a bike city, which means bike lanes are bigger than walking lanes and you can literally get anywhere on a bike. If you are a biker, make sure to explore the city on a bike.
Insider tip: The cheapest bike rental place we know of is ByCyklen. They are renting bikes for 25 DKK (~$3.50 USD) an hour.
Obviously the cheapest option is walking, which is great because Copenhagen is a walkable city, especially on sunny days. Plus, most tourist attractions are within walking distance of each other.
3.) Public Transportation
Copenhagen’s public transportation can be a bit confusing since prices depend on the zone you are going to. Most attractions are in zones 1 and 2, and the airport is in zone 3. The train from the airport to the city costs 36 DKK (~$5.50 USD), a single ride ticket costs ~28 DKK (~$4 USD) for 2 zones, and a single ride for all zones costs ~104 DKK (~$16 USD).
If you are staying in Copenhagen for a longer period of time, we suggest getting the tourist pass. We purchased the 72-hour tourist pass for 200 DKK (~$30 USD) and it was good for zones 1-4, and it included all buses and trains.
General Travel Tips for Copenhagen
1.) Copenhagen Card
If you are in Copenhagen for a few days, look into getting a Copenhagen Card. Upon purchase, it gives you free transportation on all buses and trains, plus free or discounted access to a lot of attractions. Of course, do the math to see if the price is worth it. If you don’t plan on visiting many attractions then don’t waste your money. (Price: 469 DKK (~$70 USD) for a 48-hour pass)
2.) Cook Your Own Meals
You can save a lot of money if you cook your own meals. Since most hostels in Copenhagen have a community kitchen, it is definitely doable.
3.) Drink Tap Water
Tap water in Copenhagen is not only drinkable, it also tastes good, so avoid buying bottled water. Mother nature and your wallet will thank you :D
Day Trips from Copenhagen
Below you will find some of our favorite day trips from Copenhagen:
- Hven: Tiny Swedish island between Denmark and Sweden, with beautiful landscapes and beaches.
- Helsingør: Home to one of the most important Renaissance castles in northern Europe, Kronborg Castle.
- Bornholm: Considered the sunniest part of Denmark, which makes it a very popular day trip from Copenhagen.
- Humlebaek: Home to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, one of the best museums in Denmark.
- Malmö, Sweden: Famous for its restaurants and cuisine, and a big draw for foodies.
Get Insured Before Backpacking Copenhagen
No matter how long or short your trip, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and trust us, you don’t wanna get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it. We recommend World Nomads.
Even if you don’t get travel insurance with World Nomads, please make sure to get travel insurance from somewhere.
Other Travel Guides
For more information and guides on Copenhagen check out some of the links below.
- Walking Tours of a White Copenhagen: A “cool” 3-day itinerary and photo essay of Copenhagen in the Winter.
If you are more of a book person and would rather carry a physical guide with you while backpacking Copenhagen, we recommend Lonely Planet Pocket Copenhagen. Remember though, don’t follow it step by step, use it as a guide instead.
If you enjoyed our backpacking Copenhagen on a budget guide, please share it on social media and consider coming back to plan your next trips with our other detailed backpacking guides.