A Rip-off, Or A Must-Have? Pros and Cons of Buying a Copenhagen Card

Extravagant restaurant exterior at Tivoli Gardens, just one of the places covered by the Copenhagen Card

Extravagant restaurant exterior at Tivoli Gardens, just one of the places covered by the Copenhagen Card

NB: THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST. I DON’T DO SPONSORED POSTS. THIS IS A GENUINELY INDEPENDENT, UNBIASED ACCOUNT OF MY USAGE OF A COPENHAGEN CARD, INTENDED FOR PEOPLE WONDERING IF IT’S WORTH IT TO BUY ONE. #StrongIndependentWomanWhoDon’tNeedNoSponsorship

Scandinavia being expensive is as given a fact as grass being green or Nandos being cheeky. It just is. And as such, many of its city authorities, realising it may be prohibitive to their tourism revenues, have created and promoted a ‘[city] card’, ensuring – once you’ve paid a fee and collected the card – unlimited free public transport within the region, free entry to a number of tourist attractions and tours, and discounts at certain restaurants for a specified period of time. Of the cities on my route, Helsinki (£47 for the city or £50 for the region/€64 or €69), Copenhagen (£58/€79), Gothenburg (£52/€70) and Oslo (£49/€67) all had cards or passes of this ilk.* (*Prices per 3-day adult ticket.) I examined them all in advance of my trip and, after careful contemplation, decided only one was worth the cost; the Copenhagen card. [NB: At time of purchase the exchange rate meant it cost me £55, not £58.]

Ballroom of Kronborg castle.

Ballroom of Kronborg castle.

As I was to arrive into Copenhagen before 8am, and leave three days later at 11am, it made sense to get the 72-hour card. Not only did it give me free transport around the city and outskirts, but across the ‘entire Copenhagen region’, which covers the whole of the Sjaelland island (one of the three main islands that Denmark is situated on), as far north as Helsingor and as far west as Roskilde. There’s a full list of attractions covered here, which includes some that weren’t on there a few months ago when I went (the casino is now covered? Take me back!): of these, I went to 6 – Kronborg Slot (Kronborg Castle), Roskilde Domkirke (Roskilde Cathedral), Den Blå Planet (aquarium), Netto-bådene (canal tour), Vor Frelsers Kirkes tårn (Church of our Saviour Tower), and last but definitely not least, Tivoli. My time in Copenhagen was amazing and I loved it – but was the city card worth it?

Nyhavn from the water on a canal tour

Nyhavn from the water on a canal tour

Pros:
– As long as you know where your hotel/hostel/Air B&B/couchsurf is, it makes transport on arrival a doddle – you don’t need to worry about buying tickets for buses, trains or the Metro.
– There’s plenty of options within Copenhagen, and a fair few outside of it if you fancy a day trip to another city. It’s also got a good range of types of attraction; plenty of museums, but castles,
– The list on the website and booklet you’re presented with upon purchase gives you tonnes of ideas for things to do that you may never have done had you not been offered free entry. This is a pretty massive plus.
– You’re given detailed maps which include bus routes and the Metro/suburban train networks, which make it pretty easy to get from one attraction to another, and are handy for general navigation.
– You can enter each attraction 3 times while your card is valid – so you could go to Tivoli during the day, and come back in the evening to see it all lit up.

Den Bla Planet

Den Bla Planet

Cons:
– To get the most out of the card in terms of attractions seen, ditch the far-out ones. It takes 40 minutes each way to get to Helsingor station, and around half an hour to Roskilde station, and then 10 minutes’ walk to both Kronborg Slot and Roskilde Domkirke from the stations. Unless you’re super-keen to get away from the capital for a day and explore Denmark beyond Copenhagen, don’t do it; you could do so much more by just staying in the city centre.
– Quite a lot of Copenhagen’s ‘must see’ attractions (Nyhavn, Christiania, the Little Mermaid) are free, so you could easily spend a whole day of your card paying for nothing more than intercity transport.
– …while Tivoli is free to enter but if you want to go on the rides, you’ll have to pay separately. If you want to go on more than one or two rides during your visit, just bite the bullet and get a multi-ride ticket (£21/€28).
– IMPORTANT: virtually everything that I wanted to do was closed on either the Sunday and/or Monday, or closed pretty early on Sundays. My card covered Saturday (when I hadn’t slept for over 24 hours – not ideal…), Sunday and Monday. If your trip spans Sunday and Monday, either research and plan your visits in advance, or don’t get a card for those days. As a result of not planning effectively, I missed out on visiting the Carlsberg factory and actually entering Roskilde cathedral (so I guess I technically didn’t go there, oops…).
– Even if you stay in the city centre, you’re going to have to take a go-getter attitude to making the most of your card and seeing as many things as possible.

Church of Our Saviour tower

Church of Our Saviour tower

So is it worth it? In pure monetary terms, I believe I just about saved some cash – but not much. That said, had I planned more in advance, been in the city on different days, and only bought a ticket for two days so I could have spent my third exploring free stuff (and possibly not gone to Roskilde), I would have recommended it without haste. It certainly wasn’t a complete waste, as the security of not having to worry about cash for the bus or trains, plus the large range of things to do, meant I didn’t totally regret the decision. And if you follow my guidance, I’m sure you won’t regret the decision at all!

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