Spoiler alert: All Bornholm's fishing towns and villages are pretty! That says a lot about the laid-back feel of Denmark’s sunshine island. Get inspiration for an island tour of Bornholm’s pretty places and you'll get to know Bornholm’s culinary culture and friendly locals along the way!
You’ll probably arrive on Bornholm via its main town, Rønne, so we’ll start here too. As well as being a good pretty place from which to start exploring Bornholm, there’s something special about Rønne. It was badly destroyed at the end of WWII and Sweden donated 175 red timber houses to help rebuild, which you can walk between today. (Thanks, Sweden!)
Nestling on the rocky coast of Bornholm’s Baltic Sea shore, Gudhjem is one of Bornholm’s most popular summer spots. The picturesque holiday town even has its own dish, which you should try on your next visit; Sol over Gudhjem. (And yes, it’s got herring in it.) Explore the cosy alleyways leading down to the lively harbour or climb up to the ridges above Gudhjem for fantastic views of this undeniably pretty place.
With a name this dramatic, you’d expect nothing less than a nearly 1000-year-old hilltop castle ruin where you can take in stunning views of Bornholm island and the Baltic Sea. As well as being the largest castle ruins in Northern Europe, Hammershus’ history is as brutal as any strategic medieval fortress on an isolated island. Still, makes a pleasant backdrop for a day trip now!
Really get away from it all at Svaneke. This pretty place is a fishing village of old, half-timbered cottages and lanes winding down to the cosy harbour, complete with authentic local atmosphere! Sit and take a drink overlooking the water and enjoy the gentle sounds of island life around you. You can also explore the smaller fishing villages and smokehouses nearby, like Bølshavn, Listed or Årsdale.
Long, glorious Dueodde Beach (don’t try to pronounce it) has sand so fine, it was once used to fill hourglasses. As well as being the perfect spot for your walk, swim, picnic etc., it also happens to be the location of a rather special converted beach shack; now the Michelin-starred Kadeau restaurant. Is this the only Michelin-starred beach shack in the world? Probably!
Pretty places? Pretty deadly places more like! Bornholm’s four unique round, white-washed churches, including the largest at Østerlars, doubled as fortresses and the upstairs were designed as shooting galleries to get rid of raiders. Staggering to think that these beautiful structures are so well intact after nearly 900 years!
We actually do have cliffs in Denmark! Bornholm’s dramatic northern coast rises up out of the sea in high rock formations, with powerful names like Sanctuary Cliffs, Lion’s Head and… Jon’s Chapel. (Apparently Jon was a hermit that once lived in caves here.) Just slightly inland of these impressive natural landmarks, you can sit and breath with views over the relaxing, green waters of Bornholm’s Opal Lake.
This pretty place on Bornholm’s west coast is famed for its old herring smokehouses, where you can sample both the unique atmosphere and delicious local specialities. Afterwards, you can swim off your meal at the nearby sandy beaches of Allinge and Sandvig, or from Hasle’s popular wooden swimming platform in the sea.
If Bornholm’s not remote and rugged enough for you, you can jump on a little boat and take a trip over to the even smaller, equally quaint Ertholmene Islands an hour off the coast. No cars or dogs are allowed here. But there are hedgehogs. And an inn, a restaurant and a 17th-century fortress on Christiansø, where they used to send people accused of treason. (This pretty place has improved a lot as a destination since then.)
Nexø is Bornholm’s biggest fishing harbour, but this is Bornholm so big is not really big big. It’s still got a quaint feel, so a pretty place to wander and explore. Nexø, like Rønne, was also partially rebuilt after WWII with help from Sweden (thanks again, Sweden!) See if you can spot more of the gifted red cottages on your way around town and stop off at Nexø’s excellent herring smokehouse.
If you’re looking for a more countryside retreat, head right to the middle of Bornholm, to the little village of Aakirkeby. There lots to do at this pretty place in the country, including a family experience centre, NaturBornholm, and Bornholm’s only vineyard which you can tour and wine taste at. (Yes, we Danes make wine too!)