Saving Money in Scandinavia: Copenhagen

The final leg of our trip!

I’ll start off by saying that travelling with your bestie is amazing and fun and hilarious, but not without its “moments”. Penny and I are much like an old married couple (even though we live thousands of kilometres apart), and it has never been more evident than when we spent 3 weeks together. Very together. Always together.

I knew that travelling with any other person might bring out the worst in me (I like my alone time, and I like being in control). I’m not always the easiest person to be around! So I made sure throughout the trip to explore on my own a few times, so I wouldn’t get tired of Penny, and she (hopefully) wouldn’t get tired of me. Nevertheless, there were times when we got frustrated with each other and went off on our own in a bad mood to do what we wanted to do or see what we wanted to see. It happens! It’s ok!

Our arrival in Copenhagen… was one of those times. We were planning to stay with a  Danish friend of Penny’s from when she did an exchange in France, and from landing in Copenhagen to arriving at his apartment was… tense. At one point, we sat down on the side of the road in Peter’s neighbourhood (we still hadn’t found his apartment), and cried. We had been arguing the whole walk, and finally I blurted out “it’s almost over and I’m going to MISS YOUUU.” Hahaha! So we sat down and cried together. We call it “that time we broke up in the street, and then got back together.”

Have you ever experienced that feeling, when you’re about to leave home for university, or your sibling is leaving home, or your friend is moving away… and you fight for no reason, because you’re about to say goodbye and it’ll be easier to say goodbye if you’re mad at each other? Or even if you don’t fight, the tension prior to the goodbyes builds and builds until you’re both just relieved one of you is gone? I would like to know what this phenomenon is called. Any psychologists out there? It definitely happened between my parents and my brother before he left for college. And it even happened for about an hour or two the day I left on this Europe trip! Mom was too worried to be happy, I think. It was maddening, but at least I knew what was happening.

Anyway, Penny and I only had 5 more days together in Europe, and after that we were going to go back to being far, far apart. Back to real life. And we broke down.

This has nothing to do with saving money, or budgeting, but it’s a very real part of travelling with someone who you won’t be going home with! As long as you anticipate it, you’ll understand it when it happens.

This has been a Public Service Announcement. Thank you.

So we found Peter’s apartment, and got to know him and his roommate Anne. We spent the rest of the evening chatting with them about all sorts of things (employment, costs of things in Denmark vs Canada, some Danish words/pronunciations, good places to eat in Copenhagen, how to say Copenhagen correctly (Ko-bin-oun – with “oun” like in “hound”). It was a very relaxing and fun evening.

The next day, May 27th, we explored Copenhagen a bit on our own, stopping at a place Peter recommended for lunch, Mad og Kaffe (sort of pronounced “mel oh kah-feh”, NOT “mad-dog kaffee”) near the Dybbølsbro station. It was deeelish, and their brunch menu looked awesome. We tried twice to make it there for brunch, but it was always full! I will never forget that mint lemonade…

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Bun-less burger at Mad og Kaffe

After lunch, we went exploring down Istedgade, which had many shops and cafes. We stopped for coffee at a bakery (“Bagerdygtigt”) along that street which wound up having quite a selection of GF pastries and treats (even more in a big retail freezer on the way to the restroom!).

By the way, bikes. BIKES. More bikes than cars, I think. Holy.

We strolled down Strøget, the “shopping street”, and found a Lego store! My inner child was in awe!

And finally we came to Nyhavn (means “New Haven”, pronounced like “Nu houn”).

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The next day we spent with Peter, being shown around more places (and getting a more in-depth look at places we’d passed but missed the day before, like the Rundetaarn aka “Round Tower” near Strøget). We checked out a small breakfast place that specialized in oatmeal/porridge, which was amazing. They had GF oats and other GF options too.

We walked around until well after dark. We saw Hans Christian Anderson’s grave, and checked out an art gallery, and finally saw the Little Mermaid. Neither of us were as excited as many other tourists about it, but she was a cute little statue!

Then we went out with Peter and Anne for dinner in the meat-packing district, which sounds odd, but it houses a ton of restaurants! During the day, it is also filled with food trucks, which we checked out the next day on our own. The Indian restaurant we went to was cozy, and had many drink specials that we took advantage of. 🙂

The next day we left Peter and Anne to stay at a hostel closer to the airport. It was a nice hostel, but the guy at the counter was not especially nice and the place was a little creepy. However, it was cheap and clean!

Now. It is really hard to remember what day we did everything on, so a brief run-down of the things I did or saw from this point:

  • A cruise through the canals with Penny (Peter had some sort of pass that we used)
  • Dinner with Peter at Papirøen (a giant hall full of food stalls)
  • A stroll around Øster Voldgade (to see botanical gardens and art museum)
  • Christianborg Palace (I saw as much as I could for free before being frowned upon for not buying a ticket lol – I wasn’t interested enough to see the rest)
  • Met up with Penny at Tivoli (100 DKK for entry)
  • Found some local art (of Nyhavn) to bring home
  • A cute and much quieter street that seemed pretty popular with young locals called Kompagnistræde/Læderstræde. There were many restaurants and cafes here, but I had a little trouble finding GF options.
  • Gourmet burgers with Peter at Grisen
  • A Danish hotdog at a stall near the Rundetaarn (GF, with potatoes. Also rhubarb pop?!?)
  • Food trucks in the meat-packing district
  • Locally-made/Scandinavian-made jewellery near Hyskenstræde & Læderstræde where I found salmon-skin earrings made by an Icelandic artist living in Denmark! Knocked out Icelandic and Danish souvenirs in one go! 😛
  • Breakfast on our last morning at a place called “Next Door Cafe” which was soooo friendly and I wish we’d found it sooner!!

And that was that!

We hopped on a flight on May 31st back to Toronto, with a brief stopover in Reykjavik. I was supposed to transfer to another flight for Halifax but my baggage took too long to come through and I didn’t make it. So I got home verrry late.

It was nice to see Timmy’s cups again! 😀

Overall costs in Copenhagen:

  • Two nights with Peter and Anne: Free (we treated them to dinner one night as a thanks!)
  • Two nights at a hostel: $30.86 per person per night
  • Linens at hostel: 50 DKK or ~$9
  • Locker at hostel on last day to keep our luggage: 10 DKK each or ~$1-2
  • Copenhagen Card (transit): 360 DKK (or ~$65) for one 72-hr pass and two 24-hr passes
  • Meals: ~$350 (rounding up, just in case)
    • Oatmeal at Grød: ~$15
    • Burger and fries at Grisen: ~$18
    • Tacos at meat market food stall: ~$15
    • Indian food & fancy drinks with Peter and Anne: ~$60
    • Dinner & a drink at Papirøen: $~30
    • Lunch and lemonade at Mad og Kaffe: ~$35
    • Breakfast and coffee at Next Door Cafe: ~$15
    • Hotdog & potatoes: $10
    • ++ Coffee and pastries: $50??? Probably. Lots of coffee.
    • Food at Joe & the Juice on two occasions: $30
    • Airport food on the way home: ~$40 (Reykjavik & Toronto)
  • Tivoli: 100 DKK or ~$18
  • Rundetaarn: 25 DKK or ~$5
  • Shopping (really, the only time!): ~$200 total for a beautiful suede wallet from Magasin, earrings from a tiny jewellers, and a print of Nyhavn from some artist’s cooperative I found.

Total: $142/day over 5 days, which is including the shopping I did. If I leave that out (since it wasn’t really an essential part of travelling/surviving), it was about $102/day.

That brings us to a grand total of $3700.

However, I know I counted every little thing up when I returned home, and it came to about $4800. The costs I’ve given in these posts are what I know for sure I spent or at least a pretty accurate estimate (I hunted down many menus on the interwebs to be sure), but there are likely things I’ve forgotten. For instance, I know in Stockholm I had to buy a converter for my charger because the one I had wasn’t correct, and I bought a Christmas book in Iceland, a handmade mug and two egg cups in Geiranger, etc). Basically, things I didn’t need to get, or bought because I was ill-prepared.

The costs I’ve written out here are what I consider “necessities” (eg. food, shelter, transportation, extra required costs such as lockers and linens, and entry fees to popular sights).

I think my total of $4800 also included things I purchased beforehand (eg. some camping gear, travel insurance, my HI membership, and stashes of GF snacks just in case I couldn’t find any).

All in all, for 24 days of travelling, I personally averaged ~$155/day. When I include the extra costs prior to the trip or the “non-necessities”, it wound up being $200/day. It sounds like a lot, but when you consider that people usually spend $150-$200 per night on a standard hotel… spending $200/day total is quite amazing.

Estimated total staying in a standard hotel (~$150/night) for 23 nights: $3450 (not including any other costs – meals, flights, etc)

Estimated total staying in hostels (~$40/night) for 23 nights: $920

That’s $2500 we saved on sleeping, that we got to use for way more exciting/tastier things! 

*We actually only spent $625.73 on sleeping, by camping for 3 nights, couch-surfing with friends for 2 nights, spending 1 night on a bus, and 1 night on a plane! 😮

So… that’s it! Life went on post-Scandinavia, Penny and I went through major BFF withdrawal, and I wound up being able to put a $2000 lump payment toward my student loan after the trip because I didn’t spend all of the $7000 that I’d saved for it. Bonus!

I hope you enjoyed this series of travel posts. I can’t wait to go on another trip like this! Joe and I are already planning a Europe trip for Spring 2018, so I’ll be sure to keep you updated on our planning process. 🙂 

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