Copenhagen on a budget

Copenhagen on a budget

by Ed Finn –

Copenhagen brings two things to mind: happiness and high prices. Monocle magazine has dubbed it the world’s most liveable city, and the United Nations gave Denmark first place in its first ever World Happiness Report. Despite the good cheer, however, it can also be an undeniably expensive place to visit. My plan? To experience ‘Happy Town’ without giving my wallet the blues.

Insider Intel

For quality Nordic Cuisine at affordable prices, go to one of Copenhagen’s 10 Cofoco restaurants (cofoco.dk). Created to offer customers twice as much for half the cost, a typical menu here consists of three to five delicious courses at a fixed price – generally between €33 and €45. At Höst, an aesthetically pleasing space for all senses, I enjoyed a dish of Norwegian lobster with warm salad of Brussels sprouts, hazelnuts with crispy potato chips and wispy sauce of chicken skin (above). MOMO Wok Box on Frederiksberggade 15 (facebook.com/pimpmywok) is another terrific place for cheap and tasty Asian fare – with prices from just €5 to €10.

Cheap Kicks

I stayed at the Ibsens Hotel (arthurhotels.dk; rooms from €88), a gem in central Copenhagen boasting the best freshly-baked almond croissants I’ve ever tasted. ‘Cosy Hour’ is a cool touch, too – it sees the hotel offer drinks on the house every day from 5pm to 6pm. Talk about enlightened!

Elsewhere, entrance is free to the Danish National Gallery, the National Museum of Denmark and Christiansborg Palace – which boasts Copenhagen’s highest tower at 106 metres. My much-swiped Copenhagen Card (copenhagencard.com; three days for €79) gave me access to 74 museums and attractions (including the Blue Planet and Tivoli Gardens), as well as free public transport and other discounts… you can also bring along two children under 10 for free.

Guilty Pleasure

One of the highlights of my trip was a train ride to the lovely seaside town of Rungstedlund, where the Karen Blixen Museum (blixen.dk/en; €10pp) is located. Considered one of Denmark’s most significant 20th century writers, Blixen lived here before and after her years in Africa. The house is surrounded by an enchanting woodland park and bird sanctuary – you can almost feel the muse descending as you wander from room to room. The author herself is laid to rest under the shadow of a watchful tree in the garden.

Another must-see for me was The Blue Planet Aquarium (pictured right, denblaaplanet.dk; €20pp) a mix of whirling architecture and deep sea voyeurism. Clever octopuses, colourful clownfish, slovenly sea horses and hungry hammerhead sharks amounted to the best fish tank I’d ever seen.


Members Only, Tak! Some nightclubs in Copenhagen have what’s called a “Member First” policy. This means you can be queuing for ages to get in, only for a local member to arrive at the door and be admitted first regardless. Needless to say, this can get slightly annoying after an hour or so. Get there early, apply for Danish citizenship, or hit the sack!

Get me there

Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) flies daily from Dublin to Copenhagen from €52 each way. Metro/DSB tickets from the airport to the city cost €4.50. For more info, see visitcopenhagen.com.

Top Tip

Using the local harbour buses rather than expensive boat rides is another great way to see the city – and they’re free with your Copenhagen Card. Copenhagen’s infectious happiness is also free every day… except maybe Mondays. Danemark, douze points!


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