Living in Denmark – A Guide for PhD Students |

Living in Denmark – A Guide for PhD Students

Written by Chris Banyard

With a forward-thinking society that embraces new ideas, Denmark is an increasingly popular destination in which to carry out exciting new research on a PhD. The Danish culture of simple comforts and the country’s commitment to education and research make it an ideal choice for your doctoral studies.

The guide covers useful information about moving to Denmark for your PhD, including student life, housing, cost of living, work permits, banking and getting around in during your Danish doctorate.

Student life

The concept of hygge, or cosiness, permeates modern Danish culture. Widely regarded as a country with a high quality of life, a fair and balanced society and high levels of happiness, life as a doctoral student in Denmark should be a welcoming and enjoyable experience.

Culture and tourism

Denmark has a rich culture, and you can spot the impact of the nation’s history from the Vikings through to modern day in Denmark’s architecture, arts and literature. You’ll see the influence of Denmark’s most famous fable writer Hans Christian Andersen in many interesting and unexpected places, including Copenhagen’s famous Little Mermaid statue and at the Tivoli Gardens fairground.

Sport and leisure

In addition to the hygge culture of cosy relaxation at home and in cafés, bars and restaurants, cycling is another important aspect of Danish life; many people use their bikes to explore Denmark’s cities and countryside. Of course, there’s also lots of hiking and winter sports to be enjoyed in this Arctic nation.

Food and drink

Danish cuisine is perhaps best known around the world for its pastries (even though they originate from Vienna!). You’ll be able to find the sweet treats at any local bakery, and they come in varities like the ‘cinnamon snail’ and ‘Roman snail’. A lesser known but equally traditional Danish snack is Smørrebrød – an open rye bread sandwich topped with all sorts of garnishes. Denmark is also at the heart of the growing New Nordic Cuisine movement, with lots highly-rated contemporary restaurants.

Find a PhD in Denmark

Ready to start browsing some current PhD opportunities in Denmark? Alternatively, you can look at our other guides to PhD study abroad.


Although accommodation in Denmark is more expensive than many other European countries, the quality of housing is generally good and rent often includes the cost of utilities. Due to the limited nature of Danish accommodation, you should begin your search for housing soon after choosing a university for your PhD – their international office should be able to help you get started.

Accommodation types

The main types of accommodation for PhD students in Denmark are as follows:

  • Halls of residence – Danish kollegier are standard shared university accommodation
  • Shared renting – renting a flat or apartment from a private landlord or letting agent is a popular option – many students share this type of accommodation

Accommodation costs

The cost of student housing in Denmark may be relatively expensive when compared with some other European countries. Depending on size, type and location, rent (including utilities) can be between €400 and €670 per month.

Living costs

The overall cost of living in Denmark is higher than in the UK. You can expect to pay around €875-1230 per month, including around €400-670 for accommodation and €200-270 for food.

Prices in Denmark

The following table gives an indication of prices for some common expenses during a PhD in Denmark:

Student Cost of Living in Denmark - 2024
Restaurant Meal €20.50
Cinema Ticket €16.10
Monthly Travel Pass €73
Monthly Utilities €203
Based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo.

Working during your PhD

Due to the high cost of living in Denmark, many students choose to work a part-time job while studying.

EU / EEA / Nordic and Swiss students are free to work in Denmark whilst studying without any restrictions.

Other international students require a valid Danish residence permit (with additional limited work permit rights). This allows you to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week, and full-time during June, July and August.

Employment contracts with your university

In Denmark, you may be studying an industrial PhD involving a close relationship, and even employment by, an industry partner and / or your university. This may require you to obtain a Danish residence permit and work permit – you should contact your university’s international office for more detail.


The Danish currency is the Danish krone (kr or DKK).

To open a Danish bank account, you will need to visit your chosen bank in person with the following:

  • your passport or valid ID card
  • your CPR card (Danish ID number received as part of residence registration)

Additionally, you will need to assign your Danish bank account as an ‘Easy Account’ (NemKonto). This enable payments from the public sector, such as tax rebates and student loans, to be sent directly to you.

It may take a few weeks for your bank account to be set up, so it is recommended that you bring enough cash to cover this initial period. You can contact your university’s international office for more information.


Public transport is a popular way of getting around Denmark and is relatively affordable in comparison to most other Danish living costs. The public transport in Denmark uses a universal zoning and pricing system, and you can plan most journeys using Rejseplanen.

Rail travel

Most trains in Denmark are managed by Danish State Railways (DSB), who provide discount schemes including a Commuter Card and several student savings cards. The train service runs between the major areas and cities of Denmark, and connects to the rest of Europe, too.

Air travel

There are five major airports in Denmark, based at Copenhagen, Aalborg, Aarhus, Billund and Sonderborg. All of these provide frequent flights to most major cities around Europe, and the rest of the world.

Inner-city travel

Cycling is very popular in Denmark, and most people travel around on bike. There are lots of bus services in cities, too, and Copenhagen has a metro network. Most cities have taxi services, but these can be quite expensive.

Find a PhD in Denmark

Ready to start browsing some current PhD opportunities in Denmark? Alternatively, you can look at our other guides to PhD study abroad.

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Last Updated: 19 December 2023