If you’ve never been to Copenhagen or heard about Denmark’s bicycle culture you’re probably wondering why biking needs a special guide. Well, as a foreigner in Copenhagen, let me assure you that first-time visitors find cycling in the Danish capital more overwhelming than relaxing -as it ought to be. The reason? There are just too many bikes and rules.

Of course, my goal isn’t to prevent you from biking in Copenhagen but rather the opposite. Hopefully, this guide about bike rental, cycling rules and the most scenic routes will persuade you that bicycling in Copenhagen should be an integral part of your trip.

Denmark’s Bicycle Culture

Just to give you an idea of what biking in Copenhagen means, let me give you the numbers. According to the 2017 Annual Bicycle Report, in 2016, 62% of Copenhageners choose to commute by bike and on an average weekday were cycled 1.4 million. In the same year, bicycles outnumbered cars in the city for the first time. 265,700 Copenhageners cycled compared to 252,600 who used their cars. Of course, it’s been decades for this biking culture to be cultivated with the Danish government investing in infrastructures and taking actions such as introducing ‘Car Free Sundays.’

Nowadays, Danes cycle before they can even walk so don’t feel bad when they’ll overtake you or honk you with their ‘cute’ bike bells.

The Basic Cycling Rules

First off, as a newbie, it’s better to stick to the right side of the bike lane. This side is for those preferring to cycle at a slow pace so you’re safe to not get stressed by bell bikes’ honking. For stopping, turning right or turning left, make sure to use the required hand signals beforehand: Raise your hand upwards for stopping, extend it to the right or to the left respectively for turning. If you’ll cross a red traffic light, carry another person, talk to your phone while biking or you’re drunk while riding a bike, you risk getting a fine if the police stop you. Biking on the sidewalk or against traffic direction is also strictly forbidden and it comes with a non-negligible fine.

biking in copenhagen

Why you should rent a bike in Copenhagen

Now that you got an idea of biking in Copenhagen let’s move to the fun part, which practically includes everything else. There are around 248 miles of cycle paths around the Danish capital including modern-design cycle bridges. That means you can go anywhere by bike and discover the city’s hidden alleys no public transport can reach. You’ll also save a lot of time and money (a two-zone bus ticket costs 24DKK ($3,64) and is valid for around 1 hour). Aside from the scenic cycle paths along the lakes or the tree-lined streets that will offer you an idyllic bike ride, bridges such as The Circle Bridge and Cykelslangen (The Bicycle Snake) are the reason Copenhagen is named one of the bike-friendliest cities in the world.

Places to cycle

Even though biking in Copenhagen is a pleasurable experience even when you’re riding your bike from another neighboorhood to another, there are some places that just deserve to be explored on two wheels.

Jægersborg Dyrehave

Jægersborg Dyrehave north of Copenhagen’s city center is a breathtaking forest park home to over 2000 deers and filled with ancient oak trees. It covers approximately 4.2 square miles and among its huge trees lies Bakken, the world’s oldest amusement park. In spring and summertime, Copenhageners taken one-day (bike) trips from Copenhagen to Klampeborg where Jægersborg Dyrehave lies.

Amager Beach Park

Amager beach park is another popular destination for cycling among locals. The artificial island has bike lanes that stretch around the beach and a wide promenade for cyclers and pedestrians. In the city center, Frederiksberg Garden, the route along the Lakes (Søerne) and Fælledparken park in Østerbro are an exceptional backdrop for a peaceful bike ride.

biking in copenhagen

Where to rent a bike in Copenhagen

Needless to say that there are countless bike shops around Copenhagen. Baisikeli, Christiania Rent a Bike and Wecycle are three of the most known places to rent a bike. Bycyklen bikes are available on different bycyklen stations around the city and you can take one as long as you create an account on the bike’s tablet. There are different rates depending on the price offer you’ll choose. If you’re traveling on a tight budget and you can’t afford to rent a bike try one of the numerous bike groups on Facebook. If you’re lucky enough someone will be willing to borrow their bike or rent it at a low price. After all, 9 out of 10 Danes own a bike so don’t be surprised to learn that some of them have a spare one too.

Biking in Copenhagen, All You Need to Know photos courtesy of Martin Heiberg / Copenhagen Media Center, Thomas Høyrup Christensen / Copenhagen Media Center, Büro Jantzen / Copenhagen Media Center