(Edit: This post is updated on September 4th. 2011 to include the latest change of prices for bustickets.)
Public transport in Denmark is expensive but good. The art of taking a bus is not too difficult as the system is well arranged. Here is for example how it works in Århus.
Where can I buy tickets?
An new ticket machine in an Århus citybus. On the window a map of Århus with the different zones.
Tickets can be bought when entering the bus, either at a ticket machine inside the bus (for yellow buses) or by asking the driver (blue buses). Buying single tickets in the bus is more expensive however, so if you are planning on more than a handful of rides it is cheaper to buy a 10-trip card, which in Danish is called a klippekort. They can be bought at the busterminal, the trainstation, large supermarkets and in one of the many kiosks.
A "klippekort" machine.
When entering the bus you can klip your klippekort by entering it in the special machine that will stamp it with a date and time.
Tourists could perhaps consider buying an Aarhus-card for one or two days which includes free transport inside the city.
Locals who are planning to take the bus regularly could benefit from a card valid for a month, which in danish is called a periodekort.
What does it cost?
The price of a bus-ride is depending on the length. The city and municipality is divided into zones, so you pay for the amount of zones you travel. This is a link to a PDF file with a map of the zones in Aarhus. If you buy a ticket in the bus, then a travel within two zones (that is the entire city center) costs Dkr 20 (3,8 USD/ 2,68 Euro), 3 zones cost Dkr. 27 (5,15 USD / 3,62 Euro) and 4 zones (that is for example to villages outside the city) Dkr. 34 (6,48 USD/ 4,56 Euro – prices and exchange rates of September 2011). Each adult can have 2 children under the age of 12 for free. The ticket is valid for two hours, bus changes included.
A klippekort is sold for the amount of zones you want to travel, so there you will have to think for a second if it will be 2, 3 or 4 zones as prices for the 10-ride cards vary. As stated before it is cheaper to buy a klippekort if you want ten tickets or more.
See here for an overview of the prices in Danish
What bus should I take?
At each stop there is a list of buses that will stop there (each busline having a different number), together with an overview of each of the bus-stops along the route of the buses. The overview is basically based upon street names, so if you want to travel to a specific address it will help to know the name of the street you want to go to. People that enter the city by train can turn to the left when exiting the main exit of the train station for a large number of the yellow city buses that have their stops there. People who are looking for the blue regional buses should turn to the right when exiting the train station and walk a few hundred meters to arrive at the main bus terminal.
All information is also available on this page for the yellow city buses and on this page for the blue regional buses.
Yellow and blue?
In Århus there are two types of buses: yellow and blue. Prices are the same for both and the klippekort is valid in both types of buses.
The yellow buses:
The yellow buses are the city buses. You enter them in the middle or the back (unlike in Copenhagen btw) and you buy your ticket at the machine or you klip your ride by klipping your klippekort. You leave the bus through the front door.
The blue buses:
The blue buses are the regional buses. They have fewer stops in town and drive to the villages and cities outside Århus. You enter them at the front where you buy your ticket at the driver or klip your klippekort. You leave the buses at the middle or back.
All right, and how do I get off?
There are red buttons everywhere in the yellow and blue buses with “stop” written on them. Press them and the bus will stop for you at the next bus-stop. There is a special button for people who want to get off with a pram (there is often an open space in the middle of the bus) so that the driver knows that it might take some time to get off.
Remember that you can always ask the driver for information or help.
Other useful links:
A tourist guide on the homepage of the bus company.
A journey planner that can help you finding the right bus and other travel information for your specific journey.
If you zoom in long enough in Google Maps, you’ll notice blue bus-symbols on the map. Click on these and you’ll see which buses stop at that stop. If you choose a busnumber you’ll even see a timetable.
Here is an example:
View Larger Map