One Day in Copenhagen on a Budget: The Best Free Sights in Copenhagen!

June 18, 2018 30 Comments

Copenhagen is my favorite city in the world, and it holds a special place in my heart because it’s where I studied abroad for a semester (complete with sailing a Viking ship) and it’s where I met my boyfriend of five and a half years! 🙂 We went back recently to celebrate his graduation from medical school, and I fell in love with Copenhagen all over again. It’s an amazing city and so gorgeous and colorful, and you should definitely visit if you get the chance!

But I know it isn’t the cheapest city (though I did manage to survive a semester there as a broke college student), so if you’re like me and always trying to figure out the cheapest way to see a city, my one day in Copenhagen on a budget guide is for you! 🙂

One Day in Copenhagen on a Budget: The Best Free Sights in Copenhagen!

There is a lot to do in and around Copenhagen (and I’m going to have tons more posts, don’t worry!), but if you only have one day in Copenhagen, you can still cover a lot of ground. If you’re up for walking a lot and want to save money on transportation, you can walk to all these places and see the best free sights in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen map

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli in Copenhagen

First stop is the second oldest amusement park in the world! It opened in 1843, and it’s not your typical amusement park. It has a beautiful garden, theaters, and live peacocks wandering around (yes, really!). It looks like Dr. Seuss and Willy Wonka teamed up to create the world’s most magical amusement park, and it’s one of my favorite places in Copenhagen!

Tivoli in Copenhagen

This is a “Copenhagen on a budget” post, and Tivoli isn’t exactly budget-friendly. Tickets start at 110 krone (currently about $17), and rides cost extra. If you have the time and money, Tivoli is definitely worth going to! But if you don’t, you can just peek in the gates or see some of the rides from outside.

City Hall and H.C. Andersen Statue

H.C. Andersen statue

Hans Christian Andersen is pretty beloved in Copenhagen, and you can see a statue of him outside of City Hall (and it’s much bigger and less crowded than the Little Mermaid statue).

City Hall is one of my favorite buildings in Copenhagen, and it was built in 1903!

Copenhagen City Hall

Copenhagen Viking statue

Skt. Peders Bageri

Skt. Peders Bageri

If you’re ready for breakfast or a snack, I have the place for you. Skt. Peders Bageri (or St. Peter’s Bakery) might be my favorite place in Copenhagen. The pastries are out of this world! I came here almost every day when I lived in Copenhagen, and like many places in the city, they have a student discount! You really can’t go wrong with any of the pastries or breads (trust me, I’ve probably tried them all at this point). 

Skt. Peders Bageri

Christiansborg

Christiansborg Copenhagen

Copenhagen has a lot of castles! Christiansborg is one of the newest, and it was built in 1907 (though that site has had many different versions of the castle for centuries). It is now used for the Danish Parliament, but you can still go on tours and see the Royal Reception Rooms. You do have to wear these thin, blue socks so you don’t mess up the floors, which makes for some funny photos.

Christiansborg Copenhagen

If you have the time and budget for a tour, I highly recommend it! Ticket prices for adults are 150 krone for everything in the palace and 90 krone for just the reception rooms (and they do have student discounts). If you don’t have the budget for a tour, you can go to the top of the tower for free! I actually didn’t know about that when I studied in Copenhagen (but it was super cold and snowy anyway), so I took advantage of it when I went back and the views are awesome! You might have to wait in line for a bit, but it’s worth it.

View from Christiansborg

View from Christiansborg

Børsen (the Copenhagen Stock Exchange Building)

Copenhagen stock exchange building

The Stock Exchange building is my favorite! I love the detailed architecture, and the dragon tower is amazing! The three dragons have their tails intertwined and represent the union of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (just like the three crowns at the top of the Christiansborg tower). The building was completed in 1640 and was used as a marketplace to grow Copenhagen’s trade.

Copenhagen stock exchange building

The Black Diamond

Copenhagen Black Diamond

The Black Diamond is Copenhagen’s Royal Library, and it’s one of the more modern pieces of architecture. When it’s sunny outside, the exterior reflects the water and looks shiny like a diamond! It also connects to the older part of the library with a bridge that you can cross, so it’s pretty cool to see the mix of old and new. 

(If you need it, they do have public bathrooms)

Copenhagen Black Diamond

Copenhagen Black Diamond

Copenhagen Black Diamond

Nyhavn

Copenhagen Nyhavn

Nyhavn may be a “tourist” spot in Copenhagen, but it’s so beautiful! The houses are so bright and colorful, and I could take photos of them all day. And a lot of locals do hang out along the harbor, so it isn’t a big tourist trap or anything.

If you want to feel like a local and avoid paying for overpriced drinks, get some cans of beer from a 7-11 (I recommend Carlsberg and if you like cider, Somersby is the best cider I’ve ever had and thankfully they’re finally selling them in the U.S.!) and sit on the side of the harbor and dangle your feet over the water. Public drinking is legal in Copenhagen, and Nyhavn is a great spot to hang out and have a beer to take in the sights!

Copenhagen Nyhavn

Copenhagen Nyhavn

Amalienborg

Amalienborg Copenhagen

Amalienborg is the castle where the royal family currently lives! I don’t think it’s as pretty or ornate as the other castles in Copenhagen, but the most beautiful part is the Marble Church. 

Guard at Amalienborg Copenhagen

Amalienborg Copenhagen

The Marble Church was started in the 1700s, but it took 150 years before it was finally finished. It has the largest church dome of Scandinavia, and you do have to pay to see the inside is even more beautiful than the outside! 

The Marble Church Copenhagen

Strøget

Copenhagen

Strøget is Copenhagen’s famous walking street, and it’s one of the longest in Europe. There are tons of shops and cafes along it, and it can get pretty crowded when the weather is nice but it’s still a really cool place to see! Frederiksberggade is usually a little less crowded if the crowds are too much for you (and it’s my favorite street!).

Copenhagen Stroget walking street

Copenhagen Stroget walking street

Copenhagen Stroget walking street

La Glace

Copenhagen La Glace

So La Glace isn’t exactly budget friendly, but if you’re looking for a place to splurge, La Glace is the place to do it! It was founded in 1870, so they’ve had years of practice to make their cakes so amazing! I highly recommend the sportskage, which is their signature cake. 

Copenhagen La Glace sportskage

Copenhagen La Glace

Copenhagen map

The map had to be split into 2 because I had too many places!

The Round Tower

Copenhagen Round Tower

If you don’t go up the tower in Christiansborg or if you want all the views of Copenhagen that you can get, the Round Tower has some great views! The climb is also picturesque as you walk in circles the whole way up (it only takes a few minutes, so it isn’t too strenuous). Admission is only 25 krone, which is only a few dollars. The area around the Round Tower is one of my favorite places to walk around in Copenhagen, so definitely explore after!

Copenhagen Round Tower

Copenhagen Round Tower

Copenhagen

Copenhagen

Copenhagen

Smagsløget

Sandwich restaurant Copenhagen

After walking so much, you’re probably pretty hungry, and I cannot recommend Smagsløget enough! They have the BEST sandwich I have ever had, and it was seriously one of the main reasons I wanted to go back to Copenhagen, no joke. I always order “The Spicy One,” and it’s 79 krone for a huge sandwich that you can easily split with someone AND they have a student discount!

After you get your sandwich, grab some drinks from the 7-11 on the corner for a picnic lunch at Rosenborg!

Smagsløget

Smagsløget

Rosenborg

Rosenborg

Rosenborg is another one of the gorgeous castles in Copenhagen, and you can eat your picnic lunch here! The park is beautiful, and it’s such a relaxing area. If you have the time (and budget) after you eat, the tour of Rosenborg is worth it. It costs 110 krone and you get to see the crown jewels- the only crown jewels that are actually still used and worn in Europe. 

Rosenborg park

Botanical Gardens

Copenhagen Botanical Gardens

If you want to see more gardens in Copenhagen, take a stroll through the Botanical Gardens! It’s right across the street from Rosenborg, and it usually isn’t busy at all. It was much too hot to go inside the greenhouses the day we went, but it’s still cool to peek in and see all the different plants. 

Copenhagen Botanical Gardens

Copenhagen Botanical Gardens

Copenhagen Botanical Gardens

Copenhagen Botanical Gardens

The Lakes

Copenhagen harbor

Copenhagen actually has 3 consecutive lakes, and it’s a popular spot for locals to go for a run or hang out. The buildings along the lake are beautiful and almost as colorful as Nyhavn! If you need a spot to relax and rest your feet, the Lakes is one of my favorite places to take a break. 

Copenhagen harbor

Copenhagen swan

Copenhagen harbor

The Little Mermaid

Little Mermaid statue

I can’t have a guide to Copenhagen without talking about the Little Mermaid statue! Some people complain about how small it is, but I don’t think it’s all that small but it is VERY crowded. It took a while before I could get a shot without someone’s head or selfie stick in the way. It is also out of the way from the other amazing sights in Copenhagen (it would be a pretty far walk), so if you don’t have time to see it or don’t feel like fighting your way through crowds to get a photo, you’re not missing much, don’t worry. 

Little Mermaid statue

If you do decide to see the Little Mermaid and have some time, walk around Kastellet! It’s one of the best preserved star fortresses, and all the buildings are so bright and colorful. And it’s surprisingly empty of tourists since most people just go to that area to see the Little Mermaid. 

Kastellet

Kastellet

If you don’t do any of the tours I suggested, everything on my guide is free (except the food), so it is possible to do Copenhagen on a budget! Seeing all those sights makes for a jam-packed one day in Copenhagen, but it’s worth it 🙂 You’ll get a good mix of local and tourist spots and eat some really delicious food (I cannot recommend those restaurants I mentioned enough!). Stay tuned for my MANY other Copenhagen guides! 🙂 

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30 Comments

  1. Reply

    Dorothy Berry-Lound

    June 18, 2018

    I love Copenhagen but I must admit my weakness was the lovely cheesecake! I visited many of the places you mention and a few more beside. Such a fabulous place to walk around (sore feet though).

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 18, 2018

      Yes your feet will be sore, but it’s worth it! And all the desserts there were amazing!

  2. Reply

    Yasmin

    June 18, 2018

    Lovely post! Always wanted to visit copenhagen, hopefully I will get there one day!

    Yasmin

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 18, 2018

      Thank you! 🙂

  3. Reply

    Jennifer

    June 18, 2018

    Loved all these pictures. I’ve not been there yet, but Nyhavn is definitely on my bucket list!

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 18, 2018

      Thank you! 🙂

  4. Reply

    Diana

    June 18, 2018

    Copenhagen is definitely on my list! Pinning for future reference. THANKS!

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 18, 2018

      I hope it helps! 🙂

  5. Reply

    Eric

    June 19, 2018

    As always, stunning photographs. It was a great reminder of our trip there. Were you also stalked by and H.C. Andersen impersonator? 🙂

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 19, 2018

      Thank you! 🙂 No we didn’t see him this time!

  6. Reply

    V at LoveBecomesHer

    June 20, 2018

    great resource, st. peter’s bakery sounds scrumptious! so jealous.

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 20, 2018

      Thank you!

  7. Reply

    Heidi Roland

    June 20, 2018

    Love this post. Gives me the travel bug!

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 20, 2018

      Thanks! 🙂

  8. Reply

    Tonya Moken

    June 20, 2018

    These are great tips to explore Copenhagen! I can’t wait to start traveling more and getting to use your site as a guide.

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 20, 2018

      Thanks, I hope they help! 🙂

  9. Reply

    Em

    June 20, 2018

    Great post, Julia! I’ve never even seen pictures of Copenhagen before I don’t think but it looks really pretty, Nyhavn looks especially gorgeous!

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 20, 2018

      Thanks! It’s even prettier in person!

  10. Reply

    Darla

    June 21, 2018

    This city wasn’t on my radar, but now it totally is! I guess it must be pretty underrated because I don’t hear of people going there too much, but it looks beautiful from the pictures! I’d love to tour the castles…and being a theme park junkie, it would be awesome to visit the 2nd oldest amusement park in the world! Did it have any unique rides?

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 22, 2018

      Yeah it definitely isn’t as popular as places like London or Paris, but it’s worth a visit if you get the chance! Denmark actually also has the absolute oldest amusement park in the world outside of Copenhagen if you’re interested in amusement parks! I’ve only done one ride at Tivoli and it was just a normal roller coaster, but they do have fun little boat rides and they have lots of rides and playgrounds for kids.

  11. Reply

    Nicola

    June 23, 2018

    You have made me want to immediately book a trip to Copenhagen

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 23, 2018

      You should go! 🙂

  12. Reply

    Amy

    June 23, 2018

    Great post! It looks like there’s lot of things to do in Copenhagen on a budget! I haven’t visited there yet but I hope to visit one day!

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 23, 2018

      Thank you! 🙂 I hope it helps when you go!

  13. Reply

    Melanie Schaffer

    June 23, 2018

    You got me with those cakes and the cinnamon roll! I’ve never been to Copenhagen and I always hear is uber expensive, thanks for sharing more affordable things to do!

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 23, 2018

      Yes it’s definitely possible to do it on a budget!

  14. Reply

    Mo

    June 23, 2018

    Wow so many places to see…and things to eat…looks like I’m gonna need more than a day! Thanks Julia for great tips, and always for your beautiful photos!

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 23, 2018

      It’s definitely worth staying longer than a day if you have the time!

  15. Reply

    Jasmine

    June 23, 2018

    Cooenhagen is such a common layover stop – but we’re also considering dropping in for Mew Years, so loved reading this!

    • Reply

      Julia

      June 23, 2018

      I hope it helps!

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