70 cheap and free things to do in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is one of those cities that will make your wallet sigh. Prices are high compared with most other European capitals, and once you’ve covered all of the basics like food, transport and accommodation, it can be hard to justify splashing even more cash on sightseeing.

There are loads of free things to do in Copenhagen

Yep, Copenhagen is an expensive city to visit. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend your days stuck in your hotel room, feeling sad and lonely.

There are masses of completely free things to do, from dance lessons to summer swims with the locals. And of course, you can always have an audience with the famous Little Mermaid.

Because no one likes missing out on fun for the sake of a few kroner, we’ve also included some extremely cheap activities in this list (they’re all under 150 DDK). Just use the headings below to hop straight to the section you’re interested in.

Historic sights and attractions
Fun and entertainment
Museums and galleries
Parks and nature
Excursions and day trips
Health and fitness
Tours
Viewpoints and lookouts
Window shopping
Just chilling
Eating and drinking
Kids
Cheap places to stay

Historic sights and attractions

1) See the changing of the guard ceremony at Amalienborg. The square outside the Queen’s house comes alive at noon each day, with soldiers from the Danish Royal Guard stomping their feet, crashing cymbals and wearing silly hats.

It's free to watch the changing of the guard in Copenhagen
The changing of the guard – Pic: KLMircea (CC)

2) Go to church. Completed in 1894, Frederiks Kirke (or the marble church, as locals know it) looks like a mini version of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Well, maybe mini is the wrong word; the huge copper-clad dome here is the biggest in Scandinavia. It’s free to take a look around the church itself, while tours of the tower and dome only cost 35 DKK.

3) Pay your respects to local heroes like Hans Christian Andersen at Assistens Cemetery, a leafy park that doubles as a burial ground for some of Denmark’s most famous people.

4) Snap pictures of the bright yellow row houses in Nyboder, just south of Østerport train station. This district was first planned in the 1600s to help house local sailors. The buildings, which are lined up in neat rows, are still in use today.

5) Visit Copenhagen Cathedral. There’s a small museum in Københavns Domkirke that’s free to visit, and you can look round the cathedral too as long as there’s no service taking place.

6) Check out Copenhagen City Hall. This building may well look familiar as it featured regularly in both Scandi-crime thriller The Killing and political drama Borgen. It’s also home to the world’s most accurate analogue clock, Jens Olesen’s World Clock. The hall and its gardens are free to visit.

Fun and entertainment

7) Visit the world’s oldest amusement park. Bakken is a 20-minute train ride from the city centre and admission to the park itself is completely free –  you only have to pay to use the rides. So you can bring a picnic, soak up the nostalgic atmosphere and browse the independent shops without spending a penny.

Bakken theme park in Copenhagen has free entry
Balloons at Bakken – Pic: Gavin (CC)

8) Listen to free classical music. Trinitatis Kirke is a nice 17th-century church in the city centre with an impressive gilded interior. It regularly puts on free classical concerts on Sundays, while there are often singers performing on Wednesday and Friday evenings (check the website for times of concert and singers).

9) Go dancing. Dance with the Danes at free open-air tango, salsa, rumba, Bollywood, swing and Latin classes. The classes are held in the Fælledparken from 7–8pm Monday to Thursday for five weeks in the summer. Djs and bands play til 10pm so you can carry on dancing throughout the evening.

10) Go to the theatre. Okay, you won’t get into the main performances without paying, but there are often free shows in the foyer at Skuespilhuset, such as poetry slams and acrobatic shows. See the Royal Danish Theatre’s online calendar for up-to-date info.

Is the Copenhagen Card worth buying?

Read this guide to see how much you could save during your trip!

Museums and galleries

11) Visit The David Collection. This impressive display of Islamic art and European paintings, sculptures and ceramics is exhibited in a beautiful old house that belonged to the owner of the collection. And it’s completely free to enter.

12) Gawp at the incredible collection of Nordic art at Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark’s national gallery. The collection spans more than seven centuries, as well as countless artistic styles.

Until recently this place was completely free to visit but now it’s only free for under 18s. Under 27s pay 95 DKK and everyone else 120 DKK  – but the admission fee is still well worth it, especially if you make a day of it!

The National Museum in Copenhagen
The National Museum of Denmark

13) See Egyptian mummies, Greek sculptures and sparkly Viking gold at the National Museum of Denmark. You could easily spend half a day wandering through the galleries here. Admission is 110 DKK.

14) Marvel at how wealthy beer can make one man on a visit to Glyptoteket, a unique collection of art and antiquities amassed by one of the early bosses of the Carlsberg brewery. It opened to the public back in 1882. Admission is completely free on Tuesdays, and 125 DKK the rest of the week.

15) Check out the interesting exhibitions that are held at Møstings Hus, a country house to the west of the city. Entrance to the house and exhibitions are free, though there’s an admission fee for some events.

16) Get to grips with masterpieces from the Danish Golden Age at the Hirschsprung Museum, just north of Statens Museum for Kunst (see above). This collection costs 95 DKK to look around, 75 DKK for under 26s and is free for under 18s.

17) Discover why a Danish sculptor called Bertel Thorvaldsen found international fame and even ended up creating works of art for the Pope.

The museum dedicated to his work is housed in a gorgeous yellow building near Christiansborg Palace, and is free to visit on Wednesdays. Admission is 90 DKK the rest of the week, and free all week for under 18s.


18) Learn about Denmark’s involvement in violent conflicts (centuries ago and much more recently) at the Royal Danish Arsenal Museum. Along with weapons and stories from the battlefield, you’ll find a nifty collection of military uniforms. Admission is 80 DKK.

19) Visit the Museum of Copenhagen. Find out all about the city’s history and cultural life, with displays of Viking artefacts and early Danish design, including a wooden bike. The museum is free to all on Wednesdays and costs 90 DKK the rest of the week.

20) Go underground. Check out the exhibitions of contemporary art held in the former water cisterns for the city of Copenhagen. Admission costs just 115 DKK, or 90 DKK for under 27s.

Parks and nature

21) Kick back in Rosenberg Castle Gardens. Set around a 400-year-old castle, these neatly clipped gardens provide the perfect place to have a picnic or just enjoy a little rest while sightseeing. The gardens are free to visit, though admission to the castle is 125 DKK, or 80 DKK for students with ID.

22) Escape the city at Jægersborg Dyrehave, a 1000-hectare park that’s home to cycle trails, the Bakken amusement park (see above), and around 2000 free-roaming deer.

The botanical gardens in Copenhagen are free to visit
The botanical gardens in Copenhagen

23) See orchids, palms, cactuses and giant lily pads at Copenhagen’s botanical gardens, which are home to a series of glasshouses. The botanical gardens are free to visit, though entrance to the main Palm House, which includes the Butterfly House, costs 60 DKK.

Excursions and day trips

24) Hire a city bike and explore the suburbs. It’s not completely free but it is very cheap – it costs just 30 DKK for 30 minutes to borrow one of Copenhagen’s high-tech public e-bikes, which come with an engine that provides assisted pedalling for speeds of up to 23km/h.

Cycling in Copenhagen
The most fun you can have on two wheels

25) Hit the beach. There are a couple of pretty beaches within cycling distance of the city centre, including Amager Strand, where locals come to sunbathe, try kite boarding and (when it’s warm enough) go swimming.

26) See what life used to be like for Denmark’s poorest farmers at Frilandsmuseet, an open-air museum with dozens of historic buildings.

It costs 105 DKK to visit (115 DKK at peak times), and you’ll need to use public transport to get there: take the train from Nørreport to Sorgenfri (20 minutes) and walk the last 700 metres or so to the entrance.

27) Take a trip out to Bagsvaerd. Just a short trip on the S-train from the centre of the city, this leafy suburb has woods and lovely lakeside gardens to explore. Run, cycle or walk around the lake, or just relax and watch national rowing team training. 

28) Visit Sweden. Malmö is a great little city, and it’s just across the bridge. Here’s how you get there in the cheapest way possible.

Health and fitness

29) Take a dip at Havnebadet Islands Brygge. The open-air pool (summer only) is completely free to visit and has decent views across the water. Expect crowds on sunny days.

Swimming at Islands Brygge
Swimming at Islands Brygge – Pic: Thomas Rousing (CC)

30) Do the park run. There are four park runs in Copenhagen; along the waterfront at Amager Strandpark; in Fælledparken; in Amager Fælled; and at Damhusengen. So join the locals on a Saturday morning at 9am for a 5km jog – you know you’ll feel good, if you do it!

31) Go kayaking for free. Green Kayak has several locations in Copenhagen where you can take a kayak out onto the water for two hours for free, as long as you commit to pick up litter during your trip.

So you can paddle around the harbour at will, bring back any litter that you find floating in the water – and it won’t cost you a penny.

32) Pound the pavements. Local running clubs like NBRO meet on a regular basis.

33) Go for a skate. Copenhagen’s cycle paths double as safe places to inline or skateboard (though make sure you don’t get in the way of local cyclists). Otherwise, head to the skate park at Fælledparken, which has rails, bowls and a mean-looking half pipe.

34) Go running up that hill! There are several running trails up the steep Copenhill, where mountain runners can challenge their speeds and stamina within the city.  The paths are also good for hiking and there are exercise racks for urban training too.

35) Go ice-skating. In winter, Copenhagen has several free outdoor ice rinks, including at Havnegade, Frederiksberg Runddel and Blågårds Plads, which are open daily from 8am–10pm. Skates can be hired at the rink, or bring your own if you have them.

Tours

36) Take a free walking tour. Several companies offer free walking tours around the city centre. Take a look at Sandemans or Copenhagen Free Walking Tours. Guides from all companies work for tips.

Prefer something a bit more adventurous? Try this Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt and City Walking Tour for 25 DKK.

37) Take a boat trip. OK, so it’s not free, but this hour-long canal boat cruise from Nyhavn takes in some of the city’s main sights including the Little Mermaid and the Amalienborg Palace for a bargain 110 DKK.

38) Hop on a guided bike tour. This ninety-minute two-wheeled tour of the city costs just over 200 DKK.

39) Take a free tour of the Danish parliament. Borgen fans may be interested to find out how real Danish democracy and politics work. Every Saturday, free 45-minute tours take you round the building and explain the Danish political system.

Viewpoints and lookouts

40) Climb Copenhagen’s highest tower. The tower at Christiansborg Palace is free to climb and gives great views over the city. There’s not a great deal of space at the top, so go early if you want to avoid queues.

41) Get dizzy at Rundetaarn, an astronomical observatory from the 17th century. A spiral-shaped slope makes seven and a half turns on its way up to the top, where you can get a cracking view over Copenhagen’s rooftops. Entry is 40 DKK.

Tourists at the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen
Join the queue for photos – Pic: Karen Mardahl (CC)

42) See the Little Mermaid. No round-up of free things to do in Copenhagen would be complete without mentioning the Little Mermaid statue. It’s actually pretty underwhelming and there are often so many tourists clambering about all over the place that you can’t even get a decent look at it.

However, you’re in Copenhagen, so you have to try anyway. The views across the water from here are pleasant enough, too.

43) Admire the famous Öresund Bridge from the top of the Frederiks Kirke dome (see above). This guide tells you how to cross the bridge. The 35 DKK admission fee will also give you a bird’s-eye view of Amalienborg.

44) Get great views from the top of Copenhill. A green park built on top of a waste management centre may not seem very appealing, but this innovative climbing, skiing and hiking centre has fantastic views over Copenhagen from the top. You can walk up the hiking trails or take the escalator to the top for free.

Window shopping

44) Get a taste for Danish design with a walk along Strøget, the city’s main shopping street. And it isn’t just design here; Danish brands like Trollbeads and Bang & Olufsen also have stores along the kilometre-long street.

Out for a bit of shopping on Strøget
Out for a bit of shopping on Strøget

46) Browse for bargains at the antiques market that sets up on Halmtorvet every Saturday morning from April–October.

47) Check out the iconic Royal Copenhagen store. Ok, so you might not be able to afford any of the pottery on sale here, but the flagship store is in a beautiful building at Amagertorv 6, and is a great place to browse for the perfect porcelain pieces. 

48) Find unique souvenirs at Den Blå Hal, a big, super-popular indoor flea market that takes place every weekend at Amagerbanen 9. Entry is 10 DKK and the market runs from 10am–4pm.

Just chilling

49) Follow your nose to Christiania’s ‘green light district’, where weed is sold and smoked openly. Even if you don’t want to smoke, it’s an interesting part of town to explore – just keep your camera in your bag, as photos are banned on the main drag, Pusher Street.

Christiania is a good place to chill out in Copenhagen
Pic: News Oresund (CC)

50) Admire the city’s modern architecture. Don’t miss the controversial opera house or Den Blå Planet, Denmark’s national aquarium.

51) Sip coffee as you admire handmade, vintage bikes at WeCycle. This cool coffee shop lets you enjoy two of Denmark’s biggest passions – bikes and coffee – in a nice cosy environment. Need something stronger? It also sells decent Danish beer. The café is at Islandsbrygge 21, 2300 Copenhagen.

52) Get a new perspective on the city by taking a public ferry. The journey from Nordre Toldbod to Det Kongelige Bibliotek costs just 24 DKK (or is included in your public transport ticket) and is a great way of getting your bearings. Boats 991 and 992 run the route every 30 minutes or so.

53) Check out the Danish design at shiny black glass waterfront Black Diamond building – it’s so much more than just a library. Browse the collection of manuscripts by Hans Christian Andersen, check out the exhibitions, or just be wowed by the impressive architecture.

54) And for more amazing architecture, the Danish Architecture Center hosts interesting exhibitions, and has a great terrace café with waterfront views. It’s free for under 18s; 60 DKK for under 26s and students; and 115 DKK for adults.

55) Hire a green boat. GoBoat has dinky solar-powered vessels available by the hour, complete with on-board dining tables and optional supplies of Carlsberg. You’ll need a group to keep this cheap – if you can pull together a total of eight friends, the price goes down to around 55 DKK per person.

56) Take a stroll along the waterfront at Havnepromenade past moored boats and grand former warehouses for views over the water.

Eating and drinking

57) Soak up the atmosphere at Copenhagen’s most famous harbour area, Nyhavn. The bars here are expensive, thanks in part to the number of tourists passing through, but there’s nothing to stop you grabbing a cheap beer from a local shop and enjoying the exact same vibe.

58) Volunteer at a food-sharing co-op. On Wednesdays and Saturdays volunteers collect leftover food from markets and bakeries around Copenhagen and hand it out for free to whoever needs it.

It’s fun, sociable and uses up food that would otherwise be wasted. Click here for more information.

Torvehallerne has cheap eats and free samples
Cheap eats at Torvehallerne – Pic: Heather Sperling (CC)

59) Drop into one of Copenhagen’s indoor food markets, like Torvehallerne, where free samples are often handed out. For more on finding cheap eats in Copenhagen, check out our guide.

60) Have a picnic. Stock up on ingredients at budget Danish supermarket Netto (there’s a branch near Rundetaarn in the city centre) and head to one of the city’s best parks.

61) Head to one of Copenhagen’s community kitchens. Held in cultural centres across the city, folkekøkkener serve cheap buffet-style meals for around 50 DKK (some are even as cheap as 20 DKK).

There’s usually a vegan/veggie option, and if you’re prepared to help out with the cooking or serving you can even get your meal for free. Click here for more on Copenhagen’s cheap and cheerful community kitchens.

62) Fill up on cheap and delicious smörrebrød. There’s more info on the best places to get this authentic Danish snack in Copenhagen in our ultimate guide to Danish smörrebrød. 

63) Check out Copenhagen’s street food. Street food trucks are dotted all over the city, selling good quality ethnic and local dishes for very little money. Bridge Street Kitchen  and Reffen food markets both have a great variety of tasty street food stalls.

Kids

64) Visit the huge Lego store on Strøget, Copenhagen’s main shopping street. Apart from giant Lego models and a kids’ play area that dads also seem to love, this place also stocks rare Lego sets that are hard to track down elsewhere.

Its free to look around the Lego shop in Copenhagen
Lots and lots of Lego

65) Take the kids to Superkilen. This half-mile-long park in Nørrebro was designed to reflect the diversity of the district – look out for a Spanish bull, a Thai boxing ring and a Japanese octopus slide amongst others.

66) Play the Hans Christian Anderson game. Make sightseeing fun for kids with this exploration game/treasure hunt that takes in fairy tale sights, such as Hans Christian Anderson’s house and the Little mermaid statue.

67) Feed the ducks on Copenhagen’s waterways. Actually, don’t: twitchers say bread could be harmful to the little feathered creatures and their lakes. But there’s nothing to stop you taking the kids for a look at the birds anyway – try Frederiksberg Have, which has tree-shaded pathways edging the water.

68) Hunt out the forgotten giants. Kids will love searching for these huge giants or trolls made by sculptor Thomas Danbo out of offcuts of wood and recycled materials. The easiest to find is Green George in Christiania: check out this map for the locations of others.

Green George / © Olivia Hancock-Tomlin

69) Let off some steam at the Guldbergs Plads play area in Nørrebro. It was actually designed to get adults moving, but older kids will love clambering around on the brightly coloured poles and swings.

70) Explore Nørrebro, Copenhagen’s coolest neighbourhood, on foot. There are loads of vintage shops, parks and bars to enjoy on the cheap.

Cheap places to stay in Copenhagen

So, you’re on a budget and want some cheap accommodation options too. Here are five of our favourite hostels and bargain places to stay in Copenhagen.

1) Part of the Generator brand, Copenhagen’s Generator Hostel offers budget accommodation in a good location in the centre of the city. With appealing industrial decor, urban-style furniture and a chilled vibe, it’s a real bargain for the dorm beds in particular.

Copenhagen's Generator Hostel is a good budget accommodation option.
Generator Hostel

2) It may look like a monolithic tower block, but the dorm beds at the Next House Copenhagen are very good value. Close to the station, it’s a good option if you’ve got an early morning train.

3) The long-established Bedwood Hostel has cheap-and-cheerful dorm beds in an attractive old Tudor building just off Nyhavn in the heart of the action. 

4) The modern Steel House Copenhagen has excellent value dorm beds starting at £23 a night, in a good location close to the Tivoli Gardens. The en-suite family rooms are good value too – and there’s even a pool on site.

5) The Urban Camper Hostel  has good value dorm beds and doubles in indoor tents, with breakfast linen and towels included in the price. A little further out of the city centre, it’s close to the trendy Nørrebro district.


See also:
33 cheap and free things to do in Aarhus
A guide to Copenhagen’s best parks
Day trips from Copenhagen by bike

 

TOURS AND ACTIVITIES IN COPENHAGENMORE TOURS

 


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Jo L
Jo L
3 years ago

The photo under #34 is hysterical… look closely at the people in costume ?

Purvi Kamaliya
Purvi Kamaliya
4 years ago

I must say this is quite a detailed list of the best free n cheap things to do. It helped a lot. Thanks.