Getting Around Copenhagen, Denmark: A Guide to Transportation Options

Copenhagen's charm lies in its blend of scenic beauty and efficient public transport. Ideal for international students, the city offers easy access to cultural sites and educational institutions.

Getting Around Copenhagen, Denmark: A Guide to Transportation Options
Photo by Thomas Hoyrup Christensen

Copenhagen, Denmark's enchanting capital, is celebrated not only for its scenic beauty, from the charming cobblestone streets of Nyhavn to the serene expanses of the Frederiksberg Gardens, but also for its remarkable transportation network. This city, steeped in history and brimming with contemporary cultural vibrancy, offers an unparalleled blend of old-world charm and modern efficiency, making it a captivating destination for tourists and a nurturing habitat for its residents, including a substantial international student community.

Navigating through Copenhagen is an experience that embodies the Danish spirit of 'hygge'—a sense of comfort, convenience, and community. For international students, this city unfolds as a textbook example of how urban mobility can be seamlessly integrated into daily life, thus significantly enriching their study abroad adventure. The extensive public transportation system stands as a testament to the city's commitment to sustainability and accessibility, ensuring that every corner of this historic yet forward-looking city is within reach without the need for a personal vehicle.

Understanding the intricacies of Copenhagen's transit system is more than just about getting from point A to point B; it's about embracing the local way of life, discovering hidden gems scattered across the city, and experiencing the Danish education and lifestyle to its fullest. Whether it's making your way to the University of Copenhagen's diverse campuses, exploring the city's myriad museums and libraries, or simply enjoying a leisurely day out in one of its many parks and recreational areas, the city's transportation network is your gateway to a rich educational and cultural immersion.

The S-Train: Your Gateway to Greater Copenhagen

The S-train, or city trains, are the lifeline of Copenhagen's public transportation, offering extensive coverage across the city and its suburbs. This hybrid urban-suburban rail system connects the inner city with outer suburbs and neighboring towns, including Hillerød, Klampenborg, Frederikssund, Farum, Høje-Taastrup, and Køge, through a network of radial lines that merge in the city center. The system facilitates seamless travel across Copenhagen, with trains running underground in the city center and above ground in other areas​.

Operating at frequent intervals, these trains make it convenient to explore Copenhagen and beyond. What's commendable is their round-the-clock service on weekends, ensuring that late-night study sessions or social outings are never a hassle​​. All stations are served at least every 10 minutes until the evening, with frequencies increasing to every two minutes at core city stations. The S-train system is particularly notable for its one-man operation since 1978, reflecting its modern and efficient design​.

City Pass and Copenhagen Card: Unlimited Travel Made Simple

For international students and tourists alike, DSB, Denmark's largest railway operator, offers various tickets and passes tailored to different needs:

  • City Pass: This pass grants unlimited access to buses, trains, and the metro within central Copenhagen and to/from the airport. Available in durations from 24 to 120 hours, it's perfect for those initial weeks of exploration or when hosting visitors​​.
  • Copenhagen Card: Beyond transportation, this card is a cultural passport offering free entry to over 70 attractions and museums. If you're keen on discovering Copenhagen's rich heritage and vibrant arts scene, this card offers incredible value and convenience​​.

For those planning shorter stays or needing only occasional public transport access, single trip tickets are available. These can be purchased at most train stations, metro ticket machines, and directly on buses (with cash in Danish kroner). Alternatively, the DSB App for local tickets offers a convenient digital option for purchasing tickets, available in English for both iPhone and Android users​​.

Rejsekort: The Smart Choice for Long-Term Stays

For those with a more extended stay, the Rejsekort (travel card) emerges as the smart choice. It's a rechargeable card that offers discounted fares across all public transport modes in Denmark. The Rejsekort eliminates the need to purchase individual tickets for each journey, making it easier to travel across different modes of public transport.

Users can top up their Rejsekort with credit online, at customer service centers, or at machines located in stations. The system calculates the cost of any given trip based on how far the user travels, automatically deducting the fare from their card balance. It offers cheaper fares compared to single tickets. Tailored for frequent travelers, its cost-saving potential grows with use, making it ideal for students traveling daily to university or part-time jobs​​.

Metro: Quick and Efficient City Transit

Copenhagen's metro system, although smaller in comparison to other major cities, packs a punch in terms of efficiency and convenience. The Copenhagen Metro system is a comprehensive and driverless light rapid transit system serving Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, and Tårnby municipalities. Operating 24/7, the Metro enhances the city's public transportation network, alongside the S-train system, regional trains, and buses.

The system boasts a total of 39 stations, 25 of which are underground, providing extensive coverage of the city and its surrounding areas. The design of the Metro system focuses on sustainability, speed, and safety, with around 300,000 daily passengers and over one billion passengers since its inauguration​​​​.

The Metro is renowned for its frequent service, with trains running as often as every 90 seconds during peak times, making it an ideal choice for efficient travel across the city. This high frequency and reliability have contributed to the Metro being voted the best in the world on several occasions​​.

Buses: Extensive Coverage, Seamless Connectivity

The city's bus network complements the trains and metro – is spans the entire city, reaching areas beyond the Metro and S-train lines. It's particularly useful for accessing residential areas, universities, and local attractions. Many bus routes offer frequent service, with buses running every 5-10 minutes during peak hours. This frequency decreases in the evening and on weekends but remains adequate for most needs. For late-night travelers, Copenhagen offers a network of night buses that run after the regular service ends. These buses ensure that the city remains accessible at all hours, which is particularly beneficial for students and young people enjoying Copenhagen's nightlife.

Copenhagen is progressively introducing more eco-friendly buses, including electric and hybrid models, in line with the city's commitment to sustainability.

Like the rest of Copenhagen's public transportation system, the bus network operates on a zone-based ticketing system. Tickets are valid across buses, the Metro, and trains, making it easy to switch between different modes of transport. Commuters can also purchase tickets via mobile apps, at ticket machines, or on the bus (with exact change). Many bus stops are equipped with screens displaying real-time information about bus arrivals. Additionally, apps like Rejseplanen provide real-time schedules, route planning, and service alerts, helping students navigate the city with ease.

Tips for Smooth Sailing Across Copenhagen

  • Download relevant apps: Apps like 'Mobilbilletter' and 'DOT Mobilbilletter' can simplify ticket purchases and route planning.
  • Get a bike: Copenhagen is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. For short distances, consider biking like a local.
  • Plan your journey: Tools like Journey Planner and Google Maps can provide real-time updates and route suggestions, making travel planning effortless.


Copenhagen's public transportation is designed with efficiency, coverage, and convenience in mind, perfectly aligning with the needs of its dynamic student population. By familiarizing yourself with the various options and finding what works best for your lifestyle, you can make the most out of your time in this beautiful city.

Whether it's the daily commute to university, a night out with friends, or a weekend adventure exploring Denmark, Copenhagen's transit system has you covered. So, grab your pass, plan your journey, and get ready to explore all that Copenhagen has to offer!

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