The small, rocky island of Bornholm has gradually turned into one of the hippest foodie islands in Europe. Escape the summer crowds and risk a bit of autumn rain on the ”sunshine island”, affectionately known as The Pearl of the Baltic Sea.
Join travel writer Karina Janø as she discovers the splendid north eastern part of this delicious island
From the rugged cliffs in the north to the über soft sand in the south, Danish island Bornholm is a true gem.
The dialect begins to change as you reach this most easterly located part of the country – but isolation from the rest of Denmark can be an asset.
No longer defined by the fishing industry, self-reliance and island mentality has established pride in local produce (with the occasional outside influence).
Now, there are endless possibilities for savouring the native delicacies, each made with love.
Sights and activities
When you need some fresh air away from the plethora of museums and galleries, Bornholm offers ample opportunity for hiking, biking, climbing and more.
The nature is attractive all over but highlights include Almindingen (meaning “all man’s property” – a place where many animals once grazed but now there’s only a meagre chance of bumping into a bison or two!) and Helligdomsklipperne, with its deep and intriguing grottos.
The most famous sight is Hammershus, Northern Europe’s largest ruin of a medieval fortification with a new visitor centre.
Pay a visit to enjoy the Danish favourite open sandwich smørrebrød supreme at restaurant Solveig – a member of the Michelin-starred Kadeau family. And don’t miss the special medieval round churches, the most famous being the one in Østerlars.
Many small pretty towns are dotted over the island; highlights include the east coast fishing villages of Gudhjem and Svaneke. All of Gudhjem comes together to celebrate Halloween in week 42 where the Dane’s have their official autumn holiday.
After a walk in one of the fairytale forests, this completes the cozy autumn experience. From Gudhjem you can also catch a daily boat to the small protected island of Christiansø, an old navy area also well worth a visit.
Next to agricultural museum Melstedgård you will find gaarden – Bornholm’s centre for food culture. Pay a visit and help prepare new and old Bornholmian specialities with experts and historians at classes or theme nights. You can also shop at the islands biggest store for local produce or hit the café when feeling peckish.
You can spot the distinctly shaped chimneys of the smokehouses in most seaside towns on Bornholm, where you can devour excellent smoked fish like herring or mackerel.
Often served with the traditional Danish rye bread, this is a Viking-healthy lunch you don’t want to miss out on.
Ever inspired by the surrounding nature, these islanders have a longstanding tradition for arts and crafts – especially glassware and ceramics. If you fancy the simple Nordic style handmade ceramics table ware at Nordlandet and Kadeau, head to small town Listed to take some home.
Customers line up in front up the small shop to buy the products by Lov i Listed, currently struggling to keep of with demand. For similar simple beauty try Paudals, or for heavier structure go to Maja Frendrup Keramik – both located in Allinge.
Famed Noma did also look to Bornholm when they were setting the table – if you fancy their dinnerware go to historic Hjorts Fabrik in main town Rønne.
3 Gourmet sweet treats
It is easy to combine your love of shopping with the love of good taste on Bornholm – literally!
From organic breweries, makers of pasta, mustard and a plethora of other products, the island that brought the Danes the unmissable gourmet liquorice from Bülow does not disappoint on the sweet side either.
In postcard pretty Svaneke, you will find a small market every Saturday with goods like honey and vegetables. In one of the 200-year-old houses surrounding the square, wait in line for what might be the best cream puffs in the country at Svaneke Chokoladeri.
Handmade on site and mostly organic, the chocolate is simply delightful. The shop is open year round and outside you will find people enjoying the many kinds of “flødeboller” – cream puffs.
Next door you will also find a family-owned sweets paradise, where the team at Bolcheriet hand-craft hard candy in front of you. Mostly made of organic cane sugar, natural aromas and colour, you can even order personalised treats. For hand-made ice cream simply cross the square, it’s just never too cold for this.
4 Sueños Coffee
Did someone say coffee? Drive into the countryside and visit Helle and Jakob on their small farm near Gudhjem. Working internationally with development projects these two environmental planners decided to make a coffee roastery after four years of living and doing research in Central America.
They named it Sueños, meaning dreams, as they dreamt of buying a house in Nicaragua – a dream that later on did come true.
Eager to help a family they met there, they bought a small piece of their land with a healthy biodiversity and started importing coffee beans grown there at 25% above Fairtrade price for organically grown coffee. Listen to their story over a cup of full-bodied coffee and stock up on the aromatic beans from this social economic company whilst you’re there.
5 Gourmet restaurants
It’s dinnertime and all along this coast you will not be bereft of opportunities to eat locally sourced gourmet food. Furthest north you will find Nordlandet x Pony and Restaurant Vilhelm in Allinge, whilst near Gudhjem try Stammershalle or Melsted Badehotel.
Pay attention to opening hours, this is a small island and things slow down in the off-season. Some places close down completely during winter months, so plan ahead.
Make it happen
Visit bornholm.info to find out more and plan the adventure.