Lifestyle

Travel on a budget: Copenhagen

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Laura Pathe tells how we can visit the Danish capital Copenhagen without spending our entire student loan

By Laura Pathe


Copenhagen is notorious for being on the wrong side of a bit pricey. Up there with Oslo and Stockholm, it’s been branded as one of the top most expensive places to visit. So, is it possible to go on a budget? The simple answer is, yes. With some pre-planning and savvy know-how, it is indeed possible for a frugal student to visit this magical Danish capital.

Last month I did just that, spontaneously booking a 4-day trip and for £250 all in. And here is how I did it:

First things first

Crucially, it isn’t expensive to get there. Flights can cost between £40 and £100. So, if you fancy paying a visit to the Danes in the New Year, there’s little stopping you. Copenhagen is small but by no means compact; it is spacious yet easy to traverse, which is perfect for those with less than adequate map reading skills (or just in case you have one too many tipples). Pick up a free map in the airport, download the app CityMapper and you are all set to explore the city’s delights.

Travel with ease

A quick point about getting around: get the CityPass straight to your phone. It’s around £22 for 72 hours travel and it includes airport transfers, trains, buses, trams and boats, to name a few.

Now for the more exciting stuff…

Eat like a queen (or king)

One of the greatest pleasures in life has to be going to another country and sampling their regional delights. Copenhagen has a huge cuisine variety, ranging from sushi to burgers, avocados to pastries; there is something even the fussiest eater will enjoy. So put down your Pot Noodle and spend that loan on some real food!

Pastries galore

The Danes are rather famous for their pastries, as you may well know, and this is a great way to cut down on breakfast expenses. Source your nearest bakery and head there for a sweet morning treat and coffee.

The best place to aim for is Mayers Bageri, a small chain led by ex-Noma chef (only officially named the best restaurant in the world and pioneer of New-Nordic cuisine), which are conveniently dotted around the city.

If you crave something more substantial one morning, then the best place to go is one of The Laundromat Cafes. The clue is in the name: there is literally a laundry room in the café itself, adding a quirky twist to your smashed avocado and eggs or bacon waffles. Did I also mention you can get breakfast and coffee for under a tenner there? That’s right, you can.

Heavenly burgers

Tommi’s Burger Joint in Kødbyen’s busy Meatpacking District is well priced and serves easily the best burger in the whole of Copenhagen. You choose between meat or veggie, chips or sweet potato fries and the rest is down to them. The choice is minimal but simplicity is key and they will not disappoint.  The restaurant is small and lively, so be prepared to jostle for a table. The succulent meaty fumes fill the room, and it isn’t long before you’re tucking into the best burger of your life. Throw in a beer and you can get it all for under £10.

The Meatpacking District is worth spending an evening in if you fancy a pint that doesn’t cost £15! So, if you can’t get a table at Tommi’s, try The Punk Bar just across the road. A pint costs £3.50 and you can smoke inside, but beware, no hipsters allowed…

Street eats

Copenhagen’s street-food scene has grown alongside the extortionately priced New-Nordic cuisine, both becoming booming cultural influences since the millennium. This is a welcome relief. The readily available street-food means you can get delicious and substantial meals all around the city for a fraction of the price.

The ultimate experience is on Paper Island (Papirøen). Made from shipping containers, the indoor food market boasts the best sea view and draws creatives from all around the city. You can seek shelter inside or lounge on deck chairs in the sun and tuck into a hot-dog to rival all others.

Feeling fancy?

As previously mentioned, the New Nordic Cuisine drags around a substantial price tag – too much to bear for student budgets. But here is an alternative…

Do you want to experience the delights of local produce, cooked using traditional methods but altered by a modern twist? Then there is a hidden treasure just for you.

Manfred’s is rustic in design, small and intimate with a kitchen that is part of the dining experience. It is fine dining for those on a budget, but neglecting none of the mystery and magic one might expect. You can have a chef’s selection of seven plates for £25. If you feel inclined, you can double that price for a sommelier’s pairing of wine for each dish. The food portions are by no means puny, so don’t be put off by that expectation. They are visually simple, comprising of only a few ingredients with the intention of enhancing only their natural flavours. For that small(ish) amount of money, the food and the experience are like nothing else available, so go ahead and treat yourself.

Onto the sights!

The key here is to avoid spending money on sightseeing. There are so many things to do for free that you may even struggle to find time to do them (especially with all that eating to be done).

The Round Tower is free to enter and offers the most spectacular view of the city. Inside it is a tower without stairs; it spirals upwards like a gigantic helter-skelter, positioned at the exact centre of the city.

The Botanical Gardens is a naturally beautiful space within the heart of the city. The Victorian style greenhouse is comprised of three rooms filled to the rafters with exotic fauna. Why not climb the spiral staircase to the top of the dome and marvel at some natural beauty.

Freetown Christiania is an autonomous neighbourhood built from an old army barracks. A self-sustained collection of residents has formed a community separate from the rest of the city, causing much controversy due to its cannabis trade. If you want to experience something different, if a little contentious, then pay the commune a visit – but beware, the area can be dangerous so check the visitor guide before going.

Remisen Flea Market in Osterbro is a great indoor space to wander around and peruse the Danish tat (or gems, you never know) and grab a cheap coffee and cake in the community run café on site.


Copenhagen really is is a haven for student’s on a budget. Don’t let misconceptions hold you back, this city is full of plenty of budget options, and they are just waiting for you to find them.

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