Uncovering Europe's best budget hotels since 2001.
By C.H. Kwak—
After attending TBEX in Copenhagen this month, I found myself left with only 160 Krona and one more day to go. That’s about €21—chump change in a Scandinavian city.
But I didn’t feel like paying an ATM transaction fee again, and my credit card seemed to have developed a mysterious PIN overnight. It was a Cheapo challenge: Could I eat for less than €20 a day in Copenhagen? And for the fun of it—could I do it without resorting to fast food?
Morning: Croissant and Carlsberg
Hans Christian Anderson and his fairy tales are lovely and all, but I wanted something different on my second visit to Copenhagen. With a croissant (12 DKK) in hand, I left the storybook Old Town behind, and headed west to Vesterbro, a former red light district that’s thriving today.
The meatpacking district, which sees butcher shops and trendy bars exist side-by-side, was all but deserted on a Sunday morning. A stroll down the tree-lined Sønder Boulevard led me to the former Carlsberg brewery, a huge complex of brick factories. Carlsberg brewed and bottled its products there until just two years ago. The expansive ground is open to the public for free, and is home to design studios, theaters, galleries and other functional spaces.
Just the night before, I, along with a group of bloggers at the conference, had visited an unpretentious bar/diner called Dyrehaven (Sønder Boulevard 72), but we couldn’t get a table. I decided to try again—and snagged a window-side table this time.
The menu was dominated by smørrebrød, or open sandwiches, of all sorts—herring, roast beef, pâté… I went for a ribbensteg, or roast pork, which arrived topped with red cabbage and deep-fried crispy pork rind that melted my heart. With a jug of free tap water, my lunch came out to 75 DKK.
Nørrebro, a culturally-diverse neighborhood of immigrants from all around the world, was my next destination. A local’s recommendation to check out Blegdamsvej, Tagensvej and Assistens Cemetery turned out to be sound advice. They were the perfect places to spend the rest of the day, people watching and window shopping.
Evening: Beautiful anarchy and lamb curry
Inspired by Amsterdam, King Christian IV built Christianshavn, an island district famous for pretty canals, quaint buildings and, of course, Christiana, the last stronghold of anarchy in Europe.
I spent a few hours strolling before settling down for dinner at Cafe Spicy Kitchen (Torvegade 56), an Indian restaurant that came highly recommended by Jessica, a fellow translator I’d befriended. (We underpaid translators know our budget restaurants.) I was pleasantly surprised by the white table cloth and staff sporting starched aprons—Toto, I don’t think we’re at a regular cheap Indian joint. Most of the items on the menu were under 90 DKK—no wonder the place was packed. My lamb curry was delicious and set me back 70 DKK.
An extra cheapo tip: One company’s marketing ploy is a nation’s tradition. Thanks to beer maker Tuborg, the Christmas season kicks off at 8:59 p.m. on the first Friday of November in Denmark. A Tuborg truck covered with artificial snow drives around Copenhagen, releasing blue-clad Santas and Santettes who hand out the year’s strong Christmas beer. So if you like free beer (and who doesn’t?), the first Friday of November might just be the day to visit Copenhagen.
See more Copenhagen tips here.