A First Timer's Guide to Cycling Around Copenhagen

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Handy tips on how to cycle around the Danish capital

Getting around the hustle and bustle of Copenhagen can be underestimated. With streets packed full of tourists making their way to the next museum and local commuters stressing about making it on time to their next meeting, it can be difficult to get out your big map or order a taxi right to your feet.  Which is why in a city that has more bikes than cars, cycling is the favoured way of getting around the Danish capital. Locals do it, tourists do it, everyone does it. In fact, there is no city in the world that loves cycling more. Copenhagen actually ranks no1 as the most cycle-friendly city in the world, just beating Amsterdam.

According to the 2015 Copenhagenize Index, the city continues to invest heavily in its bike infrastructure, especially in bike-only bridges, so we've written a guide for first timers on how to cycle around the city.

Check out the Top 10 Things to Do in Copenhagen

Hop on a bike

Do like the locals and rent a bike or hop on an abandoned one, follow our tried out tips to get around Copenhagen the authentic way (on two wheels)...

So where to get a bike?

The city is full of bike rentals and bike tours. Just look out for racks in traffic-heavy areas and near main sites and attractions.

A common, very handy way of getting around is on bicycles from the company ‘Bycyklen’. To hire these electric bikes all you have to do is enter in a few details onto the touchscreen between the handlebars (inc your card details) then you can cycle off and explore the city at your own pace. It's a pay as you go system Very smart technology. There are over 100 Bycyklen stations spread across the city and you can return your bike to any of these stations. Payment will happen automatically with the payment card you have attached to your user account.

So how much do they cost?

There is an hourly rate of DKK 30 per commenced hour, which is equivalent to about £3.68 in pounds, €4 or $4.75

Rent a bike from the hostel

If you're staying at our award-winning Copenhagen Downtown hostel, you can rent a bike from there. Located in the beautiful Old Town, Bike hire is 80 DKK per person per day for 12 hours (which is great and works out cheaper than the option above). Bikes can be ordered at the hostels' 24 hour reception, just talk to Martina or Isabella. For groups over 20, be sure to book your bike rental 7 days before your stay in summer, 14 days before in winter.

Bikes

Other options

If you see an abandoned bike don’t be scared to wheel it to the local bike shop, get some free air in the tires and cycle off. Although you may feel a bit wary of doing this, the local police officers agree that as long as the bike clearly has no owner coming back for it, then they don’t see why it isn’t free for you to take.

There are tonnes of different places to rent a bike in Copenhagen. They vary from bike cafes, guided tours, and do it yourself. There are more quirky places that allow you to hire trendy designer bikes if you want to experience the city in style.  There are guided tours that take you to the main attractions of the city, but there are also tours that have the focus of taking you around the urban areas that the locals like to hang out and the cool architecture of the city. One of these urban tours takes place close to our sister hostel in the downtown part of the city.

Top Cycling Tips

Cycling around Copenhagen is the best way to explore the city (if you stay safe and do as we say)...

1) Use hand signals

Hand signals

To avoid collisions and to let other drivers and cyclists on the road know exactly where you’re going.

It’s important to know some of the most basic hand signals you’ll need. To indicate a right turn stick your right hand straight out. The same goes for when you want to turn left (the same signals with the left hand instead of the right hand).

If you want to stop you need to indicate it by raising your hand in a stopping gesture, if you suddenly stop and forget to use this hand signal, you will most likely get told off by the Danish!

2) When turning left...

Turn left

Always remember, you’re not allowed to take a direct turn left! So if you want to turn left, you need to cross to the opposite corner first and then wait for the traffic light to turn green before continuing your journey.

3) Speaking of traffic lights...

Traffic lights

At larger junctions, there are separate traffic lights for cars and bikes. You can tell them apart due to the fact that the traffic lights for bikes are slightly smaller than the regular ones and have a bike signal at the top. It’s important to pay attention to them because they don’t always change colour at the same time as the traffic lights for the cars.

4) Stay on cycle paths 

Due to cycling being such a dominating feature of daily life in Copenhagen there are many aspects of the city designed favourably for cyclists, such as the well-designed system of cycling tracks. It is important to try and stick to the paths and routes designated for cyclists otherwise chaos may occur and you could become a bit unpopular.

Cycle lane

5) Keep to the right

Keep right

In Copenhagen you always cycle on the right side, this makes it easier for you to keep out of the way of cars. Being a city that has more bikes than cars, it also makes it easier for other bikers to overtake you if they are cycling faster than you.

If you’re the one overtaking always check behind you (on your left side) to make sure you’re free to go and avoid any accidents!

6) Lights on bikes

Bike lights

If you’re using your bike after dark, it’s mandatory to have lights on the front and rear end of the bike. However, if you’re renting out a bike most of them are equipped with lights but it’s always a good idea to ask just to be sure.

7) One person per bike, unless...

Kid on bike

It’s illegal to transport another passenger on a bike with only one seat unless it’s a bike with a child seat or bicycle trailer.

8) Don't overtake buses at bus stops

Overtaking buses

DON’T DO IT. If a bus stops, you have to stop too. You cannot overtake a bus at a bus stop because pedestrians might be getting off the bus and crossing over the bike lane - and you don’t want to knock over a pedestrian.

9) Lock your bike!

As mentioned earlier, in Copenhagen, if you see an abandoned bike you are free to take it. This means that if you don’t lock up your bike when you’ve finished using it, you could end up looking for a new one in the morning...

Lock your bike

10) You can take your rental bike onto most transportation

Bikes on train

Bikes on busses:

You can take one bike per person onto a bus, however to do this you must have a bike ticket (costing DKK 13) which must be bought at the train or metro station as they aren’t sold on the  bus. There’s also a limit to two bikes per bus.

Bikes on s-trains:

You can take your bike for free on these. However it’s not permitted for you to take your bike on or off the train at Norreport station during rush hour (Monday - Friday 7:00-8:30 and 15:30-17:00).

Bikes on the metro:

As long as you purchase a bike ticket (costing DKK 13) you can take your bike on the metro during normal hours. During rush hour (Monday - Friday 7:00-8:30 and 15:30-17:00) you are not permitted to travel with your bike on the metro.

11) Make space for yourself

Make space

It’s permitted for you to cycle side by side, however you must allow space for other cyclists to pass. Be sure to not get too close to walkers or vehicles, stick to the cycle route.

12) Sign yourself up to a fun bike tour of the city

bike tour

Not sure which areas to explore? There are so many different cycle tours to choose from that will take you through the main sites. We recommend:

Copenhagen Bicycles

They offer a guided bike tour around Copenhagen to the major sights. They are also partnered with a long list of hotels (found on the website) and if you are staying in any of them you are able to rent the bike directly from the hotel and join a tour for free.

Kobenhavns Cykelbors

This company offers a different type of tour. Each bike is fitted with a GPS so that you can discover the city at your own pace.

Rentyourbikehere.dk

This company offers you 3 different tours so you are able to choose where you want to visit.

beCopenhagen

Operating in downtown Copenhagen, this company offers guided tours with the focus on present day urban life.

Check out the Top 10 Things to Do in Copenhagen

And that's that. Hope you found our guide to cycling around Copenhagen useful. Stay safe on the roads!

Bike

Need a bed in Copenhagen? Check out our lively Downtown hostel located right by City Hall Square and the parliament.

Article by Molly Bish, Shereen Sagoo and Katie Nichols

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