Calling all budget-savvy adventurers, this is your ultimate insider guide of cost-free wonders in the captivating city of Copenhagen! As you explore the Danish capital, you'll discover that experiencing the vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and enchanting atmosphere doesn't have to break the bank - especially for one of the most expensive countries in Europe.
We'll guide you through the magical picturesque harbour views, lead you to the tranquil haven of the Botanical Garden, and dabble into cultural delights like the changing of the guards at Amalienborg Palace all without dipping into your travel budget. So get ready to embark on a Nordic frugal adventure filled with beauty, culture, and endless surprises as we uncover the best free things to do in Copenhagen! Curious? Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more adventures!
Immerse yourself in Danish history and culture
While you may think you have to spend a lot of money to actually do things in Denmark’s capital city… Copenhagen is actually home to several outstanding museums that offer free admission, providing visitors with fascinating insights into the city's past and present.
Møstings Hus is a charming art museum and cultural centre nestled in the idyllic surroundings of Frederiksberg Have, a beautiful park in Copenhagen. Housed in a historic building, Møstings Hus showcases a rotating collection of Danish art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, providing visitors with a glimpse into the country's rich artistic heritage. The museum's serene ambience and picturesque gardens make it a delightful destination for art enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, offering a tranquil escape from the bustling city. With its unique blend of art and natural beauty, Møstings Hus invites visitors to immerse themselves in Danish culture and enjoy the harmony between art and nature.
National Museum of Denmark
As the country's largest museum of cultural history, the National Museum of Denmark boasts an extensive collection of historical artefacts, artwork, and archaeological finds. Learn about Danish history from prehistoric times through the Viking Age and beyond at no cost.
The David Collection
This unique museum houses an impressive assortment of Islamic art, European porcelain, and Danish paintings, all exhibited within a beautifully restored 18th-century building. At the David Collection, visitors can immerse themselves for absolutely free entry into the rich cultural heritage of the Islamic world while also exploring the masterpieces of European and Danish art. The museum's serene and elegant atmosphere provides a perfect backdrop for appreciating the intricacy and beauty of these artistic treasures, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts and culture lovers alike.
Folketinget/ Danish Parliament tours
Tours of the Danish Parliament, also known as the Folketinget, are available for free during select times throughout the year. Visitors can explore Christiansborg Palace and learn about the workings of Denmark's political system.
Royal Cast Collection Museum
The Royal Cast Collection Museum in Copenhagen is a hidden gem for art enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Housed within the grand halls of the former Christiansborg Palace, this unique museum showcases a vast collection of plaster casts from renowned sculptures spanning centuries. Marvel at meticulously crafted replicas of iconic masterpieces, from ancient Greek and Roman sculptures to Renaissance and Baroque works of art. The museum offers a fascinating insight into the world of sculpture, allowing visitors to appreciate the intricate details and craftsmanship of these historical treasures. With its regal setting and captivating displays, the Royal Cast Collection Museum offers a captivating journey through art history that will leave you inspired and awestruck.
Copenhagen Cathedral Museum
The Copenhagen Cathedral Museum offers a captivating glimpse into the rich history and heritage of the Copenhagen Cathedral, also known as the Church of Our Lady. This hidden gem showcases a fascinating collection of religious artefacts, ancient sculptures, intricate stained glass windows, and archaeological finds, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the cathedral's significance and the religious traditions that have shaped Copenhagen throughout the centuries.
Celebrate local traditions
Experience traditional Danish customs and events firsthand with these free activities that showcase the vibrancy of Copenhagen's local culture.
Changing of the Guard ceremony
This daily event at Amalienborg Palace, the royal family's winter residence, features a procession of the Royal Guard in full regalia. Visitors can watch this impressive display of Danish tradition while admiring the stunning architecture of the palace complex. This cool event happens every day at 12:00 noon.
Located just outside Copenhagen, Bakken is the world's oldest amusement park, dating back to 1583. Although some rides require payment, entrance to the park itself is free, and visitors can enjoy its historic atmosphere, lively entertainment, and charming forest setting.
Midsummer celebrations in Copenhagen bring forth a whimsical blend of ancient traditions and modern revelry. As the sun casts its golden glow upon the city, locals and visitors alike gather in parks, gardens, and witness the lighting of bonfires as flames dance in the twilight, filling the air with a sense of ancient mysticism. Join in the merriment as people don floral wreaths, indulge in traditional Danish cuisine, and partake in lively folk dances.
The bonfire for Midsummer celebrations in Copenhagen typically takes place in various locations throughout the city. One popular location is Amager Beach Park (Amager Strandpark), where a large bonfire is often lit, attracting a festive crowd.
Embrace Copenhagen's seafaring past with iconic views
The city's rich maritime history is evident in its picturesque waterfronts, historic canals, and famed landmarks. Take a leisurely stroll around Nyhavn, the colourful and lively 17th-century harbour district that famously inspired Hans Christian Andersen. From here, you can also admire the iconic Little Mermaid statue, a tribute to one of Andersen's most famous fairy tales. The nearby Harbour Circle walking route offers stunning views of Copenhagen's skyline, as well as opportunities to spot local wildlife and enjoy recreational areas.
The Little Mermaid statue
Perched gracefully on a rocky shoreline, the iconic Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen is a beloved symbol of the city's enchanting charm. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's timeless fairy tale, this petite bronze sculpture captures the melancholic yet captivating allure of the mythical mermaid. Gazing out to sea with a sense of longing, she invites visitors from around the world to marvel at her delicate beauty and ponder the depths of human emotion. While she may be petite in size, the Little Mermaid's significance looms large, representing the enduring magic and literary heritage that make Copenhagen a truly must-visit (and free!) destination.
Giants of Copenhagen
For an unusual and entertaining outdoor experience, embark on a quest to find the six "forgotten giants" hidden within the city's green spaces. Created by artist Thomas Dambo, these giant sculptures made from repurposed materials invite visitors to engage with their surroundings.
Explore Copenhagen's enchanting gardens
There's nothing better than spending an afternoon surrounded by nature in the heart of the city. Copenhagen boasts multiple beautiful parks and gardens where you can relax, picnic, or simply wander amidst lush greenery and historical monuments.
When I was a “broke” student backpacking across Europe - parks and gardens were my go tos to get a glimpse of local city life, but also to chill in for a pause from the city breaks. Here, the University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden is home to over 13,000 plant species spread across 10 hectares. This diverse collection showcases exotic plants from around the world and features 27 glasshouses, including the iconic Palm House.
A vast and elegant park designed in the English landscape style, Frederiksberg Garden offers picturesque views, romantic canals, a Chinese Pavilion, and even a small waterfall. The garden surrounds Frederiksberg Palace, which further adds to the serene atmosphere.
Situated adjacent to Rosenborg Castle, King's Garden is Copenhagen's oldest royal garden. With its immaculate flower beds, fountains, sculptures, and playgrounds, it is an ideal spot for families and history enthusiasts alike. Take a free stroll around and feel like you’re part of the Danish Royal family!
Discover the city's vibrant neighbourhoods and sights
Each of Copenhagen's distinct neighbourhoods offers its unique atmosphere and attractions, perfect for exploration on foot or by bike.
Wondering where local Copenhageners are chilling during the hot summer days? Kalvebod Brygge, situated on Copenhagen's waterfront, has undergone a remarkable transformation from a business-oriented area to a vibrant hub of relaxation, activities, and enjoyment, all thanks to the introduction of Kalvebod Bølge, or Kalvebod Wave.
Kalvebod Bølge is an urban space designed to bridge the gap between the city and the water, featuring undulating and curving surfaces that create a captivating visual experience. The harbour bath itself is a popular destination, providing an inviting space for swimming and taking refreshing dips. One of the remarkable aspects of the harbour bath is that it remains open 24 hours a day, all year round, ensuring its availability for locals and visitors alike. Just come and bring your bathing suit and towel!
Nørrebro and Assistens Cemetery
This multicultural district is known for its eclectic mix of shops, bars, and cafes, as well as Assistens Cemetery, the final resting place of many famous Danes, including Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard. The Assistens Cemetery is free to visit, and a lovely hanging out spot for locals! It may sound eerie or creepy to hang out in a cemetery, but hey, when in Denmark… Do as the Danes do! (Trust me, it’s a worthwhile stunning spot in Copenhagen).
Frederik's Church, also known as The Marble Church or Frederiks Kirke, is an architectural masterpiece nestled in the heart of Copenhagen. With its elegant dome and stunning neoclassical design, the church stands as a grand symbol of Danish craftsmanship. The interior boasts intricate marble work, intricate detailing, and a serene atmosphere that invites contemplation and awe. Doors are open for free entry too! As you step inside, you'll be captivated by the harmonious blend of light and space, creating a sense of serenity. Whether you're admiring the opulent organ or gazing up at the exquisite dome, Frederik's Church is a true testament to the city's architectural splendour and is a must-visit for those seeking beauty and historical significance in Denmark’s capital city.
This is one of my favourite spots in all of Copenhagen - no matter what the season is. Kastellet, also known as "The Citadel," is a captivating historic fortress situated in the heart of Copenhagen. Built in the shape of a star, this well-preserved military stronghold exudes a sense of grandeur and charm. Encircled by a moat and lush green ramparts, Kastellet offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city, inviting visitors to explore its picturesque grounds, stroll along its cobblestone pathways, and admire its iconic windmill. With its rich history, serene atmosphere, and stunning views of the surrounding area, Kastellet stands as a testament to Copenhagen's architectural and cultural heritage.
A visit to Copenhagen wouldn't be complete without exploring the infamous Freetown Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood famous for its colourful orange houses and alternative lifestyle. While you won't find any museums or traditional tourist attractions here, Christiania provides an intriguing glimpse into a unique community without breaking the bank.
Where to Stay in Copenhagen on a budget
Now that you have this list of fun and free things to do in Copenhagen, you may be wondering where to stay in the city that won’t be so expensive while still be close to all the action. Look no further than Urban Camper Hostel & Bar, a social spot where you can make friends easily while staying in comfort. Steel House Copenhagen is also a modern and upscale accommodation for cheap stays. While the Urban House Copenhagen by MEININGER is ever trendy for a stylish stay (without the high budget).