Contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of free things to do in Copenhagen and although Denmark’s capital is an expensive city, it is not impossible to explore on a budget. It’s totally doable to cut some costs and discover the city cheaply and one of the best ways to do this is by taking advantage of free activities. If you are looking to explore the city on a budget, be sure to check out this list of 10 free things to do in Copenhagen:
1. Check out Nyhavn harbour
Back in the day, Nyhavn was a super dodgy area of Copenhagen where drunk sailors and prostitutes used to hang around. Nyhavn was also home to the Danish author Hans Christian Anderson, who lived at three addresses on the harbour. These days, Nyhavn has become a popular spot for tourists and visitors to grab a drink, relax and take in the atmosphere.
2. Join a free walking tour
Free walking tours are always an activity that I will recommend when arriving in a new city. They can be one of the best ways to get to know your way around, get an insight into the cities history, scout out the attractions you may want to return to and get some handy tips from locals.
Copenhagen free walking tours run a daily grand tour of the city starting at 11am outside the city hall in both English and Spanish. The tour lasts three hours and will take you to some of the cities most popular locations including Nyhavn, Christiansborg Palace, the royal palace of Amalienborg and the oldest (and most charming) street in Copenhagen.
Although it is not mandatory, the guides make a living through these walking tours and are not paid by anyone other than the people who join the tours so you are encouraged to tip your guide what you think the tour was worth. If you only do one of the many free things to do in Copenhagen, make it this.
3. Admire the little mermaid
Located a 20-minute walk from Nyhavn, the little mermaid is one of the most visited attractions in the whole of Denmark and should not be missed. My tour guide encouraged us to “experience the disappointment for yourself” but actually, I thought the little mermaid is a nice statue and worth the trip.
4. Window shop on Strøget
Exploring Copenhagen on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t go window shopping on the longest pedestrian street in the world. Strøget boasts some high-end designer stores such as Prada, Louis Vutton and Mulberry, but there are also high street shops such as Topshop and H&M. If you like browsing at beautiful clothes and homeware then this is your place.
5. See Copenhagen from above from Christiansborg Palace
Unlike most of the viewpoints in the city, you can admire Copenhagen from above completely free from the tower of Christiansborg Palace. If you like to admire pretty views when exploring a new city and you are trying to cut some costs, then be sure to add this place to your list.
6. Watch the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace of Amalienborg
The royal palace of Amalienborg is home to the royal family of Denmark. Every day at 12 noon you can watch the changing of the guards free of charge. Be aware though, this is a busy time to visit the palace and the crowd’s flock in hundreds. I would advise visiting the palace in the morning or later in the afternoon if you don’t want to be surrounded by tourists.
7. Stroll around Freetown Christiania
One of my favourite free things to do in Copenhagen, a stroll around Freetown Christiania is a must. Established by a group of hippies in the 1970’s, Christiania is a community free from cars with their own unique rules right in the centre of Copenhagen and is now home to approximately 800-1000 residents.
With several shops, stalls, artist studios and some great places to eat, you could easily spend an afternoon exploring and chatting with the locals. During my visit, a lovely man that lives in Christiania shown me around his artist studio and we discussed careers, art and what it is like living in the community.
Read more: A visitors guide to Christiania, Copenhagen
8. Explore the city hall
If you decide to take the free walking tour, head down early and spend some time exploring the city hall. The building boasts some beautiful architectural decoration and entrance is completely free. English speaking guided tours of the city hall run at 1pm Monday to Friday and on Saturday at 10am at a cost of 50 DKK.
9. Relax at the park with views of Rosenberg Castle
According to my tour guide, a nice sunny day is rare in Copenhagen so if you are blessed with nice weather take advantage of it by grabbing some lunch and heading to the park to eat it with some nice views of Rosenberg Castle.
10. Check out Frederick’s church
A (very) short walk from Amalienborg Palace is Frederick’s church. Although a very beautiful building on the outside, my favourite thing about this church is the amazing paintings on the ceiling. If you stop by, be sure to go inside to check them out!
Have you visited Denmark’s capital? If so, what are your favourite free things to do in Copenhagen? Is there anything I have missed from this list? Share it in the comments below!
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