Money & costs
Unless you’re Scandinavian, British or Japanese, you’ll probably find Denmark an expensive country. Partly this is due to the 25% value-added tax (VAT), called moms in Danish, which is included in every price from hotel rooms and restaurant meals to car rentals and shop purchases.
Still, your actual costs will depend on how you travel and it is possible to see Denmark without spending a fortune. If staying in modest hotels and eating at inexpensive restaurants, you can expect to spend about 600kr per day, assuming double occupancy, or 800kr if you’re travelling alone (and less travelling in the countryside). Interestingly, top-end hotels, which commonly have keen weekend and holiday rates, often cost only 30% more than regular rates at budget hotels.
Some attractions and businesses, such as those in the accommodation and hospitality services, use the terms ‘high season’ and ‘low season’. The usage depends on the type of business, but generally the high season (longer opening hours and higher prices) coincides with the school summer holiday, from about mid-June to mid-August. Low season generally means any time outside that period.
If you’re on a budget, consider Denmark’s extensive network of camping grounds and hostels. Hostels are widely used by all age groups and are usually set up more like small hotels than cavernous drop-in centres. By travelling this way and preparing your own meals, you might get by on 300kr per day.
Expect to pay 650kr per day to hire the cheapest economy car; the daily rate drops to around 500kr for longer rentals. One advantage of travelling by car is that you can often find economical accommodation options outside the city centre, so you may save a bit on hotel bills. Car ferries are reasonable, but the charges can add up.
Long-distance public transport is reasonably priced, and it helps that Denmark is small – the most expensive train ticket between two points in Denmark costs about 390kr.
You can save money by purchasing a municipal discount card such as the Copenhagen Card, which gives free or discounted admissions to sights and activities, plus use of public transport. See local listings for more information.
Restaurant bills and taxi fares include service charges in the quoted prices. Further tipping is unnecessary (staff are in any case generally well paid in Denmark), although rounding up the bill is not uncommon when service has been especially good.
The Danish economy remains in good health with, effectively, no national debt, a GDP growth rate of 3.2% and unemployment steady at 5.9% (Denmark opted out of the euro in 1999). The Germans used to think of Denmark as their larder, so productive was its agricultural sector, but in the last 50 years the country’s manufacturing and service sectors have grown so that, today, less than 4% of the workforce is employed in farming.
The economy of Denmark is today largely service-based and self-sufficient in terms of energy. Its technology and pharmaceutical sectors are especially strong. Denmark produces its own oil – a fact which has, to an extent, masked more worrying long-term economic trends, such as a rapidly ageing workforce and massive increases in health and benefit spending – and uses wind power and bioenergy sources. Denmark is the world leader in wind energy with up to 20% of its electrical production coming from the wind generators that pepper its landscape and seas. Denmark also gives more of its GDP (0.8%) to overseas aid than any nation in the world.
Although Denmark is an EU member nation, Denmark’s citizens rejected adopting the euro in a referendum in 2000. Denmark’s own currency, the krone, is most often written with the symbol DKK in international money markets, Dkr in northern Europe and kr within Denmark. Throughout this guide we’ve used kr.
One krone is divided into 100 øre. There are 25 øre, 50 øre, one krone, two kroner, five kroner, 10 kroner and 20 kroner coins. Notes come in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 kroner.
The krone is pegged to the euro, so its value relative to other currencies fluctuates with that of its neighbours to the south.
Most banks in Denmark have automated teller machines (ATMs) that give cash advances on Visa and MasterCard credit cards as well as Cirrus and Plus bank cards. Although ATMs are accessible outside normal banking hours, not all are open 24 hours; particularly outside of Copenhagen, many Danish ATMs shut down for some part of the night, often from around 1am to 6am.
Typically you’ll get a good rate when withdrawing money directly from a Danish ATM, but keep in mind that your home bank may charge you a fee for international transactions or for using another bank’s ATM – check before you leave.
Exchange booths at Copenhagen airport are open to meet all scheduled incoming flights. If you’re on an international ferry to Denmark, you can not only exchange US dollars and local currencies to Danish kroner on board but, if you buy a meal or use one of the shops, regardless of the currency you pay in, many will give you change in Danish kroner upon request. ATMS are also available at the airport.
The US dollar is generally the handiest foreign currency to bring. Danish banks will convert a wide range of currencies including the euro, UK pound, Canadian dollar, Swiss franc, Australian dollar, Japanese yen and kroner from Norway and Sweden. Banks seldom accept foreign coins.
A few banks, especially in Copenhagen, have 24-hour machines that change major foreign currencies into Danish kroner.
Credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard (also known as Access or Euro-card) are widely accepted in Denmark, although don’t expect to use anything other than a Danish domestic card at supermarkets. American Express and Diners Club are also accepted, but not as often.
If a card is lost or stolen, inform the issuing company as soon as possible. Copenhagen phone numbers:
AmEx (80 20 30 02)
Diners Club (36 73 73 73)
MasterCard (80 01 60 98)
Visa (80 01 02 77)
The main benefit of travellers cheques, and pre-loaded cash cards is that they can provide protection from theft. Large companies such as American Express and Thomas Cook generally offer efficient replacement policies.
Keeping a record of the cheque numbers and those you have used is vital when it comes to replacing lost cheques. You should keep this information separate from the cheques themselves along with the emergency phone number in case cheques need to be replaced.