Copenhagen on a budget

by lbmt2

The Danish capital has a reputation for being an expensive city - but with a little forward planning, it's easy to visit Copenhagen without breaking the bank

Copenhagen is notoriously expensive, but I have always wanted to go. So when I saw a bargain flight, I decided that it was too good an opportunity to miss, and set about organising a cheap weekend away.

Bargain beds

First step was to sort out accommodation, and the budget option is obviously a hostel. I opted for Hotel Copenhagen, which is a sort of hostel/hotel. It cost around £50 a night and I was pleasantly surprised. My single room actually contained a double bed and also had a TV and sink (the shower and toilet were shared with the other rooms on the corridor). The hotel is just east of the river, so out of the town centre but easily within walking distance.

Another accommodation option would be the enormous Danhostel Copenhagen City, which is said to have great views and costs from around 200 DKK (c£23) a night.

Free sightseeing

There are plenty of free activities and sights in the city, including two of the classic Copenhagen attractions: Nyhavn and the Little Mermaid statue.

Nyhavn is a canal running inland from the harbour – it's featured on many postcards and tourist websites, as it is so picturesque. Sailing ships are moored up along the canal and the street running alongside is lined with brightly painted old houses. There are lots of overpriced bars on the street but you could just bring your own beer and sit by the canal to enjoy the view, as the locals do.

Lots of people say Den Lille Havfrue (the Little Mermaid) is overrated and small, but it's worth going to make up your own mind. I thought it was great that she is life-size and you can get so close. The surrounding park area and views out to sea are also beautiful. It's good to go first thing, when it's less busy.

If you like Danish design, Illums Bolighus department store (Amagertorv 6-10) is great just to look around even if you don’t buy. The same goes for the Designer Zoo (Vesterbrogade 137), which is much better than the disappointing Danish Design Centre.

Admission to Denmark's national gallery, Statens museum for Kunst, is free. It has a range of both older and more contemporary pieces, along with many works by Danish artists.

There are many beautiful parks in Copenhagen. I liked Frederiksberg Have: as well as lakes and gardens, you can also see the elephants of Copenhagen zoo here. Head to the back of the park and keep towards the left-hand side, and you should eventually come upon the elephant house.

Christiania is a ‘free town’ in Christianshavn. Local squatters established an independent, self-governing community in this abandoned army barracks in 1971 and it still has a hippie feel to it. It’s interesting to wander round this car-free area, see the murals on the walls and have a drink in a café.

Then there’s always the stunning architecture of the palaces and churches that you are bound to pass as you walk round, such as Amelienborg Slot, complete with royal guards, or Vor Frelsers Kirke, with its swirling spire.

Economy eats

My favourite meal was at RizRaz, a vegetarian buffet restaurant (Kompagnistræde 20). I know a lot of people will automatically look away at the word vegetarian, but I didn’t miss the meat at all. There’s a cold buffet with many types of salad from all over the world (noodles, tabbouleh, plain old green salad) and dips and sauces, plus a hot buffet with pastas, pizza and yummy falafels. At 89 DKK (about £10) for all you can eat, it is fantastic value.

Another great place is Spicey Kitchen Café (Torvegade 56). It serves curries for around 65 DKK (c£7.50). It's not ground-breaking but is filling and tasty.

For lunch and breakfast I went to one of the many gorgeous bakeries you'll find all over the city. You can get fresh bread for making sandwiches, and some cakes for dessert (although often I didn’t bother with the sandwiches, just the cakes!). In the centre of town they will cost more, but I liked Lagkegehuset in Christianshavn (Torvegade 45).

Getting around

The easiest and cheapest option is to walk. Copenhagen is a compact city and can easily be managed on foot. However, if your feet do get tired there are always City Bikes. These bikes are locked up at various places around the city and can be unlocked like a supermarket trolley, using a returnable 20 DKK coin. They can be quite hard-going, as they are designed to be used only within the city, not for hard-core cycling expeditions, but they are very handy. Look for the blue bikes with white wheels.