JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH LOTTE ENGELL FROM BORNHOLM, DENMARK !
For Lotte Engell, a Dane, the island of Bornholm has been a second home. When in Bornholm, she enjoys putting on her hiking boots and walking in the untouched nature of the island. She also likes to just relax with good Bornholm ice cream, beer or one of the other local specialties.
Bornholm is a small Danish island with untouched nature located in the Baltic Sea. It is approximately 169 km southeast of the Danish capital city of Copenhagen, about 37 km southeast of the Kingdom of Sweden, to the north of Poland, and northeast of Germany. It is closer to Sweden and Poland than to mainland Denmark.
For every harbour of Bornholm there is a little cosy town. The island comprises of many quaint towns. The most important of which are Ronne, Gudhjem, Hasle and Svaneke. Rønne is the largest town on the island. The airport, ferry departures, restaurants and nightlife can be found there. Gudhjem has the ferry to Christiansø and many arts-and crafts shops. Svaneke is where you can find the famous glassblower, Pernille Bülowr. Allinge is a tourist town on the northern tip of the island with many hotels. Nexø is a fishing town on the east side of Bornholm. Akirkeby is the main town in the southern part of Bornholm.
For a country that spends a large portion of the year in near darkness, Bornholm gets the most hours of sunshine in all of Denmark. The island has been blessed by nature and mankind both. The rocky cliffs, beautiful rift valleys, white sand beaches, dense forests and sunny skies are a reminder of its natural beauty. On the other hand, its cute fishing villages, medieval fortresses, four round churches (called rundekirke) and culinary culture are human creations which attract tourists to the island. Most of the islanders now live from tourism or agriculture.
Please tell us something about your connection with Bornholm?
Bornholm is my second home and has always been a part of my life. My father and his family are Bornholmers (dating all the way back to 1567). 17 years ago my husband and I bought the most beautiful little cottage on Nordbornholm, which both we and our children love. We go there as often as possible. Whether it is a weekend, a few days or several weeks of holiday, we enjoy going to Bornholm.
For many years Bornholm has been an island to visit in the summer – this is luckily changing as more and more places are open all year round. Personally, I would choose spring, May or June, where flowers and trees are springing. Before the peak season has really begun. Summer is really wonderful, but if you like it bit less crowded, the early autumn could certainly also be an option.
A sub-region of Denmark, how different would you say is life on Bornholm from mainland Denmark and neighbouring Sweden?
An old legend says “When God had created Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, he had the most beautiful part left. He threw it in the Baltic Sea, it became Bornholm.” This small island in the middle of the Baltic Sea, has an area of 588.3 km2 and a coastline of 158 km. Just under 40,000 people live permanently on Bornholm.
Living on a small island means that life is very different at times. Island life is a different pace, here there is no railway and no highways.
Bornholm, “the sunshine island”, “the rocky island”, “the pearl of the Baltic Sea”, dear children have many names – as we say in Denmark. One thing is for sure, Bornholm is popular like never before, and you will understand why once you have been there because even though the island is small, it has an infinite amount of possibilities to offer.
What are the best possible ways to reach Bornholm?
Bornholm is located in the middle of the Baltic Sea, completely isolated from the rest of Denmark.
- Most tourists come by car with the ferry from Ystad (City in southern Sweden) to Rønne, which takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.
- You can also sail from Zealand (Køge) to Rønne, which takes 6 hours.
- Many German tourists sail directly from Germany, Sassnitz, to Rønne, this trip takes 3 hours and 20 min.
- If you do not have a car, you can take the Greyhound bus from Copenhagen to through Sweden to Rønne.
- Finally, you can fly to Bornholm (mainly domestic routes), just outside Rønne (The “Capital” of Bornholm), which takes approx. 35 minutes.
How to get around the island?
There are bus routes on most of the island and you can often bring your bike on the bus. Timetables can be seen on www.bat.dk. There are also taxis, which typically stop at the ferry and at the airport (it’s expensive). It is also possible to rent a car but remember to book well in advance if you arrive in peak season.
There are also several tourists who choose to experience the island hiking or biking – you can rent bikes in many places on the island. As previously described, there is no railway here anymore, many of the old railway lines have been converted to cycle paths. You can stay overnight in hotels, camping, B&B, Airbnb or in one of the many shelters around the island.
Bornholm is a collection of several towns and fishing villages. Which ones would you absolutely suggest visiting?
There are many cozy towns / fishing villages, all of which have their own charm. It’s hard to pick one out, but if I had to give it a try anyway, it could be Helligpeder and Teglkås. They are located just north of Hasle, on the west coast of Bornholm.
Here are old fishing houses and old smokehouses, as well as two small harbors. There are no shops or cafes here, but charm on a high level. There are a few tables and benches around, where you can enjoy brought food. Enjoy the quiet, only interupted by ducks, and the sound of waves crashing. I recommend staying to watch a sunset.
What are the five must visit places on the island?
It’s difficult to pick only five places, as there are so many wonderful and exciting places on Bornholm. You’ll find nature, history, gourmet experiences, activities for children and adults – no matter your interests, Bornholm is the place to go. But let me give it a try 🙂
Hammershus : One thing is for sure, Hammershus castle ruins from the end of the 13th century is a must. Northern Europe’s largest castle ruin. Understandably, Bornholm’s most visited attraction. Start your visit to the visitor center. Here is an exhibition where you can get an overview of the history of Hammershus. Here is also the opportunity to buy something to eat and drink, as well as toilets. You can go on your own, or you can join a guided tour.
When you reach the castle, which is 70 meters above sea level, feel the buzz of history, enjoy the spectacular view and try to spot Sweden on the horizon. You can easily spend several hours on and around the ruin. Walk down the many steps and see the rock formation “Camelhead” and “Lion’s head” out in the water at “foot” of Hammershus .
How to Reach : Driver or take bus from Rønne which stops near the parking lot and takes about 55 minutes.
Gudhjem : Denmark’s only “mountain” town. Gudhjem is beautifully located on the northeastern side of Bornholm. Park the car at the top of the city and walk down the steep and cozy street, which leads down to one of the two ports in the city. The harbor is blasted into the rocks, which on a summer day, almost gives a south european atmosphere.
From Gudhjem you can sail to Christiansø (Ertholmene), which is Denmark’s easternmost point. Or you can take a sail trip along the beautiful rocky shore to the Shrine Cliffs (Helligdomsklipper) and back with the small, and more than 100 years old, boat M/S Thor. One can get off and explore the Shrine Cliffs from land with many viewpoints. The boat sails in the period mid-April to mid-October. You can book ticket at http://www.ms-thor.dk.
Gudhjem got, as the first town on the island, a smokehouse, in 1866. And as you might have guessed by its name, “Sun over Gudhjem” was invented in this city. The town is incredibly charming with old streets, small half-timbered houses, and houses with hollyhocks, fig trees and many with rock outcrops. In clear weather you can look to Ertholmene.
Gudhjem has small shops, hotels, restaurants, cafes, good bakery, a glasswork, smokehouse – and if you have a sweet tooth, you must pass the “Karameleriet” where you can buy the most delicious and soft caramels, that don’t get stuck in your teeth. Tastings are always offered😉. Enjoy an ice cream waffle and sit up on the rocks, over the harbor and just enjoy the moment. Do not cheat yourself from going up to the church and enjoy the view over the city’s houses with red roofs that are nicely tucked into the hillside.
Go down to the harbor again and walk through the city and on towards the other small harbor, Nørresand. Here it is primarily sailors who dock. Close to “Nørresand” is a cozy cafe, where you can buy delicious food and drink while enjoying the Baltic Sea and some of the Bornholm’s rocky coast. Now you can continue approx. 100 meters and experience Denmark’s only “hairpin turn” which have 2 turns. At the first turn, there is a gate where you can go up. Here are grazing sheep that walk freely. On the “top” there is a flagpole and a bench with yet another nice view of Gudhjem and its many chimneys, and of course the Baltic Sea. Continue up to the road where you started your trip in Gudhjem.
How to Reach : The best way to get from Rønne to Gudhjem without a car is to line 3 bus which takes 37 min.
Svaneke : Svaneke is also a small “pearl” located approx. 16 km south of Gudhjem. It is Denmarks easternmost market town; the city was in 2018 named Denmark’s most beautiful market town. It is incredibly nice to walk around the streets, where there are several old half-timbered houses dating back to the 1700s – 1800s. Here you will find many temptations, especially if you have a sweet tooth. Svaneke sweets are made here in a working shop (with tastings). The very famous Bülow Licorice are made here as well. There are shops where homemade wine gum, caramels, chocolate, and ice cream are sold in many varieties.
At Svaneke Bryghus (Svaneke Brewery) you can eat and enjoy their famous beer “Svanekebryg” (Svaneke brew). They are brewing several different types beers. Go visit the glassblower and see how the glassblowers work – a great place to find a souvenir. On the tabour you’ll find Svaneke smokehouse serving and selling everything your heart desires. And of course, the famous “Sol over Gudhjem”, which here is called “Solstrejf”. You might also spot the beautiful red church, which is located high above the city. The church was built approx. year 1350.
How to Reach : The best way to get from Rønne to Svaneke without a car is to line 4 bus which takes around 40 minutes.
Ekkodalen : Ekkodalen is Bornholm’s largest fissure valley and stretches 12 km. Drive to Ekkodalshuset, follow the sign to “Ekkodalen”, and don’t afraid of people shouting. They are trying to get an echo (as the name implies) – in danish you would shout “Hvad drikker Møller ” and the valley answers “øller” – Q:What does Møller drink. A: Beer (well, it does not rhyme when translated😊 It could of course be “ink”) – Go ahead and give it a try yourself. Back at Ekkodalshuset, try to order a “Tartelet” which is a puff pastry bowl that was filled with the most delicious chicken meat and asparagus in a heavenly filling sauce (be aware it is big). There are reasonable prices and great service. It is very popular, so book a table in advance at http://www.ekkodalshuset.dk.
Helligdomsklipperne – The sanctuary rocks : On the northeastern Bornholm is Helligdomsklipperne, an area with rocks up to 20 meters high which are steeply rugged with deep gorges and caves. Another completely unique piece of Denmark. Wear good shoes / hiking boots. You can choose to go up and enjoy the view from the many lookout points, or you can choose to go down the many stairs and enjoy the view from there, or both;) There are 3 caves, the most famous Black Pot, which is 60 meters deep. You can enter it by a footbridge. From here you can climb down a steep metal ladder and then you stand in front of the entrance to the cave “Sorte Gryde” (Black Pot). If you choose to enter the cave, remember a flashlight. Maybe you are lucky enough to meet the rare Grotte spider.
You park at Bornholm’s art museum and walk off a gravel path. You can also walk from Gudhjem 6 km, walk back or sail back, with M / S Thor.
Which adventure activities can one indulge in when visiting Bornholm?
Ropeway at a height of 48 meters : If you aren’t scared of heights, and love a rush of adrenalin, read this. One of the island’s very popular activities in the summer is located on Nordbornholm, by Lake Opal. Here a ropeway has been set up across the lake. 290 meters long. You “jump” out of a rock (an old granite quarry) at a height of 48 meters and land in Lake Opal. There are professional staff who help and guide you.
Rock climbing and rappelling : The only place where you can climb cliffs in Denmark is on Bornholm. There are 3 different places on Nordbornholm where you can climb cliffs – Vang granite quarry, Moseløkken quarry and Opal Lake. There are different levels of difficulty and remember always do it with a local guide.
With miles of coastline to explore which according to you are the best beaches of Bornholm?
There are many beautiful beaches on the Bornholm.
Dueodde : The most famous beach is probably Dueodde beach, which is located on the southernmost tip of Bornholm. Dueodde beach is one of the finest beaches in Northern Europe. Lonely Planet has mentioned Dueodde as one of Europe’s 20 best beaches. The beach is several kilometers long and has the finest white sand. Previously, the sand from Dueodde was used in hourglasses.
If you come by car, you can park by the lighthouse road. From here, a wooden bridge goes 500 meters through the dunes down to the beach. So, it is easy to walk, also for prams. By Fyr-vejen there are toilets, there is a kiosk where you, among other things, can buy ice cream and beverage. In addition, there is a restaurant and a small shop with lots of souvenirs.
On Dueodde there is a very tall lighthouse (47 meters high) that you can enter. There are many steps, but you are rewarded with the most beautiful views of the beach, the dunes, and the Baltic Sea.
Hullehavn – Svaneke : If you drive northeast along the coast, there are many small beaches. The beach Hullehavn, is a good option. Here you’ll find a small beach, rocks, and a bridge out to a seesaw, from where you can jump into the sea. By the beach is a cozy cafe “East of Paradise” in the summer months there is often live music. In addition, there is also a small campsite.
Sandkås : My favorite beach is located in the small bay in Sandkås, 2 kilometers south of Allinge. In fact, there are 2 beaches, on each side of the bay. Both beaches are child friendly. During the summer months the cozy beach bar is open with food, beverage, wine etc. There is yoga on the beach every morning at 9.00. You just show up. Occasionally there is also live music. Super cozy and worth a visit.
I could keep mentioning names, but better go give it a try. There are beaches almost all around the island.
Bornholm is the first region in Europe to have been honoured with the title of World Craft Region. Where can tourists admire its outstanding art or shop them?
In 2017, Bornholm was honored with the title World Craft Region, as the first in Europe and first island in the world which has put the spotlight on some of the world’s most talented artisans in the world. Around the island you can admire the Bornholm art. Both in ceramics, glass art, galleries, jewelry etc.
There are several museums including Bornholm Art Museum, in Rø. Fantastically, beautifully situated in the nature around the Shrine Cliffs. There are views of the Baltic Sea. The museum has changing exhibitions. There is a nice shop where you can shop art posters and other exciting things. Check out the museum at www.bornholms-kunstmuseum.dk
In Hasle is “Grønbechs Gård”, an old grocery farm from 1875. The grocery farm has been beautifully renovated, with respect for the old visible beams and postwork. “Købmandsgården” (The grocery store) is 1,500 m2 spread over 3 floors. In the summer, the best Bornholm and international handicrafts are exhibited. Here is the opportunity to look and buy the fine products. Various events, concerts and workshops are regularly arranged. Check out www.groenbechsgaard.dk
What is the local produce and cuisine of Bornholm?
The Bornholm cuisine make a lot of use of the local ingredients and use the ingredients that are in the nature around us.
On Bornholm, fish has always been a natural part of the kitchen. A real Bornholm specialty is salt-fried herring with beets, soft onions and Bornholm mustard, drink a cold Bornholm beer and maybe another schnapps – Bon appetite. A good Bornholm rooster with new potatoes and cucumber salad is worth having a taste of.
Around the island there are many delicious fish buffets. There is typically “all you can eat” for a fixed price of around DKK 200. Bornholm is and has always been known for its smoked herring. There are several places on the island where you can find a smokehouse, which typically has a fish buffet – so do not deceive yourself from trying “Sol over Gudhjem” as it is called. It consists of a piece of rye bread with butter and the “famous” smoked herring with raw egg yolk, radish, and chives on – velbekommen!
In 2016, the restaurant “Kadeau Bornholm” received a Michelin star, the island’s first. Since then, many good restaurants have opened. Since 2009 even Denmark’s largest chefs’ competition is held on Bornholm and is called “Sol over Gudhjem”. The competition is held every year in June.
Which places on the island do you recommend for trying the local cuisine?
If I should come up with 3 recommendations for where to try the local cuisine, that would be:
Kadeau : “Kadeau” is definitely a recommendation if you want to try something a little out of the ordinary. “Kadeau” is located on south Bornholm, south of Pedersker. Check it out on their website http://www.kadeau.dk
Nordlandet : “Nordlandet” in Allinge is definitely also on my top-3. Here you eat fantastic Nordic food, inspired by Bornholm. “Nordlandet” is located in Sandvig (north Bornholm). Check out their website http://www.hotelnordlandet.com
Le Port : “Le Port”, located in Vang, must be my 3rd and final recommendation. French-inspired food is served here, based on local Bornholm ingredients. Le port has a large terrace where you can enjoy your food in good weather, with sunset and look at the Hammer. Bon appetite.
Are there any popular markets on Bornholm which tourists can visit?
At the tourist offices or on the ferry on the way to Bornholm you can get free “Denne uges Bornholm” (Bornholm this week). Here you can see what and where the different things take place, while you are on the island.
Anything that one must bring back from Bornholm?
It can be anything from local art to some of the many delicious Bornholm delicacies. Svaneke sweets, chocolate from Kjerstrup, caramels, ceramics, glass, gin, schnapps, beer, pasta, pesto, or the good Bornholm mustard. I could go on and on, there are many temptations.
If you want to bring home unique glass art, then a visit to Baltic Sea glass, in Gudhjem, is worth the trip.
As a local would you give any suggestion to tourists visiting the island?
Take to boat to Christians Ø (The isle of Christian), stay overnight (book well in advance). It is very special when the last boat has sailed back to Bornholm, and the calm descends over the island.
An evening trip with MS Thor from Gudhjem is also a particularly beautiful experience.
Take a boat trip (in calm weather) from Hammerhavn, and experience Hammershus from the water side.
Bornholm is also known for its fine chubby round churches. There are 4 round churches – Østerlars, Nyker, Olsker and Nylars – they are from approx. years 1100-1200. Visit at least one of them, the largest and most famous being Østerlars round church.
Otherwise, enjoy the beautiful island, buy a sandwich and a drink, and find a rock, sit down and just enjoy the moment 🙂 Please follow my instagram to know more @mitbedstebornholm.
THINGS TO KNOW
Denmark is a Scandinavian country located in Northern Europe. It comprises of more than 440 named islands including Zealand, Bornholm, Funen, Falster, and Lolland. Covering an area of 588.36 km2, Bornholm is a small Danish island located in the Baltics.
Copenhagen to Bornholm :
Here are your options to get to Bornholm island –
By plane :
You can fly directly in just 35 minutes from Copenhagen or Jutland. Bornholm airport is located in Rønne, just 4 km from the city centre.
Car + ferry :
You can take the Bornholm ferry from Sweden, Germany, Poland and several places in Denmark. Find schedule and prices here: bornholmslinjen.com
Bus + ferry :
You can also take the bus from Copenhagen. The Bornholmerbus coach service (route 866) departs all year from Copenhagen train station to the ferry terminal in Ystad, Sweden from where you can take ferry to Rønne, Bornholm. You can also take Bus 700 where you’ll be on the bus all the way from Copenhagen to Bornholm. The trip takes 2.5 hours.
Geographical Placing of Bornholm :
Nearest Danish coast is Møns Klint 135 km away
Shortest distance to Sweden is 37 km
Rügen is 88 km away and Russia lies 300 km to the east
By sea to Copenhagen there is 180 km
Bornholm in Numbers :
Area: 588.3 square kilometres
Coastal length: 158 km
Longest distance in direct line : Is from Hammeren to Dueodde is 40 km
Bicycle tracks : In total 235 km
Bornholm Key Facts :
Language Spoken : Bornholmsk (East Danish dialect), Danish
Currency : Danish Kroner
Bornholm Tourist Information :
Official website of the goverment of Bornholm : https://bornholm.info/en/
Tel.: +0045 56959500
Danish words to learn :
Hello -> Hej
Yes/No -> Ja / Nej
How are you? -> Hvordan har du det?
Do you speak English? -> Taler du engelska?
Thanks/Don’t Mention/You’re Welcome -> Tak/Nævn ikke/Du er velkommen
Goodbye -> Farvel