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TIPS

Getting Around

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One of the best things about Copenhagen is its size – its status as one of the world’s most compact cities, twinned with it being very flat, means its incredibly foot-friendly.

Despite being easy to navigate on foot and of course by bike, Copenhagen has an efficient 24-hour transit system in place that’s also friendly on the pocket and on those travelling with kids. It’s said that no matter where you are or want to go in the city, you’re never more than 500 metres from a mode of public transport – quite a claim!

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Here are the various modes, and some practicalities to consider as you go. Note that the title of each section is a link to whatever relevant site you need to find out more.

METRO

The Metro is a relatively new addition to the city, and it current two-line map is on the brink of being expanded, with the new 17-station Cityringen line set to open in July 2019. This will connect neighbourhoods that have thus-far only really been reachable by S-tog (train, see below) or bus, with new stations in the inner city, while it’ll also place handy stations in more residential neighbourhoods like Østerbro, Nørrebro and Frederiksberg.

All the Metro stations feel shiny and new. The trains are regular – every 2 to 6 minutes during the day, and 15 to 20 minutes at night – and they’re driverless. Being a biking city, there are lifts at every station (although bikes are not allowed on trains during rush hours of 7-9am and 15.30-17.30pm), which is helpful when travelling with a buggy.

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TRAIN

Train types are split into S-tog (Metropolitan trains) and Regional, the latter which run out of the city and around Sjælland (Zealand), and across the bridges to Jylland (Jutland), whisking their passengers to the farthest reaches of Denmark. The S-tog is what you’re most likely to need, and its six lines are lettered A to F. Of these, the C train is useful to know about, as it heads north up the coast to the beaches at Hellerup, Charlottenlund and Klampenborg, where Jægersborg Dyrehave (a beautiful deer park and UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Bellevue Strand are located.

The grey Regional line heads as far south as Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport (and beyond, taking you over the Øresund to Malmö in southern Sweden), and as far north as Helsingør, where Kronborg Castle, made famous by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, lies. Humblebæk, needed by visitors to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, is north of the city on this same line.

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BUS

The buses in Copenhagen are regular, and in general are not over crowded. Most buses run day and night, and during the day are a mere 4 to 7 minutes apart. They are single-deck and have space for prams and buggies. Stops are announced and also show on a ticker screen (useful because often the pronunciations won’t be as you’d read them in English!).

With a Rejsekort you just hop on and tap, and tap again when you hop off, and the amount for the fare is deducted. Otherwise you pay with coins or notes when you get on the bus – and only in Danish kroner. The bus drivers in Copenhagen are renowned for being grumpy. This is because Danes are punctual people – if you stand there digging around for your wallet when they’re trying to get the doors shut and get going, they’re probably not going to love you. Try and be ready when you get on the bus as best you can!

The Bus, Tog & Metro Guide leaflet (see below) has a map of the city in it, with all the bus routes that you’ll need marked clearly. It’s an essential if you’re planning on taking the bus.

HARBOUS BUS

The yellow harbour bus is a fantastic way to get between sights, as well as to see the city. They run regularly and hit spots like Refshaleøen’s Reffen, which can be harder to reach by other means of public transport, and even by bike. They run between Refshaleøen at the north end of the harbour, and Teglholmen in the south, and stop at landmarks like Nyhavn, the Det Kongelige Bibliotek (the Black Diamond) and Islands Brygge.

See my post here for more on this lovely method of transport!

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BIKE

This is the way Copenhageners get around and for good reason – it’s fast, easy, free and there are bike lanes on almost every street. Many hotels have free bikes to borrow, or to hire for a nominal fee; many rented apartments will include borrowing them in the price of a stay.

There are, of course, plenty of places to hire bikes (see this page at Visit Copenhagen for some ideas of where), as well as easy schemes such as the white Bycyklen and the orange Donkey Republic Bikes. For those with children, renting a lådcykel (cargo bike) – whether with electric battery or not – is the way to go. Many people do not wear helmets in Copenhagen, but I would always recommend that you do, and that your children do too, even if they’re travelling in a cargo bike.

Cycling is a way of life here and everyone does it in every weather and in every type of clothing (i.e. you don’t have to be in lycra to do it). The bike lanes are, however, very fast-paced during rush hour (7-9am and from 3.30-5.30pm) – and Copenhagen’s citizens have places to be, so this is not an experience for kids who aren’t used to it. If you do decide to have them ride with you, be sure they’re directly in front of you (rather than behind), and when there’s space, you ride beside them to their left. Ensure they always stay well to the right of the lane, and that they know the rules and hand signals. In fact, Copenhageners get frustrated by tourists small and big who don’t abide by these, so take some time to get up to speed on them.

FOOT

Getting around on foot is very easy in Copenhagen – and very charming, too. Chose a couple of adjoining neighbourhoods and let yourself amble as much as mission. Many of the sights are concentrated in Indre By, so you can do a good full day there.

Transport practicalities 

TRAVEL PLANNING 

Like many cities, Copenhagen has Rejseplanen as its great travel planning website/app. It can be a bit of a muddle to navigate at first, so perhaps get to know it at home before you arrive. It’s useful for planning trips out of the city to Louisiana and Helsingør, as well as beyond into Europe. If you’re looking at travelling into Sweden, it’s also worth looking at sj.se – it’s very efficient and in English, too.

ZONES

Greater Copenhagen is divided into zones, and the city is graphically and colourfully carved up on zone maps at all bus stops and in all stations. If you’re not getting help from anyone when buying a ticket, just make sure you get a ticket that covers enough zones for your journey.

More on the map and the zones at Scandinavia Standard.

TICKETS

There are various value tickets available – from the humble single ticket, which starts at 24DKK per adult, to the City Pass, 24-hour ticket, Flexcard 7-days and the Copenhagen Card. More on these, and links for buying them, here.

If you’re going to be in Copenhagen a while and want to make things easy, purchase a Rejsekort (a bit like a London Oyster), to top up and touch in and out with.

WHERE TO BUY

Tickets and passes are available at Metro and train stations (from machines) or via the DOT website. There’s also a mobile ticket app called DOT Mobilbilletter available for Android and iPhone, and it’s available in English.

MAPS

Of course Google Maps exists, but if you don’t want to be glued to your phone, and want to get the kids involved in keeping track of where you are and where you’re doing, there are great maps at the Copenhagen Visitor Information opposite Tivoli. Grab a few copies of this (remembering how very rainy it often is in Copenhagen and how soggy it could get!) or download it here.

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There are also brilliant transport maps both at the Visitor Information and many of the central Metro stations, as well as København H (Copenhagen Central train station). Look out for the ones titled ‘Welcome to Copenhagen’ (about the Metro) and ‘Bus, Tog & Metro Guide’ – they’re great and have everything you need to know.

KIDS

Across the transit system, kids under the age of 12 travel for free – with two kids travelling to every one paying adult. Teens from 12 to 16 go for a special children’s fare.

BIKES

If you take a bike on the S-tog or Metro, you need to pay a special extra fare for it. Ask about this at manned train station ticket offices, or if using a Rejsekort, plug it into one of the blue ‘check in’ points that have the ‘Ekstra’ option. Hit ‘Ekstra’ first, then place your card to the point and then use the arrow button to select the bike icon and the plus icon to settle on the number of bikes you’re travelling with. (If you make a mistake, just touch out again on a red point and start again at a blue). When boarding S-tog trains, look out for the large bike icon that covers the doors of the train carriage for bikes.

FINES

If you travel without a ticket and are caught, the fine is a flat 750DKK.

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For more on transport in and around Copenhagen, see the Visit Copenhagen page.

Scandinavia Standard also does a great round-up.


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