Denmark’s roads are some of the safest in Europe. They’re almost always in good condition and there’s a well-maintained motorway network throughout the country. So the good news is, driving in Denmark is generally a pleasure.
However, renting a car is expensive, and filling with petrol can be even more costly. Driving in Denmark is convenient, for sure, it may not be the cheapest way to get around the country.
Do you really need to rent a car in Denmark?
The first thing to decide, when considering whether to rent a car in Denmark is, do you really need a set of your own wheels?
If you’re staying in Copenhagen and doing day-trips to Denmark’s main sights, then the answer is a definite no.
You really don’t want the hassle of driving a car in Copenhagen – the public transport is excellent, everybody cycles and parking is expensive.
If you’re planning to go further afield, but are sticking to Denmark’s main cities, then you still probably won’t need a car.
Denmark’s public transport network is cheap and efficient, with regular departures – it’s just a 45-minute train trip the train from Copenhagen to Helsingør, for example, while Copenhagen to Odense takes less than two hours.
However, if you want to get off the beaten track and explore Denmark’s beautiful coastline and countryside then having a car will open up some of its prettiest fishing villages and rural settlements.
You’ll also have the chance to see parts of the country that most tourists never reach. There are ideas for day trips from Copenhagen in this guide.
Where to rent a car in Denmark
All the major international car rental companies – Hertz, Avis, Sixt, Budget and Europcar – operate in Denmark and have offices at Copenhagen airport.
Car rental is expensive in Denmark, and it’s almost always cheaper to book in advance online. Expect to pay 1500–2000 DKK for a week’s rental with the major companies.
The easiest option is to rent a car online. We recommend RentalCars.com, which checks loads of local providers to find the best price (just fill in your details below to get a quick quote.
Other options for renting a car in Denmark
• One way to cut costs is to rent a car from a private person. Individuals advertise their private cars for rent, with vehicles ranging from a Skoda Fabia for under 200 DKK a day to a Mercedes van for 650 DKK.
• Some budget car rental companies advertise cheap rates, and then do the hard sell when you pick up your car. Make sure you say no to all the extra insurance and upgrades. Take your own child seat if needed, use the GPS on your phone, and only have one named driver.
• Take out an annual excess insurance policy before you go (search online for ‘car hire excess insurance’ before you leave home). Some rental companies encourage you to take out cover to reduce your excess in case of an accident, often around £8 a day. An annual policy in Europe costs around £45, so even if you’re only doing one trip a year, you’ll save money.
What licence do you need?
You can drive in Denmark with a valid driving licence from any EU country or Iceland, Norway, the Faroe Islands or Liechtenstein. Holders of non-EU driving licences can drive in Denmark for up to 90 days.
In order to rent a car in Denmark you need to be at least 21 years old and to have held your licence for at least a year. If your foreign license is written in non-Roman characters (eg Japanese or Arabic) you should consider getting an International Driving Permit.
Rules of the road
Denmark has very similar rules to most other EU countries. Cars drive on the right and can only pass in the left-hand lane.
Speed limits in Denmark
The speed limit in Denmark is strictly enforced. The limits are:
- 50 kph/31 mph in towns and cities
- 80 kph/49 mph on open roads
- 130 kph/81 mph on major 4-lane motorways
Drinking and driving
Denmark has very strict drink/drive rules, with lower limits than some other European countries, including the UK. The legal driving limit is 0.05% BrAC (breath alcohol concentration), and anyone caught breaking the law can expect high fines and even jail.
Mobile phones and seatbelts
The use of mobile phones while driving is strictly prohibited. Hands-free systems are permitted, if they are built into the car.
Seatbelts are compulsory for all passengers. Children under 1.30 m/4.3 feet tall must use a car seat or a booster seat.
On-the-spot fines are given out to rule breakers in Denmark, and anyone caught breaking a driving rule can expect to pay a hefty penalty.
Tips for driving in Denmark
Watch out for cyclists
One thing non-Danes find quite hard to get used to is the number of cyclists on the roads. Denmark has countless cycle paths, bike lanes and cyclists of all ages, who cycle in all weathers.
In many circumstances, cyclists have right of way. Keep a careful look out for cycle lanes when you’re turning right.
Take care when parking
All cars in Denmark display a parking disc on the dashboard, and any car you rent will come equipped with one. They are used in parking areas where there is no fee.
The disc is simply a “clock” where you set your arrival time. Signs in the car park or street tell you how long you are allowed to park for. If you don’t set your parking disc, your car could be towed away.
Denmark doesn’t have any toll roads, but there are two pricey toll bridges.
The Storebælt Bro bridge links the island of Zealand (Sjælland) and Fyn (Fyn). An average-sized car will pay 245 DKK to cross one-way.
The second toll bridge is the iconic Öresund Bridge from Copenhagen in Denmark to Malmö in Sweden. The approximate cost of a one-way crossing in an average car is a hefty 450 DKK, or 420 DKK if you pay in advance online.
Driving over the Öresund Bridge to Sweden
If you’re planning to drive a hire car over the Öresund Bridge to Sweden check with your rental company first. Some companies don’t allow you to take a car over international borders: others do, but almost always charge an extra fee.