A city guide to Copenhagen, Denmark, perfect for budget travelers and study abroad students.
For college travelers, Copenhagen represents a peaceful, unique, and versatile European destination.
Though Scandinavia has notoriously expensive cities, it is possible to experience the Danish capital city on a student budget.
RyanAir flights to and from here are ridiculously cheap, loads of excellent hostels make for affordable accommodation, and student discounts lessen the costs of some worthwhile attractions.
Copenhagen is also small enough that most of the area can be explored on foot, allowing for a more intimate experience with the city while saving costs on public transportation.
The relatively small size also makes Copenhagen the perfect spot for a weekend trip. Most of Copenhagen’s best attractions can be covered in a few short days, allowing it to slide in nicely with a busy student schedule.
Most people in the city also speak English, which definitely brings a sense of comfort to American study abroad students.
Here is your budget-friendly travel guide to Copenhagen, Denmark!
Best Things To See in Copenhagen:
Church of our Savior
For a small price (with student discount available), you can climb the bell tower of this gorgeous, Baroque church.
After making your way up the narrow, winding spiral staircase rimmed with gold, let your eyes feast on the panoramic view of the colorful city.
If you’re looking for an escape from urban life, the Botanic Gardens make for an incredibly scenic and peaceful afternoon.
After meandering through the lush outdoor garden filled with stone walkways and a serene, glassy pond, enter the massive greenhouses to see eccentric flowers and outrageous exotic plants.
This centrally located, pedestrians-only street is the life and soul of Copenhagen’s Old Town. As one of the city’s main shopping areas, this long avenue is home to many popular, high-end stores in addition to traditional local shops.
One of Copenhagen’s most iconic sights, this canal-side street is packed with adorable, brightly painted buildings that add picturesque vibrancy to the endless rows of boats resting calmly on the water.
You may choose to stop in one of the many cafes along the street, or simply stroll around and absorb the colorful energy of the area.
Located in Copenhagen’s Christianshavn borough, this neighborhood crawls with creativity and has a carefree atmosphere.
From winding dirt roads, to food trucks with outdoor picnic tables, to skateboarding areas, to tons of fantastic street art, Freetown Christiania represents a charming oasis of artistic freedom and intoxicating vibes.
Photography is not allowed, however, so be sure to appreciate the humble quirkiness of the neighborhood as you will never see anything else like it.
Free Things To Do in Copenhagen:
Stroll Along the Canals
Canals are the threads that hold the fabric of Copenhagen together, so walking along the endless maze of little rivers is the best way to see the city’s beauty for free. Sunsets turn the canals into glowing streams of gold, while nighttime causes the city’s buildings to reflect their glimmering lights into the water.
Admire Rosenborg Castle and Gardens
Though you have to pay to enter this gorgeous Renaissance Palace, it is free to observe the majestic building from the outside. The spacious gardens are also open to the public, which are perfect for an afternoon walk or a picnic in the soft grass.
Visit the Royal Library
A quick trip to Copenhagen’s gigantic public library is a wonderful addition to free sightseeing. The building’s sleek, modernist architecture is quite impressive, and the sweeping glass windows create lovely views.
Affordable Things To Do in Copenhagen:
If you’re up for spending a little money, there are some super fun activities you can do in Copenhagen.
Take A Canal Tour
For less than $20, you can take a one hour cruise along the canals of Copenhagen. This is a super fun way to treat yourself, and it is still very affordable. Check out the stunning views of the city from the water and take some incredible photos!
Rent A Bike
You’ll notice that the Danish locals love to ride their bikes around the city. It is a fun and easy way to get around, and it allows you to cover more ground and explore more!
Ask around for the best bike rental shops, such as Copenhagen City Bike, or check out this bike rental tour company.
Experience the Wonders of Tivoli
As the world’s second-oldest amusement park, Tivoli Gardens hosts numerous restaurants, exciting rides, and frequent shows and performances. The area is particularly stunning in the winter when Christmas decorations and exuberant lights transform the park into a magnificent winter wonderland.
What to Eat in Copenhagen:
Denmark is famous for its delicious open-faced sandwiches, which consist of dark rye bread and various toppings including cheese, meat, and other spreads.
You can find this delicious meal all over Copenhagen, but Schønnemann is a very traditional Danish cafe that serves some of the best Smørrebrød in the city.
It’s definitely worth treating yourself to a nice brunch in Copenhagen, including fresh coffee, baked goods, and other hearty dishes.
The city is crawling with incredible brunch places, but a popular favorite is Mad & Kaffe, which has multiple locations and allows you to create your own brunch plate.
Denmark’s bakeries sell some of the most incredible, fluffy pastries and loaves of homemade bread.
While cafes and bakeries lie around every corner, Andersen Bakery and Cafe near Central Station is famous for its gourmet hot dogs and traditional Danish pastries.
The Meatpacking District is also packed with amazing food places and bustling bars and represents a great area for a night out.
Visit the food market, Kødbyens Mad & Marked, open on weekends throughout the summer with around 70 different food vendors.
In the evening, visit WarPigs, a brewpub complete with a restaurant as well as an on-site brewery.
How To Get Around Copenhagen:
Walking is the cheapest and most enjoyable way to explore the city, and luckily Copenhagen has a reputation for having a very safe environment.
The Metro is also a useful tool that is easy to figure out and relatively inexpensive. For example, the Metro can transport you from the airport right to Copenhagen Central Station, which is conveniently located within walking distance from the heart of the city.
Things To Know Before Visiting Copenhagen:
As many locals love biking, most roads have bike lanes which are frequently packed with bike traffic. Definitely keep an eye on these and try to avoid walking in them to avoid being run over by bikers.
Denmark also prides itself on its Christmas traditions, so definitely try to visit during the holidays to get a taste of the magnificent Christmas markets and decorations.
Overall, Copenhagen is notorious for being one of the happiest places in the world, so be sure to relax, absorb the laid-back atmosphere, and truly enjoy your time there.
If you’re traveling to Denmark, visit iVisa.com to find out if you need a visa.
Check out my other articles from Denmark and Scandinavia: