Maybe it’s because I’m coming off ten years of living in London, England, where their metro (or rather, underground) has so many lines, weird station names, colour codes, etc – but the Copenhagen Metro is seriously so easy to navigate, anyone can master it.
But in case you’re coming to the city for the first time or just need a refresher – keep reading! I’m going to break it all down for you here.
Copenhagen Metro Map
Getting From the Airport
The airport is on the yellow (or “M2”) line and, as you can see above, it’s the last stop on its line. This means that when you arrive in the airport, you can literally hop on any departing train from the airport and it will take you directly into the city centre. No wrong answers; no need to hem and haw over ‘is this our train…?’.
If you’re staying somewhere central, it’s likely you’ll get off around Kongens Nytorv station (although of course check this with your hotel). Even if this isn’t your stop, it’s an important one to remember – it’s the gateway to popular attractions like Strøget (the longest pedestrian shopping street in the world) and Nyhavn, the famous colourful harbour.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s find out how and where to buy tickets first.
If you’re arriving from the airport, I know it’s always a little overwhelming being spat out into the arrivals hall. But luckily for you, Copenhagen airport is pretty tiny, especially in regards to their arrivals area. You exit the automatic doors directly after collecting your luggage, walk maybe 50 meters, and all the machines to buy train tickets are directly on your righthand side. You can’t miss ’em – there’s usually a large gaggle of people surrounding them, as well as train company workers milling about, ready to help.
If you’re not arriving from the airport, and instead are just approaching a random train station in the city, there will be ticket machines near every entrance/exit. Additionally, you can purchase tickets at any 7-Eleven or via the official transport app called DOT Tickets (App Store / Google Play).
All the machines – as well as the app – are available in multiple languages; you simply select your language of choice on the starting screen. Easy!
Now you’ve found where to buy tickets but which tickets should you choose?
When I first came to Copenhagen as a tourist, I actually found this a little unclear to navigate on the ticket machines so if you’re a little confused, you’re not alone!
However, if you’re coming as a tourist to the city and you’re only going to be here a few days, I highly recommend the Copenhagen Card. You can even get it as an app, so everything is paid up and ready via your smart phone! The Copenhagen Card is available as a 24, 48, 72, 96, or 120-hours card. You can see their website for up-to-date prices but to give you an example, at the time of writing (summer 2021) a 72 hour card cost 102 Euros. That not only includes travel on every single type of transport in Copenhagen (metro, bus, harbour bus), it also allows the holder FREE access to almost 90 different attractions around the city and beyond. This includes places like Copenhagen Zoo, the Round Tower, as well as canal tours and much, much more.
So if you’re travelling to see lots of attractions, this will be the cheapest option for you.
Otherwise, you can choose from: single fare tickets, a City Pass, or a Rejsekort.
Single fares are exactly like how they sound: if you know you only need to get to your hotel from the airport, you can just select your destination on the machine/in the app and it’ll calculate the cost for that singular fare. Note that these have a time limit on them (1 hour and 15 minutes).
A City Pass is pretty much like the Copenhagen Card above – they issue them in the same 24, 48, 72, 96 or 120 hour access – although it doesn’t include entrance to any attractions. So if you’re maybe here for a weekend and might only see one or two attractions at most, this would be most cost effective.
Finally, there’s the Rejsekort, which simply translates to Travel Card in English. It’s the same as an Oyster card in London, or Suica card in Japan, or Hong Kong’s Octopus card, and so on. It’s a physical card you scan in as you enter/exit the stations that you top up with money. These can be purchased at any main train station, 7-Elevens, or online.
I always just recommend the DOT Tickets app to friends & family visiting Copenhagen – unless they want to see loads of attractions, then the Copenhagen Card is where it’s at.
Each ticket type will ask you which zones you require; if you are only going around the city/from the airport, zones 1-4 will have you covered. If you’re planning on going further afield within the Greater Copenhagen area (i.e. to visit Helsingor Castle, which is zone 8), go for the next one up beyond zone 4.
You can see a full run down of all the zones here: https://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/planning/zones
The Copenhagen Metro is extremely safe. While travelling alone (a woman), I’ve not once felt threatened or unsafe in anyway. There are always people about and 9 times out of 10 you’ll find an employee milling around on the station platforms. So don’t worry!
When checking routes and times and such, you can always use Google or, failing that, the RejsePlanen website can sometimes be a bit more accurate: https://www.rejseplanen.dk. You can switch the language up in the top right corner so everything’s available in English.
A Word of Warning: Beware of Fines!
I cannot talk about using Copenhagen’s public transport without warning the uninitiated about how the railway workers here LOVE to dish out fines any chance they get. I know, I know, you may be thinking, ‘that’s the case most places’. BUT, in my opinion, Denmark really takes the cake from ANY country I’ve visited on being overly enthusiastic in their fine issuing.
Once when my husband and I were visiting Copenhagen before we moved here, we’d been travelling around the city, buying tickets as we went at various stations (we didn’t yet have a travel card/Rejsekort). We’d been used to getting just one ticket that covered both of our fares from the main train station, as they were issued by DSB – the main train carrier here in Denmark.
However, one day we bought some tickets from a metro station machine. We quickly hopped on our train and soon were stopped by a ticket guard. No problem – we hand him our tickets. He then proceeds to issue us a fine because we’d only grabbed ONE ticket, as was common at all the other ticket machines, whereas the metro prints TWO that you must take with you. As our train was soon leaving and the printer was slow, we hadn’t even noticed (or expected) the second ticket. Boom – 750 DKK fine.
Another time, we were visiting for the holidays and were taking a cross-country train from Copenhagen central station. DSB were having loads of technical issues and were cancelling a bunch of trains – ours included. However we were instructed to just hop on the next train going to our destination. No problem.
But once we were seated on our replacement train, we got a very surly train guard who was THRILLED to discover we hadn’t booked onto that specific train – despite the fact our train’s cancellation was their fault and we’d been advised to get this next train. Didn’t matter. Another 750 DKK fine.
You can sense a theme here – even if you’re not in the wrong, even if it’s their fault or simply a slight oversight that’s easily explained, you will not be able to reason your way out of a fine. This isn’t to scare you – it’s just to warn you, as I wished someone had for me, because sometimes the system here doesn’t make sense.
It’s also worth noting, however, that you CAN appeal these fines. Both times we got given these bogus fines, our fines were eventually waived. But it is a pain in the ass to go through their appeals process if you don’t live here and especially if you don’t speak the language.
So. Here’s my word of warning! Just make sure you always have the correct fare, correct number of tickets, and so on. This is actually another argument for the mobile ticket app! You won’t have to worry about this happening.
Opening Hours: 24 hours (although departures are less frequent during the night)
Number of Lines: 4 – M1, M2, M3, and M4