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How to fake being a local on the Copenhagen Metro

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
How to fake being a local on the Copenhagen Metro
Public displays of affection are infrequent sights on the Copenhagen Metro. File photo: Linda Kastrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Copenhagen has a modern and efficient Metro system which has been significantly extended in recent years, meaning you are more likely to spend time on it if living in or visiting the capital.


While the Metro has made it easier to get from one place to another, the etiquette might be different compared to other cities in which you might have regularly used an underground train.

Disclaimer: Obviously, we don’t actually recommend any of the antisocial tips listed below. This article has its tongue firmly in cheek and, for context, was written in consultation with a (Danish) recent Copenhagen resident who is currently in the final stages of pregnancy and has an axe to grind with a few of her fellow Metro passengers.

Don’t wait for other passengers to let you on or off 

You might be used to letting alighting passengers get off the train before stepping on board yourself. In some cities, the PA system on the platform reminds you to do this. Not so in Copenhagen.


Although lines on the platforms mark the areas behind which passengers are supposed to stand and wait before boarding, don’t expect them to care whether everyone else has got off before they step forward. If they block your path, they won’t move just because you need to get past before the doors close.

It’s best to look after number one in this situation, whether you’re in the process of getting on or off the train.

The elevator is for everyone 

If you are young, fit and healthy, have no scruples about nipping on to the elevator in front of pregnant or elderly passengers, people with strollers or those who have difficulty walking.

While signage in the Metro does suggest that the elevator should be given over to these groups, it is far from widely respected.

If you’re in the prime of your youth and don’t want to be seen on something as uncool as an escalator, but the elevator is already occupied, don’t hesitate to squeeze in. The pregnant and elderly folk will move up if you give them a light nudge.

Bring your bike

Bicycles are not permitted on the Metro during its busiest periods, between 7am-9am and 3:30pm-5:30pm. Outside of these windows, though, it’s fair game. Feel free to wheel your bike about with abandon and make sure you don’t look where you’re going.

If you bash into someone, simply pretend nothing happened.

Don’t talk to anyone


Get your mobile out. But don't use it to make calls

In extension of the above point, phones should be used for anything except talking, especially if they can help you avoid real-life human contact.

There's good mobile reception on most of the Copenhagen Metro, but while you'll see carriages crammed with people streaming music or checking TikTok, it's taboo to actually talk on the phone, at least not loudly.

Similarly, if you've caught the train with a real-life friend, keep your conversation levels down. If you're with a date or long-term partner, save the public displays of affection for after you've got off.


Stand on the right, charge past on the left

Signs on the escalators will ask you to stå til højre (“stand on the right-hand side”). You might deduce that this also means “walk on the left”, but Copenhageners generally interpret it as “hustle past as quickly as you can and shoulder charge anyone who hasn’t seen you”.

The more polite patrons of the Metro might call out a gentle warning such as flyt dig! (“move!”) about half a nanosecond before they go flying by.

In either case, if you are standing, get as far over to that left-hand side as you can.

Make it easy for others to sit down

Some of the above points make the Metro sound like a bit of an inconsiderate place, but passengers also intuitively recognise the presence of others, and you’d be well advised to do the same.

It’s unusual to sit in the seat closest to the aisle if the window seat is unoccupied, or to put a bag down on a seat once the carriage starts to fill up. Passengers will edge into the window seat to make it easier for others to find a space around them.

No-one will actually dare to question your behaviour if you stick around in an inconvenient spot (remember the fear of talking and confrontation), but you might get a silent stare or two if you break this unwritten courtesy.

The flip side of this is that once the seats are taken, they're taken. If you're visibly pregnant and hoping some kind stranger will give up their spot, you could be in for an awkward wait.


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