Happy Friday! I don’t know why but I seem to have a bit of a habit of sharing travel posts on Fridays. Maybe it’s because with the weekend almost here I feel as if I can allow myself a bit more time to dedicate to blogging and that means that those whopper travel posts that have ALL the photos, and take a lifetime to put together are possible. Seriously – travel posts are THE most time consuming of all posts, you have no idea how much I struggle to edit over 3000 + photos into something that resembles a blog post.
Anyway I was torn between getting back to our honeymoon series (because where did that go exactly?) and starting on our Copenhagen trip, while the ideas and sights and stories were all still fresh in my head. I took to the social media’s to ask what you’d prefer and YOU HAVE SPOKEN. Copenhagen it is! (Actually I got two comments on Instagram – buuut those two comments were pretty conclusive so let’s not dwell)
I was actually secretly rooting for honeymoon and Australia, as my gosh our honeymoon was 5 months ago and I really need to get a move on with concluding that adventure before it’s old news. But also, because we filmed a video of our time in Copenhagen which isn’t quite ready yet and I want to post that alongside all of the photos before I launch into everything we did and saw and ate.
But I am nothing if I don’t listen to my readers (or those two readers who commented on Instagram) so today I thought I’d put together a little guide to the city instead and save the video and photo diary for next week (or sometime this month – let’s not get ahead of ourselves).
Our trip to the Danish city wasn’t exactly planned. It was a place that had been on our travel wishlist for a while, but I can tell you there’s a whole lot of places on that wishlist so that means very little. But a few months back while casually scrolling through Skyskanner on a Sunday afternoon (please tell me I can’t be the only one who does that?) I found return tickets for £16 a pop. Yes that’s right… one – six… both ways. It would be rude not to buy them right? Even if we didn’t go, we’ve only lost just over £30 and that’s the price of my lunch some days (over exaggeration but you know what I mean). Of course, us being us, we didn’t buy them right there and then because GB has one of those boring things called a 9-6 job that means that he can’t go gallivanting whenever he pleases and just tell his clients the week before that he’s ‘switching his schedule around’ that week for ‘work’. Anyway by the time he had secured the time off and we’d picked a weekend, the return tickets had gone up to £25 a pop (which funnily enough I found myself outraged at considering they’d been £16 only a few days before) but all things considered £50 for two people to fly to another city on a weekend is pretty darn good. And we were left feeling pretty proud of ourselves for scoring such a cheap holiday and excited for the weekend to come.
However, whenever we told anyone about our impending trip we usually recieved a similar response;
‘Oh you will absolutely LOVE the city, but do be prepared as it’s SO expensive’
This definitely had us slightly apprehensive as, in case you haven’t got the gist of this post yet, we’d sort of planned this weekend trip a bit impromptu and as such really didn’t have the funds for a total blow out. Now I know that I say this as a Londoner (to whom everywhere else on the planet that isn’t London seems cheap) but I’m going to go ahead and counteract that above statement a little, and tell you that we didn’t find it that bad. There’s no doubt that any city break can become expensive depending on where you go, what you do, and what your priorities are, but having got pretty good at operating on a budget during any holiday over the years, these are our tips on visiting Copenhagen on the cheap.
In all honestly we did get stung a little with our accommodation, but compared to everything else we looked at it was still one of the cheapest options. Unbeknownst to us, the weekend we chose to visit the city was the weekend of the Copenhagen Marathon, something it seems people from all over the world travel to, and there was also some (unknown?) conference going on which caused pretty much every hotel to be booked up. Firstly remember that Copenhagen (compared to a lot of other cities) isn’t huge and there isn’t an abundance of hotel options, so book plenty in advance.
But, actually my biggest tip is simply to avoid the city centre. Because it’s not that big, you can actually cycle and walk everywhere in no time at all, making areas which might seem far out actually very accessible. After ruling out hotels, we opted for our fail safe – AirBnB – and quickly found that the area of Norrebro, slightly North of the centre was by far the cheapest. A quick bit of research confirmed that it was ‘hip’ area of Copenhagen, formerly the red light district, but now turning into the most sought after place to live for young couples due to the quirky streets laden with vintage shops, cool coffee abodes, hipster restaurants and craft beer bars. Obviously seeing as GB and I are SO hip (ahem), we were immediately sold and booked up a, within budget, flat in the heart of the area… which then let us down the week before because ‘she got the dates mixed up’. Sigh. Thankfully we managed to panic book another apartment, slightly above budget but in a similar area, and all was well.
And can I tell you – we loved this area. On our first day in the city (we arrived around 5pm) we made our way to the flat (super easy from the airport – a train and a bus – and we were there in 40 mins) and after freshening up, decided to just explore our local area that evening to grab some dinner and a few drinks. This is about when we had our ‘what was everyone talking about?’ phase in relation to the prices, as all the local bars and restaurants were incredibly cheap. Cheaper than London even. The next day we rented bikes from a local shop around the corner from our flat, and again, got them cheaper than any price we’d looked at online for bike rental in the centre.
That first day it took us around 45 mins to cycle in to NyHavn altogether, but that’s because we stopped off a lot to take photos/grab drinks/check the map. On the way back it only took us 20 mins, and there was also a bus that left from the street outside our door and would have had us there in 6, so we definitely weren’t far away.
If you want to check out AirBnb, we stayed at this trendy apartment!
That leads me nicely onto the next easiest way to save money on your Copenhagen trip – avoid expensive travel. The metro system isn’t as big a deal as it is in London, and honestly apart from perhaps getting to and from the airport or if you wanted to go somewhere outside of the city, I can’t imagine why you’d need to use it. Buses were definitely easy, and we used them occasionally in the evenings when we were all dressed up for dinner and climbing onto a bike didn’t seem right, but again fairly expensive. Not extortionate – a one journey ticket between zones 1-2 which lasts for an hour was 24 krone each which is around £2.50 and similar to what you’d pay anywhere – but if you were making those journeys all day it could rack up. If you are going to use buses I’d advise getting the 24/48 hour travel pass when you first arrive at the train station as that way you can use it all day long on all transport and won’t have to worry.
Our choice though, was to rent bikes and cycle or walk everywhere, which I’d definitely recommend as it was the best way to see the city and SO MUCH FUN. Honestly, Copenhagen is made with cycling in mind and it was a joy to do so. I was pretty nervous to begin with (perhaps seeing the busy roads and imagining London cycling) but it was so much easier than I’d envisioned as the cycle paths are HUGE and as long as you stay on the right side (if like us, you weren’t totally sure where you were going or what the system was when you reached a crossroad) there is plenty of room for the experienced cyclists and Copenhagen locals to get past you without your – slow ambling along and stopping to take pretty photos – annoying them. We saw so many different areas of the city by simply getting lost and ended up places that weren’t even on our list, plus it made me feel like a true local and had me falling in love with the city even more than I think I would have just travelling on public transport.
If you can (and even more so if it’s sunny) – cycle!! Also as I mentioned above, rent your bikes from a local shop rather than one of the big rental outlets or the city bikes (the equivalent of our Boris Bikes) as it’s far cheaper. We paid 100 krone (about £10) each for our bikes and had them for two days!
So down to the nitty gritty. Eating is usually where it starts getting expensive in a city right? And for GB and I, eating out is definitely one of our favourite things to do while travelling so we didn’t really want to compromise too much on this. Having said that, apart from one blow out meal on our second night, we really didn’t spend that much on food.
The reason being that we (ok I) had come across a few breakfast and brunch places ahead of travelling that I really wanted to visit and so these were kind of our – start to the day – each morning. And because we ended up scoffing our faces with everything from traditional Danish eggs on rye, to full breakfast platters, and stacks of pancakes along with coffees and smoothies and such like, we usually then found that we could happily tour about the city all day and didn’t get hungry for lunch until later on. By which point we’d grab something easy as we wanted to stay out and explore, and then head back to our apartment later on to hit a bar somewhere for drinks and a light dinner/nibbles.
And having kind of done this by accident, it’s now my top tip when it comes to eating. Breakfast, brunch and lunch are never going to be as expensive as dinner and usually you’re happier to grab something in the cheaper areas or a more friendly set up (think burgers, pancake joints, quirky cafes etc). If you’re heading out to a fancy restaurant every night, there’s no doubt it will be pricey so perhaps choose one night to do this and forget the cost, and then the rest of the time, eat a bigger breakfast or lunch (and make that the best meal of the day) and then opt for something simple at dinner.
Also, it goes without saying but avoid the overly touristy areas for eating. Having dinner by the harbour in Nyhavn might be lovely but it will be a lot more expensive than crossing the road and heading down one of the cute lanes to find a local place.
On the first night, having not done our research before heading out, we did our usual and ambled along aimlessly for a good hour before getting so hungry we waltzed into the first place we saw – a little pizza parlour on a rather hipster street where everyone was sitting outside drinking beer and eating giant pizza slices. It certainly wasn’t gourmet but we had a huge pizza to share, and two drinks for the equivalent of around £16, which is significantly less than you’d pay going our for a proper dinner, and meant we could then enjoy several drinks at the craft beer haunt without feeling guilty. On the second day, as I mentioned we ate an indulgent breakfast and then had gone to the street food market later in the afternoon (highly recommended) and stuffed our face there, so didn’t need a big dinner. That night we visited the Meatpacking District (a definite must visit but slightly pricier to eat in) and managed to avoid a massive dinner bill because we only needed something small so shared a few dishes and spent more on cocktails.
There are always ways around it!
The Laundromat Cafe, Norrebro – for breakfast, brunch and everything in between!
Kalaset, Vesterbro – the kitchest cafe around, and delicious pancakes.
Copenhagen Street Food Market – think Borough Market, but cooler.
Burger and Bun, Norrebro – best burgers in town
Kodbyens Fiskbar, Meatpacking District – trendy fish restaurant (slightly pricier but order the appetisers as they are actually quite filling)
Similar to above, drinking in any city is going to be expensive. My biggest tip if you are staying somewhere slightly out of the city centre is to drink locally rather than venturing back into town. We stopped for drinks a couple of times during the day while our exploring and always found this to be much more expensive than any bars we visited in Norrebro. Prices in Norrebro I have to say were very similar to prices in London, which again I realise for many is still considered expensive, but for us wasn’t out of the ordinary.
We picked one evening where we had more of a night out, and got dressed up, went for a nice dinner and had cocktails so were able to throw some budget towards that knowing that the other evenings we would just find a nice bar and have a couple of beers.
Mikkeler and Friends, Norrebro – craft beer bar with tons of different beer types and a trendy atmosphere
Dim Sum and Cocktails, Meatpacking District – cocktails are too good!
I know that everyone enjoys doing different things on holiday, so it’s hard for me to say whether you will find the activities expensive. Ultimately if you are someone who enjoys visiting all of the museums and galleries and tourist sights that you can, accept that there will probably be a charge for most of them, and compromise on other areas.
I guess GB and I are quite lucky that the type of things we enjoy doing on holiday, aside from eating and drinking, are relatively budget friendly. We enjoy walking around, seeing sights, taking photos, looking at architecture, visiting quirky streets, ambling around local shops, relaxing in parks and generally just taking the place in – all of which is usually cost free. Like any city, if you choose the tourist paths in Copenhagen you will find them expensive. I’d say prioritise the ones you really want to do and make time for them, putting that cost aside at the start of your trip, and then forget the rest – you can never ever do everything in one weekend anyway so it will give you something to look forward to the next time you visit.
We had three touristy things we wanted to try and do – visit Nyhavn (which we did, and loved it but just decided not to eat there to save money), go up the Spiral Church (we took a short boat ride over to Christianhavn to walk to it but unfortunately due to high winds they weren’t letting anyone climb it that day, but the trip was worth it all the same as Christianhavn was lovely) and visit the Tivoli Gardens (which we unfortunately didn’t have time for in the end – I’ve heard it’s very good but it certainly is a big cost – there is both an entry fee and seperate fees for all of the rides -so I think you need a full day to spend there to really soak it up).
The rest of the time we opted to get lost amongst the streets, visited some beautiful parks and gardens which are totally free (more on that in a future post) and enjoyed the sunshine while relaxing with a drink – bliss.
Nyhavn – for pretty coloured walls and picturesque scenes
Christianhavn – quieter cobbled streets, cute cafes and relaxed bars (also the Spiral Church is there)
Tivoli Gardens – amusement park with parks, restaurants and more
Assistens Cemetery – lovely park where Hans Christian Andersen is buried
Bispepjerg Cemetery – cemeteries in Copenhagen aren’t eery, they’re downright beautiful (and this one has the famous Cherry Blossom avenue!)
Vintage shopping in jægersborggade – cute and quirky shops, plenty of coffee shops and ideal for a morning of ambling
I hope this is helpful for anyone who may be planning a trip to the city but is worried about racking up big spending costs. Below are a few other websites and blogs which might be worth checking out before you visit, and of course I’ll be back with more photos, a video, and some outfit posts from the city soon.
The one thing I’ll say before I leave (because I’ve just realised I didn’t mention this the whole way through this post) is that I LOVED COPENHAGEN – it has definitely been bumped up to one of the top three in my list of favourite cities I’ve visited, so if you are going, ENJOY and please come back and tell me all about it!
Copenhagen Guides to check out
VisitCopenhagen – I found this website invaluable for tips and recommendations before I went
Copenhagen Insiders – The Frugality – Alex has put up a great post today with tips from those in the know which is great
Postcards from Copenhagen – Little Miss Katy – Katy’s post definitely inspired our trip and she has some awesome advice in there
A long weekend in Copenhagen – Being Little – I read Lyzi’s post not long after we’d booked our flights and she had me so excited to visit
The Best food in Copenhagen – Jasmin Charlotte – Jasmin has a few great posts on Copenhagen, and she was who told me to visit the Meatpacking District.