As soon as my plane touched down in Denmark and the crew announced we’d arrived in Copenhagen I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. The sun was streaming in the plane windows and I could see glimpses of lush green and picturesque buildings. I already felt like I loved the place.
However, I was a little less in love with how much money I anticipated I might spend over the weekend in Denmark’s capital. Scandinavian countries are renowned for being expensive and coming from what I already consider overpriced dining in Finland, I was prepared for exorbitant prices but also keen to challenge myself for bargain alternatives. I definitely did that! Read on if you want to know how to have a pretty damn perfect and nearly free day in the ever-so-cool Copenhagen neighbourhood of Nørrebro.
Get the metro from airport to Nørrebro
By far the easiest way to get into the city is the metro. It runs every 6 minutes, is very cheap at 5€ and takes under 15 minutes to get to Nørreport metro station- a 10 minute walk to Nørrebro. Friends of mine caught the train and had all sorts of issues from one train not turning up at all, to another stopping half way through the journey for an extended time. Whichever means of transport you decide to take, the automatic ticket machines at the airport are user-friendly, have instructions in English and often have staff milling about to help if you get stuck.
Explore the side-streets of Nørrebro
Nørrebro is a multicultural district of Copenhagen which has experienced a huge resurgence in the last 5 years. Full of unique stores and various activities, the area is full of life and popular with students, creatives and travelers. There’s a plethora of cafes, bars and restaurants with a huge range of food from delicious (and super cheap) kebabs to trendy coffee joints and high-end restaurants. There are also some beautiful green areas to relax in, including the famous Assistens Cemetery. This is the perfect district to stroll around aimlessly.
Relax in Hans Tavsens Park
After exploring the busy streets of Nørrebro, the beautiful parks make for the perfect place to relax. Heading to one mid-morning I felt pretty lucky as I stumbled onto a free event for world fair trade day. I plonked down in the sun on one of the provided blankets to enjoy a huge crepe filled with honey and bananas, and ice coffee. In warmer months there’s often outdoor events at public parks, normally involving some form of free or cheap food. If this ploy for a cheap breakfast fails, then grab some supplies from the local supermarket and have a park picnic- much cheaper and relaxing than dining in a crowded restaurant.
Wander into the famous Assistens Cemetery
This stunning cemetery is one the largest green area in Nørrebro, with the outer area providing plenty of leafy nooks for reading or sunbathing. The inner burial section is reserved for funerals and families paying their respects to loved ones. In one corner of the cemetery you’ll also find the grave of Hans Christian Anderson.
Grab a delicious bargain kebab lunch
To save a lot of money without compromising on flavour, have lunch on one of the less touristy cafes, which have a range of multicultural food. I wandered into Döner Kebab on the main street- Nørrebrogade where I had the most delicious pita bread kebab I’ve ever had- for less than 3€. I think the combination of the Danish flare for sandwiches together with middle eastern meats makes for the perfect kebab combination. I tried many in Copenhagen and they were all damn delicious!
Stroll down Jægersborggade
Possibly the coolest street in Copenhagen, Jægersborggade has a bunch of perfect little shops with interesting beautiful wares such as vintage clothing, a stunning plant shop Plant Copenhagen, designer jewelry stores and an eco-friendly shop where you can get bamboo cutlery and cups and other planet-friendly items. There’s also numerous cafes and chocolate and icecream shops, including one where the icecream is made on the spot using liquid nitrogen. Often the food stores offer free tasters and it’s the perfect place to window shop. There was also a street party happening when I was there, with music and cheap hot dogs.
Relax with free coffee at a perfectly curated bookstore
If you’re tired after all this wondering then head to Ark Books, a non-profit, volunteer run, international bookstore. They have a carefully selected range of excellent books, each being a favourite of someone and revel in the opportunity to discuss these. There’s also free tea and coffee and I picked up a free copy of their essays and thoughts on novels from last year.
Finish the day with refreshing & great value cocktails
Just around the corner from Ark Books I stumbled on a ridiculously inviting looking bar at number 24 Griffenfeldsgade. While the picturesque exterior caught my eye, it was the sign advertising 2 cocktails for for 90 Danish krones which drew me in. At 12€ is actually crazy cheap for Scandinavia and the best value (and most delicious) Mojitos I had anywhere in Denmark.
Where to stay
Staying in Copenhagen is not cheap. Even for shared dorm rooms I struggled to find anything under 50€ a night over weekend periods (it’s quite a bit cheaper during the week). In the end I found two hostels in Nørrebro for 30€ and 40€ per night respectively.
Sleep in Heaven hostel is right next to Assistens Cemetery and has great communal areas and pretty views from the breakfast room, where you can get good value all you can eat breakfast for about 8€.
The second place I stayed was Globalhagen Hostel which is run by volunteers and has a wonderful cafe/bar (Café Mellemrummet) on the bottom level. The super cosy cafe hosts various events like debates, stand-up comedy, concerts and talks. It’s also stocked with board games and a great place to meet people from all over the world.
Of course in both hostels you have the typical issues of dorm rooms- people coming in late or getting up early, too much light and too loud noises and banging doors. But for the price I didn’t mind forgoing a little sleep!