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Many travelers I meet tell me that Copenhagen is a perfect holiday destination only if it wasn’t that expensive. And I cannot really disagree with that statement, as it is, in fact, one of the most expensive cities in Europe. However, if you are not planning on booking a dinner in Noma or riding around in a taxi, there are enough cheap things to do in Copenhagen to make you change your mind.
And since I am the one living here for five years, it is up to me to show you how cheap Copenhagen can really be. Make sure to bookmark this page in order not to lose the map with all free things to do in Copenhagen.
Free things to do in Copenhagen
1. Nyhavn walk
You cannot visit Copenhagen without doing a walk along the most famous place in Copenhagen, Nyhavn, where you can take the postcard shot of the Copenhagen colorful houses by the harbor. After all, it is one of the most instagrammable places in Copenhagen! It is a great place to have a drink, especially in the summertime when you can just stretch your legs sitting on the edge of the road facing the canal. This is where locals go to have a Friday beer after work when the weather is nice.
2. Visit Black Diamond library
Visit the biggest library of the Nordics. Black Diamond is a royal library connecting modern with old, both architecturally and technologically. Come here to witness the marvel of modern library life, head for coffee in the cafe or simply have some quiet time on the computer. Many events and classic concerts take place here as well. By the way, the library is not named Black Diamond by chance. When the sun rays hit the water, the reflection from the canal makes the whole building sparkle like a diamond.
3. Take a stroll through Freetown Christiania
Christiania might be a controversial place but it surely is authentic, unique and worth a visit. Freetown Christiania is a neighborhood populated by hippie community with its own set of rules. It is better known as a place where people go to get weed but it is also a great place for concerts and music events.
⚠️ Remember, that drugs are still illegal in Denmark!
4. Take a shot with Little Mermaid
Though I consider Little Mermaid a disgrace to everything Copenhagen has to offer, you can still see her for free while taking a stroll along the harbor. If anything, it is a nice walk near the place where cherry blossoms are the prettiest in Copenhagen. Highly recommended in spring!
5. Witness the change of guards
Of course, you do not want to miss the Queen’s Palace and glimpse over the change of guards that happens every day at 12:00 at noon. Get an awesome chance to see Danish guards in funny hats do their royal routine and pay a visit to the Queen! Amalienborg Palace comprises of four houses centered around a statue to King Frederik V. Whenever members of the royal family are present in the residence, a flag will be raised over a building where they stay.
6. Visit Botanical Gardens
One more free thing to see in Copenhagen is Botanical gardens. It is a peculiar place where each room mimics the temperature and humidity of a geographical location plants are coming from. In my personal opinion, this is a great place to get some tropical weather during cold Danish winters.
7. Picnic at Frederiksberg Gardens by the Palace
One of the marvelous displays of Danish royalty, Frederiksberg Palace is definitely worth a visit. It has a huge open garden right across the street, so you can come in anytime. It is a perfect choice for a sunny day picnic on the grass overlooking the Palace.
8. Climb the Tower of Christiansborg Palace
One of the top things to see in Copenhagen, the Christiansborg Palace, serves as a parliament building that you might be interested to see anyways. The bonus point is that it also has a tower offering an awesome view of the city that is free to climb. Fair enough, it attracts a lot of visitors. The downside is that there are often queues to get in.
9. Take a free walking tour
What’s a better way to see the city than let a local show you around? Get that and also meet other travelers via joining one of the Copenhagen free walking tours. Copenhagen is a city best explored on foot (or a bicycle!), so do not skip the opportunity to do so.
10. Chill at Islands Brygge baths
This is one of my favorite Copenhagen areas for many reasons. Harbor with a wooden deck, this is a great place to sit down and watch the city during a warm day. Many locals bring their one-time barbecue sets and grill some food by the water. Here, there are many other sport options you can go for: kayaking, water polo, and even renting out your own solar-powered boat, all these options are available here on Islands Brygge.
11. Watch a movie for free
Zulu summer cinema gives you another opportunity to experience Danish hygge aka ‘coziness’ by coming to the open air cinema in the Fælledparken or any other place they come up with! Bring a few snacks, grab a blanket, take your friend and you are up for a cozy or a romantic evening under the stars.
12. Party like a Dane at any of the free festivals
Copenhagen likes music. From a crazy Distortion street party in beginning of June and a mellow Jazz fest in beginning of July to electronic music school Strøm in August. All these fests are free, mainly open-air and location independent events that are scattered all over the city. For more information, read my article on 7 AWESOME MUSIC FESTIVALS IN DENMARK.
13. Hit the Amager beach
Not many people think of Copenhagen as a beach destination, but when the weather is great, it could serve as a great escape place from the heat (heat? haha!). Right in the city, you can find a 5 km white sand beach with plenty of space for everyone, it is called Amager strand and it is easily accessible by metro.
14. How about a brunch and ballet?
Love ballet? A great possibility to see ballet for free is to go to a ballet brunch. You get a chance to see ballet performers’ morning training and rehearsal in a fancy Danish Royal Theater. There is a possibility to buy food on the spot as well if you don’t have your own meal. Make sure to come in advance in order to secure a spot.
15. Spot some deer in the animal gardens
Want to see wild animals without going to the Zoo? If you are willing to hop on a train and ride a few stops outside the city, I advise you to pay a visit to Dyrehave, a lash huge garden where wild animals like to hang out. Just have patience, walk around and you will definitely see some deer, there are plenty of them in the garden. It is totally free as well.
16. See the oldest amusement park in Europe
While you are at it in Dyrehave, just take a turn to Bakken to visit the oldest amusement park in Europe. You can still see that wooden roller-coaster that will probably get your adrenaline pumping simply because it is very old. Unlike Tivoli, there is no entrance fee in Bakken, so you are welcome to walk in whenever you like. The open season starts on 30 March and lasts until 31 August.
17. Visit some of the numerous Copenhagen museums
The reason I left museums for last is I am not a big fan of them. But if you fancy a visit to a Copenhagen museum or need to hide from rain, there are a few free entrance museums in Copenhagen. Here you can find a list of admission-free days.
Cheap things to do in Copenhagen
18. Canal tour
One of the must do’s in Copenhagen is taking a canal tour to sail through the best areas of the city. Though there is a great variety of options, the cheapest one will cost you 40DKK ($5) for one hour ride. It is a great way to know more about the city as well as rest watching the calm Danish harbor from the seaside.
19. Experience Copenhagen’s Culture Night
If you are lucky to visit Copenhagen during October you might just hit the jackpot, as every October there is a night during which many of the museum, art centers, public offices, and castles are open for public. This night is known as Kulturnatten (Culture Night). It is a night of fun, installations, and promotion of cultural centers of Copenhagen. You need to obtain a Culture Pass for 95DKK which comes with a printable guide listing all organizers participating that year. With this pass you also get free transportation on trains, metro and buses on the night of the event (from 5pm to 5am).
20. Visit the fairytale Copenhagen Tivoli gardens
Tivoli itself is not free (100 DKK entrance fee) but if you are determined to visit one of the main attractions in Copenhagen, make sure to come here on Friday. One of the amazing priceless bonuses of visiting Tivoli in summer is Fredagsrock. Each Friday during summer Tivoli hosts a free concert. Very often world-known starts such as Sting, Elton John, 30 Seconds To Mars come here to play for everyone who’s in. Which means you only need to buy an entry ticket and you get a concert for free, viola!
21. Climb the Round Tower (Rundetårn)
There are many ways to see Copenhagen from atop, be it a star fly ride in Tivoli, a top of Church of Our Savior in Christianshavn or the Christiansborg Palace. However, one of the cheapest versions you can use for that is to go up the Rundetårn. It costs only 35 DKK ($5) and doesn’t involve a difficult climb.
22. Indulge yourself with exceptional Nordic food
It is not a secret that Copenhagen is known as a foodie capital of the Nordics. I mean, some of the world’s best restaurants like Noma are here, which is definitely not a budget place. If you are looking for something more relaxing, visit the Copenhagen Street Food, West Market or Torvehallerne, all of them have plenty of food stalls that offer a nice selection of things to try. Also, how about getting one of those food tours?
23. Carlsberg beer tour and tasting
Oh yes, you do not want to miss the cradle of the most popular beer in Denmark and maybe in the world? 🙂 You’ll be able to take a walk through the brewery, learn about its history, see the world’s biggest bottle collection and even get a beer sample, all for $15.
24. Shop during sales season
Shopping is one of the favorite things people like to do while visiting Copenhagen. And it won’t disappoint, Copenhagen is home to one of the longest walking shopping streets, Strøget, where you have the endless rows of stores available to you. Another great option for shopping in Copenhagen is Field’s mall that is situated in Ørestad, a little bit outside the city.
Though shopping in Copenhagen is generally not cheap, during sales seasons you can get some really great deals! Major sales take place at the end of June – beginning of July, and the end of December – beginning of January. Also, with stores such as Flying Tiger and Søstrene Grene, you can always find a small souvenir to take home for next to nothing.
25. Stroll through a local flea market (loppemarket)
Though Danes live rather well, they do not like waste in any form, be it plastic that is recyclable here or simply old possessions, which they like to sell at local flea markets. You can spot them in almost every neighborhood as soon as spring hits the city and locals bring out their stuff on the street to chat in the open air and get rid of their old possessions. Islands Brygge is a frequent flea market host.
26. Get local hip vibe from students in Studenterhuset
If are struggling to find a really cheap coffee place, I know where you need to go. Studenterhuset might not be your regular coffee shop, but it is very cheap and cozy. Presumably, this is where students are supposed to hang out, but the place welcomes everyone. You can get coffee here for 15-20 DKK and a tasty croissant as well. They host music events too from time to time.
27. Get coffee with best views in town
For me, every city exploration must come with taste of the local coffee. It is just a part of getting the culture and finding out where people go to hang out.
One of the best places to get coffee in Copenhagen and sightseeing at the same time is at Illum Rooftop. Among a number of overpriced restaurants, you’ll find a small Original Coffee shop where you can get a cozy beverage and enjoy the best views in the city – watching people shop at the Amagertorv square right in the heart of the shopping street Strøget.
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