As the world gets more expensive, it can seem like everyone is competing to win the “it costs me the most live an ordinary existence” contest. House prices have become a comparative signifier of the modern yo-pro’s economic stress, with everywhere from London to New York to Sydney to San Francisco exclaiming that they have the hottest, most unaffordable property market. Within this mix of many major cities exclaiming their citizens are the most likely to be living in an abandoned warehouse with twelve other people paying £5000 a month in rent for the corner of the kitchen, Copenhagen was still positioned as being particularly prone to breaking the bank. Scandinavia is known for excellent childcare, superior governance and high prices.
I posted a budget breakdown for two days in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, to show how, if you can get a cheap airfare, the cost is unlikely to be prohibitive once you’re across the border. However, Eastern Europe is known to be one of the world’s cheapest regions. While people may not know what that looks like in real terms – ‘cheap’ trips are still distinctly more expensive than not going anywhere – it’s fairly well established that, in the grand scheme of travel, Eastern Europe is quite affordable. But what about the rest of Europe? The expensive parts, like Copenhagen?
All the prices are my individual share. Two of us went on this trip and we split all expenses evenly. The currency in Denmark is the Krone.
Flights – £54
For flights in general, this is pretty cheap. For convenient weekend flights to Copenhagen, this is especially cheap. The whole trip grew out of finding these flights.
Accommodation – £55
It was immediately clear to me while searching for accommodation that we weren’t in Eastern Europe anymore. Anywhere remotely central was very expensive, though the fact we were booking less than two weeks in advance won’t have helped matters. I did not appreciate Airbnb’s passive aggressive reminders that only 3% of listings were still available and that we should have booked sooner. Maybe you should have reminded us sooner, Airbnb, and then we wouldn’t be in this mess.
There was one place. Just one. The location was good, it was very cheap, it was available for the weekend we wanted and there were lots of good reviews. In hindsight, we should have been more suspicious.
Sophie and I give different retellings of this experience. I think it was a perfectly acceptable room, though the smell of cat did permeate the apartment to an almost nauseating degree. “Your cat smells bad” is the kind of thing you just don’t put in a review someone will read and I’m happy to have been blindsided by cat litter to have spared our host’s feelings. The room was fine but there’s a reason it was Copenhagen’s only cheap central room. Sophie’s version of this experience sounds more like we were in trapped in a horror film. I think I missed the one where the villain was a gentle Danish man and the setting was his normal, if a little fragrant, flat. Must have gone straight to DVD.
Still, we were looking for cheap digs and we found them. £25 per night is a great deal.
Transport – £27
This also includes the travel getting to and from Stansted Airport. A last minute development resulted in a friend of Sophie’s kindly picking us up on the Sunday evening after landing in London, so we were saved the cost of a return journey. In Copenhagen, we paid £4.25 each way from the airport to the central bus station and rented bikes on the Saturday for a whopping £2.30. These bikes were rented to us by our Airbnb host so this is definitely cheaper than average. If you want to cycle around, looking for accommodation that has bike rental included or cheap prices is good idea. Most hotels were charging an arm, a leg and your first-born child for only four hours roaming the streets on two wheels.
The one short bus journey we took was free because we appeared so incompetent to the bus driver, offering him a random note at midnight with clearly no idea how to purchase a ticket or how much they cost, he took pity on us and just waved us on. Incompetence pays, apparently. Other than this, we walked around haphazardly. Free unless you consider the blisters a different kind of price to pay.
Food – £39
This is probably much lower than most people would find. I know Copenhagen is famous for its food but I figured any fancy meals were better saved for the future, especially because of Sophie’s eating habits – now well covered on this blog, sorry mate – which mean that anything that contains meat, fish, peanuts, mushrooms or eggs is off the table and most vegetables are met with suspicion. Fortunately, Copenhagen’s rye bread went down well with Soph and we found plenty of excellent open sandwiches, bagels and pizza.
I also considered moving into Frellsen chocolate shop after our three trips there to pick up snacks. The benefit of crisscrossing randomly across the city was that we passed this shop numerous times for sustenance. We also got lunch from the supermarket on Sunday and had a picnic. Snooping around foreign supermarkets is legitimately my favourite activity in a new city; the excitement I feel looking at another country’s biscuit selection is unparalleled. What a world we live in when there are thousands of types of biscuits all over the planet just waiting for you to discover them.
Activities – £14
This was the trip to the botanical gardens and the ‘Big Art’ exhibition. Christania and all of the churches we visited were free. One great tip is to always travel with someone who you can have fun with anywhere doing anything. You spend less money and you have the best laughs.
Miscellaneous – £47
This was my impromptu ear piercing. To be clear, this not a requirement of visiting Copenhagen so this cost is purely optional. Body modifications are a great souvenir, though – they’re a lot more memorable than that crappy fridge magnet you’ll never look at again. About £46 more expensive though, so your call.
Total – £189 (+ an optional £47)
More expensive than Lithuania, but not by much. There are definitely a myriad of ways to make forty-eight hours in Copenhagen significantly more expensive, but I imagine there will be time for fancier foods and less cat-scented accommodation in the future. It’s also worth remembering that we booked the flights in August, booked the Airbnb in September and took the trip in October so if you spread it out across three months it’s naturally split into more manageable chunks. This was a great trip and at home we wouldn’t spend two straight days hanging out, doing new things and checking in with each other. Can’t put a price on that. (Well, in this case it was £189. But you get my point).