Copenhagen on a budget

Copenhagen is a beautiful family friendly city but like the rest of Denmark it is not the most affordable of destinations for many travellers. Read about our tips for things to do on a family city break to Copenhagen here.

Here are a few ideas of how to minimise your costs while still enjoying all that this great city has to offer.

Book an apartment rather than a hotel

We stayed in a fantastic airbnb apartment. There are many ways in which this saved us money. Firstly it was much cheaper than a hotel room would have been. It also allowed us to prepare our own food, saving money on not having to eat out all of the time. With a toddler that can’t sit still for more than five minutes there were other advantages to eating at the apartment for us!

Our apartment was really well stocked with food basics and there was a mini-market just across the road where we picked up more supplies. We noticed plenty of supermarkets and mini-markets all over the city so wherever you are staying you shouldn’t be far from one . We then prepared all of our breakfasts in the apartment and some of our evening meals. We had picnic lunches on most days with food we packed up at the apartment or bought in mini-market shops. In these small shops you could get pizza by the slice and other great lunch/ snack foods.

Think about the location of your apartment- the closer you are to the centre, the more expensive it will most likely be. On the other hand you might offset the additional costs by being able to walk to most places rather than paying for public transport or taxis. If you are thinking about getting a Copenhagen Card (see below) you will get public transport included so having to hop on a bus might not be an additional expense.

Enjoy the many free parks

If, like us, you have small children in tow, then they will always be grateful of a runaround in a park as a break from sightseeing. Many parks have fantastic playgrounds and some will just have open spaces to run around in and enjoy a picnic. They are also often a great place to people watch and get a taste for how the locals live. We enjoyed the Kongens Have (King’s Garden) in Nørreport but there are plenty of parks in the city, discover what is close to where you are staying.

The local outdoor space to where we were staying in Nørrebro was actually a cemetery- Assistens Kirkegård! It is as much of a park/garden as it is a cemetery and was a lovely place to wander around. Although there is obviously no playground for the children, ours did enjoy wandering around looking at the gravestones and trying to spot the most famous residents.

One of the most famous residents at Assistens Kirkegård

Take in a free city view

You don’t have to pay to get great views over Copenhagen. Entry to Tarnet tower, the tallest tower in the city at Christiansborg Slot is free. Well worth it. (More information on this in my other Copenhagen post here).

Head to a market for lunch

We headed to Torvehallerne KBH in Nørreport for lunch one day. It is a fantastic place to wander around (although you will want to keep small children close to you as it was busy when we were there). There are market stalls selling every kind of food you can think of and plenty of picnic benches just outside to sit down at to enjoy your purchases. Some stalls also had their own stools to sit at too.

We enjoyed the best ice cream of the trip here. It was so good, there was no way that B was going to share his and had a huge toddler meltdown when Husband took a bite of it!

Get a Copenhagen Card

If you plan on visiting lots of the attractions this can be a really good deal. It covers public transport as well as 87 attractions in and around Copenhagen. There are 24, 48 and 72 hour options. Children under 10 are free with an adult that has a Copenhagen card. The website lists all the attractions that it covers and even has a handy calculator to work out how much money you will save with the card compared to paying for each attraction individually.

https://copenhagencard.com

Walk or bike around

Copenhagen is very flat and many of the main attractions are reasonably close to one another. I love walking around a city as not only does it get those steps in but it allows you to see corners of the city that would otherwise be missed if you were zooming through on a bus or train. Even with M’s tiny legs we managed to walk around a lot (until the moaning got too much).

If you want to get around a bit quicker, hiring a bike is another inexpensive way to get around. There are bike hire shops everywhere and the whole city is completely set up for cyclists.

If you want to go to Copenhagen these are just a few ways that you could stretch the budget further. I’m sure there are many more free/ cheaper attractions that I don’t know of. Did you discover any budget gems in Copenhagen?

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A City break in Copenhagen with 3 children…

Copenhagen is a city that I had fancied going to for quite a while and had heard good things about what a child-friendly city break destination it is. We managed to get reasonable flights last May for the 5 of us and so it was booked. We booked an airbnb in the Nørrebro area which was walkable to most of the main sights but was also well linked with buses for when little legs were tired after a day of sightseeing.

Here are our top ideas for things to do in Copenhagen with young children (at the time ours were 1,3,6).

Tivoli Gardens

This is probably one of Copenagen’s most famous attractions and is a great place to go with or without children. There is loads to see and do there so you will probably need the best part of a day. Like most things in Copenhagen it’s not cheap so you want to feel like you make the most of your ticket! There are lots of rides to suit visitors of any age. There are also beautiful gardens (the clue is in the name!) as well as parades and regular shows. Particularly over the summer there are regular concerts on at the weekend which are included in your entrance ticket. On Saturday nights there’s a firework display throughout the summer, although at 23:45 it is a bit late for the smallest travellers!

Candy floss bigger than your head!

There were plenty of rides that the toddler was able to go on, but what he enjoyed most was the amazing playground in the Rasmus Klump area (to be honest children of all ages will love this). Even better it is free with the entrance ticket. There are lots of family friendly facilities in this area and a little theatre which has toddler friendly shows on throughout the day. The shows were all in Danish but our kids didn’t seem to mind this!

  • Top tip: Work out at the beginning of your visit how many rides you think you might go on to try and get the best ride ticket options for you. The ride tickets are additional to the entrance fee and there are various options. You can buy unlimited ride wrist bands and also individual ride tickets. In the end we opted for one co-rider ticket for the 6 year old and then just bought individual ride tickets for everyone else. The co-rider wrist band worked well for us- it is for children aged 1-7 and means that they can take one accompanying adult on each ride. This meant that either Husband or I could go on the rides with her without needing a wrist band each.

Nyhavn

Nyhavn- New Harbour

This is the picture I had in mind when I visualised Copenhagen. It is basically one street around a canal, but it was one of the prettiest streets you will see anywhere, and is a must-see for anyone visiting Copenhagen with children. Full of colourful buildings, small cafes/ bars and boats. One end of Nyhavn leads towards the main square (Kongens Nytorv- King’s Square). When we were there most of the square was being dug up for new metro lines but even then there was still plenty of life, and space for the kids to run around and let off some steam.

Nyhavn is also a jumping on point for many of the boat tours.

Canal Tour

M enjoying our canal tour.

There are loads of options for canal tours from Nyhavn, and also from other points around the city. Some of them are hop-on and hop-off and some you just stay on. We opted for one that we stayed on. It was an hour in length, which was the perfect amount of time to see Copenhagen from the water without the children getting fed up. We all loved this trip as there was plenty to see along the way and a commentary to let you know where we were and what we were looking at. It’s a really good way to get your bearings and might show you other places that you then want to go back and see properly. Our boat had seats both inside and outside. We went straight to the outside seats- much better for seeing what was around us. Half way through the tour though everyone rushed in as the heavens opened! Luckily it was only a shower so we were soon back outside in the sunshine.

There are a few different companies offering canal tours. We just turned up on the day and got straight on but you can book tickets online or from the kiosk in advance if you don’t want to risk a big queue or lots of hanging around.

Amalienborg Slot/ Marmorkirken

Close to Nyhavn is the Royal quarter which includes the current Queen’s home, Amalienborg slot. Like most children, our girls are intrigued by anything that involves queens, palaces and castles so we went to have a look. We managed to time it right and got there for the changing of the guard, which was fab.

Changing of the guard at Amalienborg Slot.

There were no real barriers, so we were really up close to the soldiers and the kids loved marching around the palace square re-enacting the whole scene afterwards. We didn’t go into the palace (parts of it are open to visitors though), but seeing it from the outside was impressive.

Top Tip: Changing of the guards at Amalienborg Slot is at 12:00 every day.

Just down the road from Amalienborg is Marmorkirken (Marble Church) which has a dome said to be inspired by St Peter’s in Rome. It certainly was very impressive.

The dome in Marmorkirken, inspired by St Peter’s in Rome.

Top Tip: We didn’t do it but you can pay to go up the dome of Marmorkirken for views of the city.

Christiansborg Slot Tower

We did want to go somewhere with a view of the city though so we went for the free option! The island of Slotsholmen is where all the main Government buildings are. Christiansborg Slot is a palace and is also used as a government building for the Houses of Parliament and the Prime Ministers office among other things. The city’s tallest tower is also here and free to go up! We tried to get there not long after it opened to avoid huge queues (which worked) and then got the lift to the top. There were lots of cordons set up so it obviously does get very busy so probably best to get there for when it opens to avoid a big queue.

Views from the top of the tallest tower in Copenhagen.

The views were definitely worth it and the children loved seeing the city from above. There is a restaurant up the tower too, if your budget can stretch to it!

Top Tips: Pushchairs aren’t allowed up the tower, so if you have a young child you may want to bring a baby carrier. We did have our pushchair with us which we were able to leave at the bottom of the lift and the toddler was able to walk/ be carried while we went up.

Check the website for up to date opening times so you can time your visit to avoid queues. https://taarnet.dk/taarnet/?lang=en

Rosenborg Slot / Kongens Have (King’s Gardens)

Rosenborg Slot and the King’s Gardens are next door to each other in the Nørreport area of the city. We walked there from Nyhavn, which was just about ok for M’s little legs (the toddler was in the pushchair). If you are travelling from further afield in the city or just don’t fancy the walk, there are plenty of buses that go straight past.

We had a picnic for lunch in the King’s Gardens, which is apparently the oldest park in the city. There are free puppet shows here too in July/ August, but we were a bit early in the season for that. It is a beautiful park and we enjoyed wandering around then picnicking. We also found a small but lovely playground which the children really enjoyed.

Walking over the moat to Rosenborg Slot and B enjoying the playground in King’s gardens.

After our picnic and a play in the park we moved on to next-door Rosenborg Slot. This was the summer home for the Danish royals but has been a museum for some time now. We all enjoyed wandering around the castle but the highlight for the girls was going into the treasury in the basement where the Danish Crown Jewels are kept.

C admiring the Danish Crown Jewels.

Top tip: You can book your tickets for Rosenborg online in advance (we just did it the morning we were going) meaning that you then don’t have to queue and can just show the ticket on your phone.

Copenhagen with children- practicalities

Staying in an airbnb apartment was great for this trip as it meant that we could have breakfast there and we even cooked our own dinner there one night. With children this was great for saving money and also meant that they weren’t having to sit still in restaurants all the time (The toddler was at a particularly tricky age for this!). The airbnb we stayed in also had a travel cot, high chair and loads of toys for the children- some days it was a struggle to get them to leave the apartment! This meant we didn’t have to pack as much and any time that we were in the apartment they were happily entertained.

Getting around

Copenhagen is very flat which is a massive advantage when trying to get little legs to do some walking. It was also very pushchair friendly which always makes things easier! If your children are slightly older it would be great to hire a bike to get around. There are plenty of bike hire places all over, some of which also hire trailers for young children to sit in. The bike lanes are very busy though so children would need to be pretty confident riders. When not walking we got around on the bus and the underground which were both very easy to navigate.

Overall we certainly weren’t disappointed with Copenhagen. We had 4 days there and kept busy without rushing around too much. There are plenty of other sights and activities that we didn’t get around to- so always chance for a return visit…Copenhagen is a fab destination for a city break with toddlers or children of any age.

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