Eating in Copenhagen doesn’t always come cheap. Here’s my roundup of where to eat in Copenhagen – and where to go to swerve the high prices!
Looking for ideas for where to eat in Copenhagen? Come on in. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to yummy food in the Danish capital: smorrebrod, deliciously flaky Danish pastries, and seafood that’s so fresh it’s staring you out from the plate. Those prawns got eyes!
And that’s even before we get to the amazing food markets and the high proportion of Michelin-starred restaurants. From traditional dishes to some of the more unexpected meals I had outside of the main tourist circuit, here’s my take on where to eat in Copenhagen.
You may also like this post about what to go and see in the city…
Best places to eat in Copenhagen
This probably isn’t your stereotypical ‘best places to eat in Copenhagen’ post. I definitely ate a lot of nice food during my trip However, a lot of it wasn’t the traditional Danish food that I saw talked about in other blog posts. I don’t know if this was intentional or not.
I had grand plans to work my way through a lot of smorrebrod in Copenhagen and I did try a deep-fried plaice variety one lunchtime at Nyhavn harbour. It was really nice, but for some reason it put me off trying it again. Something about the wriggly prawns and fishy toppings I kept seeing!
However, while I didn’t indulge in as much traditional dishes as I expected, I did discover lots of amazing places to eat in Copenhagen. From incredible seafood to some seriously moreish sliders, I loved pretty much every meal I had here.
But first up, let’s look at the food that Copenhagen is famous for…
What food is Copenhagen famous for?
Smorrebrod is probably the most famous of Danish dishes. It’s an open sandwich that is usually made with rye bread and comes topped with a variety of toppings – roast beef, pickled herring, smoked salmon, and sliced boiled eggs, amongst other variations.
Copenhagen is home to the Carlsberg brewery, although unfortunately the brewery was closed during the time we were there. It’s definitely worth trying the local beers, too!
For some reason it didn’t click that pastries were a big deal in Copenhagen. But Danish pastries, duh! I didn’t try any traditional pastries but I can vouch for some of the other delicious pastries that were available at the many bakeries in Copenhagen.
Eating in Copenhagen: what you need to know
1) It’s a lil’ pricey
If you’re planning a trip here then you probably know this already. But I’ll say it again for the people at the back: eating in Copenhagen is expensive. And I mean really expensive! We didn’t actually get money out and so we just took it in turns to pay by card. Logging onto my banking app to find out that I’d dropped £40 on lunch was pretty sobering, let me tell you.
However, you can be smart when you eat in Copenhagen. Swerve the tourist areas and seek out cheaper areas to eat. You can also do what we did and have a giant cake and a coffee for lunch to save costs – there are plenty of amazing bakeries in Copenhagen!
2) It’s all about the Michelin stars
If you’re a bit of a foodie then the Danish capital is a winner. Copenhagen has a LOT of Michelin-starred restaurants and there are 23 Michelin stars shared between 14 restaurants in the city. Some of the biggest names include Noma, Geranium and Alchemist.
I don’t make a habit of eating at Michelin star restaurants. Champagne taste and lemonade budget and all that! I was also aware that Copenhagen is pretty expensive already without adding expensive restaurants into the question. But if that’s your bag, take your pick.
- I did visit a Michelin starred restaurant in the Isle of Skye last year. Read my review here
3) Food markets are big news
There are a number of foodhalls in Copenhagen. Reffen is a big one. Torvehallen is another, and luckily this was just a stone’s throw from our hotel, Hotel Kong Arthur.
Crammed inside the stylish glass walls are numerous stalls serving up as many different kinds of foods you can think of. Smorrebrod. Gelato. Porridge. Herbs and spices.
Wander around and soak it all up – my head was swivelling in every direction at the ice cream, pastries, and other yummy looking delicacies. You can also grab a beer and soak up some of the late afternoon sunshine at one of the tables and chairs outside.
4) People eat early here
One thing that surprised me is that people tend to eat early here. I’m quite a fan of eating early-ish on holiday. After tramping about the city all day I’m always knackered! Plus, our hotel as held a ‘cosy hour’ each day, which is otherwise known as free wine between 5 and 6pm! That was the perfect prelude to dinner and we’d head out straight after that.
However, I was surprised that a lot of the restaurants were pretty packed when we arrived (at the back of 6pm, usually) and tended to empty out as we were there. So that was a little different! It’s not like Italy when everyone goes out for dinner at 9pm, for sure!
5) Service isn’t fast
If you want to go somewhere where the plates are getting banged out with ten minutes of arriving then Copenhagen isn’t it. Service isn’t particularly fast in this city.
It’s not something that I really noticed as most of the time we were eating in the evening where we had nowhere to be afterwards. Apart from the hotel – I’m not exactly rock and roll when I’m on holiday! It’s worth keeping in mind if you pack your itinerary quite tightly.
Best places to eat in Copenhagen on a budget
If you’ve made it this far then you’ll know that eating on a budget in Copenhagen can be trickier than it is in other cities. Obviously, a budget means something different to everyone, but, below, I’ve outlined how we tried to save money over the course of our trip.
First up, though, let’s look at the kind of numbers you’re looking at…
Cost of food in Copenhagen
How much you can expect to spend on food in Copenhagen? Well, here are a few examples to give you a rough idea of what you can expect during your trip…
- Two coffees + two cakes from a bakery: around £15
- Lunch with two drinks in Nyhaven: around £40!
- Dinner in a less touristy area: around £30
Expensive restaurants in Copenhagen
No one goes looking for an expensive restaurant, but this conversation came about in response to me trying to scout out one of those famous open sandwiches for lunch one day. So, where can you eat smorrebrod in Copenhagen? I’m not sure I can answer.
However, I can tell you where not to eat smorrebord in Copenhagen – Nyhavn. We stopped in for lunch at one of the restaurants on the harbour after doing the boat tour. While my smorrebord was nice, it was expensive. However, this comes with the territory in the main tourist area.
Affordable restaurants in Copenhagen
If you want to find affordable restaurants in Copenhagen then you’ll have to step outside of the main touristy areas. While it would have been magical to have dinner on the Nyhavn harbour with all the fairy lights twinkling around us, our experience at lunchtime confirmed this was a no-goer.
£40 for two sandwiches, just saying. With that in mind, we tried to scout out some cheaper areas to eat.
Where to eat cheap in Copenhagen
The million-dollar question: where to eat in Copenhagen that’s cheap?
Our hotel was located just across the river from the trendy Norrebro district, an area which I’d heard people talk about fairly frequently in blogs about Copenhagen. It was described as an area that’s hip, multicultural, and has Shoreditch vibes about it.
Coming from Scotland, it actually reminded me a little of Leith. It’s a little less polished than the rest of Copenhagen, with graffiti scrawled on the rooftops and some of the shopfronts. For me, it was characterful and intriguing – an unpolished diamond in the heart of the city.
Our walking tour guide also recommended Norrebro, saying that locals tend to head across that side of the river to eat rather than heading to the more well-trodden tourist areas. I love not having to go far for dinner, so we ate in this district most of the time.
Best affordable restaurants in Copenhagen
Gao Dumpling Bar
We stumbled upon Gao Dumpling Bar after the Mexican restaurant we were planning to visit that night didn’t have any tables. It was La Neta, in case anyone fancies trying it.
A disclaimer: I’m a sucker for dumplings. In my time living in Shanghai I would go out for dumplings several times a week and they’re probably one of the biggest things I miss from my time there. I find it hard to find really great, authentic dumplings over here.
Goa Dumpling Bar is tiny but it’s a vibe. Neon lighting, metro tiles, and small tables squished together. You order at the bar and then your dumplings come out in plastic bowls. We ordered the Chicky, Spicy Pork, and Hong Kong dumplings and they were all delicious!
Washed down with a bottle of Tsingtao beer and I was in heaven. I think this was my favourite meals in Copenhagen over the whole trip, and it was one of the cheapest!
We were inexplicably drawn to the neon signage and pink interior of this pizza restaurant that is located on the banks of the Soredom Lake in Copenhagen. With that said, Frankies is a chain restaurant and we definitely spotted a few more dotted around the city.
So what can you expect at Frankies? It’s all about pizza. As with most things in Copenhagen the toppings aren’t all your classic toppings (potato, anyone?) although some of them are. There’s also an option to build your own, which I’d probably do the next time around.
I went for the Frankie, which comes with mozzarella, truffle mascarpone, mushrooms and fresh oregano. I basically ordered it for the truffle mascarpone, which sounded amazing. There was probably a little too many mushrooms for me, but it was still yummy!
The homemade lemonade (lemon and ginger) that I ordered with it was also so good. Add to that the gorgeous candy pink décor and I was sold on Frankies.
This was another restaurant in Copenhagen that combined the winning combination of being cool and relatively affordable. That was enough to get me in the door!
You can choose between one, two, or three sliders, which comes with a side and a dip of your choice. A Single, Dirty Duo, or Liberty Trio if you will. After much umming and ahhing and weighing how much I could eat I went for the dirty duo and choose the following…
Decadent Dane: a beef patty with Danish cheese, caramelised onions, and pickles.
Sliders Bofsandwich: a beef patty with caramelised onions, fried onions, dijon mustard, ketchup, and chopped remoulade – basically mayo, mustard, and lemon juice.
We parked ourselves on one of the window tables that looked out onto the lake while we waited for our food. It was pretty magical, with all the twinkly lights from the city growing brighter as the light started to fade. And when the food arrived, it didn’t disappoint!
The meat was juicy and delicious. The caramelised onions were sweet and yummy. The truffle dip I ordered to go with the fries was decadent and rich. I hoovered up everything and I would definitely order it all again – I might even go for three next time.
Where to eat in Copenhagen – what else?
We decided to have one blowout meal when we were in Copenhagen. There’s an abundance of nice restaurants to choose from and we opted for Oysters & Grill.
Oysters & Grill
This restaurant is located, once again, in the Norrebro district of Copenhagen. It’s deeper into the area than the other restaurants we’d visited in Norrebro, so there was a bit more walking required, but we were pretty used to that by the end of the trip!
I saw this place described as humble on another blog and I’d definitely agree with that. It doesn’t have that too-cool-for-school aesthetic that may be slightly intimidating in other places. It’s warm and cosy, with bright floral tablecloths that make you feel like you’re having dinner in the kitchen of your parent’s house, rather than a nice restaurant.
Oysters & Grill is a seafood and grill restaurant, as you’d probably guessed by now! You can either go freestyle and order what you want or choose from their two set menus. One comes with oysters, fruits of the sea, and banana ice cream for dessert.
The other is a selection of seafood, a mix of mains to choose from – mussels, sea bass, sirloin strips, steak tartare, and various others, and rounded off with the banana ice cream for dessert.
A had the moules frites as my main course which was awesome – they came with a light white wine broth which really let the seafood flavours sing. The three dishes we had as a starter were also great, although prawns with eyes took a bit of getting used to for me!
Things to note at Oysters & Grill
A few things to note. The tables are crammed together so it’s really not the place if you want a quiet, romantic dinner for two. You’ll probably be able to hear the next table’s conversation, ha! I didn’t mind and it makes for a nice buzzy atmosphere.
I was shocked by how packed it was at 6.15pm, when we arrived, but like I said people eat early in Copenhagen. I would definitely make sure you make a reservation rather than just rock up and pray. I’d booked a few days before on their website.
Where to eat lunch Copenhagen
If you want to save money when you’re in Copenhagen then I would recommend swerving your traditional sit-down meal at lunchtime and being a bit more creative. Some days we just had a coffee and some leftover breakfast snacks that we ate sitting on the steps leading down to the river, which was gorgeous in the brilliant afternoon sunshine.
On other days we had a coffee and a cake at one of the many amazing bakeries in Copenhagen. Honestly, the size of the cakes meant that I was full until dinner time!
Best bakeries in Copenhagen
This is one of the most famous bakery chains in Copenhagen and you’ll see it everywhere! We stopped in here on our first day without realising it was a big chain when we were exhausted after getting up at 2am to catch the 6am flight. Gotta love Ryanair for that!
We couldn’t check into the hotel room yet so we wandered across the bridge opposite the hotel to get some coffee and a bench to sit on in the sun. And that was our intro to Lagkagehustet! I got a chocolate muffin at this time and then I got a blueberry muffin at the airport on the way back for one last taste before we had to leave Copenhagen.
Both were amazing. One thing to mention, it’s tricky to get English breakfast tea in Copenhagen. It’s not always available, it doesn’t seem to be a thing, and you might end up with Earl Grey instead. However, oat milk is readily available, so there’s that.
Andersen & Maillard
We popped here after we’d wandered around Assistens Cemetery, which is where Hans Christian Anderson’s grave is located in the Norrebro district. After an hour or so of walking we were freezing and so it was lovely to warm up in here with coffee and a huge pastry!
I’d already been on Andersen & Maillard’s Instagram account, browsing their pics and trying to decide which of the delicious cakes and pastries to order. Luckily, I clocked the one I had decided on as soon as we walked through the door: the croissant cube!
Imagine an oversized croissant, in a delightfully angular cubed format, and filled with deliciously light pistachio ganache. That’s what an Andersen & Maillard croissant cube is, and it was excellent. I washed it down with a steaming Americano with oat milk.