If Copenhagen isn’t on your Europe bucket list yet, make sure it gets a spot now. Don’t believe the rumours that the city is ‘too expensive for backpackers’, as it’s actually really easy to see almost all of the Danish capital AND save your pennies. The list of incredible free things to do in Copenhagen means you’ll never be stuck on how to fill your itinerary. From epic photography spots to fascinating free museums, Copenhagen’s free sights and attractions will make you fall in love with the city and wish your trip will never end. Check out these amazing free things to do and see in Copenhagen.
1. The Little Mermaid statue and Kastellet
Having been around since 1913, the Little Mermaid statue has become almost the face of Copenhagen. The bronze and granite sculpture sits gracefully on top of a rock at Langelinie Pier where thousands of visitors a day visit to snap up that classic Copenhagen photo. Although this is one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions, she probably won’t actually blow you away when you get there. It’s one of those things that’s gathered a pretty strange amount of hype! However she’s still worth seeing because just next door is Kastellet - one of Northern Europe’s best preserved fortresses that’s definitely worth a wander around.
2. Wander around Norrebro
Norrebro is Copenhagen’s up and coming area with a young, laid-back vibe. Get on your bike and cycle around the area, stopping to check out the craft shops or chill out in a cafe. Norrebro also lends itself well for the photographer in you, with vibrantly coloured buildings down almost every cobbled street and the wiggly lines of Superkilen Park giving that edgy look for your Insta feed.
3. The colourful Nyhavn
Nyhavn is another top tourist spot, and another of our favourite free things to do in Copenhagen. The famous row of multi-coloured canalside houses is a site not to be missed. Weather they’re brightening up a dreary Danish day or glowing in the spring sunshine, take a stroll up and down the canal past the tall masts of boats, just make sure you don’t forget your camera!
4. Explore Freetown Christiania
One of the most interesting yet bizarre areas of Copenhagen is its world famous Christiania. The freetown was founded in 1971 and is home to around 1000 locals while thousands of outsiders visit everyday to look around. The relaxed attitude towards hash and weed has made it a controversial place, but the incredible street art, laid back cafes and intriguing nature of the place is what makes it such a curious area to see. Park up your bike and walk around but be sure not to take photos unless stated otherwise, or you could get into some messy business.
5. Photograph the orange houses of Nyboder
One cool site that a lot of tourists tend to miss out on is also one of the most instagrammable spots in Copenhagen. The long rows of orange houses known as Nyboder can be found on and around Delfingade Street and are all painted in uniform with bright orange exteriors, pink shutters and green window frames. Nothing gets more Insta-worthy than that.
6. The Botanical Gardens of Copenhagen
For a country escape in the middle of the city, Copenhagen’s Botanical Gardens make for a lovely afternoon out. The entire gardens’ grounds make up 10 hectares and include 27 different glasshouses to explore, all for free. With over 13,000 species of flora and fauna, you certainly won’t be short on things to see on a trip to the Botanical Gardens, however to go into the main greenhouses you will have to pay a small fee.
7. Get epic views from Christiansborg Palace Tower
Get incredible views over the city at Christiansborg Palace tower, which many people don’t realise is actually free. The palace tower is the tallest in Copenhagen soaring 106m high, allowing you to get an awesome look over the jade green and rusty orange rooftops. Before the late 1800s, Christiansborg Palace was home to Denmark’s kings and queens until a huge fire forced them to move to Amalienborg Palace where they’ve stayed put ever since.
8. Take a free walking tour
If you’re a budgeting backpacker, make the most of the free walking tours around the city which depart every day. Follow your guide around Copenhagen’s highlights, including Christiansborg Palace, Nyhavn and Amalienborg Palace, and take in their knowledge on each and every site. Just be sure to give your guide a tip at the end.
9. Make the most of free museums
A number of Copenhagen’s largest museums are actually free to enter. These include the National Museum, National Gallery and Danish Resistance Museum. However a few more won’t cost you to look around too, just on certain days of the week. Nikolaj Kunsthal is an art centre inside an old church and Thorvaldsens Museum is home to work by the most successful sculptor in Denmark, Bertel Thorvaldsen, both are free to walk in on every Wednesday.
10. See the changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace
At midday everyday, the Danish Royal Guard complete the ceremonious Changing of the Guard outside Amalienborg Palace. Each day they start at Rosenborg Castle at 11:30am where they then march over to Amalienborg for the ceremony at 12 o’clock with the Royal Guards music band in tow when the Queen is in residence.
11. Stroll around Torvehallerne Market
Wander around Copenhagen’s beautiful colourful fruit, vegetable and flower market in the open-air space of Torvehallerne Market where the produce is just waiting to be photographed. Once you step inside the glass buildings you’ll find rows of stalls selling local Danish meats, open sandwiches (smorrebrod), alcohol, chocolates and, of course, pastries! If you don’t mind spending a few Danish krone on a bite to eat, the treats available at this market won’t disappoint.
12. See the stunning Royal Library
Whether you’re into books, photography or stunning architecture, take a look inside Copenhagen’s Royal Library (one of the largest in the world) and you’ll be blown away. Since being founded back in 1648, a modern extension called the Black Diamond has been added which includes a huge glass wall looking out over the harbour.
13. Jump into the Islands Brygge Harbour Baths
In the middle of the city, especially during the hotter months, the Copenhagen harbour baths get filled with local bathers looking for a cool down, and it’s totally free. It might sound gross swimming in a harbour, but the swimming areas are checked daily to ensure the water quality is up to scratch before anyone is allowed in, so you know you’re in safe hands! If the red flag isn’t raised past the summer period, why not brave a chilly dip… It’s free after all!