Living in Copenhagen
Find information about life as a student in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen at a glance
In Copenhagen it takes less than 15 minutes to go from Copenhagen Airport to the city centre by train or metro. Both metro and train run from terminal 3. You will need a ticket for three zones, which costs DKK 36.
Trains leave every 10 minutes, connecting the airport to Copenhagen Central Station (København Hovedbanegården).
By taxi it is a 20-minute journey between the airport and city centre. The cost is approximately 250-300kr.
The M2 Metro line runs 24 hours a day from the airport (Lufthavnen) to many neighbourhoods (e.g. Christianshavn, Kongens Nytorv, Nørreport, Frederiksberg).
You will be able to transfer to the M3 (City Circle) and M4 lines at Kongens Nytorv. The M3 line will reach Vesterbro, Nørrebro and Østerbro, while the M4 will reach the port area of Nordhavn.
Busses run all over the city and the S-train network connects Greater Copenhagen with the city centre. The metro is a quick way of getting around, also to the four UCPH campuses.
Most students opt for housing in the central parts of Copenhagen such as Nørrebro, Østerbro, Vesterbro, Frederiksberg, East Amager and West Amager. However, public transport can often bring you from a residential suburb to your campus quite quickly (as do the new bicycle superhighways).
If you have a specific address in mind, you can check your transport options and travel times on Rejseplanen, which covers all public transport: Rejseplanen.
Biking in Copenhagen:
Jump on your bike and enjoy cruising the world’s most cycle-friendly city. You will be joining 62% of the city’s residents who ride a bike daily to work or school – only 9% drive. Consequently, all kinds of people bike: students, professionals, parents with toddlers, children, teenagers, tourists.
The municipality of Copenhagen has made massive investments in designated cycle paths, traffic lights that prioritise cyclists, new bridges for pedestrians and cyclists and bicycle superhighway routes to residential suburbs.
Just outside the city centre, you find the areas of Østerbro, Vesterbro, Nørrebro, Frederiksberg and Amager.
Visit Copenhagen has a great introduction to the various districts in Copenhagen.
Denmark at a glance
The Danish welfare model is based on the principle that all 5.8 million people in Denmark have equal rights to social services such as education, infrastructure and public health care. The majority of Danes are middle class, meaning that few people can be categorized as either extremely wealthy or extremely poor.
Denmark was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, and the LGBTQ+ community has a strong voice. Each August, companies, organizations, political parties and educational institutions line up in the huge Copenhagen Pride Parade. The University of Copenhagen hosts the rainbow flag and joins the parade under the heading ‘Diversity of Copenhagen’. BLUS is the association for LGBTQ+ students in Copenhagen.
From an early age, most Danish children spend their days in childcare before moving on to the mandatory nine years of school education in public or private schools. After this, a lot of young people continue their education, e.g. with three years of upper secondary school and then on to university. Government-funded education is free of charge and open to all. Consequently, Danes are quite well-educated, especially in the Capital Region of Denmark where 40% of the citizens have completed higher education (usually a master’s degree).
Men and women join the workforce and continue working when they have children. However, most leading positions are still held by men and they often still receive higher salaries. One third of the Danes work in the public sector, with the other two thirds in the private sector. In the public sector, women make up 70% of the employees, while in the private sector, men make up 60% of the employees. Obviously, official hierarchies exist across the Danish society, but you’re likely to observe that Danes are quite relaxed and engage in conversations using first names – regardless of their status.
Film and television: Crime is a signature topic and the term Nordic noir captures the trend in Danish television and film-making. Take a tour of Denmark by watching the series Rejseholdet (2000-04), about an elite mobile police task force, Forbrydelsen (The Crime), which became a hugely popular series, especially in the UK, or Broen (The Bridge), which portrays Copenhagen’s proximity to Sweden - it’s a very Nordic noir four-season TV series with characters and scenes from both Copenhagen and the Swedish city Malmö.
Food: Danish food culture is on the move; from traditional pilsner, pig and potatoes to New Nordic Cuisine with light and playful food made from local ingredients. Michelin-starred restaurants may be out of the price range of most students, but the general appreciation of good food will indulge your taste buds.
Design: Design and architecture have been Danish hallmarks for roughly a century. Design is simple, stylish and fit for use in everyday life. Especially the design of chairs excels within the furniture category. The fashion scene in Denmark is very much alive, flashing its newest creations at the Copenhagen Fashion Week.
Architecture: Across Denmark, significant buildings stand out – or integrate with nature. As a student in Copenhagen, you can hang out at Superkilen, a spectacular urban space for pedestrians and cyclists in multicultural Nørrebro. Feel like skiing? Go to Copenhill, a brand new year-round ski slope on a massive waste incineration plant.
The University’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences resides in Maersk Tower, which opened in 2017. With its 15 floors covered by 3,300 copper shutters, the iconic building towers in central Copenhagen. Make sure you explore Maersk Tower, either on a guided tour or on your own, e.g. by visiting the cafés or enjoying the outside park area.
The oldest monarchy in the world resides in Denmark, with Queen Margrethe II as Head of State. Her position, however, is purely symbolic. In reality Denmark is a representative democracy, which means that Danish citizens elect representatives to sit in the Danish Parliament, Folketinget. The Parliament consists of 179 members (175 from Denmark, 2 from Greenland, and 2 from the Faroe islands).
Denmark has a multi-party system and historically most governments have been minority governments, consisting of several political parties. The minority governments tend to establish themselves on either side of the political spectrum (right and left). Parliamentary elections are held at least every 4 years.
As an international student in Denmark coming from a Nordic or an EU country, you are eligible to vote in municipal and regional elections (next time in 2021) – and in the election to the European Parliament. If you come from a country outside the EU and the Nordic region, you are eligible to vote in these elections when you have lived in Denmark for three years. Only Danes can vote in the national election for the Folketing.
Denmark is a Scandinavian country connected to Germany in the south and hence to continental Europe. Westwards, the fierce North Sea ends in endless stretches of wide beach. Northwards, two seas meet at the tip of Jutland, which points towards Norway. Southwards is the border to Germany and, moving east, numerous islands make up the South Funen Archipelago. Eastwards is the capital Copenhagen – and moving further east (crossing South Sweden) is the rocky island of Bornholm in the Baltic.
Compared to its neighbours, Denmark is quite small. E.g. it takes less than three hours to go by train between Copenhagen and the second largest city, Aarhus. With approx. 7,000 km of coastline, you are never far away from the sea – especially in Copenhagen, where you can easily take a plunge, either in the harbour’s clean waters or at one of the centrally located beaches.
The climate in Denmark is generally mild. Winters are dark and damp, so come spring people rush outside where they soak up the first rays of sunshine. Summers change a lot, ranging from windy and rainy periods to heatwaves that bring crowds to the country’s many beaches. Autumn offers the opportunity of mushroom hunting in forests and lots of indoor ‘hygge’ (or ‘cosiness’) .
- Copenhagen is the world’s best city to visit (Lonely Planet, 2019)
- Copenhagen is the most liveable city for European expats (ECA International, 2019)
- Denmark is the world’s least corrupt country (Corruption Perception Index, 2019)
- Denmark is the second happiest nation in the world (UN world Happiness Report, 2019)
- Denmark ranks 13 in gender equality (the Global Gender Gap Index, 2018).
Some international students manage to find student jobs or casual work while living in Copenhagen. However, it is quite difficult for international semester students to find work in Denmark, so when planning your stay in Copenhagen, you should not base your finances on obtaining paid employment.
Places to look for student jobs include
For information on how to apply for a work permit, please refer to the information under Residence Permit at the Master's and Exchange and Guest Student sites (same information).