Off The Beaten Track: Bornholm

It’s fine to visit the European capitals. The bustling cities are often bursting with cultural attractions, history and atmosphere all with the added bonus of being well designed for visitors. These days, however, smaller locations which are uniquely interesting and off the beaten tourist track are becoming harder to come by.  I want to draw your attention to the small Danish island of Bornholm and why it is definitely worth a visit.

Where is it?

Bornholm is located in the Baltic Sea; just off the east coast of Denmark, south of Sweden and north of Poland. It is accessible by ferry or plane to possibly the smallest airport I have ever visited. There are two popular ferry/bus combinations which run from Copenhagen, Denmark or Ystad, Sweden to Rønne, the islands largest town (www.bornholmerbussen.dk, Bus 886). The journey is inexpensive, 225kr for the bus and ferry combination per adult (roughly £26) from Copenhagen’s central station, rendering the island perfect for a weekend getaway during a visit to northern Europe.

When to go?

As it lies so far east of Denmark, Bornholm possesses a much a sunnier climate and is generally warmer than the rest of the country, which is ideal for outside activities (“Bornholm” literally translates as “sunny island”). However, the island can become more popular with Danes during the holiday season, especially for school trips, so I would advise going in spring or autumn. Additionally, visiting at the quieter time of year will enable you to really appreciate the island in all its natural glory – during my visit I saw very few people at all and the majority I did run into were very friendly locals.

What to do?

Cycling is by far the best and easiest way to explore the island and bike rentals are easy to come by in the larger towns and villages.  Prices start from about 50kr per day and become cheaper if you want to rent for a week. Walking will also let you see the island at its most beautiful. There are cycle paths and rambler’s paths all around Bornholm and these will guide you from small, peaceful beaches, postcard villages, picturesque harbours to rock pools and forests (for more information see www.bornholm.info/temaferie/cykel).  Make time to explore the castles and churches scattered across the island; Bornholm is home to several round churches which are rare in Denmark and also to Hammerhus, the largest medieval castle ruin in Scandinavia.

What to eat?

Fishing used to be the main industry of the island, and is very popular throughout Denmark. The island is home to several Smokehouses but if you don’t fancy the idea of seeing that much fish at once, purchasing fresh fish from the fishmonger or in a restaurant is a must, smoked herring being one of the most popular delicacies.

Where to Stay?

Depending on what you wish to get out of your stay and your budget there is something for everyone. I stayed in a self-catered cabin, hand built by the owner, which allowed us to take our trip at our own pace and privacy. Additionally being self catered ensured that the stay was not expensive; a standard cabin starts at 450kr per night based on four people sharing in low season, which is roughly £12 pppn, see www.sandvigcamping.dk. There are also five Danhostel Youth Hostels on the island and a number of cosy hotels and guest houses if being pampered is more your thing. 

Many thanks to Christian Wiesner, Genek's Cards, Ole Mikael Soerensen, Syzmon Nitka, Emily Kay Bachman and Christine Bovig for their images.  

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