When we told friends we were going to Copenhagen for a long weekend, the most common response was, “wow, you’d better start saving!” Copenhagen, and Scandinavia in general, are known as expensive places to visit from the UK. As it was an adults-only trip this time, we knew we’d have three fewer mouths to feed at least, but we were prepared to spend a lot of money even on the basics. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find that there are low-cost and even free things to do in Copenhagen. Here’s a roundup of our favourites.
Walk around the canals
Copenhagen’s beautiful canal fronts are iconic. Lined with coloured buildings in all sorts of shapes and sizes, they weave through the city. Walking around Copenhagen is a great way to see the city, and it’s so diminutive in size that it’s easy to navigate on foot. Keeping close to the canals, you’ll see many of the city’s interesting sights and quirky areas, plus there is an abundance of coffee shops along the waterfront if your budget can stretch to a cup.
We liked crossing the Kissing Bridge, a modern bike and footbridge connecting Nyhavn and the city centre with less busy, more residential areas like Christianshavn. Here, you can wander away from the water towards Christiania (see next) or stick by the canal and admire the beautiful spiral spire at the Church of Our Savior.
Founded in the 1970s, Christiania is a large commune in the Christianshavn area of Copenhagen. As you enter, an overhead sign informs you that you are leaving the EU and signs warn not to take photos (except at permitted places). It’s an eclectic enclave of colour, music and street art and can be a little overwhelming!
Over approximately seven hectares, you’ll find restaurants, music venues, arts and crafts shops and stalls, a skate park, and art installations. You may even find cannabis sellers, though reports suggest there has been a crackdown in recent years.
See the Botanical Garden
The expansive Botanical Garden is one of Copenhagen’s loveliest parks. It’s free to enter and contains a huge variety of trees and plants from Denmark and around the world. The glass Palm House (and Butterfly House in the summer) charge admission, but there’s plenty to see and do without visiting.
We enjoyed a couple of hours sitting on the grass and reading. The peaceful atmosphere was relaxing and would be a great picnic setting. We also liked visiting the brewery garden, where botanists are growing plants related to traditional ways of making beer.
Visit a museum
Copenhagen has an abundance of museums but most charge admission, which can be steep. Some attractions offer a free-for-adults day once a week (day varies by museum), so you can check out world-famous art or natural history exhibits without paying. The city also homes a small number of museums that are free year-round.
Get to know Nørrebro
Nørrebro is an up-and-coming area just north of Copenhagen’s centre. It’s multicultural, diverse, and well worth a visit. The best way to see this neighbourhood is on foot, so you can take in the bars, restaurants, and shops. We recommend the ‘Know Your ‘Bro’ walking tour – a free, digital guide. Unlock points of interest as you walk near to them, read snippets of the area’s history, and check out intriguing public spaces and hidden gems.
We stopped for a beer at microbrewery BRUS and shawarma at Kösem, but it is possible to do the tour without spending money. You’ll find a petting zoo, community garden, and purpose-built exercise area among the stops.