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If you want to eat well, there’s not better place to visit than Copenhagen. After all, it is the home of some fantastic restaurants including Denmark’s first three Michelin star Geranium, two Michelin star AOC and Kadeau, one Michelin star Alouette and Formel B, as well as many others. But all these fantastic dining experiences come with a hefty price. If you’re not travelling on a budget, you could probably go to any restaurant. Just beware that for the upscale restaurants, you should book a table well in advance. When Noma was still open, I heard they took reservations 8 months in advance!
On the other hand, if you are travelling on a budget, this guide is for you. Copenhagen is notoriously expensive and (depending on where you come from) there’s no such thing as cheap. However, there are lesser expensive alternatives to dine-in restaurants. And on this note, I would like to add that while prices may seem high, everything you eat will be good quality and tasty. During my year in Copenhagen, I was pleasantly surprised with everything I ate, including fast food and grocery store meal options.
If you are visiting or moving to Copenhagen, here are my recommendations of cheap(er) eats:
This is the most popular food market in Copenhagen and it’s centrally located right next to Nørreport Station. Indoors you will find anything from smoked meats and cheese, freshly baked bread and pastries, to warm pizza and coffee. Outdoors there are fresh fruit and vegetable stands. At Torvehallerne you can also purchase raw meats and fish to cook at home.
There are casual sitting spaces along the windows of the building and outdoors. I would recommend you try the Smørrebrød, traditional Danish open-faced sandwich. Expect to pay the equivalent of 7-10 USD for one, which is a LOT less expensive than what a sit-down restaurant would cost. If weather permits, purchase everything to go and sit on the grass in the near-by botanical garden.
For more information and up-to-date opening hours, check the website before visiting.
2. Broens Gadekøkken (Copenhagen Street Food Market)
Right across the bridge from Nyhavn, you can find all sorts of street food options. There are many local and international dishes, beverages, and desserts. The food is prepared and sold from colourful shipping container stalls. The dishes are a representation of Copenhagen’s restaurants and chefs. As a result, there is a strong emphasis on fresh, quality, organic ingredients. There are four bar stalls where you can purchase alcoholic drinks, including local, organic beer.
Sitting is outdoors only. There are benches, umbrellas, and you can also sit along the canal. Expect to spend 7-15 USD per dish. Try a burger from Copenhagen’s (former) secret gem, Gasoline Grill.
Find more info about Broens Gadekøkken and seasonal opening hours here.
Around 15 minutes away is Reffen, another food market. It sits in the former industrial area of Refshaleøen, and it’s built from recycled materials. As a result, you’ll find it has a bit of a hippy feel to it. Moreover, all tenants have to reduce waste and reuse as much as possible. This makes Reffen the most environmentally friendly option on this list.
While Broens Gadekøkken features Copenhagen’s popular restaurants and chefs, Reffen features brand new chefs who are starting out in the business.
There is both indoor and outdoor sitting. The area itself is very large, almost making you feel like you’re in a street food village. In addition to food, there are multiple concerts and events take place here. Check out the events calendar here. Some of them require you purchase a ticket.
Find more info and updated opening hours here.
4. Boltens Gård
Update: As of 2022 Boltens Gård has closed.
Located steps away from Nyhavn and just across the street from Kongens Nytorv square, Boltens Gård is a food court in a cozy courtyard. There are 19 food stalls and a few bars, with indoor and outdoor sitting. You will find Danish and international cuisines, sweet and savoury dishes.
Boltens Gård is the perfect place to go to when you need a break from sightseeing. Expect to spend 15-20 USD for a meal and a beverage.
You can find more info here.
One thing you don’t have to search for in Copenhagen are bakeries. Whichever street you end up on, there will be at least one bakery. They are everywhere. Regardless of the bakery you go to, you can expect to find a variety of goods such as bread and buns, sweet and savoury pastries, cakes, sandwiches, salads, coffee, and more
Most bakeries have a few sitting spaces indoors, outdoors, or both. If weather permits, I recommend purchasing some goods to go and having a picnic in a nearby park. Expect to spend around 8 USD for a sandwich.
6. Grocery Stores
Danish grocery stores have a good variety of ready to eat foods such as sandwiches and salads. Expect to spend 5-10 USD for one. In addition, you can purchase supplies for a picnic in the park. Grab some beverages, ham, cheese, hummus, chips, vegetables, fruit, and sweets. If you are renting an apartment for your stay in Copenhagen, grocery stores offer a multitude of frozen foods you could try.
All these foods I purchased from grocery stores in Copenhagen and they were all affordable and tasty.
7. Fast Food
This one may seem too obvious, but hear me out. In the entire year I spent living in Copenhagen I have not eaten a single bad fast food. There are plenty of chains (including vegetarian and vegan options) with very tasty, high quality, and healthy options.
If it’s late at night and you find yourself a little
drunk hungry, try a traditional Danish hotdog from one of the street stands.
Depending on the place you go to, expect to spend 10-20 USD for a meal.
If you are North American you may be surprised by this one. But in Denmark 7-Eleven stores are actually quite wonderful. They sell a large selection of ready-to-eat foods such as wraps, salads, hotdogs, pizza, pastries, candy, ice cream, and more. Everything is fresh, very affordable, and tasty. You can also find a variety of beverages ranging from smoothies, juices, pop, water, coffee, and even alcoholic drinks. (At 7-Eleven you can also purchase a pre-paid SIM card for you phone).
Expect to spend around 6 USD for a sandwich.
9. Too Good To Go
And lastly my favourite and the best value for money. Too Good To Go is an app you can use to purchase “leftovers”. It is aimed at reducing food waste by offering excess products at a heavy discount. The way it works, you download the app and create an account. Then link a credit card or paypal account. You will see a list of restaurants and grocery stores, prices, and pickup times. Select a restaurant and purchase a “mystery bag”. Go to the restaurant at the time indicated on the app to pickup your food. You get whatever didn’t sell that day. Sometimes you get less, sometimes you get more. I once got a bakery bag with 2 loaves of bread, a few buns, multiple pastries, and 3 sandwiches for around 6 USD!
The downside is that you don’t get to choose what you take home, you are limited to specific pickup times, and in the event that there are no leftovers, your order will be canceled. However, if you are short on cash, this is by far the most affordable option!
These have been my recommendations, and I hope you found this article useful in planning your trip. If you have been to Copenhagen and you have any additional suggestions, feel free to leave a comment bellow. If you haven’t been to Copenhagen before, here are some practical tips for your first visit:
- Denmark is lenient towards alcohol consumption. You can purchase it almost anywhere without having to show proof of age, and you can drink it in public.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes you can walk on cobblestone with. Unless you are going to a fancy restaurant, you can wear sneakers everywhere. Danish people in general dress very casually.
- In Copenhagen, cash is rarely used by the locals. Some of the food stalls at the markets mentioned in this article DO NOT accept cash. Make sure to have a card with you.
- When you are walking, watch your step and look at the signs so you don’t accidentally step onto the bike lanes or highways.
- Copenhagen is vegan and vegetarian friendly. Although traditional Danish cuisine is very meat-heavy, the younger generations are a major driving factor towards ever increasing vegan and vegetarian alternatives. If you don’t eat meat or animal products, don’t worry, you will find many alternatives.