Give Me All The Cinnamon Rolls!
I can now add Copenhagen to the ‘Places I’ve Visited Multiple Times & Therefore Don’t Get Lost In’ List. It’s a nice feeling when you get to know one of those city break destinations really well. You’ve figured out the most important logistics, know what’s worth doing but there’s still plenty of new experiences to be had.
In the case of Copenhagen there are so many guides and recommendations, it can get pretty overwhelming. My first visit was all about covering the basics (and getting lost) without necessarily thinking about the most Instagram-worthy places. The second time around I made up for this and took all the colourful Nyhavn photos. The five of us were a little more carefree with money, with our Ubers, three course meals and the vaguest understanding of the exchange rate.
For my most recent trip I’ve collaborated with airport transfers provider Hoppa, who challenged Sade and I to visit the city on a budget. They’ve produced a report on the most expensive destinations to visit and it’s probably no surprise that Copenhagen came third on the list. Even though I’m used to London prices, the exchange rate makes a cappuccino almost double what you’d pay in the UK and visits to H&M pretty pointless.
We tried to see whether it was possible to keep accommodation, food and entertainment costs to £75 per day. Read on for all the hacks and bike hire tips, so you don’t make the same mistakes we did!
Hoppa kindly provided us with a complimentary VIP transfer, so we arrived rested and ready to hunt down bargains!
Tip 1: Stay In A Trendy AirBnB
Forget hotels, the Danish AirBnbs are where it’s at and most of them are a little bit like stepping into a real-life Scandi Pinterest board. The cheapest central-ish area to stay in is Nørrebro and it’s like a less-hectic version of Dalston, with a high ratio of coffee shops and cute independents. Our lovely host provided all the essentials (coffee, multiple towels and the prettiest gold cutlery) and even though it was up six flights of stairs, it was a nice quiet base to rest our heads.
Although we were sensible and popped to the supermarket around the corner to stock up on essentials, we didn’t have a list or even translate it beforehand. Cue us trying to figure out the equivalent of almond milk and spending almost £3 on Philadelphia that we barely used. I’d advise packing small quantities of things like cereal (I bought the cheapest muesli, which tasted a bit like cardboard) and only buying fresh ingredients if you need to. Also you won’t regret stocking up on cinnamon rolls from Meyers Bageri, I’m not sure if they’re the most nutritious breakfast but they go a long way!
Accommodation total = £34 per person, per night
Pssst, you can get £30 off your first AirBnB trip via this link!
Tip 2: Plan Your Meals Strategically
Does anyone else think that they’ll have an entire day ahead of them after an early Ryanair flight? This optimism happens to me every time, but when you factor in delays, getting to your accommodation and freshening up, you can end up eating lunch at 3pm. This can be quite handy if you’re on a budget, as lunch menus are often cheaper and a chance to fill up for the day. We also didn’t order alcohol and stuck to tap water most of the time.
I had Cafe Taxa on my ‘Must Visit’ list and we probably over ordered a bit because we weren’t sure of portion sizes. I now also realise why everyone had been telling me to try smørrebrød, aka Danish open sandwiches. They’re not something I’d usually order but the simplicity of the prawns, egg, dill and mayo was a great combination and pretty filling thanks to the rye bread. Most people probably wouldn’t order BBQ chicken wings and chips as sides, but they were handy to have later on in the apartment. I’d definitely come back here.
Another place that I kept seeing featured was Warpigs, a Texan BBQ joint where meat is served by the pound. It’s good, with authentic smokers and seasoning but it can be tricky to plan beforehand as there are no prices on the website. This is where I started to get a little confused with my currency conversions and spent a little more than I would have liked, though it kept us full for most of the day. It’s probably best to order less than you think, especially when it comes to sides, as you can always go back for more.
We also went to Bulko in Copenhagen Street Food for lunch, which was a little too hectic for my liking and Blue Taco for a tasty, but overpriced
snack dinner. You’d be best off going to somewhere like California Kitchen or Madklubben if you want something more substantial, or grabbing bites from La Neta or Durum Bar.
Breakfast supermarket shop (and cinnamon rolls fix) – £9.25 each
Lunch/Dinner at Taxa – £25.25 each
Lunch at Copenhagen Street Food – £9.62 each
Lunch at Warpigs – £26.46 each
Coffee – £9.01 each
Dinner at California Kitchen – £12.03
Food total = £36.70 per person, per day
Tip: 3: Take a ‘free’ walking tour
If you’re new to a city, then the perfect way to get your bearings is to take a walking tour. They’re typically hosted by locals, so great for getting any cheap recommendations or questions about Danish life answered. I’d suspected that the Sandemans ‘free’ Copenhagen walking tour might be on a pay-what-you-wish basis and the info isn’t made too obvious on the website. Still, tips are not strictly enforced (though we didn’t want to be cheeky) and it was the first time I’d learnt anything about the history of Copenhagen. Fun fact, The Royal Family are actually pretty down to earth and you may even spot them cycling around the city.
The ‘free’ tours run every hour from 9am till 2pm and cover most of the main monuments (though we didn’t actually go into Tivoli gardens). If you are running late, it can be tricky to find a contact number, so just note that the initial intro and group photo takes approximately 15 minutes.
Tip = £6.01 per person
Tip 4: Get Inspired
I was determined to finally visit The Apartment, which is an interior design studio situated by the canals of Christianshavn. If you’re anything like me, you’re easily pleased by taking pictures of colourful stuff and fortunately you’re allowed to snoop around here on Thursdays when it’s open to the public. The aesthetic isn’t typically Scandi, with a focus on Decorative Arts and plenty of ornate items sourced from all over the world. It’s been running for five years and their next venture is opening apartments that you can actually stay in, furnished in the same eclectic style.
If you do want to visit a museum, then most have an entrance fee (and the highly recommended Louisiana and Arken are outside of Copenhagen, bumping up your transport costs). The Design Museum is in town though and actually offers free entry on Wednesday evenings during the Summer (or you can get in free at any time if you’re under 26 or a student). Seeing everything in one place helps you understand the evolution of contemporary Danish design and there’s nine sections ranging from couture to porcelain vases.
Cost = Free
Tip 5: Explore on Two Wheels
Most people will tell you to hire a bike when you come to Copenhagen. I’m going to tell you to do your research on the numerous different options before you arrive. I’d stupidly assumed that the Donkey Bikes were going to be similar to the scheme we have in London, however the thing about this system is that they can be left anywhere. There are no docking points, so you have to make sure you use the accompanying lock, as there’s a hefty charge if the bike gets stolen. You can pay for hours or days at a time (from £5.40 upwards) but there is an extra charge (surprise, surprise) if you don’t want to return the bike to the same place where you found it. So far, so confusing for a person who’s never locked a bike in her life.
Another option are the Bycyklen, which seemed like the safer option as there were plenty of docking points around. What we didn’t realise is that they were electric and heavy AF. It’s only now I’ve looked through the site and realised that I could have switched the electric motors off but I struggled to move off and my continued frustration meant that I couldn’t focus on what was going on around me. After a bit of a scary situation with a car (and being comforted by a lovely Danish woman carrying three plants), I ended up walking with the bike to the docking point, getting lost, then cycling for a bit. The twenty minute journey to the hip brunch place ended up taking almost an hour and a half.
Since the transport system is confusing and doesn’t necessarily take you in the direction you want to go in, we ended up doing about 25,000 steps per day (also Uber is now banned in the city, so you’re stuck with Citymapper). I think that next time I’d probably hire a bike from one of the dedicated shops, so that I can get a feel for it and any questions answered. It’s such a relaxing way to explore the city and I did enjoy the brief amount of time where I had the cycle path to myself. Hopefully fourth time’s a charm?
Bike hire fails – £5.48 each
Emergency transport – £5.98 each
Transport total = £3.82 per day
Total spent – £82.44 per person, per day
So as you can see we went slightly over our £75 budget! I had things all under control until lunch at Warpigs (I blame my emotional moment on a bike) and never did fully understand the exchange rate. It’s only now I’m calculating things, I’ve realised that I spent £5 on two cinnamon rolls in the airport! Next time, I’d definitely avoid the overhyped street food and just stick to Smørrebrød for most of my meals. Make sure you check out my vlog to see the drama unfold!
Check out my previous posts from Copenhagen here!