Far far to the north, you’ll find the small kingdom of Denmark – a kingdom known for its natural beauty, clean beaches, Viking heritage and world-renowned kitchen. Lots of people from around the world go there every year to rent cottages or summerhouses along the harsh North Sea or go sightseeing around Copenhagen. But the prices of most accommodation and food are sky high, and many budget travelers believe that it’s out of their range. I want to prove this assumption wrong.
Sure, Denmark is expensive, but it’s also full of cheap and free lodging, eats and experiences, so with a little planning and some advice, it’s possible to visit without declaring bankruptcy upon your return home.
Do you want to travel Denmark without blowing your budget? Then read these insider tips on how to do it!
How Much Do You Need?
Currency: 5,50 Danish Kroner = $1 USD.
Let’s begin by breaking down the costs of traveling in this country. If you go to Denmark without planning in advance and you stay at hostels, eat at restaurants and go sightseeing, you can easily spend around 600-800 kroner per day. If you follow the advice below, however, I would dare say that you can survive on 100-200 kroner a day and still have a good time.
It’s simple. You visit during the summer: cook your own food, find your inner camper and join the free events and sights.
Eating on a budget
The cheapest way to stay on a budget is buying your food at the supermarkets. The cheapest stores are called Netto, Aldi, Fakta and REMA 1000, and you can buy everything you need here.
In the summer, I recommend you to buy a grill and go to the park or beach where you can prepare your food. This is what most Danes do, too.
While a typical meal at most restaurants will cost between 50 and 150 kroner, you can get cheap meals for 25 to 30 kroner in IKEA stores. It’s a great alternative as long as you don’t expect a gourmet meal. Other cheap (although not so healthy) eats can be found in hot dog stands (sausage wagons), local pizzerias or Jensens Steak House.
Most places have lunch offers, and at Jensens Steak House you can get steaks at half the price if you get there before 4pm.
Accommodation is really expensive, and hotels can easily cost you 800 kroner per night. The hostels in Denmark are called Danhostels and they have family and private rooms available for as low as 300 kroner. But there are definitely cheaper alternatives out there!
The cheap alternative is to rent a caravan or summerhouse, but make sure to do it in low season or the prices will be sky-high. You can also check out airbnb.com; a quite popular site where people rent out their homes.
The free alternative is to pitch up a tent in the forest or at the beach. This won’t cost you a dime, and it’s a great way to enjoy the countryside. Another option is couchsurfing.com, which is free, too.
Free attractions and events
Denmark has plenty of free attractions and events that you can explore. You’ll see that most castles and mansions around the country offer free entry to the gardens and grounds, and all churches are free to enter, too. With cobble streets, cottages and lots of history, cities like Aarhus, Randers and Copenhagen are basically sights in themselves.
If you’re traveling with kids or simply out for some fun, we have an amusement park in Copenhagen called Bakken, which is also free of charge. You do need to pay for the activities, though.
Denmark is full of free events throughout the year from music and festivals to markets. Here’s just a few:
Aalborg Carnival in May is the largest carnival in Northern Europe where people dress in crazy costumes according to the year’s theme. Themes can span from love, trendy times to the 60s, but really – it’s mostly about being creative and having fun.
Aarhus University Beer Relay is also held in May and it takes place on Aarhus University. At this event, around 15,000 students gather at the lakes and cheer while 12 people from each faculty cross the lake in a home-built ship, drink a beer, run around it 10 times and sail back. The winning team wins the honor and a golden bedpan. This is typical Danish humor.
Beer festivals in Copenhagen are held twice a year in September and May as an excuse great occasion to enjoy and drink beer.
Christmas markets can be found everywhere in major cities around Denmark from November to December. At these small markets, you can buy Christmas food, handicrafts and decorations.
Gay Pride Parade is a (fun) celebration of gay rights and a contribute to the accept and respect for gay people. The parade takes place in Copenhagen (August) and Aarhus (May), and you don’t need to be gay to attend; everyone joins – even the Danish Prime Minister and the Mayer of Copenhagen have marched in the parade.
Danes love bikes. It’s a cheap and easy way to get around, and many times it’s much faster, too. In larger cities, you can save quite a lot by loaning a city bike for free. All you need to do is deposit 20 kroner, which will be returned to you when you return the bike to a bike stand. These bikes can be found around the city.
Traveling between cities is done cheapest by bus. If you take the train (a single ticket is 382 kroner), make sure to look for orange tickets, which are discount tickets. Bus companies that travel from Aarhus to Copenhagen are Abildschou.dk and rødbillet.dk, with the latter being the least expensive at 150 kroner. Make sure to book in advance to reserve a seat.
You can also check out Gomore.dk, which is a site where you can offer or sign up for a ride, or you could simply hitchhike. It’s safe to do here in Denmark.
If you find yourself in Copenhagen fancying some sightseeing, then opt for a Copenhagen card, which allows for free and discounted public transports and numerous attractions.
How to save money
There are many ways to save money in Denmark, and if you are a student you’ll find plenty of places that’ll give you a discount. Simply bring your student ID card, and this will give you a discount for hotels, train tickets, car rental, nightclubs and many other things.
Speaking of clubbing.. A night out can be quite expensive, but if you go during happy hour or on girl’s night, which give girls a discount, you can easily save a few bucks. You can also do like Danes and buy the alcohol from supermarkets, go to a party and then you won’t drink as much when you’re out. This can save you loads of cash!
Oh, and one more thing…
Did you know that Denmark has some of the cleanest water in the world? Well, we do. All our water is pumped up from the deep below ground and passed through a sand filter before it comes out of the taps. This means that it’s safe to drink tap water, and with those expensive bottled water prices around here, that will save you a lot!
Find money on the street
If you are really short of money or just environmentally oriented, you can literally find money on the streets by collecting and handing in bottles and cans at the local supermarkets. The Danish bottle deposit system ensures you 1-3 kroner ($0,18-0,55 USD) for each soda, beer and water bottle. You will see lots of people collecting bottles from trashcans and on festivals, and now you know why.
Those are the basic advice on how to travel Denmark on the cheap. Would you visit?
About the Author
Miriam Risager is a Danish travel writer and blogger with a passion for adventure. She travels the world exploring different cultures and taking on adventures from volcano boarding, biking down the world’s most dangerous road and much more. You can find her photography and travel stories on adventurousmiriam.com. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.