Is Copenhagen expensive for tourists? A complete guide to prices in Copenhagen (and how to save money)

In recent years, Copenhagen has transformed into one of Europe’s most dynamic major cities. Its locals have done an excellent job at maintaining traditions while embracing new ideas, and the city’s compact size makes it a joy to explore. But many people have one complaint when they visit Denmark’s capital city, and that’s how pricey their trip was. So, is Copenhagen expensive for tourists?

Before visiting any city, it’s wise to get a good picture of how much things you want to do will cost. Doing so will allow you to save accordingly, meaning that you’ll feel happier to splurge when you get there — regardless of how cheap or expensive it is.

Copenhagen is no different, and we’re here to help you do that today.

In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive rundown of prices in Copenhagen for tourists. You’ll learn about the average price of a meal in Copenhagen, along with costs to enter tourist attractions in this incredible city.

We’ll also identify a cheaper alternative to pricier activities, plus much more.

Are taxis expensive in Copenhagen?

When you visit a new city, knowing your options for getting around is a good idea. Copenhagen is a well-designed city with a strong infrastructure and finding your way from point A to B.

If you’re from the United States or United Kingdom, you might be used to driving everywhere. Copenhagen has plenty of roads, and you can use a taxi to get around if you want. However, you’ll need to have deep pockets for this to be a viable option.

Like almost everywhere else in Northern Europe, taxis in Copenhagen are notoriously expensive. You’ll need to pay a 39 DKK (c.£4.40) starting fee, which rises to 49 DKK (c.£5.52) on weekends, public holidays, and evenings.

In addition to the starting fee, you’ll need to pay 8.50 DKK per kilometre (13 DKK on weekends, evenings, and public holidays). On top of that, expect to be charged a per-minute price of 6.25 DKK (5.50 DKK on evenings, public holidays, and weekends).

Beer prices in Copenhagen

Denmark is well-known worldwide for its beer brands; Carlsberg, Mikkeller, and Tuborg all originated in and around the capital. As you might expect, Copenhagen is one of the best cities in Europe for beer — and it’s certainly top of the list in a Scandinavian context.

If you’re from a city like London, you probably won’t find the price of beer too steep. But for people visiting from many parts of the world, getting a drink in the Danish capital can come with a pretty hefty cost.

In most standard bars, you can expect to pay between 45 DKK and 65 DKK (£5.07-£7.32) for a beer in the city center. Craft beer is more expensive, costing roughly 60-70 DKK (£6.75-£7.88).

Many nights out in Copenhagen typically end in a nightclub. You’ll normally need to pay an entrance fee, which will vary depending on the venue. Once you get inside, you might want to control how much you drink if you’re on a tight budget; beer ranges from 50-60 DKK (£5.63-£6.76).

Other alcoholic drinks are even pricier; in most places, you’ll pay at least 95 DKK for a cocktail.

You can save money in Copenhagen by going to certain bars, but we’ll talk more about that later.

Is Copenhagen expensive for public transportation?

While most things in Copenhagen won’t make your bank account leap with joy, you’ll be pleased to learn that public transport is pretty affordable. The Danish capital has an excellent network of trains, boats, and buses — in addition to a metro system.

Regardless of whether you use one or a combination, you shouldn’t struggle to get to your desired destination.

The train from Copenhagen Airport to the city centre takes less than 15 minutes, and you’ll only need to pay 36 DKK (£4.05) for a single ticket.

Copenhagen’s public transport system operates on a zone system, and the city’s core is within the same zone. Travelling in the city centre costs 24 DKK (£2.70) for a single ticket, and the cost within two is the same as going from Copenhagen Central Station to the airport.

Depending on how long you stay, and how many trips you plan to take, a public transport pass might be more cost-effective. 24-hour tickets cost 80 DKK (£9.01), while 48-hour passes are 150 DKK (£16.90), and 72-hour tickets cost 200 DKK (£22.53).

You can buy public transport tickets at all major stations and via the Din Offentlige Transport (DOT) app. Each ticket is usable on all forms of transport, so you can change from the bus to the metro without buying a new journey.

However, you must a) travel in the opposite direction that your journey started from and b) make sure it’s still within the time limit.

Is accommodation expensive in Copenhagen?

When you visit Copenhagen, accommodation might end up taking the largest chunk of your budget. Most places to stay are very expensive, and they’re frequently in demand. This is especially true if you insist on staying in Indre By – the city’s most central district.

If you’re looking for a hotel in Copenhagen, 400 DKK (c.£45) is around the average price per night for most places in the city center. And for fancier accommodation, the nightly fee frequently exceeds 1,000 DKK (c.£112-£113).

Copenhagen has a strong Airbnb rental market, and you can find more authentic stays in some pretty fancy apartments. If you’re travelling alone, you can find rooms for 250 DKK per night or less if you’re smart with your search.

Fancier properties will often cost upwards of 450 DKK per night; prices will vary depending on location and the home itself.

As a general rule of thumb, hotel prices and Airbnb rentals will be much cheaper outside the city centre. Districts that aren’t too far away, but have a lower price tag, include:

  • Sydhavnen
  • Ørestad
  • Amagerbro

Ørestad and Amagerbro both have metro stations, with the former also having direct S-train access to the city centre. Sydhavnen will have new metro stations in 2024, but for now, you can get into Central Copenhagen in less than 20 minutes via the S-train.

Is food expensive in Copenhagen?

Copenhagen has a diverse food scene that has come of age in recent years. New Nordic Cuisine has taken the world by storm, but it isn’t the only thing you’ll find here; the Danish capital is home to several excellent burger establishments, along with various restaurants boasting domestic and international cuisines.

When you come to visit, you should absolutely set aside some time to enjoy a meal at a few of these places. However, saving up for your experience is a good idea; eating out in Copenhagen can get pretty expensive, pretty fast.

If you go to a budget restaurant, you’ll usually pay 70-100 DKK (£7.88-£11.26) for a main course. Again, you can expect to part with more of your hard-earned money if you go somewhere in the city centre — especially in one of the touristy districts.

On average, a meal in a Copenhagen restaurant costs 120-200 DKK (£13.52-£22.53). If you go somewhere fancier, your bill can easily exceed 400 DKK (£45.06).

The Danish capital has a pretty sizable street food scene, which comes especially to life during the summer. If you go to a stool, you’ll usually pay anywhere from 50-100 DKK (£5.63-£11.27) – and in some cases, it’ll cost more.

Is Copenhagen expensive for coffee?

We all know about the café culture in cities like Paris, Rome, and Vienna. However, not as many people are aware that coffee is also a big deal in Copenhagen; throughout the city, you’ll find several cafés offering a huge variety of options.

Copenhagen is expensive for many things, and coffee is undoubtedly up there if we talk about things that are disproportionately pricey. Depending on where you go, you can expect to pay anywhere from 25 DKK (£2.82) to 50 DKK (£5.64) for a coffee.

The average cost, however, is roughly between 35 and 40 DKK (£3.94-£4.51).

Generally speaking, coffee prices are high everywhere. So, rather than worrying about saving money, you’re better off picking a café that appeals to you the most.

The only exception is with convenience stores, where you can get filter coffee for a fraction of the price — though you’ll miss out on the overall café experience. 

How expensive is Copenhagen for tourist attractions?

Copenhagen has an impressive range of tourist attractions for a city with just over one million people. One of the best things about the city is that the things that locals and tourists do aren’t hugely varied, unlike in many major cities.

Copenhagen’s tourist attractions are perhaps pricier than in many European cities, but the good news is that you don’t have a huge price gap between them. Many museums and other cultural institutions receive a lot of state funding, which helps bring down the price.

Let’s start by looking at Tivoli Gardens, as the world’s second-oldest amusement park is arguably the number one tourist attraction in Copenhagen.

For a single-entry ticket, you’ll pay 135 DKK (£15.21) on weekdays and 145 DKK (£16.34) on weekends. Children under 8-years-old go for 60 DKK (£6.76) at all times of the year.

Water largely defines Copenhagen’s geography, and you don’t need to go far to notice that; The Lakes, which separate the city centre from many of its neighbourhoods, are a prime example.

When you’re in the city, you’ll almost certainly want to take a boat tour; a one-hour adventure around the capital’s waterways will set you back 50 DKK if you use Nettobådene.

Copenhagen has a huge variety of museums covering various topics and interests. If you visit one, you’ll usually pay between 90 and 160 DKK (£10.15-£18.04).

When you look at the city’s skyline, you’ll also notice a significant number of churches. Many of these have observation decks, and tickets typically float between the 40 DKK and 50 DKK mark.

Why is Copenhagen so expensive?

We’ve given you a rundown of how much you can expect to pay for several activities in Denmark’s capital — and as you can see, Copenhagen prices are often quite steep. The city isn’t as expensive as Oslo, but it’s noticeably pricier than Stockholm for most things (alcohol is a notable exception).

But why exactly is Copenhagen so expensive? A couple of factors come into play, and we’ll touch upon each of them below.

High salaries

Copenhagen will seem expensive to people from other countries, and you might question how on earth people can afford to live here — especially with Denmark’s notoriously high tax rate. However, it’s important to remember that salaries in Copenhagen are pretty high — even for part-time jobs.

According to Statistics Denmark, the average person’s pre-tax income in Copenhagen — if we look at both employees and self-employed people — is 369,635 DKK (just over £41,600) per year. On a monthly basis, that’s just over 30,780 DKK (c.£3,740).

Image Source: Statistics Denmark > Labour and Income

Denmark doesn’t have an official minimum wage, but even “lower-skilled” jobs are well-paid compared to other countries. While the idea of Scandinavians being filthy rich is largely a misconception, few people in Copenhagen struggle financially.

High quality of life

As you wander around this beautiful city, you’ll quickly understand why Copenhagen scores so highly in quality of life indexes. The Danish capital ranked top of Monocle’s Quality of Life Index last year and has also done so in several previous years.

Other surveys and indexes have also given Copenhagen a good ranking. For example, Mercer ranked Denmark’s largest city eighth in its 2019 Quality of Living index; it was joined by cities such as Vienna, Zürich, and Vancouver.

Sales taxes

Even without the already high prices, items in Copenhagen would still be somewhat pricey. Why, we hear you ask? Well, VAT or sales tax — known locally as “Moms” — is quite high.

Almost everything in Denmark has a 25% sales tax added to it, including food items in grocery stores. However, you can get a tax refund on your purchases if you live outside the EU – which means that both the UK and US are eligible.

When you spend more than 300 DKK on an item, you can ask for a tax-free form. When you leave the country, you’ll need to hand in the filled-out document at your point of departure. Global Blue operates tax refunds, and you can find more information about tax-free shopping in Denmark here.

How can I save money when visiting Copenhagen?

While we can’t get away from the fact that prices in Copenhagen are often high, you don’t need to let the cost of everything ruin your experience. We’ve already mentioned a couple of tips, such as tax-free shopping — but you’ve got plenty of other options to save money when visiting Copenhagen.

Below, you’ll find several ways to ensure that Copenhagen isn’t a hugely expensive place for you to visit.

Consider buying the Copenhagen Card

If you plan to enjoy a large number of Copenhagen’s cultural experiences, you can save a significant amount of money by purchasing the Copenhagen Card. This card gives you free entry to more than 80 museums and other attractions, in addition to free rides on public transport throughout the city.

The Copenhagen Card is available for anywhere between 24 and 120 hours. 24-hour passes cost the equivalent of €57 for adults and €28 for children; you can find a full breakdown for the other time periods on the official website.

You can purchase the Copenhagen Card online and access the card from the official app, which is available on iOS and Android devices.

Visit museums on their free days

If you don’t want to pay the full fee for certain museums, and you don’t feel like the Copenhagen Card is worth buying, you can save money on your trip to the city in other ways. Many museums in Copenhagen have one day per week where you can visit for free.

You can find the free days for most museums online.

Here are some worth keeping in mind:

  • Glyptoteket: Free on Tuesdays
  • Nikolaj Kunsthal: Free on Wednesdays
  • Københavns Museum: Free on Wednesdays

You’ll also find a wide selection of museums that always have free entry, including the Immigration Museum and the Magasin Du Nord Museum.

Visit the free attractions!

Sure, Copenhagen has plenty of paid attractions that are well worth your time. However, the city also has a whole range of free sights to enjoy if you don’t have a huge budget.

Nyhavn is perhaps the best-known example. While the restaurants and bars often cost a lot of money, simply walking around the area is free of charge; if you come here at sunrise, you’ll usually have the place almost entirely to yourself.

We’ve already mentioned The Lakes, and going for a walk or run around them is a great way to enjoy fresh air and capture a glimpse of their bordering neighbourhoods. You’ll also find several free parks in Copenhagen that are well worth your time.

Other must-visit free tourist attractions include:

Rent a bike or walk

Public transport can be useful if you’re staying in one of the outer suburbs, but in many instances, you probably won’t need to use it beyond getting to and from the airport. Copenhagen is a very compact city, and walking is the cheapest option for getting around, along with being one of the most convenient.

Getting around by bike is also affordable and the easiest way to explore parts of the city you wouldn’t have otherwise considered. Donkey Republic offers good deals, and you’ll find several rental bikes throughout Copenhagen; Bycykel (the official city bikes) are another option.

Many hotels will offer bike rentals, which you’ll often need to pay a daily rate for. Consider asking at the reception.

You can also rent a bike from most bicycle stores. You can find these dotted throughout Copenhagen and its suburbs; make sure you’re clear on the terms and conditions, so you don’t need to pay any unwanted fees.

Plan your trip wisely

The best way to save money in Copenhagen is to reduce your costs before you even arrive. During the summer, accommodation prices are at their highest, and you’ll have to deal with more tourists.

Outside of the short summer season, you can find some excellent deals on accommodation. September is a good time to visit, as the daylight hours are still reasonable, and the weather is usually agreeable.

However, Copenhagen remains charming during the colder and darker months; you can often find the best price for hotels in January and February.

Denmark also has a couple of budget hotel chains that can help you reduce your costs; CABINN and WakeUp both have good deals if you’re looking for a private room.

You can also choose a hostel if you don’t mind sharing with others; Copenhagen Downtown Hostel and Generator Copenhagen are two of the most popular options, and both are in the city centre. 

Another nice thing about Copenhagen is that the city only has one airport. Several budget airlines fly here, including EasyJet and RyanAir; both are worth looking at if you want to reduce your costs a little.

Side note: Please don’t fly to Malmö Airport if you plan on visiting, as it’s far away from Malmö — let alone Copenhagen — and you’ll need to pay 99 DKK to get over the Øresund Bridge anyway.

So, is Copenhagen expensive for tourists?

Copenhagen can be a pricey city, but you don’t need to let it burn a hole in your pocket. Is Copenhagen expensive for tourists? In short, yes — the Danish capital’s reputation for being a pricey place to visit is very much justified.

However, the cost of visiting isn’t as astronomical as you think; if you use common sense and stick to activities that you genuinely want to do, you’ll keep your costs much lower.

Many museums in Copenhagen have days where you can visit for free, and depending on how much you plan to do, the Copenhagen Card is worth purchasing. You can also visit at quieter times throughout the year when you’ll have more of the city to yourself and enjoy lower rates on hotels.

Although prices in Copenhagen lean on the higher side, plenty of reasons exist for that. We’ve already mentioned the quality of life and good salaries, both of which contribute to Denmark’s regular success in the World Happiness Index.

We’ve written an in-depth piece about why the Danes are so happy; why not check that out before you come here?

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