Denmark: How to visit without breaking the bank?

Denmark, like it’s Scandinavian counterparts, is often missed off the European tour trail because it’s expensive. Whilst, this is definitely the case, as we proved it can still be a destination for the budget traveller. 

So here’s a few reasons why you should add Denmark to your travel wish list.

The Danes

In the ten days we were there we didn’t meet an unkind or unhelpful Dane. Everyone was welcoming, kind and spoke almost perfect English. 

Getting around is easy

With wide roads, high driving standards and only two toll roads driving in Denmark is a dream compared to the organised chaos of driving in Italy. With the exception of Copenhagen, we didn’t see much traffic. In fact, on the drive from Ribe to Billund we saw more cyclists than cars! 

Whilst, we can only speak for Copenhagen, we found the public transport system to be clean, reliable and easy to navigate. Doug had previously taken the sleeper train from Copenhagen to Stockholm and found it to be the same. Be aware that there was no food carriage on his train so you should take food and drink with you.

For the more active of you, there are cycle paths everywhere and they are well used. The Danes love their outdoor activities and clean, green living

There is something for everybody

For a boy’s weekend away, there is the Carlsberg museum, for Issy great kid-friendly campsites and museums, and for me, I loved Roskilde and Legoland.

Places to Visit
Ribe

Denmark’s oldest town Ribe, and more specifically it’s Viking Centre, was the reason that Denmark hit our radar. 

As we were still in the tent, we stayed at Ribe Camping (a DK registered camping and motor home site). It’s family-friendly and excellent facilities made it a great base. 

The Viking Centre was awesome. As you enter the main entrance you are transported back in time to the Viking settlement of Ripa where re-enacters carry out day-to-day viking trades as they would have been done; glass bead making, coins making, boat making and animal husbandry. The re-enacters are passionate about their skills and most speak very good English.

Issy had a treasure trail to follow and there was also a brilliant falconry display however the highlight for Issy was undoubtably the warrior training. Armed with a shield and a sword, and under the watchful eye of a Thor look-a-like (a nice bit of eye-candy for mummy) she charged around the training like a pro.

 

Legoland, Billund

No family visit to Denmark is complete without a trip to Legoland, Billund. About an hour’s drive from Ribe, we did it as a day trip but there are several options for staying at the Legoland hotels. There’s even a motor home park.

As a kid, mum had wanted to bring me here and in someways its bittersweet that she never saw the look of kid-like wonder and excitement on my face as we arrived.

Whilst, being an expensive day out, it didn’t disappoint and I think we got great value. From the underwater zone to the African safari drive Issy was in her element. She marveled at the amazing world sculptures and then there was the rides. She went on her first roller-coaster (by accident), dived and forward-rolled through the laser obstacle course (as did mummy) and we all got soaked in the water zone. 

The on-site food, as you would expect is expensive, however like many others we packed a picnic and sat in the plentiful benches around the park. 

You can also save money by booking your tickets in advance and on-line. You can save 10% if you book 7 days in advance and there is also an option to buy a meal ticket on-line.

Copenhagen

Copenhagen is probably my favourite of the Scandanavian capitals, a view which is shared by many as it was recently voted Lonely Planet’s top city to visit in 2019. It’s also one of the most expensive. 

For us, our major saving in Copenhagen was the purchase of the Copenhagen card. We bought a 72 hour pass and it cost 96 euros each for Doug and I (you get 2 children under-10 free with each paying adult so Issy was free). These are a combination of free transport and entrance to eighty-six different museums and attractions in Copenhagen and Roskilde. According to the  web-site calculator we saved a massive 218 euros based on the attractions we visited and three days worth of transport.

In three days, we visited the

  • The Aquarium
  • Tivoli Gardens
  • Canal Tour
  • Amalienborg
  • Circus Museum
  • Hans Christian Anderson Fairy-Tale House
  • Ripley’s Believe it or not
  • Roskilde Cathedral
  • Viking Ship Museum 

There was still loads that we didn’t get to see and I’m pretty sure that we will head back to Copenhagen at some point, maybe for the winter markets, who knows.

Our other money saving tip is to stay outside the main city. We camped at DCU Camping Absalon and got the train into Copenhagen. We were in a tent but they have a variety of accommodation on site including bungalows and cabins.

I’ll be honest, living in a tent during a Scandanavian summer wasn’t one of our brightest ideas. The almost permanent daylight killed us as none of could sleep and it was the final push over the edge into motor home ownership.

Roskilde

Friends had recommended that we take a trip out to Roskilde and I’m so glad we did. The cathedral was stunning and we had huge fun at the Viking Ship Museum.

Whilst, our entry into the museum, was included in the Copenhagen card, we did an additional Viking sailing experience which was great. 

Other money-saving tips
  1. Recycle you plastic bottles and cans. There are good financial incentives to recycle in Denmark and it’s easy. You simply take your plastic and cans to the local supermarket and feed them into the machines. They need to be uncrushed and still have the labels on. If accepted then, you get a receipt which is redeemable against your shopping. We were collecting about 2 or 3 euros per week which doesn’t sound much but it contributed to Doug’s beer fund.
  2. Buy as much as you can before entering Denmark. If you are driving then stock up on food and drink just before entering Denmark because it is considerably cheaper in Germany. Near the border, there are a raft of supermarkets and they are full of Danes taking advantage of the lower prices.
  3. Go self-catering. We saved a lot by taking sandwiches, drinks and snacks out with us. We ate breakfast and dinner back at the campsite. If you are staying at a hostel/hotel then make sure it includes breakfast and stock pile snacks for later in the day. 

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