A First Timer’s Guide to Copenhagen

First timer's guide to Copenhagen - Travel for a Living

Having recently come back from a weekend in Copenhagen, it seemed the perfect opportunity to answer some of the most common questions a first timer might have about Copenhagen. So basically, all the questions I had ahead of our first visit to Copenhagen. 

If you are looking for inspiration of what to see and do during your stay, I’m afraid this is the wrong post. But I’ve got you covered with the rundown of our weekend in Copenhagen

In this first timer’s guide to Copenhagen, I’ll do my best to answer the following questions: 

How to get from the airport to Copenhagen? 

Which ticket should I get for my trip to Copenhagen? 

Is the Copenhagen card worth buying? 

Best way to pay in Copenhagen?

Is Copenhagen expensive? 

Can I get around Copenhagen, if I don’t speak Danish? 

Is Copenhagen easily walkable? 

Is Copenhagen safe for solo female travellers? 

How to get from the airport to Copenhagen?

Important question for any first timer in Copenhagen and definitely one of the first things I check whenever I go somewhere.

The quickest and easiest way to get from the airport into Copenhagen is by Metro. The station is a short walk and clearly signposted, as soon as you exit the secured area at the airport. The M2 metro will take you directly into Copenhagen and it only takes 15 minutes to get to Kongens Nytorv (King’s New Square). 

Obviously, there are other options available, like busses or cabs. But they all seemed to take longer and/or are more expensive. So, taking the Metro into town was a no brainer for us first timers in Copenhagen. 

A single adult ticket from the airport to Copenhagen costs 36DKK (just under 5 EUR). 

Which ticket should I get for my trip to Copenhagen? 

Personally, as a first timer visiting Copenhagen (or any major city), I generally rely on public transport. And therefore, tend to go for a day pass if available. 

But which ticket is best for your trip to Copenhagen probably depends how much public transport you will use. If you will walk a lot or use a bike, then you might be best advised to buy individual tickets. 

For our weekend in Copenhagen, we opted for the 48-hour city pass. Which gave us unlimited travel for 48 hours (hence the name) on the Metro, trains and busses. From what I could see, it would have also included the harbour busses (water taxis), but we didn’t get round to using those. Well actually, we didn’t use any busses either. Only the Metro.

For the 48-hour city pass we paid 150DKK each (around 18 GBP / 21 Euros). 

Individual tickets within Copenhagen would have cost us 24DKK per trip, the journey to and from the airport 36DKK each way. So, if we used the Metro more than five times during the 48 hours (plus the airport transfer), getting the city pass would be cheaper. And I think we might have just about managed that. 

The city pass covering zone 1-4 (which includes all of Copenhagen and the airport) is available as a 24 / 48 / 72 / 96- and 120-hour ticket. Prices start at 80 DKK for the 24-hour pass and go up to 300DKK for 120 hours. 

It is important to note, that the pass is valid for the exact time, not calendar days. Hence, if you buy a pass on Friday afternoon, it is valid until Sunday afternoon, not just Friday and Saturday. Which is why it worked out well for us, getting a 48-hour pass. Even though we were in Copenhagen for 3 days. 

If you are planning trips further afield, you can extend your city pass to more zones. 

Where do I buy a ticket for Copenhagen? 

We went old school and bought a paper ticket at the airport (plenty of vending machines around). However, you can easily download the DOT Ticket app onto your phone and buy your city pass (or individual tickets) there. 

As you travel around Copenhagen, you don’t need to scan or show your tickets when entering and exiting stations, you only need to have it with you. So having it on your phone can be very convenient (after all, we store everything else on our phone these days). I remember we had the same when visiting San Francisco a few years back, where we just bought and activated our ticket in the travel app. And it was so easy and convenient. No rummaging around in your bag trying to find your paper ticket. 

For Copenhagen, the price is the same, whether you purchase a paper ticket or use the app. 

We could also see locals scan some sort of digital card at stations, but for first timers in Copenhagen, it is probably easiest to just stick to the normal city pass. 

Is the Copenhagen card worth buying as a first timer in Copenhagen? 

Whenever I check first timers guides to any city, it always recommends buying a city card. Be it London, Paris or Copenhagen. And I always get the suspicion that the only reason everyone recommends the card is because they have affiliate links and make some money off them (sorry, this sounds like a nasty backstab to fellow bloggers and I don’t mean it like that. I am glad others make some money off their blog… unlike me). 

Whether or not the Copenhagen card is worth it for you, depends how many attractions you want to visit. As the Copenhagen card doesn’t come cheap, you really need to make the most of it. 

A 24-hour Copenhagen card costs 439DKK, the 48-hour one 649DKK. Per adult. Meaning for our Copenhagen weekend, we would have needed to visit 499DKK worth of attractions in the 48 hours, for it to be cheaper than buying a city pass and paying individually for entrance fees. 

Since the only entrance fee we paid was for Tivoli (which was 170DKK), it would have been more costly to buy the Copenhagen card. And the Copenhagen card doesn’t include the unlimited rides at Tivoli. Those would still need to be paid extra, if you wanted to have them. 

I guess, if you want to visit all museums and castles as well (and are happy to cram it all into a tight schedule), you can save money with a city card. But that just doesn’t suit my way of travelling. 

First timer's guide to Copenhagen - Travel for a Living

Best way to pay as a first timer in Copenhagen?

Denmark is not part of the Euro zone, instead their currency is Danish Krone (DKK). 100 Krone is approx. 13.50 Euro / 11.65 GBP. 

Does that mean you’ll have to change currency as a first timer in Copenhagen? Or can you pay in Euros? 

No, unfortunately you can’t pay in Euros. But you can easily pay by credit card / contactless payment card. We did not change money for our weekend in Copenhagen and it wasn’t a problem. Everywhere we went, card payments were accepted, even at the Christmas markets. Some restaurants and coffee shops even had signs up, notifying customers that they were a cashless facility. 

The only time we actually saw cash during our weekend, was us returning our cup at Tivoli and receiving a 5 Krone deposit back. But that really was the only time. And the coin we kept as a little souvenir. 

My advice for a first timer in Copenhagen would be, to ensure you have a card that you can use abroad without hefty transaction fees. And not to worry about handling cash. 

Is Copenhagen expensive? 

Short answer is yes, I am afraid. Even as someone who is used to London prices, I found Copenhagen to be a tad pricy. I mean, most weekend city trips tend to be expensive, as you try and do a lot of things in a short time and eat out two or three times a day (not even counting the additional coffee breaks). But especially food and drink seemed rather high priced in Copenhagen.

To help you budget as a first timer visiting Copenhagen, let me give you a brief rundown of our expenses:

We paid 350 Euros for our hotel (a central 3-star hotel) for two nights, including breakfast. 

Coffees around town cost somewhere in the region of 45-60 DKK (6-8 Euros) each.

Dinner the first evening was around 110 Euros for the two of us. And that didn’t even include any alcohol. Or starters.  All we had were two soft drinks, two mains and a shared dessert.

Two smørebrød with soft drinks cost around 35 Euros.

For a mulled cider at Tivoli’s Christmas market, we paid 7 EUR.

So overall, we spent quite a bit of money in the 3 days we were in Copenhagen. Definitely something to budget for, as a first timer in Copenhagen. 

Can I get around Copenhagen, if I don’t speak Danish? 

Yes, we had no issues getting around with just English. As seems to be the case with all Nordic countries, the Danes speak good English and are happy to help you, even if you don’t speak their language. 

First Timer in Copenhagen: Is Copenhagen easily walkable? 

Fortunately, Copenhagen is relatively flat. Meaning it is easy to walk, even if you have some mobility issues.

Another big bonus is the fact that the entire Metro system is accessible. There are lifts from street level down to the platforms, making it super easy to use the Metro, without walking for miles and taking endless stairs (definitely a big bonus compared to London).

Is Copenhagen safe for solo female travellers? 

Obviously, I can only share my own experience here. But I definitely felt safe when out and about in Copenhagen. So, I can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t go on a solo trip to Copenhagen as a female traveller. 

OK, here you have it. My two pence worth of advice for a first timer travelling to Copenhagen. Do you have any further questions? Anything I forgot? 

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  1. Aivar Paidla

    Thanks a lot for your useful tips and tricks on Copenhagen! I am going there next weekend. Just one small question. If 24h transportation ticket costs 80DKK and you’ve bought 48h ticket for 200DKK, wouldn’t it be wiser to buy 2x24h tickets for 2x80DKK?

    • Travel for a living

      Good point. Went back and checked. And I have to apologise, the 200DKK was a mistake. We paid 150DKK each for the 48hour ticket, therefore making it cheaper than 2x24h tickets.
      Enjoy your trip to Copenhagen. And glad to hear you found my post useful.