Arriving in Denmark

There are quite a few ways to get to Denmark. There are the typical airplane and train methods, as well as a ferry or two, which isn't surprising for a country with so much shoreline. Most everyone arrives in Denmark through Copenhagen, so I'm focusing there, though it is possible to arrive through other ports of entry.

Flying

The Copenhagen Airport, Københavns Lufthavne, is a European hub and is the main hub airport in Scandinavia. It is located in Kastrup, on the island of Amager, just to the south of downtown Copenhagen. It is quite close to the city and has frequent, direct, and fast (15 minutes) connections into the city on both metro and train. There are three terminals which are all connected, so if you end up not where you need to be, you may have a little hike, but you can walk all the way through to the one you need. The metro and trains to the city (and Malmö, Sweden) are in terminal 3. My next post will dive into getting from the airport to the city center.

I've flown through this airport a lot in the last year and generally found it to be a good, smooth airport as airports go. Outgoing, the security lines are normally a 5 to 10 minute wait and outgoing border control goes quickly even if there is a large line (never taken me more than 5 minutes). The incoming border control is fast and efficient. There is no entry paperwork to fill out (at least for sure not for EU or North American flights), you just need your passport. Like every European airport I've been in, I've never been stopped for customs and there is no line up and individual stop, as there is in the US. Just walk out with your stuff. (For those who may not travel internationally a lot, border control or immigration is where you get your passport checked and is your first stop off the airplane. (If your flight originated in a Schengen Visa country, you won't go through this.) After you go through that, you collect your bags and then you pass through customs, which is concerned with you bringing stuff into the country that you shouldn't, or that you should pay taxes on.)

Trains

Copenhagen is also a good place to get to by train. Of course Europe has myriad tracks and the kind of train, how many trains and how long, depends on where you are coming from. Either way, you will end up passing through either Sweden if you come from Norway or Sweden, or Germany from any other location.

All of these trains will set you down at Copenhagen's Central train station, Københavns Hovedbanegård, which is often seen as just København H. The station is located where the city center (København K) and Vesterbro meet, right next door to Tivoli Gardens. Many accommodations are walking distance from the station, but be aware that the Metro does not run from here. If you need to take the Metro to your final destination, then you will need to catch a local commuter train (S-Tog) two stops up to Nørreport station, where you can transfer to the Metro. The S-Tog run very regularly so it isn't a big hassle, but something you should be aware of. Alternatively, you can just get off at the Kastrup airport station instead of going all the way in to the center. You can catch the Metro upstairs from the train tracks at the airport.

Trains from Germany
Germany has a great train system (the Deutsche Bahn) and you can get to Copenhagen from a number of major cities using the comfy City Night Line. The three lines that run to Copenhagen are:

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands via Cologne.
  • Basel, Switzerland via Frankfurt.
  • Innsbruck, Austria via Munich.

Trains from Sweden
If you are coming from or through Sweden, then you will be taking an SJ train, which is the Swedish rail. From Norway you can book through the Norwegian rail, NSB. No matter where you start, you will pass through Malmö, Sweden which is only 40 minutes away from Copenhagen across the Øresund strait.

Ferries

Copenhagen is also a major port (Københavns Havn) in the north and is a common stopover for cruise ships. There are a few ferries to Denmark from surrounding countries, although the only ones that go directly to Copenhagen are from Oslo, Norway with DFDS Seaways and from Świnoujście, Poland via Polferries.

The ferries arrive on the north side of Copenhagen in Østerbro so once you land, you will either need to walk about half a mile (1 km) to the Nordhavn train station and catch a train for a few stops in to the center, or get a cab.

Scandlines offers several ferries to Denmark, none of which actually go to Copenhagen. The Swedish ferry runs the shortest distance between the two countries, which is north of Copenhagen at Helsingør (from Helsingborg, Sweden), and then you'd need to take a train down to Copenhagen (about 45 minutes). From Germany, you would get dropped on the south coast of Sjælland (the island on which Copenhagen is located), very far from Copenhagen, so don't even bother.

Comments

The two major ferry routes to Germany (Rødby-Puttgarden and Gedser-Rostock) land on different islands than Sjælland (Lolland and Falster, respectively). Both are connected via train to Copenhagen, and there’s even a train route from Berlin that goes via Rødby-Puttgarden, so that might be an option for those coming from central/eastern Europe.