If you’re considering a trip to Copenhagen, one of the things you will likely encounter in your research is the Copenhagen Card. Even if you’ve only spent five minutes on TripAdvisor or a quick glance at Denmark’s official tourist site you will likely have come across a mention of these but what do they cover? How do they work? And most importantly, is a Copenhagen Card worth it?
What is a Copenhagen Card?
Similar to many cities around the world, Denmark’s capital has opted to combine attraction tickets and offer a tourist pass. The card covers 79 attractions across Copenhagen and unlike some other city passes, the card extends outwith the city centre, covering attractions in greater metropolitan area.
Also included in the price is unlimited public transport in the whole of the city area from Zones 1- 99 which also encompasses the airport routes. As well as the “free” attractions, there are also discounts for additional tours, bike hire and some eateries as well.
Copenhagen Cards can be bought in several time increments starting at 24 hours up to a maximum of 120 hours and are available in adult and child version while children under 10 can travel on a parents card.
Copenhagen Card App
As well as your card you can download the Copenhagen Card App onto your phone which gives you with all the information about attractions, their opening times and the nearest public transport stops. You can favourite locations to help plan your visit or simply use the map to see what is nearby. Plus, the whole thing can be used offline. The Copenhagen Card App also has public transport maps and, if you don’t mind using data, it allows you to connect with google to find out the next bus or train to your chosen location. At present you still need to have a physical card but it looks like you might soon be able to simply use a QR code on the app instead.
Where to buy a Copenhagen Card and how much?
To purchase the card you can either order online before you arrive or buy a card in person once in Copenhagen. If you opt to purchase beforehand you can have the card posted out to your home address for a small fee but you’ll need to ensure sufficient time for it to arrive. The card’s official website actually suggests delivery can take up to six weeks so you’ll need to plan ahead. If you’re buying online you can also purchase the card in a number of different currencies.
If you don’t want to risk a late arrival or a card getting lost in the post the best option is to pick it up at one of the four collection points in Copenhagen. Just take along your emailed voucher and swap it for your cards. We chose to buy online and collect at Copenhagen Airport.
As of Feb 2018 Cards start at £47 | 389 DKK | €53 for an adult 24 hour card up to a maximum of £107 | 889 DKK | €120 for the 120 hour option.
One of the benefits of the Copenhagen Card is that one adult can take up to two children up to the age of nine on their card and older children under 16 only require a child card which is roughly half the adult price. There are not currently any group or student discount options.
How to use the Copenhagen Card
Once you’ve got your physical card you will need to activate it before its first use. All you need to do is write the start date and time on the back. So, if you don’t plan to use your card right away you can delay the start time on the back until you’re ready to go to make sure you get the best value out of your card. Remember that the cards work on hours and not calendar days so if you fill in your card at 14.00 on the 5th of the month it will be valid until 13.59 on the 6th it will not end at midnight on the 5th.
While you will receive a booklet and map along with your card, we found the best option was to download the Copenhagen Card App to use in conjunction with your card to help you plan you visit.
How to use the Copenhagen Card to visit attractions
Once dated, your card is good to go but you will need to hand it over at most attractions. Ticket desks will scan your card and generally issue you with an attraction ticket for entry.
Things NOT to do include trying to gain entry without an attraction specific ticket or trying to scan your card QR code on an entrance barrier. These are not chip-embedded cards and cannot be read by every venue so make sure to head to a ticket desk or reception before heading into your chosen activity. We saw a few people utterly confused why they couldn’t get through turnstiles – save the awkward interaction with a security guard and just ask first.
Another common mistake made with the Copenhagen Card is entering the wrong queue. Sadly, the Copenhagen Card is not a queue skip or fast track ticket so don’t enter these queues. During peak season there may be a dedicated line for card holders so look out for signs at the entrance or listen for stewards and staff instructing where you should go.
How to use the Copenhagen Card on public transport
This one had us a little confused at first and took three different staff members for us to understand how to use our cards but lucky for you we can share this knowledge. We watched locals and visitors alike purchase tickets for the trains and metros at the airport and then even more swipe cards on terminals on the platforms which thoroughly confused us. The last thing we wanted to do was end up as fair dodgers because we had simply misunderstood but it turns out you, mainly, do nothing.
Yep, unlike attractions you do NOT need to receive a ticket from an outlet to travel on the public transport. While commuters may swipe cards before getting on the trains or at the front of a bus you do not need to do this with your Copenhagen Card. Keep your card handy on trains or metro lines and if a ticket inspector asks simply show them the card. On buses show your card to the driver when you get on and you’re sorted. Unfortunately, we did not get a public transport ferry during out stay in Copenhagen but I can only assume this would be the same process where you will simply show the card to a staff member if requested.
Is a Copenhagen Card worth it?
For our three day stay in Copenhagen? – absolutely YES. And here’s a couple of reasons why….
The ease of having the card was a big bonus for us. If you’re a nervous traveller or simply not a fan of interactions this card is great for not having to deal with multiple systems and payments. It also instantly identifies you as a tourist which can often make people more friendly towards you and offer help.
The inclusion all public transport in the Greater Copenhagen area makes the card fantastic value for anyone planning trips out to any of less central attractions. Similarly, if you’re not up for a lot of walking or, like us, just want to pack as much into a short space of time then unlimited public transport really helps you squeeze more into a day. The ability to pick up your card on arrival at the airport and the addition of airport transport, which is not typically included in such cards, means you are saving from arrival to departure too! As we travelled during the winter months the freedom and flexibility to jump on public transport rather than walk in the cold, wet weather was also a fantastic option.
And of course the big one, in terms of cost we saved around £210 | €236 | 1758 DKK by using the Copenhagen Card! That is a massive chunk of money and we certainly wouldn’t have departed with that much on our short visit. One of the great things about the Copenhagen Card website is that you can favourite all the attractions you plan to visit and how long your visit and it will let you know how much you could save before you buy. This way you can see before you even purchase if this is the card for you.
With lots of family friendly attractions including the zoo, aquarium and local science centre we think these card would be a pretty good option for family excursions as well. As children under the age of nine can use a parent’s, this card it seems excellent value for family groups.
Another plus that we found in the terms and conditions is that even if you do manage to lose your card, you can get a free replacement during you stay as long as you purchase direct and not from a third party which certainly adds peace of mind to anyone prone to setting things down and wandering away!
Any down sides to the Copenhagen Card?
Like all tourist destinations, opening hours will vary between peak and off-peak seasons and so while there are many attractions included in the cards, you will need to double check if your planned attractions will be open during your stay. Many places will have reduced opening hours in winter and so you’ll need some extra research time to figure out how much you can fit in and if the card is worth it for you. Lots of attractions are also closed on Sundays and Mondays so this is something to take into account both when planning your trip but also for how many days to buy Copenhagen Card for. That said, our visit was in winter and included a Monday and while we needed a little more planning to compensate for lots of attractions that were only open 11 am – 3 pm and shut on Mondays but we still managed to visit 9 attractions in three days so it was still worth it for us.
Another thing to watch out for is specifics of what is included. One of the questions that kept cropping up when we were doing our research was “Is Tivoli included in the Copenhagen Card?”. This is because Tivoli is one of the big attractions advertised on the card but the card overs only the entrance to the amusement park and not the rides. Many people feel a little put out by this but there are lots of attractions to the park itself and so lots of visitors do enjoy exploring the gardens. If you do wish to go on the roller coasters and other rides you need to pay for them separately or purchase an unlimited day ticket direct from Tivoli Amusement Park. As mentioned before, the card is not a fast track ticket.
One downside that others have noted on forum sites such as TripAdvisor is that while the Copenhagen Canal Tour is included in the card, Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour busses are not. While this would certainly help get more direct transport to the must-see sites of Copenhagen, we found the public transport options were generally pretty good and where we had to walk a little, this gave us more of a chance to see the pretty streets of the city.
One of the big things to do in Copenhagen is hire a bike and cycle from place to place as the locals do. There are a plethora of bicycle hire places and a lot of accommodation options have their own facilities too. If you’re planning on getting around by bike it might be worth calculating the cost of bike hire and individual attractions yourself as the card may not be for you if you’re not going to use the unlimited transport.
Would we recommend the Copenhagen Card?
100%. Even considering some of the downsides, we found the card completely worth it and would certainly look into using it again on a return visit to see the attractions that we missed out on the first time.
It also looks like the tourist board are currently considering plans to extend the card to cover the whole of the Zealand area and possibly include an option for travel to Malmo, Sweden which would be an exciting addition should it come into play. At present cards will only cover the Greater Copenhagen area.
Have you ever used a tourist card to explore a city? Did you find it worth the cost?
We bought our Copenhagen Cards out of our own pockets but would highly recommend them to any traveller heading to Copenhagen.
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