Saving Money in Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a colorful city where unusual sights and attractions combine to offer a unique cultural experience. It’s a city composed of juxtapositions. It’s fast-paced, yet relaxing, where modern buildings sit across from 17th century architecture. Copenhagen is the only place in Europe where you will find an amusement park, a hippy commune, and national museums all in the city’s center. It’s an edgy city with an intriguing history and so much to explore that there’s no wonder why it’s a popular destination for tourists. However, Copenhagen is also known for being one of the most expensive cities in Europe. If you don’t want to miss out on visiting the eclectic city but don’t want to burn your budget while doing so, read on for a few tips on how to save money while making the most of your trip.

Stay outside the city center

Accommodation is pricey in Copenhagen, but you can save quite a bit by choosing to stay outside of the city center. It’s a compact city that is designed in a way that makes it easy to explore. Plus, the metro system is efficient and can quickly take you to the main tourist attraction areas. We stayed in Frederiksberg, a fun neighborhood with plenty of restaurants and shops to explore. It was about a 30 minute walk or a 10 minute metro ride to the center, and our Airbnb was only three minutes from the metro stop. My boyfriend, Dewey, and I often choose to stay outside of the main tourist areas not only because it’s good for our wallets, but it also gives us a chance to see more of the city and get a better sense of the culture. In the area we were in, it was rare for us to hear other English speakers— and we like it that way! We love feeling like we are living like the locals whenever we visit a new place and it’s a thrill when we discover restaurants and bars that are local favorites.

 

Do the research on the type of accommodation

Regardless of your destination, it’s important to do thorough research on the type of accommodation to make sure you’re getting the best deal. In Copenhagen specifically, every option is going to be expensive— even hostels. If you are traveling alone, hostels are probably the way to go. However, if you are traveling as a couple, look into staying in private rooms in Airbnbs or other rental agencies. I typically prefer Airbnb over others because it has the cheapest options and I’m used to using them.

Renting a private room in a local’s apartment on Airbnb is often cheaper and a better value than renting individual beds in a hostel dorm. For example, our private room in Frederiksberg cost €40 (20 per person) a night, whereas the cheapest hostel bed we could find was €25 a night (€50 total for two people). So, not only did we save money, but we didn’t have to share a bathroom with a bunch of strangers and we stayed with a local who could give us insider tips on the city!

Walk whenever you can

Like I mentioned before, Copenhagen is a compact city with all of its major sites dispersed around a central location, the city hall. So, it’s very walkable. If you’re healthy and able, choose walking over taxis or public transport whenever you can. In the five days that I was in Copenhagen, Dewey and I walked into the city center and only took the metro home at the end of the day when it was dark and we were exhausted from sightseeing. We were able to see more of the city and walked off all of the pølse (local hot dog) and smørrebrød (Danish open-face sandwich) we ate! It saved us $40 altogether— $40 that I’d much rather spend on a night out to dinner!

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Dewey posing by a pond on one of our walks into town

Pack a lunch or eat at a pølsevogne

I followed the locals’ example on this one. It’s very common for locals to picnic at one of Copenhagen’s many squares or along the canals because the food is not cheap— even Doner kebab is about $8! Packing a lunch when you’re headed out for a day of sightseeing is a great way to control your spending. One day, we made sandwiches out of leftover bread from our dinner the night before and ate them in the lobby of the National Museum of Denmark. So, though we had to pay to get into the museum (with no student deals available, unfortunately), we saved on lunch!

Another option, if you want to try some Danish street food, is to stop at one of the many sausage wagons (pølsevogne) located around the city. This is the cheapest (about $5) food you’ll find in Copenhagen, and it’s fast and tasty!

Buy your alcohol at convenience stores, not in restaurants

This is the golden rule of Copenhagen and all of the Danes know it. Prices for alcohol at bars and restaurants are so high that many locals prefer to purchase their beer at convenience stores and drink them along the canals or in squares. Drinking in public is legal, so grab a few beers, sit by a canal and take in the scenery around you.

Avoid eating around the Nyhavn canal area

Nyhavn is a must-see during your visit to Copenhagen, but don’t be persuaded into dining here. While it can be tempting to eat and drink at one of the many outdoor cafes lining the canal, it’s also a tourist trap where you’ll end up spending a fortune. Stroll along the canal, gaze at the vibrant colored houses, and then make your way out of the tourist area for dinner. Copenhagen is filled with great places to eat and it’s always fun to discover a local’s spot.

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Dining in Dublin

In the 11 weeks I’ve been in Dublin, I’ve tried TONS of different restaurants (does going out to eat count as a hobby?). Dublin is a foodie city, and I have been in foodie heaven. From traditional Irish cuisine to Asian street food and Spanish tapas, here is a list of some of my favorite places in Dublin:

Breakfast

Beanhive

Why you should go here: for one of the best Irish Breakfasts in Dublin.

 

Beanhive is an adorable little café across the street from St. Stephen’s Green. It’s small and has limited tables, but the food and coffee is definitely worth the wait. I ordered the Full Irish Breakfast, and what I love about theirs is that they really mean full. It has everything. I’m talking fried tomato, mushroom, sausage, ham, white and black pudding, beans, a fried egg and toast. Can you say breakfast of champs!? If meat isn’t your thing, don’t worry. They have vegetarian and gluten-free options as well. Plus, the baristas are artists and coffees always come with a fun design on top— great for that perfect Insta shot.

Queen of Tarts

Why you should go here: for the tasty breakfast options and the freshly baked cakes and sweet treats.

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Queen of Tarts is another great spot for a hearty Irish Breakfast. They are also widely known for their baked cakes and treats ranging from cheesecake to scones to slices of freshly made pecan pie. It’s quite popular (deservingly so), but luckily they have two locations just around the corner from each other, so it doesn’t take too long to be seated. Both restaurants are in a central location near City Hall, so it’s a good place to pop in while sightseeing for a warm cappuccino and cake break.

Brother Hubbard

Why you should go here: for a different approach to the usual weekend brunch.

 

Brother Hubbard serves up tasty, vegetarian-friendly brunch with a Moroccan twist. There are two locations, one in North Dublin and one in South. I went to the South Dublin location. In addition to the flavorful food and a menu that favors eggs and avocado, I enjoyed sitting outside where I could easily people watch. It was pouring rain the day I went, but they have large umbrellas and heat lamps to keep you comfortable. There’s something cozy about eating outside in the rain! If you find yourself dining here, I recommend ordering a side of fried halloumi. And if you aren’t a vegetarian, definitely try the chorizo for some added crisp!

Bibi’s Café

Why you should go here: to enjoy an appetizing brunch at a cute local’s place.

 

A hidden gem located in South Dublin, Bibi’s is the neighborhood favorite. The café offers a homey atmosphere with ceramic blue plates and shelves stocked full of cookbooks. The food is simple and of excellent quality, as they try to source locally whenever possible. I tried the most popular dish on the menu, Squash Eggs, and it did not disappoint. Their menu changes with the season, ensuring only the freshest ingredients. Definitely check this place out if you are interested in a local’s spot.

Lunch

Green Bench Café

Why you should go here: for the best sandwich in Dublin!

**Disclaimer: photo of food not available due to incredibly fast consumption of sandwich**

My oh my, the Green Bench is not your average sandwich shop. It is a go-to lunch spot for Dubliners, and there’s no questioning why. The Green Bench serves some of the most flavorful sandwiches in all of Dublin. Their menu changes daily, but the sandwiches never disappoint and the price is very reasonable (about 6-8 euro). It’s takeaway only, but it’s quite close to St. Stephen’s Green, so you can easily find a bench in the park to sit and enjoy your food like I did! Bring your appetite, as the sandwiches are big!

The Fumbally

Why you should go here: for fresh sandwiches and salads in a funky atmosphere.

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The Fumbally is your classic hipster-healthy café. It’s the kind of place where all of the waiters have either man buns or beanies, there’s always vegan options, and people describe it as having “good vibes”. That doesn’t take away from the fact that the food is really good, especially if you like fresh salads and sandwiches. Their specials change daily depending on the season and the chef, and it’s all locally sourced. It’s off the beaten path (I only discovered it because it’s close to where I was interning) and a bit pricey, but it’s definitely a unique experience with great food.

Bao House

Why you should go here: for the fluffiest bao in all the land and affordable prices.

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Bao wow wow…..this place is incredible. A small, Taiwanese restaurant located on Aungier Street, Bao House is a must-visit if you enjoy Asian street food. If you’ve never had bao, this is the place to try it. The buns are fluffy pillows of heaven stuffed with savory fillings, such as crispy pork belly or duck. They also serve rice and noodle bowls, which look delicious, though I haven’t tried them (yet). They have student deals as well, so be sure to show your student ID for a better price!

Dinner

57 The Headline

Why you should go here: for upscale Irish staples at an awesome local’s spot.

 

If you are looking for a fun local’s spot, 57 The Headline is it. Located in South Dublin, this cozy gastropub serves no ordinary pub food. 57 (as locals call it) offers upscale Irish staples including fish and chips and savory roasts. I tried their take on bangers and mash, which were made with venison and sourced from a local butcher. It was easily the best bangers and mash I’ve had in Ireland (as one of my favorite Irish dishes, I’ve ordered it many times). They also offer a variety of craft beer and being from Virginia where there’s lots of microbreweries, I love me some craft beer! The bar has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and draws in a slightly older crowd. It’s a great option to relax with dinner and drinks after a day of sightseeing.

O’Donoghues

Why you should go here: for the Guinness Stew, good music, and good craic!

Okay, so O’Donoghues is a widely popular pub namely for its pints of Guinness and live traditional Irish music. However, it’s not just a place for drinks and good craic (though, would it be a problem if it was?). This historic pub also serves the best Guinness Stew I’ve ever had at a very reasonable price. Some of my friends in my internship program said this was their favorite place to eat and drink in Dublin! What’s better than a warm, hearty bowl of stew, a Guinness and live music on a chilly fall night?

The Ramen Bar

Why you should go here: for thoughtfully prepared, delectable food and a little something different.

 

Hands down, the Ramen Bar was my favorite restaurant in Dublin. If you are looking to venture away from the typical Irish cuisine, the Ramen Bar is the place to do it. It was so tasty that I went twice (and would go again, if I could!). They have kimchi mozzarella arancini! Need I say more? They hand make their noodles from scratch and the ramen is just. so. flavorful. This place is great for vegetarians and meat eaters alike, and it has an edgy yet inviting atmosphere. I recommend the prawn cracker nachos to start, and my favorite ramen is the Yaki Niku Pork, though I’m sure everything on the menu is delicious. Don’t skip out on this place if you are visiting Dublin!

Church Bar and Café

Why you should go here: For the interesting history a unique atmosphere and yummy food!

 

Yes, that’s correct. It’s a bar inside an old church! The former St. Mary’s Church of Ireland was built in the early 18th century, but has been restored into a funky bar and restaurant that serves delicious food. I really liked being able to have a bit of history mixed in with my dining experience. I was there for the early bird set menu (a great deal if you can make it there between 5-6pm) and dined on perfectly cooked salmon directly in front of a giant organ. It was quite the experience! They serve a variety of food from cheaper, casual bar food (I heard the nachos are LOADED) to fancier set menus. Whether you go for appetizers and drinks or dine on a three-course meal, this historic place is well worth a visit. Fun fact: Arthur Guinness, the Father of Guinness, was married inside this church!

Salamanca

Why you should go here: for delectable tapas that are great for sharing on a night out with friends. 

Tapas, tapas, tapas! Ok, so when you think of Ireland you don’t exactly think tapas. However, Salamanca gives Spanish restaurants a run for their money. This restaurant is a great place to go with a group where everyone can choose from a variety of vegetarian, meat, and seafood options to share. What could be better than sipping sangria while enjoying each other’s company over plates of delectable food? My favorite tapa was the pimientos de Padrón. Simple, yet so yummy! For a good deal, this restaurant also offers an early bird special between 4-6:30pm.

A Day Trip to Howth

4E77DAD6-B0AF-45A5-A560-7F5AB81B56B4The sky is overcast with strips of sunlight piercing through the clouds. The air is crisp, with a faint, salty smell from the fishermen’s most recent catch in the harbor below. It’s a cool 45 degree day, and I am comfortable in my white down jacket and beanie hat that covers my ears. I’m walking along a narrow, dusty path that traces the side of the mountain. In front of me are strikingly green hills sprinkled with yellow ferns and vibrant purple heathers. The hills transform into moss-covered rock as they approach the sea, and the water calmly laps against the edges. It’s my first time venturing out of the city, and I now understand why Ireland is so famously called the Emerald Isle. The sight is spectacular and I am happy to have left the busy city for a day spent exploring the coastal town of Howth.


If you are visiting Dublin, a trip to Howth (pronounced Hoth) is a must. It is a small coastal town with gorgeous views, plenty to do, and provides a calming escape from the city. It’s only about a 35 minute train ride on the DART (the Irish rail system) from the city center and costs about 3.50 euro each way. Keep reading for ways to make the most of your day.

1. Meander through the Howth Market

Conveniently located directly across the street from the rail station is the Howth Market. An array of Irish crafts, such as handmade jewelry, are sold here and are great for gift shopping. However, there are some touristy-type items as well, such as overly-priced souvenirs, so be weary of that.

There’s also plenty of food vendors offering everything from steamy empanadas and sausages to freshly baked goods. If you’re like me and enjoy some hot soup when it’s a bit chilly out, I recommend getting the chowder. It’s creamy, filled with vegetables and chunks of fresh salmon and cod, and it’s the perfect snack to give you some fuel for the hike ahead.

2. Pick a trail and get hiking!

There are four hiking trails (blue, red, green, and purple) that provide scenic views of Howth, Dublin Bay, Baily’s Lighthouse, and Ireland’s Eye, an island just north of the harbor. Fortunately, there are signs for each trail immediately when you exit the rail station. Each trail has a varying level of difficulty with red and purple being the longest/most difficult.

I chose the green trail, which was relatively easier than I had anticipated. It was more of an upwards stroll rather than a hike, but it was relaxing and a great option if you are traveling with kids or want to bring your dog along (I met a cute Labrador named Trixie). The views were fantastic and the trail offered many photo-ops!

If you are looking to see the views but in need of something a little gentler than a hike, there is an option to drive or take a bus to the summit and then walk your way down until you reach the town of Howth.

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3. Have a beer at the Summit Inn

Once you’ve made your way to the top, you’ve earned yourself a nice cold brew. The Summit Inn serves a variety of hearty food and has relatively cheap beers on draft. It was originally built as a cottage in the 19th century and has an authentic Irish pub feel. It’s the perfect place to rest your feet before you begin the walk down to the town.

4. End the day with dinner at one of Howth’s many restaurants

Being a coastal town, most of the restaurants here are known for their freshly caught seafood. Having had chowder earlier in the day, I opted for something a bit more hearty, yet still an Irish classic: Shepard’s Pie. I ate at Dog House Blue’s Tea Room, a funky restaurant that features a dining area set up like a cozy outdoor living room with soft cushion chairs and couches. They have a wide selection of tea and coffee perfect for sipping in front of their fireplace.  It’s BYOB, so if you’d like to drink you’ll need to stop by a convenience store first.  They have heat lamps, so no need to worry about being cold!

If you are interested in sampling Irish fish and chips, many have recommended getting take away from Beshoff’s, a popular place with Dubliners. It’s a great option if you are looking to nibble on a classic as you stroll down the pier.

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At the end of the day, all you have to do is hop on the train and it will take you directly back to Dublin’s center.

If you are only in Dublin for a few days but would like a chance to see all of the green that Ireland is so famous for, or if you would just like a calming escape from the bustling city center, Howth is great option.

Though it’s not necessary to plan much (half the fun is just discovering things to do as you go!),  Here is a link that provides more detail on things to do and places to eat in Howth.