A practical post on how to commute in Copenhagen, for those of you wondering how to get around a city without Uber.
Copenhagen is truly one of the easiest cities to use public transportation in. Between the bus, metro, and train system, you never have to wait very long or walk far to get from Point A to Point B. Plus, everyone bikes, and there are actually more bikes than people in central Copenhagen. In this post, I’ll describe how I usually commute, and a few other ways to get around the city.
This is the mode of transportation that I use the most. Since Copenhagen is a fairly small city, there are only two main lines, M1 and M2. They both terminate in the same place in one direction, and they have many of the same stops going to this point. In the other direction, the two lines split after you leave the center of the city, and they terminate in different places. One line ends at the airport, which is super convenient, and the other line ends at another location outside the central city. You can see what I’m describing on the map of the Metro below:)
The New Metro
Halfway through my semester, the city opened up a new line, M3, which has apparently been under construction for a really long time. This new line is actually a ring around the center of Copenhagen, and it connects many new parts of the city that were otherwise far from the M1 and M2 lines. The new Metro makes it even easier to commute to DIS in the morning, and also easier to keep exploring new places throughout the city.
What’s the Metro Like?
The Copenhagen Metro is super clean. It comes frequently, and I never have to wait more than 2-3 minutes for a train to arrive. Also, for some reason, there’s cell service on the trains, and I don’t understand how that works. The front car of each train has a big window so you can watch the ride from stop to stop. It’s actually fun to sit in the front of the train car and watch the ride.
How to Pay: Transportation Passes
Copenhagen operates under a zone system and many residents choose to use a transportation pass that covers a certain number of zones. Depending on your housing location, DIS gives you a pass covering however many zones you need for commuting to and from DIS. I live in Frederiksberg and have a two zone pass which covers basically everything I need it to. The only time I go outside of my two-zone pass is when I go to the airport. In this case, you have to buy an add-on ticket because it’s outside zones 1 and 2.
The public transportation system in Copenhagen uses an honor system, so you don’t need to scan anything to get on or off the train. However, you always have to carry your pass or form of payment on you because if a transportation authority is checking tickets and you don’t have a pass, you can be heavily fined.
To get to places that are not covered under your transportation pass, or to use the Metro with people who don’t have a pass, you can use what’s called a Rejsekort. This is basically a Metro card that you can add money to, and then you just tap in and out every time you use the public transportation system in Copenhagen. This card works with the busses and trains as well, so it’s useful to have for day trips outside of Copenhagen or to lend out when you have friends or family come to visit.
Other Public Transportation
The bus system basically links everything that isn’t accessible by the Metro. There are many, many bus stops throughout the city, and just like the Metro you can use both a transportation pass and a Rejsekort. The busses are also clean and easy to figure out, just like the Metro.
I’m not as familiar with the train system as the students who live in homestays are, but they mainly connect the suburbs with the central city. I occasionally use the trains to go on day trips to outer Copenhagen or visit other towns outside the city. For example, when I went to the Louisiana Museum, I used the train to get there. Again, you can use both the transportation passes and Rejsekort on the trains, however you would need a pass with many zones on it as you move further and further outside the city. Most of the times, I just use a Rejsekort.
Last but not Least, Bikes
Biking is huge in Copenhagen, and many people choose this as their preferred way to commute. There are bikes all over the city and its super easy to rent one from the companies recommended by DIS. It can be a little intimidating at first to ride in the busy bike lanes especially at rush hour, but you’ll learn and in no time become used to the bike culture in Copenhagen!
Planning your trip
There are a couple of apps you can use to figure out the best way to get somewhere. I use Apple Maps or Google Maps most of the time, because they’re pretty accurate and easily accessible on my phone. However, a lot of my friends use an app called Rejseplanen to figure out public transportation, and use DOT (Mobilbilletter) to buy add-on tickets for going outside the zones covered under your pass. I haven’t had to use this app because my transportation pass and Rejsekort cover everything I need them too, but this is another option.
That pretty much summarizes the main ways of getting around the city of Copenhagen! Cars are not nearly as popular as they are in the U.S., although there are still plenty of cars throughout the city. When my mom visited, we rented a car and did some exploring to other cities in Denmark. Otherwise, Uber is not a thing and taxis are very expensive. Hope this was helpful for anyone confused on how transportation works in Copenhagen!