Yes, you read it right, Copenhagen is doable on a budget! Anyone who has ever travelled to Scandinavia knows that it can be very expensive but unbeknownst to many tourists, there are a lot of awesome things that you can do for cheap – and for free. Summer is a glorious time to visit, as Copenhagen comes alive and teeming with many delightful sights and prospects. If you haven’t visited Copenhagen yet, it’s high time to take advantage of the cheap flights and enjoy what the city has to offer.

Here are 18 of the most exciting and off-the-beaten path ideas on how to experience the city of Copenhagen like a local, for free and under 50 DKK! Chuck off your guidebooks and read on.

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1. Go Thrift Shopping

Style is in the Danish DNA. Walk along the streets of the city and you’ll sure notice that Copenhageners are a fiercely fashionable bunch. Forego Strøget and snag some Danish fashion aesthetics in many of the cool thrift/vintage shops around the city. I always try Fasio, Prag and OSV Secondhand Fashion. Prices start from 10 DKK.

2. Climb the highest tower

Take in the magnificent 360 view of the city from Copenhagen’s highest tower, Tårnet at Christiansborg Palace. The building which also houses the parliament, has only been recently open to the public last year and accessible to the public for free. Since not many know yet that it’s now open to visitors, the viewing platform has much lesser crowds than the more popular alternatives. In my opinion, you cannot get a better view of the city than here. From the top, marvel at great Danish architecture and at the sight of neighboring Sweden from across the water!  FREE

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3. Have a cake and a view

All that sightseeing can be quite exhausting. How about a little break for coffee and cake while you are at the Tårnet? Time your visit to the tower from 14:00-16:00 so you can enjoy the delicious cakes and exquisite views from the Bojesen restaurant.  A slice of cake for 40 DKK

4. Bike the orange path

The city has some of the most bicycle-friendly infrastructures in the world. To experience biking in true Copenhagen style, pedal your way along  the lovely elevated orange lanes of Cykelslangen or Cycle Snake. Riding over the water will treat you to amazing sceneries of the harbour. See this video for serious cycling envy. FREE

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5. Take the local bus boats

Some of the best views of the city can be best enjoyed by boat. A cool alternative to taking tourist canal tours is by riding the harbour buses like the Danes  (#991, 992, 993). These are part of the public transport system and sail between Refshaløen and Teglholmen, as well as a very brief crossing between Nyhavn to the Opera House, passing by the many iconic landmarks of the city. See the routes here. Single ticket trip costs 24 DKK.  

6. Be a captain for a day

Alternately, be your own captain by tagging 7 friends along and cruise through the pretty canals and harbours with a Go Boat, a solar celled powered boat that can seat up to 8 people. Boat hourly rental per person for a group of 8 is 50 DKK.

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7. Chug a beer

Danes love their beers so it’s only fitting to pay a visit to local microbreweries. It’s worth checking out a cool alternative and punched with more attitude, Mikkeller. Here you can discover a big selection of the most interesting brews and hippest looking bottles you’ll ever find. From 25 DKK for a beer and up.

8. Dive in

Cool down and dive into the Copenhagen harbour baths. These are open air swimming recreational facilities along the city’s waterfront where the big city locals and visitors alike enjoy a good swim during the summer. Find the spots on the map here. FREE

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9. Get walking

I highly recommend taking the free walking tours of Copenhagen to get an overall feel of the city, bits of history and local tips for places that you could further explore on your own. My favorite is the Sandeman’s Free Tour of Copenhagen which offers a fantastic 2.5 hour free walking tour around the city.  Free/tip-based

10. Hang by the bridge

Ask where the hip hangout spot is on sunny days and they’ll most likely answer: Queen Louise’s Bridge (Dronning Louises Bro). Sit on the ledge, have some beer and watch the world go by. 6-pack beer for 45 DKK (optional)

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11. Relive the fairy tales

If you enjoyed the stories of Aesop’s Fables, The Little Mermaid or Emperor’s New Clothes as a kid, then it’s just right to pay homage to the genius behind these fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen. The resting place of Denmark’s most famous son is at the Assistens Cemetery, a peaceful spot in the middle of the capital  where many locals can be seen taking a break from the bustles of the area. FREE

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12. Visit the Candy Factory

Sorry, but it’s not exactly what you are expecting. Bolsjefabrikken or “The Candy Factory” is a non-profit culture house in Copenhagen ran by volunteers, young artists and musicians to promote cultural, social and political activities. Housed in an abandoned warehouse,  Bolsjefabrikken hosts events like concerts, game nights and underground music that are open for everyone to participate in. Free/donation-based

13. Have a Danish hotdog

For a cheap and delicious on-the-go grub, the traditional Danish hotdog is the perfect choice. Pølsevogn or “hotdog wagons” are parked on almost every major street and square of Copenhagen and are a favorite among locals across ages. I love the ones topped with crispy onions, pickles and remoulade – try it and you’ll be saying lækker in no time! From 30DKK. 18 things to do in Copenhagen on a budget 12

14. Get cultured

The city has many museums that you can visit for free, but if there’s one that you shouldn’t miss during your visit, it has got to be the National Museum of Denmark. It’s a touristy thing, I know, but it is definitely worth a visit.  It houses a vast collection of  remarkable,and at times, bizarre exhibits from thousands of years of Danish history. Devote hours for seeing well-preserved bog bodies and viking artifacts, among many others. FREE

15. Go hippie

When visiting Copenhagen, Freetown Christiania is a must.  The self-governing hippie enclave is controversial for its open use and selling of marijuana and hash. Besides its notoriety, the neighborhood is lined with unique sculptures, cool murals and brightly colored-homes, making the area one of the most visited in the city. A word of warning: Do not take pictures in Pusher Street where most of the transactions and kiosks are. An English guided tour in the area costs 40 DKK per person.

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16. Marvel at beautiful architecture

Danish architecture, characterised by its modern and highly dynamic style,  has won the world over and it’s easy to see why. The Danish Architecture Center has developed a podcast series that guides you around the new architecture and urban landscape around the city.  These different podwalks are available for download with the app Tales & Tours and are both available on iOS and Android. Highly recommended. FREE

17. Eat the Danish staple

Smørrebrød, the open-faced rye sandwich is as Danish as it can get. The toppings possibilities for these are endless, from cheeses, herring to liver pate and cured meats. To sample the real deal without paying overprice, head to Rita’s Shop where a piece of smørrebrød will just cost you 12 DKK.

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18. Explore Norrebro

Norrebro is the hippest and most interesting neighborhood in Copenhagen. Exploring and getting lost in the area is a treat to the senses. The hipster neighborhood is filled with offbeat urbanscapes, cafes, shops, nightlife and graffiti art.  Superkilen, a brightly painted half-mile long public space in the heart of Norrebro is worth a visit. Here you can grill, skate, sunbathe, relax, play or even work-out on its unique-looking exercise gears. FREE

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Copenhagen is a great mix of tradition and modernity; edginess and unassuming coolness, simultaneously classy and laid back.  It’s a fantastic city and everyone needs to experience for themselves what it is about Copenhagen that makes the Danes among the happiest. Copenhagen offers plenty of interesting and fun things to be had on the cheap.  It does not have to be exorbitantly expensive if you just know where to look! Hope the list inspires you to pack your suitcase and visit Copenhagen.

sherylyn oben

This is a guest post by Sherylyn Oben. Sherylyn is currently based in Copenhagen. She is an avid traveller, photographer and shares her stories on her own blog and on SurveyBee.