Copenhagen by bike – touring Denmark’s capital on two wheels

Copenhagen bikes - Copenhagen bike rental and city tour

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Nothing says Copenhagen quite like the breezy way its citizens glide through her streets on their bikes. The city embodies bike culture and is frequently named the best city for cycling in the world.

So why not join in the fun and tour Copenhagen on two wheels. You can ride the city, see the sights and experience Danish culture all at the same time. Fantastisk! “That’s Danish for fantastic” – as my Copenhagener friend Erin would say. All you need to do is rent a bike.

Bike culture in Copenhagen

Copenhagen bike culture

Denmark always appears at the top of the world’s happiest countries lists as well as among the leaders in cycling culture. This is probably not a coincidence if you ask me. I find driving stress pretty intolerable.

The people of Copenhagen love to cycle with over 50% of the population commuting to work, school or university by bike. Everyone does it, even the Crown Princess!

In Copenhagen, there are over 450 kilometres of bike paths, many of which are slightly raised and clearly marked. This ensures a feeling of safety as you pedal the city’s roads.

Last but not least, the terrain is flat making the conditions ideal for a leisurely cycle for all types of riders including families.

Highlights of Copenhagen: A self-guided bike tour

Bikes of Copenhagen

I’ve created a little tour to show you the highlights of Copenhagen. At 10.5km and on flat terrain I rate this tour as easy as it could also be done on foot. We hired bikes and rode around Copenhagen as a family, and it was such an enjoyable ride.

Here is a map of my suggested tour of Copenhagen stopping at most of the highlights. Clicking on the map will take you straight to Google Maps where you can add to your smartphone or print if you are old school – including all the streets and turns. The details of the stops are below.

You could start at any point along the map as it is a circuit. I think beginning at Nørreport station is a good idea as you can easily pick up bikes there and have a coffee and breakfast at Torvehallerne market before heading on your way.

We liked the porridge with extras at Grød which is open from 7.30am on weekdays and 9.00am on weekends.

Grod Torvehallerne Copenhagen

From Nørrebro station, head northeast along Øster Voldgade past the Botanic Gardens and Rosenborg Castle and follow the route until you reach Langelinie, home to Copenhagen’s most famous citizen – The Little Mermaid.

The Little Mermaid

Little Mermaid Copenhagen - first stop on a Copenhagen bike tour

The statue of the Little Mermaid was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of the same name written in 1837. She is a tiny little thing who looks shyly at the water as hundreds of tourists try to snap a selfie. Many people are disappointed with how small the statue is but she is an iconic symbol of the city and one you would regret missing.

Nearby: Kastellet – a 17th-century star-shaped fortress with lovely grounds and a windmill

It’s a very short ride past Kastellet and its moat to your next stop.

Gefionspringvandet and St Albans Church

St Albans Church Copenhagen

You can’t miss the magnificent Gefionspringvandet fountain featuring the Norse goddess Gefjon designed by Danish artist Anders Bundgaard. The fountain sits next to St Albans Church, also known as the English Church as it was built to serve the English population of the city.

Nearby: peaceful Churchill Park renamed in 1965 to commemorate Winston Churchill and British assistance in the liberation of Denmark during World War II.

Back on your bike again for another short ride down Amaliegade to Amalienborg Palace

Amalienborg Palace

Amalienborg Palace

Home of Queen Margrethe II, Amalienborg Slot or Palace was built around a central square where you can see magnificent views of the harbour and nearby Frederiks Kirke with its distinctive domed roof.

I love that the palace, just by virtue of its design, is so accessible to the people of Copenhagen. You can tour the palace and if you time your tour right, you can see the daily changing of the guard that happens at 12:00 noon in the square. You’ll need to be there a little earlier to get a good spot for viewing.

Nearby: Amalienhaven park and fountain where you can get close to the water for views across to the modern Opera House or relax in the peaceful gardens

Next ride towards Frederiks Kirke and around it to reach Store Kongensgade towards Kongens Nytorv and Nyhavn.


boats moored in nyhavn copenhagen

Built in the 17th century Copenhagen’s colourful harbour is simply a great place to wander, relax and watch the people and boats leave and enter the harbour.

If you wanted to take a break from riding, you could join a boat tour of Copenhagen from here. Tours leave every 15 minutes in summer, and you get another perspective of the city from the water. It’s touristy but fun and if you’re lucky you could see one of the bridges being raised to let the tall ships through.

Nearby: Take a walk to the harbourfront where you will see the impressive modern building that houses the Royal Danish Theatre

Hungry yet? Head across the newly opened Inderhavnsbroen and visit Papiroen or Paper Island for lunch

Paper Island

Paper Island Copenhagen

Paper Island is where you find Copenhagen Street Food. This hugely popular venue houses a huge number of street food vendors in a converted warehouse. On my second visit to Copenhagen, I went back there just to taste Duck It’s pulled duck burger I’ve been thinking about since my first visit. The food stalls open from 12.00 noon each day and you will not leave hungry.

Now head off Paper Island and onto Prinsessegade where you will find your next stop

Freetown Christiania

Freetown Christiania Copenhagen

Freetown Christiania is an alternative car free and green community in the heart of Copenhagen. The neighbourhood of around 850 residents is found in the grounds of a former military barracks and has been self-governing since its foundation since its foundation by hippies in 1971.

A visit to Christiana is an interesting insight into a unique society. You can wander the streets and visit cosy cafes and craft shops. We took a walk around the beautiful lake and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere.

The area is notorious for its “Green Light District” and Pusher Street where drugs are freely bought and sold despite being illegal in Denmark. You are advised not to take photos in this area and should take that advice seriously. Read more about Freetown Christiania.

Nearby: Baroque Vor Frelsers Kirke with its famous helix spire that can be seen throughout Copenhagen

Time to head north-west down Torvegade and across the canal to Slotsholmen

Christiansborg Palace and Slotsholmen

Christiansborg Palace

As the seat of Danish government, Christiansborg is a complete contrast to Freetown Christiania. Home to the Folketinget or Danish Parliament, it is a former royal palace and as grand as that description implies.

You can visit the state rooms and royal kitchens as well as the ruins of the original medieval castle beneath its foundations or take in views of the city from the tower

Christiansborg is on the small island of Slotsholmen where there are several other museums and attractions such as the Danish Stock Exchange. Visiting hours are from 10:00am.

Tip – you can park your bike in the Rigsdag Courtyard

Now ride into Indre By, Copenhagen’s true centre, and down Nikolaj Plads and Kristen Bernikows Gade to your next stop

Rundetaarn – the Round Tower

If you’re interested in astronomy, you won’t want to miss the Rundetaarn, the oldest working observatory in Europe. There are wonderful views of the city from the viewing platform accessed by a spiral staircase to the top of the tower. Rundetaarn is open from 10:00am – more information.

Head down Landemærket for the last stop on your bike tour – the beautiful King’s Gardens and Rosenborg Slot. You will need to park your bike at the entrance and walk through the gardens.

Rosenborg Castle

Rosenborg Castle Copenhagen

One my favourite castles in the world, Rosenborg Castle has fairy-tale qualities. Originally a royal summer house, the castle lies in the Renaissance style King’s Gardens and is surrounded by a small moat.

Rosenborg Slot was built in the Dutch Renaissance style by King Christian IV and has several turrets and an impressive hall. You can visit the castle and view a collection of the Danish Crown Jewels as well as many of the state rooms.

More information about visiting Rosenborg Slot

And that’s the end of your tour! Head back to Nørreport station by riding along Gothersgarde and turning left at Nørre Voldgade

Explore Copenhagen’s neighbourhoods by bike

Norrebro Copenhagen

Now you’ve explored the highlights why not venture beyond the city centre and discover Copenhagen’s laid back neighbourhoods.

Take a ride out to Nørrebro through Assistens cemetery and browse the boutiques and cafes along Jægersborggade. You can get a great coffee at the Coffee Collective, try new Nordic cuisine at Manfreds and indulge in some special ice cream at Istid. Assistens Cemetry is worth a stop to visit the grave of Hans Christian Anderson too.

If you’re travelling with kids, I recommend a trip to Østerbro where you can explore Fælledparken. This huge park has playgrounds and activities for children of all ages. Our kids loved learning about the rules of the road in a traffic school playground and jumping on trampolines and the huge swings close by.

I was most impressed with the coffee tuk tuk keeping the parents of Copenhagen caffeinated as they watched their kids play.

Copenhagen bike rental

Bike rental Copenhagen with Donkey Republic

We rented bikes with Donkey Republic who have around 700 bicycles in convenient locations around the city. All you need to do is download their app and locate one of their bicycles close by. This is easy, even among a throng of Danish bikes, as they all sport vibrant orange stickers.

You then book your bike for however long you need it and use the app to unlock it. Once you’ve adjusted your seat and had a little test ride you are ready to go!

Tip: Look for one of the newer bikes with a holder for your phone, so you can navigate your route safely and with ease

No doubt you will want to stop and get off your bike and take a look around. With your Donkey bike, you just use the app to lock it up safely and unlock it again when required.

When it is time to return your bike, you simply take it back to where you found it. The bike is then registered as returned.

You can rent a bike in Copenhagen with Donkey Republic starting from DKK 100 per day – around £10. There is a small optional charge if you want to insure the bike against theft.

Family bike hire

Christiania bike rental Copenhagen

We travelled to Copenhagen as a family and had some special requirements for bike hire. At the time of writing our kids were not yet 4 years old. I really wanted to try out the famous 3 wheeled Christiana cargo bikes.

Donkey Republic were able to help with this by engaging one of their local partners. Do give them a call if you want to hire a family bike in Copenhagen and I am sure they’ll do their best to assist.

Road rules and tips for riding in Copenhagen

Copenhagen bike culture
Images thanks to Erin from Oregon Girl Around the world

Familiarise yourself with road rules and etiquette before embarking your tour or hiring a bike in Copenhagen.

Here are the main points:

✪ Danes ride and drive on the right-hand side of the road. Keep to the right at all times unless overtaking

✪ Helmets are not required to be worn by law

✪ Bike lanes must be used when present. You may not ride on footpaths

✪ You must use hand signals to indicate if you are turning or stopping

✪ When turning left, cross to the opposing right corner and wait for the traffic light to change before proceeding

✪ Headlights must be used at and after dusk

✪ Helmets are not required to be worn by law but you can hire helmets, and it’s a good idea

I found this sheet of bike riding rules helpful and this site of Danish road signs

You can take your bike on public transport in Copenhagen with some common sense restrictions such as not bringing bikes on trains during peak hour. Family cargo bikes are not allowed on public transport.

Guided bike tours of Copenhagen

tour copenhagen by bike

Our friend Erin who lives in and writes about Copenhagen served as our guide however if you are new to the city, are a bit nervous about riding and don’t have local connections; I recommend joining a bike tour.

I’m such a fan of local tours. Taking a bike tour of  Copenhagen will help you get up to speed quickly on the road rules and culture. You’ll also learn about the city’s history and culture and discover what makes Copenhagen unique.

If you are travelling as a family, do check out these family friendly bike tours of Copenhagen. Owner and guide Maike is passionate about showing family groups her beautiful city.

When I first visited and fell in love with Copenhagen last year I was not able to ride through its streets. Now I’ve tried biking the city I feel like I know the Danish that much better.

Would you hire a bike in Copenhagen?

This post was written in partnership with Donkey Republic. All opinions are my own.

Copenhagen bike tour - rent a bike in Copenhagen and see the sights - Little Mermaid, Christiania, Rosenborg Castle,Nyhavn

37 thoughts on “Copenhagen by bike – touring Denmark’s capital on two wheels

  1. Ali May says:

    Katy, this has to be one of your most informative and travel-jealousy-invoking posts ever. Erin certainly played a wonderful host, as you seemed to cover so many highlights and fun little stops along the way! The map, the tips on where to stop and the little tidbits of information about each location all mean that I will be saving this post and sharing it far and wide. I love those little kid tuk-tuks! I was reading along wondering how you managed this with the kids, and then all was revealed. I bet they had the best time being chauffered around like royalty. What a FANTASTIC HOLIDAY you guys are having!

    • Katy says:

      Thanks so much Ali. In true Katy spirit, I thought I might have gone a bit over the top but I do hope it’s useful!

  2. Erin Gustafson says:

    Woot woot! Great list of my favorite city! Had a blast showing you and crew around the Danish capital and you’ve captured it perfectly! I recommend everyone get on a bike when visiting the city – such a fun way to explore here! Cheers, Erin

    • Katy says:

      Glad you liked it Erin, I was a bit nervous for you to read it!! I hope I’m back in Copenhagen very soon. Our little outing certainly got F thinking 🙂

  3. Cathy (MummyTravels) says:

    This is so useful – love the tips especially. Copenhagen was so fun just to wander around, but I would have loved to grab a bike and explore a bit more widely than you can do on foot. I really need to teach my daughter to ride a bike: she’s a bit big for me to pull in a trailer now and child seats usually result in me getting kicked in the kidneys…! #farawayfiles

  4. Corey with fifi + hop says:

    Nice thorough guide and tips! There’s this family from Denmark that lives in my town and I see them EVERYWHERE on bikes! Everywhere! Love the biking culture and agree – there must be a link between the biking culture and happy place. #farawayfiles

  5. Julz says:

    We used to go everywhere as kids on our bikes. My cousin lived just outside Copenhagen and we were always on our bikes! My kids are too small and not used to traffic otherwise I would certainly do it! #farawayfiles

    • Katy says:

      How lovely Julz. I also grew up riding everywhere and I think it’s a shame our kids probably wont just get on their bikes and ride places with their friends. London is way too busy and dangerous. The Christiania bikes can hold up to 100kg so even smaller kids could be pushed around. Might be a bit of effort for the parents though!

  6. Annie says:

    I did this just recently with my mom when we were in Copenhagen. It’s so easy to get around by bike and you get to see so much more! Definitely worth at least one day to see the city by bike!

    • Katy says:

      Great stuff Annie. It really is super easy. I think even my mum could do it and who knows when she last rode a bike!

  7. Wherejogoes says:

    What a wonderful way to see the city! I’m a bit nervy about bike riding on roads even at home but you have made it look very tempting and very easy and it is such a bike friendly city perhaps even I could give it a go. #FarawayFiles

  8. Ruth | Tanama Tales says:

    Oh wow, love everything about this bike tour. It seems to have a bit of everything: food, waterfront and palaces! I am one of those who get very stressed while being at a car (you have to see LA’s freeways, total madness). So, yes, biking is one of the things I like to do during my down time and holidays. #FarawayFiles

    • Katy says:

      Thanks Ruth. Having been to both places I can say the pace of life and the traffic is a lot more gentle in Copenhagen. Lovely for a bike ride

  9. Kat says:

    Oh good stuff, Katy, very informative and useful! I hope the cycling on the route that you have shared is not too tiring? Cycling is such a good way to exercise and Copenhagen seems to be a perfect city to cycle around – no chaotic traffic, cleaner air and a more conducive weather – unlike Asia where we will perspire profusely and probably lose an arm or two, if not careful with the crazy vehicles! LOL.. #farawayfiles

  10. Amanda Afield says:

    What a great and detailed tour! I wish we’d had time to cycle while in Copenhagen (we also didn’t see the mermaid), guess we’ll have to go back! #farawayfiles

  11. Vanessa Brune says:

    Copenhagen is such a compact city but then again not quite compact enough to visit everything on foot. I once walked to the little mermaid from the city centre, which was exhausting but made for a nice stroll, but I couldn’t have explored Papirøen or Christiania the same day too. On bike however, you can do all these things and it’s so much easier! Definitely considering this for my next trip to the city!

  12. Hilary says:

    LOVE this! The photos, are beautiful, and you did so much! Did your littles enjoy riding around, or were they wanting to jump out and look around? I’ve not biked in a city like this, but worry I might feel intimidated by my lack of knowledge, still I’d love to try it! #farawayfiles

    • Katy says:

      Thanks Hilary. There were a lot of stops for parks and running around plus an ice cream bribe that was very successful! They even had a nap in the carriage.

  13. Cindy says:

    What a great way to explore the city! Such a fantastic guide you’ve put together; I’ve pinned it for when hopefully we have the chance to visit Copenhagen. Thanks for sharing! #FarawayFiles

  14. Juliette | Snorkels To Snow says:

    Brilliant – I love this idea! After doing a cycle tour of Paris I realised how great cycling was when travelling as a way to see a new place, especially as I was solo travelling at the time. I’m so excited to visiting Scandinavia at the end of this year after TBEX and plan to have a few days in Copenhagen – so I think this tour you’ve provided is exactly what I’ll be doing on one of those days! Saving this for later. Is it very costly to hire a bike?

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