Before my friend and I decided to visit Copenhagen, Denmark we looked into costs and decided we could just about manage a four day trip. “I’m literally packing pasta”, my friend said, “because the blog I read said you couldn’t get a sandwich for less than £20”.

A colleague at work told me alcohol was ridiculously expensive, and if we wanted to drink we ought to buy some at the airport to take with us. I began to panic thinking that in order to survive (and stay adequately intoxicated) within our budget we needed to fill our hand luggage with bread, vodka and vitamins.

At the end of our three days/four nights we had each spent around £150 including transport to and from London and everything the entire week. Did we feel like we were scrimping? Absolutely not, especially since £40 of that included a trip to Tivoli Themepark.

Flights

If you’re fortunate enough to live in Europe, particularly the UK, then flying to other parts of Europe on budget airlines can be incredibly cheap if you’re not bothered about flight times, and if you don’t need check-in luggage (and let’s face it, you’re only going for four days, do you really need an entire wardrobe’s worth of clothing?). My friend and I have the tendency to look for flights to everywhere using comparison sites like www.skyscanner.net and go where the wind takes us. This is how we’ve ended up in China and Morocco in the past. Our return flight from Luton to Copenhagen? £16 each. It did mean setting off on the way back at 5am, but for that price you can barely grumble. It cost us both more to get to London in the first place.

Getting to the Airport

We also have a history of getting to and from airports by the cheapest possible methods, which once included getting into a private car with five Arabic men in Morocco in order to not pay for a taxi. This is generally not my suggestion, however, there are usually public transport options to and from airports that are cheaper than taxis. In London we got the Easybus (customer service is appalling, though, be warned) which cost £7, and in Copenhagen we got the metro into the centre which ended up being free (also a risk I don’t advise taking).

Accommodation

Depending on the kind of trip you are going for accommodation can be cheap or next to nothing. I’m an avid supporter of Couchsurfing, which means staying with local hosts who host you for “free” in return for your company or whatever else you can offer them (we often cook food for the hosts we stay with). Historically couchsurfing has been excellent for us, and we’ve only had one not-so-great experience. You don’t get to choose where you stay as you’re searching for your host, not for your location, but it’s a great way to find out about the city properly and also have a proper “home” to stay in. Alternatively there are sites like AirBnB and Hostelworld where you can search for cheap and not-so-cheap accommodation.

Food

Eating out in Copenhagen isn’t cheap, but nor is it as expensive as we’d been lead to believe. By buying breakfast and dinner from the supermarket, we only ended up eating lunch out, which meant we could ‘splurge’. We ate at a market, Paper Island (highly recommended) and at a cheap pizza restaurant. Supermarkets are no more expensive than in the UK so ingredients are reasonably priced.

Entertainment

Tivoli is right in the centre of the city and offers some amazing views.

Tivoli is right in the centre of the city and offers some amazing views.

If you want to drink go to Christiania. The beer is cheap and people are good, and as long as the weather is alright you can drink outside without having to deal with the smokey Danish bars (surprisingly smoking is not yet banned inside). If you want to drink a lot pre-drinking is probably the best option, which any Londoner will be used to.

There are lots of amazing little art galleries scattered around Copenhagen (some of them are listed here) and the National Gallery is free and one of (if not the) best national galleries I’ve ever visited. Depending on when you go there are also regular events and exhibitions in different places, and we were fortunate enough to visit an amazing one that was just a couple of euros not far from Paper Island.

The best thing we probably did was a visit to Tivoli Theme Park on a night they also had a concert with Danish band SUSPEKT. On the weekends they often have concerts that are included with the price of the ticket. You can either pay simply for entrance, but if you intend to ride on more than a couple of rides (and since there are virtually no queues compared to British theme parks, you’re probably going to want to) it’s worth paying for the unlimited ride pass, which although expensive is worth it. Tivoli is the second oldest theme park in the world, beaten only by a theme park on the outskirts of Copenhagen, and is worth visiting just to look. There are no huge rides but a few decent rollercoasters and other attractions, and there are a lot of reasonably priced food stalls around. When we were there they also had a beer happy hour that meant it was cheaper than buying from the super market, and you could watch the famous pantomime that has been going on since the park opened in 1843.

Overall, like most cities, the best thing to do is walk around and just take in sites. Copenhagen isn’t so large it can’t mostly be explored on foot, and there are an abundance of beautiful little cafes to stop at to refresh.

Image Credit: Moyan Brenn