Visiting Denmark Without Speaking Danish
Taking a vacation in Denmark without knowing the native language isn’t a problem. That’s because it so easy to find a Dane who speaks English and is happy to help. English is taught in schools beginning in 2nd grade so most everyone under the age of 30 speaks fluently.
However “fluent” doesn’t mean perfect so be prepared that some challenges may arise. For us, that often resulted in rights meaning lefts and lack of necessary detail. For example, we were given written directions to a restaurant that listed the streets and timing but not where to turn. Another time, we asked at the information booth at Central Station for the track we needed, and she said you have to go outside, up a level, then down a level. No problem. What she left out was that it was a 15 minute walk! We almost missed our train.
Danish Trains Decoded
Driving is an option, but it’s not necessary in Copenhagen. We took public transportation 100% of the time and were not inconvenienced in the least. I think finding parking would have been much more challenging.
Central Station or Hovedbanegård (sounds like hoe-ban-gourd) is the hub for all trains and buses. We used 3 types of trains:
- S Train. The S Train is similar to a New York subway, except that in bike-friendly Denmark, the trains have special cars for bikes and strollers.
- Metro, a driverless shuttle that goes to the airport or Lufthavn trains
- The regional train, which includes the high-speed Swedish SJ train
- SJ Train: Regional train that starts in Denmark and goes to Sweden, offering high speed and other options.
The information booth at Central Station is your friend. Workers there have all the answers. Unfortunately, the booth is not open 24/7 so if you are getting an early start, you have to decipher the screens, which can be a challenge. For example, if you are going to a small station between two larger stations, your stop may not be listed in an obvious place. Or, if you are like us, you may not know which destination you need to head towards to find your stop. Best bet: just ask someone; every person we asked was helpful.
Getting Around on Foot
Before deciding on which area of Denmark to stay in, consider the accessibility to public transportation or being able to simply set out on foot. We stayed in both central Copenhagen and Nørreport. I preferred Nørreport because it is close to the main street, Fredriksborggade. Fredriksborggade
is thriving with shops, markets, a major train artery and it’s also a short walk to the center of the city.
All of the neighborhoods in the Copenhagen area are accessible by train from the airport, making it easy to get around.
For More Tips about Denmark
Be sure to check out my list of 27 travel tips for Copenhagen.