Before visiting Copenhagen, I had heard reports that it wasn’t that dog-friendly, including that restaurants and cafes don’t allow dogs inside. However, after recently visiting the city with my dog, I found it to be welcoming to dogs – you just need to know the rules and norms, which can be stricter than elsewhere in Europe. It’s a beautiful city, especially when it’s warm and sunny like when we visited, so if you are planning to soon visit Copenhagen with your dog, here’s my tips.
Visiting Copenhagen without your dog? Check out the top things to do in Copenhagen
Dining Out in Copenhagen with a Dog
On our second day in Copenhagen, we were heading to lunch on its outskirts when the heavens opened, and a furious downpour began. After sheltering in the carpark until the worst was over, we ventured out and were concerned about where we’d eat. We were wanting a nice sit-down lunch as it was my husband’s birthday, but surely no restaurant would allow us inside with our dog? Standing outside a restaurant that would normally have an outdoor terrace, but that was now soaking wet and not possible to dine in, we tentatively asked the waiter at the door. He welcomed us inside, stating that there’s no law against allowing dogs inside restaurants inside Denmark, and that we weren’t the only ones dining there with a dog. We’d just have to make do with a limited menu, as the storm had knocked out the electricity!
So, when you’re visiting Copenhagen, feel free to ask restaurants and cafes if they would allow your dog inside. Not all places will allow dogs, but it’s certainly worthwhile trying. Although when it’s sunny, there’s no better places to dine out than the many outdoor terraces, such as in the Nyhavn District.
Two other recommendations for eating well, but on the cheap, while in Copenhagen. Firstly, the Danes have turned the humble hotdog into an artform, and you’ll find hotdog stands scattered around the city, with varied toppings available. Perfect for a quick meal eaten on a park bench, with your dog at your feet!
Secondly, there’s some great food markets scattered around Copenhagen, with a mixture of fresh food and ready-to-eat lunch options. We visited Torvehallerne, near the Nørreport train stations. While dogs weren’t allowed inside, there’s plenty of benches scattered around outside to bring your food back out to. I recommend trying the Smørrebrød, a type of Danish open sandwich that is seriously tasty!
Taking a Dog on Public Transport in Copenhagen
Taking dogs on public transport is one of the more complex areas of dog rules in Copenhagen. While dogs are generally allowed on public transport, there are different rules depending on the type of public transport. These are mainly for the benefit of allergy sufferers – to keep sections of public transport dog free.
Across the metro, buses and trains, the same rule applies to ticketing. Small dogs and other pets in a carrier (not exceeding 100 x 60 x 30cm) can ride for free, while larger dogs need to have a child’s ticket. There’s a limit of one dog per passenger and naturally larger dogs need to be on a leash (but there’s no mention of muzzling). Public transport prices are quite expensive in Copenhagen, so consider a day ticket or multi-day pass, particularly if you’re travelling to Roskilde or Helsingør.
During our time in Copenhagen, we mainly stuck to the local S-trains, as we were staying near an S-train station. Dogs are allowed on all S-trains, but only in selected carriages. When boarding, check the markings on the outside of the carriage. Roughly half the carriages will have a dog crossed out on the outside, meaning no dogs allowed, while about every second carriage will just have a dog symbol, meaning dogs are allowed. I found it best to look for the dogs allowed carriages as the train slowed down, so that I could move to where they were stopping. I’m not 100% sure whether this applies to dogs in carrier bags, but just to be on the safe side I also stuck to the dogs allowed carriages when my dog was in a carrier bag.
We didn’t take the metro while in Copenhagen, as at the moment there’s only two lines, although there’s a new line under construction to reach even more of the city. The situation with the metro is similar to the S-trains, but I’ve heard reports that it’s always the first and last carriage of these shorter trains that are pet-free. Check the symbols on the door before boarding. Once again, it’s not clear if these rules apply to dogs in a carrier bag.
If travelling further afield to Roskilde or Helsingør, you’ll take the regional trains. These trains also have dog-free areas, marked with a crossed out dog. Also avoid the quiet zone and the family zone, plus dogs aren’t allowed in first class, except for small dogs and other pets in a carrier bag. When booking a ticket with a seat reservation, make sure you avoid these sections and get a seat in the standard section. Additionally, some Swedish trains run into Denmark, particularly on the stretch between Copenhagen Airport and the city centre. These trains have a specific dog section (follow the arrows), which I made sure to sit in.
The least dog-friendly option are the buses. Dogs are not allowed in A-buses (bus numbers that end in an “A”), except for in Køge, Roskilde, Naestved, Holbaek and Elsinore. This seems to apply to both large and small dogs, but my Airbnb host thought it didn’t apply to small dogs in a carrier. (I didn’t test this, as I could instead catch the S-train.) Additionally, larger dogs are not allowed in peak hour (7am to 9am and 3:30pm to 5:30pm, weekdays only) on all other buses in the metropolitan area in zones 1-4, 30-33 and 40-44. Finally, dogs must travel in the back half of the bus – the front half is kept dog-free for allergy sufferers.
Phewh!! I hope that all makes sense. If in doubt, just look for the signage or ask a local to help translate – most Danes speak excellent English.
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Copenhagen
When I recently investigated the percentage of dog-friendly hotels in different European cities, I found that Copenhagen performed surprisingly well, with 41% of hotels on Booking.com allowing dogs (although probably with restrictions, particularly limiting dogs to certain pet-friendly rooms).
However, I suspect that many of these dog-friendly hotels are more expensive hotels, of which there seem to be plenty in Copenhagen. Accommodation prices in Copenhagen are quite high, and most of the budget hotels don’t seem to allow dogs.
If like me you’re having trouble finding affordable dog-friendly accommodation, it’s worthwhile checking out Airbnb, more so the suburbs surrounding Copenhagen, rather than the city centre. Ideally look for something serviced by an S-train (given the restrictions for dogs on buses), and budget for the cost of public transport. Car parking though is easy and usually free, and there’s lots of green parks.
Dog-Friendly Parks in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is home to many wonderful parks. Whether it’s the sizeable parks in the city centre (we visited both Kongens Have and Ørstedsparken), the many greens parks in the suburbs or the deer parks and forest to the north of Copenhagen (such as Jægersborg Dyrehave). We only found one park that didn’t allow dogs – the botanic gardens, unsurprisingly. In other parks dogs are allowed, although usually with the signage “Hund i snor”, meaning dogs are to be kept on a leash.
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Copenhagen
Copenhagen is a wonderfully walkable city, and your dog will love joining you on your explorations of the city, plus trips further afield. In particular, I recommend the following.
1. Visit Colourful Nyhavn
Don’t visit Copenhagen without visiting the picturesque district of Nyhavn. Stretching along the sides of a canal, it’s packed full of colourful houses that make for the best photo spot. These days many of the buildings are home to restaurants, generally with expansive outdoor terraces on the northern side. Alternatively, grab a take-away beer to enjoy along the canal, or visit the annual Christmas market in winter time.
2. Take a Cruise on the Harbour
While you’re at Nyhavn, you can jump onto a harbour cruise at the top of the canal. The main cruise operator is Stromma, with well-behaved and leashed dogs allowed on their standard harbour cruises. Choose between a 1-hour guided cruise for DKK 85 per adult (DKK 95 during summer), or else buy a hop-on-hop-off pass valid for 48 hours, with prices starting from DKK 105 per adult. Alternatively, just down the canal on the right-hand-side you can hop on a boat with Netto-Bådane, for the cheaper price of DKK 50 per adult. Our dog was welcome on their boat.
Both cruise options will take you down to the main section of the harbour, past the Little Mermaid statue, past Our Saviours Church, and around Christiansborg Palace. It’s an easy way to see much of this harbour city, without tiring your feet, particularly when the weather is hot.
3. Relax in the King’s Garden
As I mentioned above, dogs are allowed in most parks in Copenhagen, and there isn’t a shortage of wonderful parks! Our favourite in the city was Kongens Have, or the King’s Garden. It’s also known as Rosenborg Castle Gardens, as it was originally the private gardens of the King’s Rosenborg Castle, right next door. It’s the oldest and most-visited park in central Copenhagen, and a great spot to head to relax or enjoy a picnic.
4. Visit the Site of Hamlet
Shakespeare’s famous play Hamlet was set in Denmark, in the fictional castle of Elsinore. It’s widely believed to be based on Kronborg Castle, in the similarly named town of Helsingør, which is now UNESCO World Heritage listed. While dogs are not allowed inside the castle, both dogs and humans are free to roam around the outside grounds around the castle. It’s set right on the sound separating Denmark and Sweden, with the Swedish town of Helsingborg visible across the water.
Helsingør is easily reached by a 45 minute train from Copenhagen Central Station. If visiting inside the castle, it’s cheapest to buy a combined train and museum ticket. (Tickets can also be purchased at the station and at 7-11 stores.) Alternatively, buy a day ticket for the train, which is cheaper than 2 single tickets. Kronborg Castle is then a scenic 10 minute walk from the station.
5. Visit Roskilde Viking Ship Museum
Just outside of Copenhagen at Roskilde there’s two big attractions: Roskilde Cathedral, the burial site of most Danish kings and queens, and Roskilde Viking Ship Museum. While the cathedral naturally doesn’t allow dogs, dogs are welcome in the outdoor areas of the Viking Ship Museum, although they aren’t permitted in the Viking Ship Hall.
Roskilde is a quick 25 minute train from Copenhagen Central Station. Buy a day ticket for the train, which is marginally cheaper than 2 single tickets. It’s then a 20 minute walk to the Viking Ship Museum.
6. Visit Jægersborg Deer Park
To the north of Copenhagen is the large deer park of Jægersborg, Jægersborg Dyrehaven. Originally set up for the king to hunt deer, the park is still home to a large population of deer, and it’s easy to get up close to them, as they’re used to humans being around. The park these days is popular for walking and with cyclists, plus it’s home to a golf course. Dogs are allowed in the park, albeit on a leash, due to the presence of the deer. The park is accessible from Klampenborg Station on the southern corner, or there are multiple car parks surrounding it.
If you’re looking for somewhere nearby for your dog to run around off leash (and you’re driving), head a little further north to the neighbouring forest of Jægersborg Hegn. There’s an off-leash dog park between Strandvejen and Kystbanen railway in the northern part of the forest.
7. A Day Out at Tivoli
The Tivoli amusement park is one of the most popular attractions in Copenhagen, which unfortunately we missed out on visiting as dogs are not usually allowed inside. But for one day each year, the doors are open to well-behaved dogs on the annual Dogs’ Day in Tivoli. This year it occurred on Sunday 26th August 2018. Dogs are required to be on a leash and normal admission fees apply for human visitors, but there’s plenty of treats in store for both two- and four-legged family members. Keep out for the day during late summer each year!