Leaving Denmark: trains and boats and no planes

Last updated (see foot): 28 Oct 2020

There are three main ways of leaving Denmark by land (with some sea) bound for continental Europe: the Jutland route via Flensburg, the Rødby-Puttgarden route, and the Gedser-Rostock route.

We’ve just spent 10 days in northern Italy, taking one of the last City Night Line trains on the Jutland route and travelling via Munich to Venice, boarding in Copenhagen at 18:46 and arriving in Venice Mestre at 17:58 the next day.

Sadly Deutsche Bahn is winding down the City Night Line service, and despite the best efforts of Save the Copenhagen Night Train 13 December will see the last Aurora leave Copenhagen.


boarding the 18:46 from Copenhagen to Basel

On Hogmanay 2013 we took the train the whole way to Basel, treating ourselves to a two berth sleeper. This time sleeper berths were not available – either sold out or simply phased out early, like the dining car – but as we were only travelling as far as Mannheim this was OK. We were joined in Odense by a couple, visiting a friend living in Munich. For them the night train barely took longer than travelling to Copenhagen airport, going through the bus-in-the-air hassle and then travelling into Munich from its airport.

On the return journey we took a sleeper from Udine to Munich, leaving at 22:47 and arriving in Munich at 6 the next morning. The train merged with several other night trains at Tarvisio Boscoverde and split again in Salzburg, with the majority of coaches bound for Vienna, arriving at 08:40. In Munich we hopped on a train doing the six hour slog up to Hamburg, and then onto the toy train which goes onto a ferry at Puttgarden, always a delight, resurfacing at Rødby to chug up to Copenhagen, where we arrived at 18:14.

This journey is slightly shorter than the Jutland route, and will become rather quicker when (if?) the Fehmarnbelt tunnel opens (due in mid-2029). Known as fugleflugtlinien as the most direct route across the Baltic, the Rødby-Puttgarden route was launched in 1963 with the opening of the Fehmarnsundbrücke.

The Gedser-Warnemünde/Rostock route is rather older, opening in 1886 to provide a service between Berlin and Copenhagen. By 1939 over 200,000 passengers made the crossing per year, however the Cold War saw Rostock in the DDR and mixed fortunes for the route. After continued economic struggles during the early 1990s, 1995 saw trains from Copenhagen to Berlin re-routed via Hamburg, leaving just a car ferry in operation.

Empty Pipes’ CPH isochrone map shows travel times from Copenhagen to any point in Europe by train; frankly, it’s limited.


Another way of leaving Denmark – or maybe Sweden – is via The Bridge across the Øresund. I’ve taken the train to Malmø several times – arriving in Sweden is like that Ray Bradbury short story, everything feels slightly off kilter – but only driven once, due to the eye-watering cost. Which is a shame, as there is lots to see in Skåne, a similar driving time from home as Nordsjælland.

A trip across the Øresund also brings a whole host of ferry options from Sweden into reach, including Świnoujście (Poland) and Rügen (Germany; status) for starters.

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