Copenhagen: Keep it cheap with the Copenhagen Card
Note: This article was updated on January 2, 2015 with new information, photos and links.
Budget travelers get understandably nervous when visiting Copenhagen. As is the case with many other northern European capitals, prices for food, lodging and shopping can be stunningly steep.
But Cheapos should not steer clear of this city of Danish design, busy bicyclists and curvaceous canals. Visitors on a tight budget can enjoy several days in Copenhagen, made much easier by the credit card-sized Copenhagen Card, the city’s tourism card. When we visited, we clutched ours at all times, which allowed us to stroll about town, into museums, and onto trains.
But is the Copenhagen Card a good fit for your trip? Read on…
The cost of the card
The Copenhagen Card makes sense if you plan to keep busy with the city’s (and area’s) museums and attractions. If you’re the type of traveler who wants to hit all the sights, dash through art museums and castles, and climb high towers overlooking town, the card is clearly a good investment. If, however, you’re content to wander the streets and canals, hang out in coffee shops, and watch the tourists bustle by, it may not be worth all those Kroner.
The pass is available in four types:
24-hours: DKK 359 — about $58
48-hours: DKK 499 — about $80
72-hours: DKK 589 — about $95
120-hour: DKK 799 — about $129
Prices for children aged 10-15 are significantly lower: DKK 189/249/299/399.
While the price might initially seem steep, consider what it offers: free access to more than 70 museums and attractions in and around Copenhagen, discounts at restaurants and other activities, and free transportation on the area’s network of buses, trains, the Metro and even to and from the Copenhagen Airport (zone 4).
When calculating whether or not you should buy a Copenhagen Card, don’t forget to include the savings in transportation costs—or the peace of mind it affords, as you’re free to simply hop on and off buses and trains at will. (Do note that you should always carry the card with you on the city’s transportation, as inspectors do pass frequently and will ask to see your “ticket.”)
Museums and attractions covered
The 72 sights covered by the Copenhagen Card include most of the city’s most famous and visited attractions. They include:
Amalienborg Palace (DKK 70, without pass)
Arken Museum of Modern Art (DKK 95)
Designmuseum Danmark (DKK 100)
Hans Christian Andersen’s Museum (DKK 95)
Statens Museum for Kunst (DKK 110)
Copenhagen Zoo (DKK 170)
Tivoli Gardens (DKK 99)
…and about 65 more. See the Copenhagen Card’s Web site for a full list of attractions covered by the card.
Out of town, too
The card offers admission to attractions outside the city’s limits, as well, which is especially attractive for those purchasing a three- or five-day pass. For example, you can take a day to explore the celebrated castles (including Kronborg, famous as the setting for Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”) in the Kongernes Nordsjaelland area. And again, don’t forget that transportation is covered by the card!
Purchasing the card
For further information about the card’s benefits and to purchase it online, visit the Copenhagen Card’s website. Buying your card before arrival is convenient for those arriving by plane, as the card covers transportation into town from the airport. (If you haven’t bought it ahead of time, you can always purchase it at the service center in Terminal Three of Copenhagen Airport.) Note that there is a postage and handling charge of €8 (about $10) for each card bought online.
You can also buy the card at Central Station (the main train station), at large hotels, and at the Visitor Centre (located across from the entrance to Tivoli Gardens).
Finding affordable hotels
Aside from the admission charges to the city’s top attractions, your hotel bill is going to be a huge part of your trip budget, and accommodation prices can be strikingly high in Copenhagen. Fortunately, our editors have hunted down plenty of one- and two-star central hotels for our Copenhagen hotel guide, many with rates under DKK 650 (about $105 a night).