The island of Bornholm is the easternmost part of Denmark, more than 100 kilometers from the country’s mainland. It is located south of Sweden and north of Germany and Poland in the Baltic Sea. It is a popular summer vacation spot with plenty of vacation homes. Up to 40 kilometers in length and a maximum 30 kilometers wide, Bornholm has some twenty small communities and a small town named Rønne. Altogether, the island has almost 40,000 permanent residents.
The island is mostly flat with minor hills in the interior and features a coastline with a total length of 158 kilometers. This is where visitors are mostly drawn, although the average summer temperatures rarely surpass 20°C. There is a small airport on Bornholm with domestic connections, but most visitors arrive by car ferries which are available in Ystad in Sweden, Sassnitz in Germany and Swinoujscie in Poland.
As temperatures are often not particularly inviting to sunbathing and swimming, many visitors do sightseeing on the island. Among the attractions of Bornholm, the historic windmills are probably rank highest in popularity. There are several windmills worth visiting on Bornholm, including four in the village of Gudhjem and five in Aakirkeby in the interior. Most of these mills have been constructed in the 19th century, with notable exceptions: In Svaneke, a picturesque community with a pretty old town section, there is a mill that dates back to 1629.
Another major attraction of Bornholm is Hammershus, the largest medieval fortification in Scandinavia. The fortress, built in the 13th century, served as a refuge for the archbishops in a long series of feuds against the Danish kings. Located at Bornholm’s northernmost tip, Hammershus remains a ruin today, but the original structure consisting of a residence, a tower and a long stonewall protecting the grounds is still recognizable. As the fortress stands slightly elevated, it offers great views of the coast.
In addition to the windmills, other buildings can be considered characteristic for the area. This includes round churches, of which there are four on Bornholm. The most notable one is Østerlars Church near Gudhjem in the island’s northern half. The three-story church was built in the mid-12th century and features a pulpit from the 16th century as well as frescos that are believed to be more than 600 years old. Also, several lighthouses on the island are popular with visitors. One of them, Dueodde Lighthouse in the far South of the island, is Denmark’s tallest with a height of 47 meters.
Many of the smaller communities on the island become very quiet outside of the summer main season. Some businesses may even close once the tourists are gone. However, this is still a good time to visit the pretty little towns of Bornholm. Nexø for example, the island’s second-largest town and an important ferry port, has the charms of a fishing village. Visitors may enjoy visiting the Bornholm Butterfly Park here or enjoy watching the fishermen take care of their haul.
Rønne, the largest town of Bornholm, is well known for its historic old town, where hundreds of wooden houses, together with the cobblestoned streets, create a romantic atmosphere and a lot of photo ops. Attractions in town include the Bornholm Museum, the slender lighthouse and the harbor area that bustles with activity during the season.