If you’ve ever considered a trip to Copenhagen, then you’ll probably be aware of how expensive the city is reputed to be.
Renowned for its eateries, wonderful architecture, illustrious history and its’ laid-back vibe and equally relaxed approach towards living, Copenhagen is a city not to be missed. From the stunning gardens and parks to regal castles and palaces, and from the New Nordic cuisine to downtown vibes in Christiania, it truly is something to behold. My trip was a gift from my younger sister to belatedly celebrate my birthday and her end-of-University. We managed to find affordable tickets (£5 there and £17 back!) via Ryanair and a great little room in an apartment between Frederiksberg and Norrebro, and thus our budget trip began. Although we hadn’t particularly planned on keeping our spending to such a minimum, we had a great time and I feel pretty content with what we spent and what we can now add to our family holiday budget (us Chai lot are hoping to wing it to New York!). Here’s how you can too:
Where to Stay
Hotel rooms are extortionately priced in Copenhagen. We considered a few boutique hotel options including the Crowne Plaza, Hotel Kong Arthur (seriously dreamy interiors), Hotel Alexandra and the AC Hotel Bella Sky Copenhagen, but at the end of the day, a city break doesn’t really require a goals af hotel suite.
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Instead, we settled for a private room Airbnb and we fell in love with it. Sonata’s place is Danish simplicity at its’ best with a gorgeous living room, little kitchen, huge bathroom and an airy bedroom. We met one of her flatmates who was absolutely lovely (and beautiful!) and didn’t have any problems with our stay. Our stay was worth it for the living room alone! You can find the listing here; don’t forget to book through my link, too!
What to See/Do
Our itinerary was completely packed with things to see and do and it meant our relaxing city break ended up being a little bit of a half-sprinting to get things ticked off trip. Louise is an architecture graduate, so we had plenty of buildings and stores to visit, but aside from those, these are the essential sights that we’d recommend visiting of the many out there.
We ended up visiting the Tivoli Gardens on our first day. It’s the second oldest amusement park in the world with rides, shops and restaurants that form around the natural features of the original gardens.
It was a little unbelievable to be wandering around a theme park on our first evening in Copenhagen but wonderful all the same! Rides are pricey but there really is something for everybody. I’d recommend popping in at around dinner time, having a lengthy dinner and then having a walk through the park as you wait for the lights to be switched on at 10.45pm. It truly is something to behold!
Of the three castles that we visited in Copenhagen, Rosenborg was my favourite. It was the castle of jollies (summer house) for the prince back in the day and features beautiful public gardens (honestly, SO stunning!), three floors of preserved rooms with a wealth of objects to browse and two floors of the royal treasury where you can view the crown jewels. The facade of the castle is absolutely heavenly, with little green rooftops and turrets in the Renaissance architectural style, dreamy and even slightly romantic. There are paper guides at the entrance that serve as helpful tour guides to the entire castle, a great morning or afternoon of tourism at just DKK110. Christiansborg Castle is styled in a Baroque Revival style and Amalienborg Castle in a Rococo style.
Louise and I really enjoy checking out art and exhibitions on holiday and our favourite this time round was the Designmuseum Denmark. It’s free on Wednesday evenings over the summer and there’s a great Danish furniture exhibition on at the moment, a Japanese exhibit and a fashion exhibition, where you can browse the Balmain archive. One of our highlights for sure, but not one for everybody.
The Botanical Gardens
I’m forever drawn to Botanical Gardens on city breaks and the Copenhagen offering is one of the most beautiful I’ve laid eyes on. Landscaped gardens full of every variety of flora and fauna, meandering pathways and a gorgeous conservatory with a plentiful cacti room make for a dreamy afternoon.
Danish Architecture Centre
If you’re interested in architecture, the DAC is a must-visit. Schedule it in if you’re planning to hang in Free Town Christiania as it’s quite close and doesn’t require much more than an hours’ visit. Here you can browse exhibitions that give you a new perspective into living and homes, offering a starting point as to why Copenhagen is praised one of the globe’s most liveable cities.
The Round Tower
For the infamous panoramic shot of the city, your best bet is the Round Tower in the city centre. It’s a short walk from the shops and a great mini workout to start the day off with! At a cost of DKK40, you can enjoy a 360° view of this fairytale city. Make sure you’re in trainers for the round-and-round uphill walk on cobbles!
Where to Eat
Eating out in Copenhagen is notoriously expensive. It matches up with the higher salaries and the mantra of eating well and making meals an occasion, but for tourists, this can quickly rack up the numbers as it isn’t always – if ever – an option to make food at home. Having said that, the majority of our budget went on food and we ate extremely well whilst adhering to a budget of sorts. It’s probably good to keep in mind at this point that we’re not drinkers when on holiday and, in general, our portion sizes are kept small.
Jægersborggade 9, 2200 København N
Top of the list of my foodie recommendations is Meyers Bageri, a small chain of bakeries who sell the best cinnamon buns around. No, seriously. Their kanelsnægel is the best pastry I’ve ever eaten. The store is a walk-in-walk-out deal with two bistro tables out front, but what I’d recommend is to buy one fresh from their Jægersborggade store and walk right down the street to enjoy it with a flat white from The Coffee Collective. And then thank me later.
Vesterbrogade 135, 1620 København V
On the recommendation of Hannah (read her Copenhagen food guide here), we made a Friday night reservation at PONY for some New Nordic cuisine. PONY is the sister restaurant of Michelin-starred Kadeau. Simple New Nordic dishes from an à la carte menu (two- or three-course sets available) that really encapsulate the simplicity, freshness and innovative approach to cooking in Denmark.
Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V
Situated right on the edge of the landmark pavilion that welcomes you to Tivoli Gardens, Fru Nimb is a darling restaurant that serves Danish smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) amongst a whole host of other homely dishes. The interiors are absolutely to die for and the service impeccable: if you find yourself waiting for the sun to go down so you can enjoy the lights at Tivoli, I’d absolutely recommend wiling some time away here for their incredible coffee, views and food.
Vendersgade 16, 1363 København K
A great option for vegans and vegetarians, Kalaset is really central and is somewhat of a hidden gem in that it is right by popular Torvehallerne. Kalaset has an underground country pub vibe with vintage ornaments and record players hanging from the walls, a small but wholesome menu and super friendly staff. I’d totally recommend their veggie burger which had a slab of cheese and awesome fig compote to freshen up a chickpea patty. SO good!
The Coffee Collective
For fellow coffee connoisseurs, The Coffee Collective is touted to brew some of the best coffee in Copenhagen. I tried their flat white, cold brew and latte on three separate occasions and can happily report back that their coffee is quite something! There are a few branches dotted around the city but my personal favourite was in Jægersborggade, where the interiors are all navy, pink, birchwood and brass metal. A total dream.
Falkoner Alle 34, 2000 Frederiksberg
Home to the so-called ‘Monster Cinnamon Bun’, Brødflov in Frederiksberg boasts an open-plan bakery and interior goals. Cacti everywhere, friendly staff, clean salads and snacks and their monster cinnamon bun, this cafe is awesome if you’re staying a little further out. Their cinnamon bun is great, seconded only by Meyers Bageri’s, and it’s a sweet place to chill en route to Frederiksberg Castle.
Gothersgade 30, 1123 København K
Atelier September was one of my favourite cafes in Copenhagen. The interiors are dreamy in a worn-down upmarket way and the menu is to die for. They serve smørrebrød but go for their avocado on rye bread – 100%.
I opted for shakshuka and Louise for the avo and we were not disappointed. Communal dining makes the whole place feel cosy and cool in that untouchable Danish way and there are coffee table books galore to browse through. Once you’re done, step through to the boutique out back for a little browse.
Copenhagen Street Food
Warehouse 7 & 8 PapirØen. Trangravsvej 14 1436 København K
If you enjoy street food dining and that Camden Food Market vibe, Copenhagen Street Food on Paper Island is for you. Louise and I spent an evening here eating as much food as our stomachs could hold and it was easily our favourite night! Chilled out vibes, live jazz on summer nights from 8pm and food from all across the globe make it a winner for everybody. The prices are comparable to London eats or UK food festivals at just under £10 per plate.
Frederiksborggade 21, 1360 København K
Last but not least, Torvehallerne is a covered food market: one half features cafe pop-ups and the other is for buying groceries. What’s unique here is that there’s a rule that no two vendors can sell the same wares, so you’ll be able to wander for absolutely ages choosing something to eat. I really enjoyed the hot dog place at the front whilst Louise recommends Laura’s Bakery for a cinnamon swirl.
Some other places of note that we didn’t manage to visit include: Gasoline Grill, Bæst, DØP, Mad & Kaffe, Honey, Møller Kaffe & Køkken and Sidecar.
- Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up each day to take with you to save on the pennies. Denmark’s tap water is some of the freshest around but if you’re worried, a Bobble bottle will do the job.
- The Metro in Copenhagen is super simple to use! It’s relatively affordable as Copenhagen is small but hard on your feet if you’re really exploring. Make sure you have change or a card that can be used abroad.
- If you’re certain that you’ll be eating at a particular place, do make a reservation! Fru Nimb and PONY were our two reservations, although we desperately wish we could’ve eaten at Mad & Kaffe, Møller Kaffe & Køkken and Sidecar given the chance!