Getting Around Copenhagen: Guide to Public Transportation

Bicycles outside the town hall in Copenhagen, Radhuset
H.Klosowska / Getty Images

Convenience and Scandanavian sensibilities are at the forefront of designing the major public transportation options in Copenhagen: The Metro, trains, buses, and water buses. Riders can access virtually all public transportation with a single, integrated ticket as long as they know how many zones they'll cover (more on that below). 

Below are tips to help you navigate Copenhagen. The integrated ticket system certainly makes things easy, but you might consider downloading "DOT Mobilbilletter" in the App Store or Google Play Store, which will allow you to buy tickets on the go. Click "indstillinger" (settings) followed by "sprog" (language) to select the English version. From there, enter your credit card details and follow the prompts. If you don't want the download the app, buy tickets online here.

Ride with ease thanks to English announcements, app integration, and general regard for safety—but this is an urban city, so mind open bags and easy-to-pickpocket items. But no matter which method you choose, there's always a spot on the train or bus for transporting your bike, the number one way to get around. 

One thing that makes a trip to the Danish capital easier is the Copenhagen Card. This all-access card includes admission to 87 top attractions, like museums and Tivoli, as well as free rides on public transportation throughout the capital region. The card is available in 24-, 48-, 72-, 96-, or 120-hour increments for adults and children. You can order a physical card or download the app for the digital card. A 24-hour card is $66 for adults and $33.80 for children; each adult can take two children ages zero to nine with them for free. Plot a journey with pricing easily online.

Zones in Copenhagen

Ticket prices are calculated based on how far you travel and how many of the nine zones you pass through. It's not the easiest thing to sort out, but don't overthink it: most trips around Copenhagen will need a two-zone ticket (24 Danish krone; $3.86), but a three-zone ticket is required for the airport. 

If you don't want to deal with the zones, you have a few options:

  • Purchase a Copenhagen Card.
  • Fancy the Copenhagen Card's ease of using public transportation without access to the attractions? Then get a City Pass. A 24-hour pass covers zones one to four and costs 80 Danish krone ($12.85) for adults and half-price children. Buy the City Pass online, and they'll text you a pass to use immediately. 
  • A 24-hour ticket is a good option for day trips outside of Copenhagen. Access all zones for 150 Danish krone ($24.10) per adult; children 12 to 15 years are 75 Danish krone ($12.05) 
  • There is a seven-day FlexCard covering all zones for 620 Danish krone ($99.62), but this isn't the most economical option for occasional trips in the city.
  • You'll observe that most locals are tapping a smart card before getting on a train or bus. They’re using a Rejsekort card. While this option is available to visitors (call Rejsekort Anonymous) at Copenhagen Central Station and some ticketing booths, it's best for commuters and frequent visitors in Denmark. 

How to Ride Copenhagen's Metro 

The futuristic, driverless Metro connects the major neighborhoods in Copenhagen to the city center and the airport. Surprisingly undisruptive updates are continually being made to the Metro. The newest line, which opened in September 2019, connects the popular neighborhoods of Vesterbro, Frederiksberg, Norrebro, and Osterbro, and the city center. The next planned expansion is set to open in 2024. 

Hours: All four metro lines (called M1, M2, M3, and M4) run 24/7, making stops every 2-3 minutes during rush hour and slowing to 20-minute intervals in the middle of the night. 

Fares: Most single journeys in the city require a two-zone ticket that costs 24 Danish krone ($3.86) and half that rate for children 15 and younger. An adult with a valid ticket can ride with two children 12 and younger for free. Single journey tickets are valid for two hours. 

Ticketing: The Metro is ticketed on the honor system, but all riders must have a valid ticket. If caught without a ticket, or if you present a ticket with an insufficient fare, each offending passenger will be charged 750 Danish krone ($119.30) on the spot. The Metro customer service team might take pity on visitors, so it's worth contacting customer service to see about getting a ticket adjusted, if necessary. 

Physical tickets are available at ticketing machines in the Metro (credit cards and Danish cash) and 7-Elevens outside the Metro or on the Metro platform (credit cards or Danish cash). Otherwise, buy a ticket from the app or online (details above). 

Here is a map of the Metro.

How to Ride Copenhagen's Buses

Copenhagen's buses are efficient, clean, regularly on time, and it's a nice way to commute while taking in the city. Most visitors will find busses useful for visiting neighborhoods like Frederiksberg, Vesterbro, and Osterbro. 

Hours: 24/7 availability every three to seven minutes during rush hour and 10-12 minutes otherwise. 

Fares: Most single journeys in the city require a two-zone ticket that costs 24 Danish krone ($3.86) and half that rate for children 15 and younger. An adult with a valid ticket can ride with two children 12 and younger for free. Single journey tickets are valid for two hours. 

Ticketing: Tickets are available on the bus but will require small bills or coins. If that's not convenient (Copenhagen is a pretty cash-less city), download the DOT Mobilbilletter app or buy tickets online. 

How to Ride Copenhagen's Trains

Known locally as S-tog, the suburban trains in Copenhagen have seven routes that leave Copenhagen Central Station and interconnect with Metro lines. Outside of a trip to the Louisiana Museum of Art or to see the castles in Helsingor, most visitors won't need to ride the S-tog. 

Hours: Trains operate every four to 20 minutes from 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. On Friday and Saturday, all-night services run once an hour; line F runs every 30 minutes during this time. 

Tickets: The tickets you use on the Metro and busses work on the S-tog; just remember to be mindful of the zones. Purchase tickets from ticketing machines, download the DOT Mobilbilletter app, or buy tickets online. 

Expect a journey from central Copenhagen to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art to cost around 50 Danish krone ($8) each way. There's a convenient option to purchase a combo entrance ticket and return train ticket here.

How to Ride Copenhagen's Harbour Bus

Yellow harbor buses make nine stops up and down the main canal, and it's one of the most pleasant ways to get around Copenhagen. The routing runs from Sluseholmen in the south to Refshaleøen, where you'll find a famous outdoor food hall in the north. If the Harbour Bus isn't too crowded, you'll be able to bring your bike. 

Hours: Monday to Friday, the Harbour Bus runs from 6:25 a.m. to 8:25 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. 

Tickets: The Harbour Bus uses the same ticket at the Metro, regular bus, and S-tog. Purchase tickets from ticketing machines, download the DOT Mobilbilletter app or buy tickets online. 

Fares: Most single journeys in the city require a two-zone ticket that costs 24 Danish krone ($3.86) and half that rate for children 15 and younger. An adult with a valid ticket can ride with two children 12 and younger for free. Single journey tickets are valid for two hours.

How to Get Around Copenhagen by Taxi

With a hefty flag fare (39 Danish krone; $6.26), getting around by taxi quickly becomes an expensive journey. If you'd like to take one, flag one on the street (look for the illuminated taxa sign) or find a taxi stand at various points around the city. Taxis take cash and credit card and do not expect a tip. If you plan to take taxis regularly, the Dantaxi app will be helpful. 

How to Bike Like a Local in Copenhagen

The city's vast network of bike lanes makes it one of the most bike-friendly globally. There are cheap and easy ways to join the locals on two wheels. 

Bike rentals 

  • Most hotels have branded bikes they'll rent out to guests and dedicated bike parking spots, too. 
  • Bike rental shops are available across town, but they pop up like daisies in the summer. Make sure to take the bike for a test ride and document any damages before signing the rental agreement, just like you would with a rental car. Competition keeps the prices competitive, so don't worry about shopping around too much. 
  • There are two great options for short-term rentals: Bycklen and Donkey Republic. Bycklen (the City Bike) is white and offers high-tech rides with weather-resistant touch GPS screens, electric motors, and locks, and they have a handy app and docking stations across the city. A 120-minute package is 80 Danish krone ($12.84). 

Donkey Republic owns the orange bikes across the city, and while they're starting to roll out e-bikes, they mainly offer traditional, multi-gear bikes. There are single-journey rides, 24-hour rentals, monthly memberships, and more. Typically, a 30-minute rental is 12.5 Danish krone ($2). A user-friendly app (and data) is required to unlock and lock each bike. 

Bike Safety

  • Helmets are not required by law in Denmark, and most Danes will bike without one. 
  • To rent a helmet, stop into a bike shop or see the folks at Be Copenhagen. If you show them your Donkey Republic rental, they'll loan you a helmet for 25 Danish krone ($4) a day.
  • Use hand signals to stay safe. One hand straight-up means you want to stop, dropping your right hand to the side means you're going to turn right, and the left hand to the side means you're going to turn left. 
  • Most bike lights will automatically turn on but, if not, turn them on at sunset to avoid a potential fine. 
  • Do not turn right when the light is red. 
  • Biking while texting or drunk is illegal. 
  • Lock up your bike because bike thefts are common. 

Tips for Getting Around Copenhagen 

Download the apps. From bike rentals to public transport, you'll be ready to hit the ground running with a few important apps loaded on your phone before you arrive. Copenhagen is almost entirely cashless; things like apps, tap-to-pay credit cards, or ApplePay make the journey smoother. 

Don't stress about the language. Almost everyone in Copenhagen speaks near-perfect English, so while it's polite to learn a few phrases if you can, locals will also be able and willing to help you out.  

Bring your walking shoes. Copenhagen is a remarkably walkable city, so come prepared to get your steps in. The Danes aren't fussy about fashion—especially footwear—and they take a function over fashion approach to their wardrobe. You'll find dressed-up ladies in sneakers and dresses and rarely anything more than a chunky heel so leave the stilettos at home.