Surrounded by ultra-modern architecture, beautiful laid back Danes, and idyllic canals that start from the world-famous Nyhavn, it's no wonder that Copenhagen is considered one of the premier cities to visit in Europe. That being said, there's a cost to all that awesomeness, which is why Copenhagen is also one of the most expensive cities you'll come across.
Don't fret though because if you follow a few of these tips for free things to do in Copenhagen, you'll come out with your wallet intact.
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Top Free Things To Do In Copenhagen
Copenhagen is one of the model cities of the Nordic countries that gives you a feel for the culture, history, and way of living. With a mix of old heritage with the new, you don't necessarily have to break the bank when exploring the city.
Take this from an exchange student that once-upon-a-time spent time in the city when I was at Lund University in Sweden. We were broke but we managed to take advantage of the numerous free things to do in Copenhagen.
Take advantage of a walkable city
When it comes to sustainable cities, Copenhagen is one of 5 cities that show the future of walkability.
One of the best ways to get oriented in the city is to seeall the major sights such as Strøget, Tivoli, Nyhavn, and Amalienborg Palace. There is a classic walking tour that departs from the Copenhagen City Hall at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. every day. During the walk, the guides are full of riveting stories of royalty, vikings, and the struggle for power.
If you're more curious about the Christianshavn area of Copenhagen, there's also a Christinashavn Free Walking Tour that starts at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. from Bishop Absalon's Equestrian Statue on Højbro Plads square in inner city. It finishes in Freetown Christiania.
Fine, this isn't exactly free but when you're short of time and want to pack in as much as you can, this is a viable option that's quite affordable and built by the tourism board. Not only will it give you access to transportation, you'l also get admission to almost all the top attractions.
Picnic in Copenhagen with the locals
The Rosenborg Castle Gardens is the oldest and most visited park in the city. Spread with lush green grass and perfect lime tree avenues, this is the perfect spot to do as the locals do and have a picnic. The best place to picnic is in the King's Gardens which is the huge green space adjacent to the castle.
After you're done make sure you visit one of the many temporary exhibits that are on display every summer. If you're lucky there might be a concert playing there too.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
If you're interested in visiting the Rosenborg Castle, here are the details.
Address: Øster Voldgade 4A, 1350 København, Denmark
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11AM to between 4PM (ticket sales end 30 minutes prior to closing).
- Adult – 120 dkk.
- Children (under 18) – Free
- Students – 75 dkk.
- Guided tour – 900 kr.
- Free with the Copenhagen Card.
- Lovely to see just from the outside.
- Rose season is particularly beautiful and The Treasury is spectacular.
- If you plan on visiting the castle, plan to spend 2-3 hours here.
Go museum hopping
What a lot of people don't know about Copenhagen is that the trio of National Museum, National Gallery, and Danish Resistance (Freedom Museum/Frihedsmuseet) Museum are completely free to the public. There's plenty of free art, history, and culture here that will surely keep you busy for a day or two.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- National Museum: Prince's Mansion, Ny Vestergade 10, 1471 København K, Denmark
- National Gallery: Sølvgade 48-50, 1307 København K, Denmark
- Danish Resistance Museum: Esplanaden 13, 1263 København, Denmark
- National Museum: Denmark's largest museum of cultural history, comprising the histories of Danish and foreign cultures, alike.
- National Gallery: The Danish national gallery that displays Danish and foreign art dating back to the 14th century.
- Danish Resistance Museum: A modern museum approach that tells the story about Danish resistance during the German occupation.
- National Museum: 2-3 hours
- National Gallery: 3+ hours
- Danish Resistance Museum: 1-2 hours
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Climb to the top of a tower
Once the home of kings and queens, Christiansborg Palace (Borgen) is now home to the Danish parliament and attached to it is Copenhagen's tallest tower standing at 106 meters.
The entrance to The Tower is located on the islet of Slotsholmen and at the King's Gate. Note that this is in a bit of a separate location to the palace itself.
Grab your camera when you visit because you'll get the best unobstructed views of the from here, making it one of the secret gems of free things to do in Copenhagen. On a clear day, you might even be able to see a bit of Sweden.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Christiansborg Slotsplads, 1218 København, Denmark
- Tues-Sat: 11AM – 9PM
- Sun: 11AM – 5:30PM
- September – May: Tuesday – Sunday 10AM-5PM (closed Mondays)
- There are two queues at the base of the tower – one for the restaurant and the other for the tower and the viewing platform. Make sure you're in the right line.
- You will often have to queue to visit the tower.
- The best times to visit are 11AM-12PM and 4PM-5:30PM.
- Only cases and handbags measuring no more than 55 cm in height, 40 cm in width and 23 cm in depth may be taken into the tower.
Learn the bike riding culture
As of 2014, they had to reinvent the Bycyklen program that is probably the one most people talk about and used to be called Copenhagen City Bikes. It's not as cheap as it was before but it is possible to get around like a local for only a few DKK a day. Checking out the bike costs 25 kr per hour (around $4 USD). This is a great for a hop but adds up quickly.
Another option is to rent a bike from a shop like this one. It'll cost $18.87 for 6 hours but it's a fantastic way to see the whole city.
SEE COPENHAGEN BY BIKE
If you're renting a bike, you'll want to do some serious riding around town. Make sure to head over to this piece on how to see Copenhagen in a day by bike.
Keep Copenhagen's water clean in a GreenKayak
Now this has to be one of the coolest activities you can do in Copenhagen that just so happens to be free.
GreenKayak is a not-for-profit initiative that wants Copenhageners and visitors to contribute to cleaning up trash pollution in the waters and make a real difference.
Here's the deal. Simply book a kayak and collect trash into the bucket that it comes with, and share on social media with the hashtag #GreenKayak.
Hunt for The Forgotten Trolls
Hidden in various forests, meadows, and calm waters of suburbia Copenhagen, you'll find these funky wooden sculptures of trolls hanging out. There are 6 of these giants lurking around the greater Copenhagen regions.
Created by Thomas Dambo, these giants were made out of recycled materials found in city dumpsters to bring to life the idea of using trash as a resource.
You can find all locations of these trolls on a map here.
Watch the changing of the guard
Everyday at noon, soldiers with black furry hats and blue trousers march on the grounds of Amalienborg Castle to the tune of bellowing orders. This age old tradition is similar to Buckingham Palace's changing of the guard in London and will be sure to draw in a large crowd.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Amalienborg, 1257 København K (changing of the guard takes place in the main courtyard)
Hours: Changing of the Royal Guard at 12PM daily. Amalienborg Castle is open Tuesday-Sunday 11AM-4PM.
- Adult – 95 DKK
- Students – 65 DKK
- Children under 18 – Free
- Groups (min 12 persons) – 80 DKK
- Visiting Amalienborg Palace is free with the Copenhagen Card.
- Ticket sales end 30 minutes before closing.
- Note that the castle isn't open on Mondays.
- The guards are typically accommodating of having their photos taken.
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