After a thrifty yet fun first day exploring Denmark in Nørrebro, I was determined to carry this mindset on for the rest of my trip, starting with the city center. Here’s 5 ways to explore the center of Copenhagen for a fraction of the price most people pay.
1. Take a Free Walking Tour
Free walking tours are offered in most cities throughout Europe and are a great way to get your bearings, learn some local history and get in a bit of exercise for free. As the tours often run for several hours, it’s customary to tip the guide for their time. This amount can be whatever you choose and think the tour was ‘worth’.
You can find info on the different free walking tours on offer in Copenhagen here. I did the Grand Tour which took 3 hours and visited many sites, including Christiansborg Palace (seat of Danish parliament, prime minister’s office and supreme court of Denmark), the Royal Palace of Amalienborg (where the royal family live) and the old city center. We then visited several buildings with interesting histories including the tiny attic apartment at Hôtel du Nord where Hans Christian Anderson lived when he first moved to the capital, and the home of J.C Jacobsen, who’s laboratory (specifically the Physiological department director Emil Christian Hansen) isolated a new strain of yeast which was used to brew a consistently good quality, tasty beer- Carlsberg. The discovery of this yeast changed the concept of brewing forever and all yeasts used to make lager beer are still derived from this original yeast!
2. Beers at Nyhavn like a local
The Nyhavn waterfront area with it’s colourful conjoined houses is synonymous with Copenhagen. From here you can take sightseeing tours by boat or dine at the many restaurants/bars. However, as possibly the most touristy location in Copenhagen the menus are bound to be overpriced. Instead why not grab some beer from a bottle shop and enjoy a relaxing drink while siting on the edge of the canal like the locals do. In Denmark it’s legal (and normal and popular) to drink in the streets.
3. Relax in one of the many beautiful park areas.
There are many stunning parks and gardens in Copenhagen, with my favourite being Rosenborg Castle Gardens. These are the oldest and most frequently visited gardens in Copenhagen and contain historical buildings and monuments as well as frequent concerts and art exhibitions in summer. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic lunch or more refreshing beers!
4. Explore Free town Christiania
This self-proclaimed autonomous community in Copenhagen is a free state which operates semi-independently of the Danish government, with it’s own currency, flag and rules. Famous for the open trade of marijuana, this has also brought great controversy to the area. While hard drugs were outlawed many years ago, there remains pressure from the Danish government to eradicate all drugs. Controversy also arises from the origins of the district, which was created through squatting in government military property in the early 1970s. Currently, the government strictly enforces a ban on the construction of new buildings in the district.
The main trading area of Christiania is known as ‘Pusher Street’ or the Green Light District and is very popular with tourists. It’s busy and noisy, with many different market stalls and places for live music. The leafy areas around the canal are more peaceful with many locals unwinding on the banks. Photos are not allowed in most areas, particularly the Green Light District.
Tip: take one of the higher quiet paths that lead between the houses and the canal- these beautiful, peaceful tracks away from the crowds are full of overhanging branches and pretty views.
5. Take in the view from The Tower of Christiansborg Palace
What better way to end the day than a sunset view of Copenhagen from above? Located in Christiansborg Slotsplads, The Tower of Christiansborg Palace is the highest tower in Copenhagen and unlike many other aerial views in the city or elsewhere, it’s free! While I ran out of time to get to the top of The Tower, the views from above are meant to be stunning. It’s open everyday except Monday and there’s a lift going up, more info here. There’s also a restaurant in the tower- book ahead if this interests you.
Tip: be sure to leave enough time for waiting in the lift queue (around 30min).