Copenhagen Now Gives Free Perks to Visitors Who Opt for Eco-Friendly Activities

Collect trash and earn a free organic meal. Walk or bike, and a one-hour boat ride is yours. Tend the garden at Karen Blixen Museum and get free admission. Here’s how Copenhagen’s new CopenPay program works.

People cycling in Copenhagen with colorful buildings in the background

Do as the Danes do: Hop on a bike to get around Copenhagen. Participating businesses will reward you!


Denmark, made up almost entirely of islands, is one of the most sustainable and socially responsible countries in the world, recognized for its innovative and progressive approaches to renewable energy and climate change adaptation. It’s home to the cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world, CopenHill, which has a ski slope atop the recycled steel, concrete, and aluminum building, and GreenKayak, a nonprofit that rents kayaks for free to those willing to remove trash from the Copenhagen canals as they paddle—to name just two of its eco-friendly initiatives. So it’s no surprise that Denmark’s largest city is now incentivizing visitors to make more eco-conscious travel decisions.

Announced today, Copenhagen’s newest sustainable travel program, CopenPay, rewards this summer’s visitors who choose to take the train, walk, or bike—the city is extremely bike-friendly, with four times more bikes than cars—among other eco-friendly activities such as volunteering with cleanup efforts. Cycling to CopenHill, for example, will earn you additional ski time.

Here’s how it works: Travelers can earn credits for activities such as volunteering to clean up the canals through GreenKayak, contributing time to urban farming at Øens Have, and biking or taking public transportation. CopenPay is largely an honor system for now, but you will need proof such as a train ticket or a photo of yourself biking or participating in cleanup efforts to access the perks (each participating establishment has its own CopenPay redemption policy). In return, participating businesses throughout Copenhagen offer a complimentary perk, including museum tours at the underground art space Cisternerne, free meals at hip sustainable eateries like Øens Have and Bane Gaarden, a free drink at Level Six, or a coffee at Kanalhuset. The Karen Blixen Museum is even waiving admission for those who help tend the garden. And the list goes on!

By piloting the program during Copenhagen’s high season, from July 15 to August 11, 2024, with hopes of continuing it and convincing global cities to follow suit, Denmark aims to be a trailblazer in a rising tourism movement that is bridging the gap between wanting to be sustainable and acting upon it. Studies have shown that tourists are willing to travel more responsibly, but very few countries are helping to facilitate that.

“By converting green actions into currency for cultural experiences, tourists are given a unique opportunity to explore Copenhagen in a way that benefits both the environment and the local community. This aligns perfectly with our values and ambitions to promote sustainable solutions in Copenhagen,” Lord Mayor of Copenhagen Sophie Hæstorp Andersen said in a statement.

Denmark has received numerous sustainability awards, with two of its beautiful wind-swept islands, Bornholm and Samsø, previously named the most sustainable islands by the European Union. Through CopenPay, environmentally conscious Danes are sharing their way of life with visitors. And who doesn’t love a freebie—and the reward of knowing you’ve contributed to helping the planet?

Anna Fiorentino is a storyteller focused on outdoors, adventure, and travel. Her work has appeared in AFAR, National Geographic, National Geographic Travel, Outside, BBC Travel, Boston Globe Magazine, and other publications.
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