Denmark’s capital and largest city, Copenhagen has excellent transportation options for both local and long-distance travel. Its airport is the largest in Scandinavia and within reach of the city center. An efficient network of trains, buses, and boats combine to make travel easy both within Copenhagen and to destinations further afield.
Commuter Trains, Metro, and Buses
DOT (Din Offentlige Transport) operates local buses, commuter trains, and metro trains in the Copenhagen metropolitan area. Single-journey tickets are priced according to the number of zones of travel and may be used on all forms of transportation operated by DOT. The price for a single ticket is DKK 24 for two zones, which is the minimum and covers most of central Copenhagen; for each additional zones the cost increases by DKK 12. Children under the age of 16 pay half the adult fare if traveling unaccompanied; up to two children may ride free with a paying adult. A two-zone ticket allows you to travel for one hour and 15 minutes, while a three-zone ticket allows travel for 90 minutes. For each additional zone you add, up to eight zones, you get an additional 15 minutes.
For trips covering more than eight zones, a single-trip ticket is valid for a one-way journey from the starting zone to the destination on the date of purchase until 3:59 the following morning. Once travel has begun, it must be completed without stops, though changes from one mode of transportation to another are permitted as part of a naturally progressing journey.
Tickets can be purchased from ticket machines located in all stations, at 7-Eleven shops inside train and metro stations, directly from bus drivers (cash only), or by mobile using the DOT Tickets app.
The online travel planner Rejseplanen (also available as an app) is a useful tool for determining the number of zones you need and the best route to your destination. Note that prices displayed in the trip planner are Rejsekort (travelcard) fares, which are lower than single ticket prices (see below).
DOT also operates a year-round harbor buses (havnebusser) between Refshaleøen at the northern end of the harbor and Teglholmen in the south, with stops at Nordre Toldbod, Holmen Nord, Operaen (the Opera House), Nyhavn, Knippelsbro, Det Kongelige Bibliotek (the Royal Library), and Bryggebroen. It’s a nice way to see Copenhagen from the water and to travel through the heart of the city without suffering through road traffic. Bicycles may be brought on board when the harbor bus is not crowded.
Be aware that although the yellow passenger ferries make the same stops in both directions, they have different route numbers depending on the direction of travel. The southbound route (Refshaleøen to Teglholmen) is 991, and the northbound route is 992. All DOT tickets are valid on the harbor bus.
City Passes and Travelcards
If you plan to make extensive use of public transportation within a specific period of time, consider buying a City Pass, which allows for unlimited travel for 24, 48, 72, 96 or 120 hours. Two versions are available: the Small City Pass, which covers zones 1-4, including the route between the airport and the city center, and the Large City Pass, which covers the entire greater Copenhagen area (zones 1-99). Prices range from DKK 80 (24 hours) to DKK 300 (120 hours) for a Small City Pass, and DKK 160 (24 hours) to DKK 600 (120 hours) for a Large City Pass. An adult with a City Pass may bring two children under the age of 12 free of charge; discounted City Passes are available for additional children under the age of 16. Full pricing can be found here.
For extended stays in Copenhagen, it may be worth purchasing a Rejsekort, which is a travelcard that can be loaded with funds and topped up as needed. Rejsekort fares are substantially lower than single-ticket fares and are subject to an additional 20-percent discount during off-peak hours (weekdays 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 7 a.m., plus weekends and holidays). Using a Rejsekort, the starting fare (two zones) for adults is DKK 16 for adults during peak hours and DKK 12,80 during off-peak. Metro trips incur a small surcharge. Once you have funds loaded on your Rejsekort, you pay for your journey by scanning the card at a card reader at the start and end of your journey to check in and out. Cards cost 50-80 DKK and the minimum top-up amount is DKK 100. More information can be found on the Rejsekort website.
Travelers planning to make extensive use of public transportation while visiting numerous attractions may want to consider the Copenhagen Card, which provides free unlimited public travel (including from the airport and as far afield as Roskilde, Hillerød, and Helsingør). It also provides free admission to 87 major attractions in and around Copenhagen, including Tivoli Gardens, Canal Tours Copenhagen, Rosenborg Castle, Christiansborg, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Frederiksborg Castle, Roskilde Cathedral, and the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, among others. The pass also includes 10-20 percent discounts on many popular sightseeing tours, as well as at certain restaurants.
Each adult with a pass may bring two children aged 0-9 free of charge. Costs for adults and older children are as follows:
- 24-hour card: DKK 399 (EUR 54) for adults, DKK 199 (EUR 26) for children (ages 10-15)
- 48-hour card: DKK 599 (EUR 80) for adults, DKK 299 (EUR 40) for children
- 72-hour card: DKK 739 (EUR 99) for adults, DKK 369 (EUR 49) for children
- 120-card: DKK 989 (EUR 133) for adults, DKK 499 (EUR 67) for children
Cards can be purchased in advance for receipt by mail or pickup upon arrival or as a mobile app. See the Copenhagen Card website for further details.
Long-Distance Trains, Buses, and Ferries
Copenhagen’s central railway station is located in the heart of the city, bordering the Vesterbro district and across the street from the famous Tivoli Gardens. The Danish National Rail Board, DSB, operates trains between Copenhagen and destinations throughout Denmark and beyond.
DSB and various Swedish rail companies jointly operate the Øresundståg network, which offers train service on both sides of the Øresund strait, from Helsingør via Copenhagen to destinations throughout southern Sweden via the Øresund Bridge. Journeys can be booked directly with Øresundståg or through DSB and the Swedish national railway company, SJ. Note that you must show a passport or approved national identification card for trips across the Øresund Bridge.
The trip planner website and app Rejseplanen can be used to search for journeys on multiple modes of transportation throughout Denmark. For bus travel, another option is the international company FlixBus, which has an extensive network of intercity buses from Copenhagen to other Danish and European destinations.
For travel to Norway, the overnight DFDS cruise ferry runs daily from Copenhagen to Oslo, departing at 4:30 p.m.
Scandinavia’s busiest airport, Copenhagen Airport (CPH) is a major hub for flights to destinations throughout Europe and beyond. It’s located in Kastrup on the island of Amager, about 7 kilometers (4 miles) southeast of the city center.
Downtown Copenhagen is just 15 minutes from the airport by metro, with trains departing from a station connected to Terminal 3. Metro trains depart every 5-6 minutes during the day and every 15-20 minutes at night. Tickets can be purchased from ticket machines and staffed ticket windows in Terminal 3. The journey between the airport and the city center requires a three-zone ticket, which costs DKK 36 and is valid for 90 minutes.
Several bus lines also travel between the airport and central Copenhagen, including routes 5A, 35, and 36 run by DOT.
Note: Prices are accurate as of January 2020.
Published 30 January 2020
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2 thoughts on “Public Transportation in Copenhagen: Getting to and around Denmark’s Capital”
Can you include low cost accomodation to stay in down town
Hi Rossana, I recommend looking at Booking.com, Hotels.com, or other booking sites to find accommodation that fits your budget. Copenhagen is an expensive city, so it’s likely you’ll have to stay a bit outside downtown if your budget is extremely limited.