Getting there & away
If you’re from a non-visa holding country, then your passport must be valid for at least three months after you intend to leave Denmark. There are no countries for which a stamp in one’s passport would bar a visitor from entering Denmark.
Air fares can gouge anyone’s budget but you can reduce the cost by finding discounts. For long-term travel there are plenty of discount tickets valid for 12 months, allowing multiple stopovers with open dates. Short-term travellers can snag cheaper fares by travelling midweek, staying away at least one Saturday night or taking advantage of quickie promotional offers.
When you’re looking for bargain air fares, the internet offers a wealth of options from online booking agencies, travel agents and the airlines themselves. No-frills carriers operating in Europe sell direct to travellers and regularly undercut the major airlines.
Most airlines offer frequent-flyer deals that can earn you a free air ticket or other goodies. To qualify, you have to accumulate sufficient mileage with the same airline or airline alliance. Many airlines have ‘blackout periods’, or times when you cannot fly free of charge on your frequent-flyer points (Christmas and Chinese New Year, for example), and even if you accumulate enough mileage, airlines tend to allocate only a certain number of seats for free tickets. Also, frequent-flyer programmes tend to lock you into one group of airlines, and that group may not always have the cheapest fares or most convenient flight schedule.
Full-time students and people aged under 26 can get better deals than other travellers. This doesn’t always mean cheaper fares but can include more flexibility to change flights and/or routes. Generally travellers must present a document proving date of birth or a valid International Student Identity Card (ISIC) when buying a ticket or boarding a plane.
Airlines usually allow infants under two years of age to fly for free or 10% of the adult fare. For children between the ages of two and 12, the fare on international flights is usually 50% of the regular fare or 67% of a discounted fare.
Ferries can be a pleasant way to travel as the boats are generally of a high standard. Long-distance boats usually have lounges, nightclubs, duty-free shopping, cafeterias and formal restaurants. Many of the boats between Denmark and other Scandinavian countries have floating casinos and small grocery shops on board. If you take an overnight ferry, you can save on hotels.
Fares in this section are for one-way travel unless noted. Discounts are often available, including for return tickets, passengers in a car on board, rail passes or student card holders and seniors. Child fares are usually half of the adult fares. Car fares given in this section are for a standard car (generally up to 6m in length and 2m in height); enquire about packages that include passengers with car transport.
Fares on the same ships vary wildly, by the season and the day of the week. Highest prices tend to occur on summer weekends and the lowest on winter weekdays.
Particularly if you are bringing along a vehicle, you should always make reservations well in advance – this is doubly true in summer and on weekends.
Smiryl Lines (www.smyril-line.fo) serves the busy ports of Tórshavn and Seyðisfjörður on a circuitous, week-long route from the Danish port of Hanstholm. Check out the website for the latest schedules and fares.
Scandlines (www.scandlines.de) operates ferries between Puttgarden and Rødbyhavn (adult peak/off-peak €6/4, cars from €48, 45 minutes), Rostock and Gedser (passengers peak/off-peak €8/5, cars from €63, two hours), and Sassnitz and Rønne (passengers peak/off-peak €18/12, cars from €70, 3¾ hours).
Rømø-Sylt Linie (www.sylt-faehre.de) operates several ferries between Sylt and Rømø (passengers peak/off-peak €7.25/5.25, cars from €39, 45 minutes). Note, though, that this line’s website is only in Danish and German.
Color Line (www.colorline.com) connects Kristiansand and Oslo with Hirtshals (4½ and 6½ hours respectively) and Larvik with Frederikshavn (6¼ hours). Sailings take place daily for most of the year. Fares on all of Color Line’s routes between Norway and Denmark range from a high of €58 (weekends during summer) to a low of €24 (mid-week October to April). Costs per car and up to five passengers are between €100 and €250.
Stena Lines (Norway 02010; www.stenalines.co.uk) sails between Oslo and Frederikshavn (passengers from Nkr140, cars peak/off-peak Nkr490–590/990, 12 hours) daily in high season and daily except Monday in low season.
Polferries (www.polferries.com) offers 10½-hour trips between Świnoujście and Copenhagen about five times per week (passengers peak/off-peak 450/410kr, cars from 600/560kr). There are daytime and overnight ferries to choose from depending on the day of the week. Polferries also offers weekly service from Świnoujście to Rønne (passengers 250kr, cars 600kr).
Stena Lines (Sweden 96 200 200; www.stenaline.com) sails between Gothenburg and Frederikshavn (3¼ hours) and between Varberg and Grenaa (four hours). Fares for both of these services are passengers Skr150-220, cars Skr790-1400. Fares vary greatly according to time of year and day of the week (winter weekdays are lowest, summer weekends are highest). There’s also a less frequent high-speed ferry (passengers Skr190-270, cars Skr830-1600, two hours) between Gothenburg and Frederikshavn.
DFDS Seaways (08705 333 111; www.dfdsseaways.com) offers passenger and car ferries three times per week between Harwich and Esbjerg (adults from £117, cars from £68). The journey takes about 18 hours.
Hitching is never entirely safe anywhere in the world and we don’t recommend it. Travellers who decide to hitch should understand that they are taking a small but potentially serious risk.
At any rate, hitching is not a common practice in Denmark and generally not a very rewarding one. It’s also illegal on motorways.
The car fares on the Harwich–Esbjerg ferry include passengers, so you can hitch to the Continent for nothing at no cost to the driver.
Looking for a ride out of the country? Try the notice boards at universities, public libraries and youth hostels. Bugride (www.europe.bugride.com) is a good meeting place for European drivers and those who are driven. Also worth a try is Car Pool (www.car-pool.co.uk).
The only land crossing is with Germany, although the bridge over the Øresund from Sweden functions similarly. Traffic flows freely among EU countries so border posts are largely a thing of the past. Customs officials still make spot checks, however, of vehicles that draw their attention.
You can carry your bicycle into Denmark aboard boat, plane or train. Ferries into Denmark are all well equipped for passengers with bicycles, usually for a nominal fee.
Bicycles can also travel by air, taken apart and put in a bike bag or box, but it’s much easier simply to wheel your bike to the check-in desk, where it should be treated as a piece of baggage. You may have to remove the pedals and turn the handlebars sideways so that it takes up less space in the aircraft’s hold; check with the airline well in advance, preferably before you pay for your ticket.
On regular trains, bike space varies and at busy times you may have to wait for a train with room for your bike.
The most extensive European bus network is maintained by Eurolines (33 88 70 00; www.eurolines.com) a consortium of coach operators.
There’s a 10% discount for passengers aged 12 to 26. Children aged four to 11 pay 50% of the adult fare and those three and under pay 20%. Return fares for all age groups are about 15% less than two one-way fares. Advance reservations are advised.
Gullivers Reisen (030-31 10 21 10, outside Germany 00800-45 5548 37; www.gullivers.de) links Berlin to Århus (single/return €58/100, 8¾ hours, five times weekly) with stops in Kolding and Vejle en route.
Two ambitious, relatively new bridge-tunnels link Copenhagen with Germany and Sweden: the 18km Storebælts-forbindelsen (the Store Bælt Bridge) connects Zealand with the Jutland peninsula and Germany, and the 16km Øresundsforbindelsen (Øresund Fixed Link) joins Copenhagen with Malmö, Sweden, via the E20 motorway. These bridges each charge tolls for cars of 245kr. There are no other toll roads in Denmark.
Car ferries are still the most efficient way to arrive from Norway and the UK.
The Danish state railway, Danske Statsbaner (DSB; 70 13 14 15; www.dsb.dk) can provide schedule and fare information.
All Eurail, Inter-Rail and Scanrail tickets are valid on the DSB. That said, it’s hard to get your money’s worth on a rail pass if you’re travelling solely in tiny Denmark, although a pass may make sense if you’re visiting other countries as well. There’s a dizzying variety of passes, depending on where you reside full time and where you’re travelling. For comparison purposes, standard 2nd-class train fares from Copenhagen are 574kr to Oslo or 1085kr to Frankfurt.
There are several train pass options for people living outside Scandinavia. You’ll need to show your passport. Categories for age groups vary, but are generally up to 12 years, 12 to 25, 25 to 59, 60 and over.
Scanrail (www.scanrail.com) passes cover travel in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland and must be purchased before arrival in Scandinavia. For youth/adults they cost from €165/€238 for five days travel within a two month period and up to €258/€370 for 21 days travel during the same period.
The Scanrail pass also includes free or discounted travel on international boats travelling between Denmark and its neighbours.
Inter-Rail (www.interrailnet.com) passes are generally good for people who can show they’ve lived in Europe for at least six months. Passes for Denmark are only eligible for EU and Danish residents however, and cost from €69 for three days unlimited travel within one month up to €139 for eight days travel.
Outside Europe the Eurailpass is heavily marketed. A range of different passes offer a menu of destinations from a single European country to 18 of them. Unlimited rail travel round Denmark for seven days over one month for youth/adults costs US$95/125 or US$55/79 for three days unlimited travel over a month. The full 15-day pass, good for 18 countries, costs US$439 for youths in 2nd class. Adults pay US$569, but only for 1st-class travel with at least one other adult (who pays the same price). You can buy these at travel agents or via Europe Rail (www.eurail.com).
If you’re arriving by air, there are no forms to fill out in advance as long as you’re from a country that does not require a visa. If you’re from a country that does require a visa, immigration officials may give you marginally more scrutiny.
The vast majority of overseas flights into Denmark land at Copenhagen International Airport (code CPH; 32 31 32 31; www.cph.dk). One of Europe’s most important hubs, this up-to-date airport is conveniently located in Kastrup, about 9km southeast of central Copenhagen, just a 12-minute train ride south of the city centre. It has good eating, retail and information facilities, plus left luggage and banking options. Note that this is a ‘silent’ airport and there are no boarding calls, although there are numerous monitor screens.
A growing number of international flights, mostly those coming from other Scandinavian countries or the UK, land at smaller regional airports in Århus (code AAR; 87 75 70 00; www.aar.dk), Aalborg (code AAL; 98 17 11 44; www.aal.dk), Esbjerg (code EBJ; 76 12 14 00; www.esbjerg-lufthavn.dk) and Billund (code BLL; 76 50 50 50; www.billund-airport.dk).
Denmark’s (and Norway’s and Sweden’s) flag carrier, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), has the most services to Denmark. SAS has an admirable safety record, with only one fatal crash since 1970 despite being one of the busiest airlines in Europe.
Here is contact information for the major airlines serving Danish airports. More than 60 airlines serve Copenhagen; the airport websites have up-to-date information on all the carriers. All airline offices are in Copenhagen proper (clustered near the Central Train Station) unless otherwise indicated:
Finnair (code AY; 33 36 45 45; www.finnair.com; Nyropsgade 47)
Iberia (code IB; 33 12 22 22; www.iberia.com; Jernbanegade 4)
Icelandair (code FI; 33 70 22 00; www.icelandair.com; Frederiksberggade 23)
Lufthansa Airlines (code LH; 70 10 20 00; www.lufthansa.com; Hammerichsgade 1)
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS; code SK; 70 10 20 00; www.sas.dk; Hammerichsgade 1)
It’s a good idea to shop around as there are often some good deals on offer. From Bangkok, return fares to Copenhagen are around US$1000. Return fares from Singapore start at US$850, from Hong Kong expect to pay around US$1250 and US$1100 from Tokyo for a return fare.
Flights from Australia to Copenhagen generally touch down at one of the Southeast Asian capitals such as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Singapore, and occasionally another European city. Expect to pay in the vicinity of A$1700 for a return fare in low season, but shop around as there are often good deals on offer.
Quite a few travel offices specialise in discount air tickets. Some travel agents, particularly smaller operators, advertise a range of cheap air fares in the travel sections of the major weekend newspapers, such as The Age in Melbourne and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Fares vary from C$450 in winter to C$850 in summer.
Canadian discount air ticket sellers are also known as consolidators. The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Montreal Gazette and the Vancouver Sun carry travel agents’ ads and are good places to look for cheap air fares.
Copenhagen is well connected to almost all other European cities with airports. SAS, Cimber Air and the major airlines of each country all serve each other. You should be able to find return fares from the major hub airports such as Frankfurt, Paris and Madrid for €75 to €175, in some cases even less.
Generally, there is not much variation in air-fare prices for departures from the main European cities. All the major airlines are usually offering some sort of deal, and travel agents generally have a number of deals on offer, so shop around.
France has a network of student travel agencies that can supply discount tickets to travellers of all ages. Wasteels (01 558 23 233; www.wasteels.fr in French) has 27 offices around the country. General travel agencies in Paris that offer some of the best services and deals include Nouvelles Frontières (0825 000 747; www.nouvelles-frontieres.fr) and Voyageurs du Monde (01 42 86 16 00; www.vdm.com in French).
Reaching Copenhagen from Auckland means you have a choice of transiting though Los Angeles or via a Southeast Asian city, and usually one other European city. Low season return fares start from around US$2199.
British Airways, BMI and SAS fly to Denmark from the UK. Budget airlines easyJet and Ryanair do too, and have made big inroads into business of the mainstream carriers. Watch for special fares that can be as low as UK£1 for a single, although €40 to €60 is more likely in peak periods.
Known as bucket shops in the UK, discount air travel is big business and advertisements for many travel agents appear in the travel pages of the weekend broadsheets, such as the Independent on Saturday and the Sunday Times. Also look out for the free magazines such as TNT.
Popular travel agencies include STA Travel (0871-2300 040, 0845 050 5945; www.statravel.co.uk), with offices throughout the UK. It sells tickets to all travellers but caters especially to young people and students. Another recommended British agency is Trailfinders (020-7938 3939; www.trailfinders.com).
Discount travel agents in the USA are known as consolidators (although you probably won’t see a sign on the door saying ‘Consolidator’). The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the San Francisco Chronicle all produce Sunday travel sections in which you will find consolidators’ ads.