Moving to Copenhagen as an International Student: The Most Important Do's and Don'ts

Embarking on your student journey in Copenhagen? Here are some essential tips—from registering for a CPR number to cycling like a local. Learn how to navigate this vibrant city, embrace Danish culture, and make your study abroad experience unforgettable.

Moving to Copenhagen as an International Student: The Most Important Do's and Don'ts
Photo by Study Abroad Guide

If you're gearing up to start your journey as an international student in Copenhagen, you're likely filled with excitement and perhaps a bit of nervous anticipation. Moving to a new city, especially one as vibrant and beautiful as Copenhagen, is no small feat, and we're here to help make that transition as smooth as possible.

In this post, we'll dive into some essential do's and don'ts for settling into Copenhagen. Whether it's navigating the city's bike lanes, understanding local customs, or getting your documents in order, we've got you covered with practical tips and friendly advice. So, grab a cup of coffee (or maybe a Danish pastry!), sit back, and let's get you ready for this incredible adventure

Do's of Moving to Copenhagen, Denmark

Register with the Authorities

Registering with the Civil Registration System (CPR) in Denmark is one of the first and most crucial steps you should take upon arriving in Copenhagen as an international student. The CPR number is a unique identification number that is essential for almost every aspect of daily life in Denmark.

The CPR number is necessary to benefit from Denmark's healthcare system. With this number, you'll be eligible for health services such as visiting general practitioners, specialists, and emergency care under the Danish health insurance scheme. To manage your finances in Denmark, you'll need a local bank account, and having a CPR number is a prerequisite for opening one. This will allow you to handle transactions, receive a debit card, and set up mobile payments, which are widely used across Denmark. The CPR number is also needed to access various public services and governmental benefits, including public libraries, tax services, and certain social services.

Additionally, If you plan to work part-time during your studies, the CPR number is essential for legal employment and for your employer to register you with the tax authorities.

Get a Bike

Copenhagen is renowned for its bike-friendly culture, boasting extensive bicycle lanes and traffic laws that prioritize cyclists' safety. As an international student, having a bike can greatly enhance your mobility and integration into the city's daily life. You can either purchase a bike or utilize the city’s comprehensive bike-share program, which offers convenient access to bikes throughout the city.

Renting a bike can be an affordable and convenient option for students. Monthly bike rental prices generally range from around 200 to 400 DKK (approximately 30 to 60 USD). These prices can vary based on the type of bike and the rental service. Some bike shops offer discounts for longer rental periods or special deals for students, which can make it even more budget-friendly.

Cycling not only provides a fast and eco-friendly way to explore Copenhagen but also helps in maintaining physical health. It’s an essential part of the Copenhagen experience, connecting you to the city in a uniquely local way.

Explore Housing Options Early

The housing market can be competitive, especially for students. Begin your search well before your move to secure suitable accommodation. Options include student halls, which provide a community atmosphere and are often conveniently located near universities. Shared apartments offer a more independent lifestyle and the chance to live with peers, often at a lower cost. Alternatively, family-hosted stays can provide a home-like environment and deeper cultural immersion.

Each option has its benefits, so consider your personal preferences, budget, and desired proximity to your university when making your decision. Early exploration is key to finding the best fit.

Learn Some Danish

While living in Copenhagen, learning Danish, even at a basic level, can significantly enhance your experience. Most Danes speak fluent English, but showing effort in learning Danish can deepen your connections with locals and enrich your cultural integration.

Many universities in Copenhagen recognize the value of this skill for international students and often offer free Danish language courses. These classes not only improve your language proficiency but also provide a social platform to meet other international students. Engaging in learning Danish demonstrates respect for the local culture and can open up more personal and professional opportunities during your stay.

Understand the Weather

Copenhagen's weather can be quite unpredictable, characterized by variability and frequent changes. It's especially known for being rainy and windy, particularly during the fall and winter months. To comfortably navigate this climate, it's essential to invest in a good waterproof jacket and embrace the concept of layering. Layering allows you to adjust to fluctuating temperatures throughout the day.

Additionally, waterproof footwear and a sturdy umbrella can be invaluable. Being prepared for these conditions will not only keep you comfortable but also ensure that the weather doesn’t disrupt your daily activities or hinder your exploration of this vibrant city.

Don'ts of Moving to Copenhagen, Denmark

Ignore Local Laws and Customs

Respecting local laws and customs is crucial for a smooth integration into Copenhagen. The city places a high value on public order and environmental responsibility. As a cycling capital, it's important to understand and adhere to cycling rules to ensure safety and efficiency on the roads. Public behavior norms emphasize politeness and consideration, particularly in quiet zones like public transport.

Additionally, Denmark is serious about recycling and waste management; familiarizing yourself with local recycling guidelines is expected. Adhering to these practices demonstrates respect for the community and contributes to the overall quality of life in Copenhagen.

Underestimate Living Costs

Copenhagen is known for its high living costs, with dining out, entertainment, and general expenses being notably pricey. As an international student, it's important to manage your finances carefully. Create a realistic budget that accounts for all your needs, including groceries, transportation, and social activities.

To stretch your budget further, seek out student discounts—many places like museums, theaters, restaurants, and public transport offer considerable reductions for students. Additionally, explore local markets and cook at home to save money. Being mindful of your spending and taking advantage of available discounts can make managing expenses in Copenhagen more manageable.

Skip Orientation Programs

Skipping orientation programs at your university in Copenhagen is a missed opportunity. These programs are specifically designed to ease the transition for international students. They provide a comprehensive introduction to campus facilities, academic expectations, and local culture. Additionally, they are a fantastic venue for meeting other students, both local and international, who can become your support network throughout your studies.

Orientation activities often include tours, welcome events, and informational sessions that can answer many logistical and academic questions. Participating in these programs can significantly enhance your initial experience and provide a solid foundation for your time in Copenhagen.

Stay Inside the Comfort Zone

Staying solely within your comfort zone and limiting interactions to familiar groups can diminish your overall experience in Copenhagen. Actively engaging with both Danish students and locals opens doors to a deeper understanding of Danish culture, traditions, and everyday life. Such interactions enrich your study abroad experience by offering insights and perspectives that go beyond the academic environment.

Participating in local events, joining clubs or sports teams, and volunteering are great ways to meet Danes. Embracing these opportunities not only broadens your social network but also enhances your cultural integration, making your time in Copenhagen more fulfilling and memorable.

Overlook Health Insurance

Ensuring you have adequate health insurance is crucial when studying abroad in Copenhagen. EU students can benefit from the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which provides access to healthcare services at the same cost as Danish citizens. However, non-EU students are generally required to purchase private health insurance to cover their stay. This insurance is vital as it protects against unexpected medical costs, which can be substantial without coverage.

It's important to research and secure a comprehensive insurance plan that fits your needs before you arrive, ensuring you can access necessary health services without financial strain throughout your educational journey in Denmark.


As you pack your bags and prepare to embark on your journey as an international student in Copenhagen, remember that the adventure ahead is not just about academic achievements, but also about personal growth and cultural immersion.

Copenhagen offers a unique blend of historical charm and modern convenience, and by embracing both the do's and don'ts, you’ll find yourself not just living in a new city, but truly becoming a part of it. Whether you’re cycling through its picturesque streets, participating in an orientation session, or cooking a Danish meal with new friends, each experience will contribute to a richer, more fulfilling study abroad experience.

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