7 Free Things to Do in Copenhagen

by  Ann Babe | Nov 20, 2016
Nyhaven, Copenhagen
Nyhaven, Copenhagen / iStock

Yes, Copenhagen is expensive. But you can absolutely see it on the cheap. For the budget-conscious, here are seven things not to miss.

1. Christiania

Copenhagen’s infamous anarchist commune is like stepping inside a social experiment. Christiania citizens live in an entirely self-governing, community-owned society, with its own restaurants, bars, shops, and residences. Enter at the corner of Prinsessegade and Bådsmandstræde, northeast of Christianshavn Station, where you’ll find the most popular pathway in, Sydområdet.

2. Botanical Garden

Open and free 365 days a year, Copenhagen’s Botanical Garden features a vast collection of both living and preserved plants, fungi, and herbs. Get there from Nørreport Station by heading northeast toward Rosenborg Slot.

3. Nyhavn

Meander Copenhagen’s quintessential stretch. Facing a boat-filled canal, a row of brightly colored buildings plays host to a spectacle of street vendors, buskers, and restaurants that serve up traditional Scandinavian fare. Stop at house number 20 to pay homage to the celebrated Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen who once lived there.

4. The Little Mermaid

New York has the Statue of Liberty; Brussels, the Manneken Pis. In Copenhagen, it’s the Little Mermaid, who reigns supreme as Denmark’s most iconic sculpture. The Little Mermaid, based on the famous fairytale, is very little indeed, but at more than 100 years old she’s a longstanding tourist tradition well-worth a visit. See her at Langelinie Promenade, where you’re likely to spot the crowds before the mermaid herself.

5. Thorvaldsens Museum

Near Christiansborg Slot sits a lovely yellow building topped with four galloping horse statues. As pretty as this building is from the outside, the real beauty is inside, where the neoclassical artwork of the famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen resides. Make sure to visit Thorvaldsens Museum on a Wednesday, when admission is 100-percent free.

6. Changing of the Guard

For a truly ceremonial experience, witness Den Kongelige Livgarde, the Royal Guard, as it completes its daily march from the barracks to Amalienborg Palace. Catch the guards when they leave Gothersgade 100 around 11:30 a.m., or wait for them at the palace where the changing takes place at noon. Here, amidst the opulence of 18th-century late baroque architecture, crowds jostle for position, so it’s a good idea to get there early if you want a view.

7. Walking Tours

As efficient as public transit and biking is in Copenhagen, the best way to take in the city’s beautiful architecture and design is by foot. And for those interested in a bit of intel with their stroll, the city abounds with free walking tours. Copenhagen Free Walking Tours is the most popular operator and offers a three-hour grand tour every day at 11 a.m. Just remember that even though these tours are free, the guides still rely on tips.

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