The concept of bargaining is not a cultural norm in Denmark, where prices are generally viewed as rigid and fixed; this standard spans the commercial spectrum, from bar to street market. Even in the multi-ethnic stores of Nørrebrogade and Istegade, Danish cultural standards apply and the Turkish bazaars and Chinese supermarkets of Vesterbro will probably just ignore your vain attempts at haggling down a set price.
You might not be able to haggle or negotiate a good price in Copenhagen, but that doesn’t mean to say that there are no bargains to be had. Far from it: For those willing to look a little further, there are plenty of ways to make a stay in the Danish capital that much cheaper – without scrimping on quality or experiences.
From happy hours in local bars to last-minute theater tickets, here’s the NileGuide lowdown on discounts in Copenhagen.
- Daily website discount deals. Various Danish websites publish offers for different luxury items – from sushi bars and hotel accommodation to glossy magazine subscriptions. To take part, you have to buy a voucher online the same day. Unfortunately, both the websites downtown.dk and sweetdeal.dk are produced in Danish only, but it’s not hard to figure out what each site is promoting that day.
- cOPENhagen CARD is the discount card of Copenhagen Visitor Center and offers discounts on transport, attractions and restaurants. In addition to free bus, train and Metro within the entire Greater Copenhagen region, the card is accepted at no less than 65 museums and attractions in the capital region. The card also offers a 10-15% discount at a number of local restaurants and bars, including Il Peccato and The Dining Room. Perfect for short-stay visitors wanting to cram as much sightseeing into a short visit as possible, the card comes in two editions – 24 and 72 hours. Two children under ten are included for free with one adult card.
Last-minute theater tickets are available from www.latesale.dk, a website that offers half-price tickets for same night showings at 14 different Copenhagen theaters from 4pm onwards. Purchases have to be made online through the ticket agency Billetnet: No tickets are sold directly through the theaters. Participating theaters include Dansescenen, Cafeteatret, Danskdanseteater and Nørrebro Teater.
Free days at museums. Most museums in Copenhagen offer at least one day a week with free entry. Generally, this is a Wednesday (Kunstindustrimuseet, Thorvaldsens Museum, Kunsthallen Nikolaj, Den Hirschsprungske Samling, Post & Telemuseum, Orlogsmuseet and Tøjhusmuseet); the Glyptoteket however offers free entry on a Sunday and Københavns Museum on a Friday. Both the Nationalmuseet and Statens Museum for Kunst offer free entry to the permanent collections every day of the week.
Happy hours in bars. Many visitors to Copenhagen are shocked to have to pay an average of DKK 50 for a large (50cl) draught lager in a bar. It is possible to buy a beer at half this price, however, by choosing where you drink and hunting out the special happy “hours” on offer at many city center bars. Despite the name, happy hours generally last at least five hours, usually late in the afternoon/ early in the evening on Thursdays and Fridays; expect to pay around DKK 20 for large draught beer. These are often advertised by signs outside in the street: keep your eyes open for offers of ‘2 for 1 fadøl’ (draught beer). Gothersgade’s Cucaracha Bar, for example, has a cheap bar all night Thursday and a “Friday Bar” 4pm-9pm. Sjus Bar on Pilestræde 44 offers 20kr beer from 8pm-10pm every night (Wed-Sat), and has a cheap Friday Bar from 3pm-11pm.
Go gourmet at lunchtime. Not only is it far easier to get a table at one of the city’s most exclusive restaurants at lunchtime, daily lunch menus will be far easier for your bank balance to digest than the more exorbitant evening menus. Christianshavn’s high-end Italian restaurant Era Ora, for example, offers a lunch menu for DKK 525 including wine – compared to an evening menu at more than twice the price.
Stay an extra night and enjoy weekend break offers. In contrast to the ‘no-bargaining rule’, many private B&Bs in the city will be quite happy to give a 10% discount for those staying three nights or longer. Many of the city’s hotels, meanwhile, offer double rooms at considerably cheaper rates for those staying over a weekend, including all hotels in the reputable Arp-Hansen group (that includes the Phoenix, Imperial and the Grand).
Royal Copenhagen Factory Outlet. If you’re not a trained porcelain expert,the chances are you won’t notice the minute flaws in the brushstrokes or glazes of these hand painted dinnerware sets sold far cheaper at the factory outlet store in Frederiksberg than they are at the flagship boutique on Strøget.
Photos courtesy of Tuala Hjornø and Alan Benzie.