The ultimate guide to getting around in Copenhagen
Whether you’re just visiting Copenhagen, are planning to move here, or already live here – chances are you’re going to want to leave your house/ hotel. And that means you’re going to need to get around the city. But fear not, for I’ve put together the ultimate overview of all the possible ways of navigating the Danish capital! With the exception of a private helicopter service or hotel shuttle buses, you’ll find everything on this list. Let’s get moving!
What’s the easiest way to get around? – Your own two feet, of course! Especially the city center of Copenhagen is extremely walkable and you’ll get the chance to see the architecture, cityscape, and many famous sights, such as the royal palace Amalienborg or the Round Tower, within a short walk. You can get free maps at the Visitor’s Center. I actually walk a lot, especially within the more central areas of the city.
If you want to navigate the city like a real Copenhagener, you’ve got to get yourself some wheels – two, to be exact! Copenhagen is one of the most bike-friendly cities on the planet, due to its flatness of terrain and the abundance of bike paths and even bike-only bridges (such as Cykelslangen and Bryggebroen) across the harbor.
Rent a bike: If you’re just visiting, there are a number of bike rental shops all over the city. Here’s a good overview. Alternatively, you can rent bikes by the hour at ByCyklen (City Bike) – you simply create an account and can pick up and return the bike at different locations around Copenhagen.
Buy a bike: If you’re planning to stay for a longer period (or indefinitely), buying a bike will make a lot of sense. There are myriads of bike stores all over the city, but larger supermarkets like Bilka often have relatively cheap offers on new bikes. Lots of bike stores also sell used bikes, but I was personally quite surprised by how expensive used bikes can be here. Alternatively, try to look on DBA or in Facebook groups. Here are some more tips on buying (and selling) used bikes. When buying a used bike, it’s crucial to check the frame number to ensure it hasn’t been stolen. The Police’s app, Politi, has a function called “cykeltjek” that lets you search serial numbers in a database to make sure they aren’t registered as a stolen bike. Also remember to buy an insurance-approved lock and register your bike’s frame number with your insurance to get coverage.
Bus & train
Copenhagen and the Greater Copenhagen area (i.e. most of Sjælland!) have excellent public transportation coverage. The area is divided into zones (find the map here) that are the basis for ticketing and pricing. Here is a good overview of the different ticket options.
- S-train: There are 7 S-train lines that cover the Greater Copenhagen area. All of them, except the F-line, stop at Østerport, Nørreport, Vesterport, Central Station, and Dybbølsbro. All trains have special bike compartments, where it is possible to bring and safely store your bike. Here’s an overview of the S-train lines.
- Metro: There are currently two metro lines, which cover the same route from Vanløse to Christianshavn and then split up, one going to Vestamager, the other one to the airport. The Copenhagen metro is driverless and runs very frequently, often in 2 minute intervals during the busiest times. Generally, it is allowed to bring bikes on the metro, though not during rush hours in the morning and afternoon. Two new lines with a total of 24 new stations are currently being built: a city ring, which will open in 2019, and a North-South route, which will open in 2023 (see the overview here).
- Bus: There is a seemingly endless number of different bus lines, though a couple of them are special. The red A-busses go more frequently (i.e. every couple of minutes), whereas the blue S-busses cover longer distances and stop less frequently. Line 11A covers the city center and is operated by small, fully electric busses. You can’t bring bikes on the bus, and there is a maximum of two strollers allowed per bus for safety reasons. A funny (i.e. annoying) habit Copenhageners have on busses is that they will almost always take the aisle seat – so don’t be afraid to ask them to move in! Some seats in the front of the bus are specifically marked as preferential for elderly or pregnant passengers.
- Regional train: If you’re going to the airport or up along the coastline of Sjælland, your best bet is a regional train. You can use the same tickets as for the bus, metro, and S-train, as long as you are moving within the zone map. Bikes can be brought on regional trains. Most of them stop at the Central Station, Nørreport, and Østerport, some also stop at Dybbølsbro.
Water is an important part of Copenhagen’s cityscape – which also gives plenty of opportunity to spend time on boats! There are three harbor bus lines: 991 and 992 cover the harbor “from top to bottom” (i.e. from Refshaleøen to Teglholmen) and 993 crosses the harbor between Nyhavn, Papirøen, and the Opera. You can use normal tickets or period cards on the harbor busses. Alternatively, you can rent a boat (for example at GoBoat or Copenhagen Boat Rent), but that’s more of a recreational activity rather than a mode of transportation.
Generally, Copenhagen is not a very car-friendly city. The large majority uses bikes and/ or public transportation, and you’ll probably get frustrated trying to navigate the city center by car. Further, parking can be a huge nightmare – either you don’t find a spot at all, or you pay a fortune. A car can be helpful for day trips out of the city (even though train connections are usually very good) or, say, for a trip to IKEA. If you don’t want to get a car just because you might be buying a new couch table soon, there are a number of car sharing options, such as Hertz delebil, LetsGo, or DSB’s DriveNow, where you simply “borrow” a car whenever you need it. Often, there are even separate parking spots reserved for shared cars.
Finally, a word on taxis to complete the list. I will admit that I am sometimes lazy – especially after a nice dinner and a couple of glasses of wine or cocktails, I don’t really feel like taking that 30min trip on the train or bus, so I hop in a taxi home. All cab fares in Denmark are centrally regulated; however, there are four different tariffs, depending on the day and time (e.g. it’s more expensive to take a cab at night or on the weekend). Taxis are generally not cheap – a trip from the airport to the city center will cost you around DKK 300-400, depending on where exactly you’re going. Use an app to order your cab, or simply grab one at a train station or wave one down on the street. If you feel a bit more exclusive, you can always use an executive or limousine car service. And if you’re trying to get from A to B in the city center, there are rickshaw taxis that can take shortcuts through pedestrian areas as well – some of them even offer sightseeing tours (examples here and here).
What’s your preferred way to get around the city? And did I forget something in the list? Let me know in the comments!
All photos via Copenhagen Media Center.