Using the Copenhagen public transport network to get around town
A quick visitor’s guide to the Copenhagen metro, train system, and more.
Denmark’s capital Copenhagen is an amazing place. There are few cities in the world that are as architecturally arresting, ecological, well-organized and simply beautiful.
And that’s not even to mention the culture, history, restaurants and nightlife, all of which draw millions of tourists not only for the sunny summers, but for a picture-postcard winter holiday season as well.
As with visiting any city, for first-time visitors a high priority is figuring out the Copenhagen map in order to see as much as possible of this great city as efficiently as possible.
Luckily, if there’s one thing you quickly learn on visiting Copenhagen, it’s that the Copenhagen metro and the rest of the Copenhagen public transport system is remarkably well-organized, comprehensive, and easy to navigate.
Here’s a quick guide to the various modes of transportation available in Copenhagen, and what you need to know to get started exploring this amazing Scandinavian capital!
The Copenhagen metro
The Copenhagen metro is clean, efficient, fast, and effortless to use — as far as public transportation goes, it is a joy. Honestly, ask any local: using the Copenhagen metro is a daily affirmation of efficiency, planning, and attention to detail of the city planners and engineers responsible for keeping this city of 1.2 million moving day and night.
Here’s the official Copenhagen metro map to give you an overview. Another great resource is the Journey Finder, which will show you how to get from point A to point B, give you a cost estimate, and give you an estimated journey time.
If you take a look at the Copenhagen metro map, you’ll see it is currently made up of three lines, the M1, M2, and brand new M3 line, along with the soon to be inaugurated M4 line, which will open partially in 2020.
The original two lines were joined recently by the M3, which opened in September 2019 and encircles the city in a big loop, called the Cityringen.
It connects to both the older lines at the Fredricksburg and Kongens Nytorv stations, as well as connecting the city center to parts of the city that used to be more difficult to reach like Norrebro and Oesterbro.
The M3 also makes it much easier for visitors staying in the suburbs to get to the heart of the tourist action in the city center, as well as connecting them to Copenhagen Central Station where you can transfer to regional trains.
The Copenhagen metro and Denmark as a whole run on a zone-based system, like that of many major cities around the world.
For instance, if you are coming to the city center from the airport, you’ll need to buy a 3-zone ticket. Trips within the city are likely to only require a 2-zone ticket.
Keep in mind that while the Copenhagen metro is fully automated, just because there is no one watching over you doesn’t mean you aren’t still responsible for buying a ticket.
There are numerous employees who pass through the metro cars checking tickets day and night, and if you don’t have one you will be fined — and playing the “I’m just a stupid tourist” card ain’t gonna cut it with the Copenhagen metro security officers.
The Copenhagen metro authorities also stress that the fines are applicable to each member of your family—even if all of you are stupid tourists traveling together—so buy your tickets from one of the automated machines (accepting DKK and credit cards) before getting on board!
Another great thing about the Copenhagen metro: unlike that of many cities its size and smaller, the Copenhagen metro runs 24/7, seven days a week.
During the rush hour peak times, trains arrive every 2 to 4 minutes, and every 3 to 6 minutes for times outside of the peak hour.
Late night wait times between midnight and 6 a.m. vary depending on which line you’re riding on and which night.
But, the maximum wait is 20 minutes for late night trains Sunday through Thursday nights, with most weekend nights showing a wait time of 12 minutes or so.
When people speak of Copenhagen trains, they’re usually referring to the S-train (or s-tog). If you look at the Copenhagen train map that also shows all buses and the metro system throughout the greater Copenhagen metro area, you’ll see that these train lines run in Copenhagen and beyond.
They are the inter-city rail service that will take you to and from a number of more distant locations than the Copenhagen metro, and then back to Copenhagen Central Station.
The S-trains start running at 5:00 a.m. and go until 12:30 at night on weekdays. On weekends, these trains run on an all-night schedule on an hourly basis between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
Line F, the most widely used and most extensive of the s-tog train lines runs every 30 minutes during these late-night weekend hours.
During normal hours, Line F runs every 4 to 5 minutes, while lines A, B, C, and E run every 10 minutes, and lines H and Bx run every 20 minutes.
Be aware that if you’re catching one of the S-trains at Copenhagen Central Station, the various lines may well depart from a different platform each day, so be sure to check the arrivals and departures board carefully.
On the same network but running outside the zones on which the s-tog inter-city trains operate are also regional trains.
While they venture further out from the city, they still run on the same lines as the s-tog network of trains and return to Copenhagen Central Station.
Copenhagen city buses
The A-bus lines are the main bus routes in the central part of Copenhagen, and are made up of seven different lines.
They arrive around every 3 to 7 minutes during the peak rush hour periods, which are 7:00 to 9:00 in the morning and 3:30 to 5:30 in the afternoon. Outside of those peak times they arrive about every 10 minutes or so.
These buses also run at night, though less frequently.
The second primary set of buses that operate in Copenhagen metro area are the S-buses. These are the buses more geared toward serving the suburban areas outside the city center, and they don’t have as many stops as the A-buses.
During the peak rush hour times of the day, they arrive every 5 to 10 minutes, and during the rest of the day they run about every 20 minutes.
Keep in mind if you plan to go out for a night on the town in Copenhagen city center, but are staying somewhere in suburbia, these buses stop running at 1:00 a.m.
Taking ferries from Copenhagen is not only a great mode of transportation that is used every day by thousands of commuters, it’s an awesome way for visitors to get a glimpse of the city from an entirely different perspective.
All ferries from Copenhagen run in two zones and require the same type of ticket as the rest of Copenhagen public transport.
The Black Diamond line runs from Nyhavn in the heart of the tourist district down south through the city to the shopping district of Fisketorvet, which also gives you access to the Bryggebroen bridge and Westamager beyond.
The Havnebusserne line runs from the Royal Library in the south to Nordre Toldbod in the north, just outside the stunning 17th-century star-shaped fortress the Kastellet, with a total of six stops along the way.
Copenhagen by bicycle
When it comes to Copenhagen public transport, far and away the most popular mode of travel is the trusty bicycle.
Each morning and evening, thousands of Copenhagen residents, from the youngest to the oldest, gear up for a ride to work or school.
The popularity of bicycling in Copenhagen has made the city one of the most bike-friendly in the world, with generous, safe bike lanes, bike-friendly traffic light timing, and patient auto drivers who cede the right of way when it is appropriate to do so.
Using Google Maps to plot your route is probably the easiest way to get started, and seeing the city via bicycle is a wonderful way to get up close and personal with Copenhagen.
But when you reach a part of your ride where you need to switch to another mode of transportation, don’t worry — the Copenhagen public transport authorities have thought of that.
Bikes on the metro: You can take your bicycle on the Copenhagen metro for an extra fee of 13 DKK, which requires its own separate ticket.
Keep in mind that during rush hour (Monday to Friday 07:00 – 09:00 and 3:30 – 5:00) bikes are not allowed!
Bikes on the train: Bicycles are also allowed on the s-tog trains, and its free, but be aware that you can’t take your bike through the busy Norreport Station during peak hours.
The trains have special “flex cars” for bicycles and strollers at the front or back of the train, which will be marked with large bicycle graphics. If you need to take your bike on a regional train, there is an extra cost.
Bikes on the bus: You are technically allowed to take your bicycle on the bus, but only a maximum of two bicycles are allowed on any given bus at a time, even if the designated space for bikes and strollers isn’t already occupied.
And allowing a bike on a particular bus at any given time is at the discretion of the driver. (Be aware too that cyclists in Copenhagen rarely bring their rides onto the bus.)
FAQs on Copenhagen public transport
The Copenhagen map is divided into nine zones for public transportation purposes, and you must buy your ticket based on how many zones you will travel. Use this handy zone finder to calculate how many zones you will travel through to get where you’re going.
A two-zone ticket costs 24 DKK (about US$3.50) off-peak.
You can make your life easier by purchasing a Citypass, which gives you unlimited use of the metro, trains, bus and ferries in Zones 1-4 for a period of 24, 48, 72, or 120 hours. There is also a Citypass Large version which includes access to destinations further afield, like Roskilde and Elsinore.
Another Copenhagen public transport option is to buy a Copenhagen Card, which gives you unlimited transportation in the capital region including to and from the airport, as well as free admission to 80 museums and other attractions, and discounts on restaurants and sightseeing tours.
Copenhagen public transport operates on a completely automated basis without turnstiles. But beware if you entertain ideas of cheating; roving ticket collectors will fine you every time if you get caught, no exceptions.
Kids under 12 travel free if they are with a grown-up.
Child fares apply to all kids up to 16 years old.
And parents of fur-kids rejoice: small dogs travel free in a carrier, large dogs count as children, and require a kid ticket.
Strollers are free on all modes of Copenhagen public transport.
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