Hammershus Slot facade facing Baltic Sea in island of Bornholm. Oldest medieval castle in Scandinavia. Photo by Serge Olivera

Go World Travel is reader-supported and may earn a commission from purchases made through links in this piece.

Sailing to Bornholm:

As I board the ferry boat from Ystad, Sweden, to Rønne, Bornholm, I am amazed by the enormity and importance of this ferry called Færge, meaning ‘ferry boat’ in Danish. The ferry boat transports not just passengers, but vehicles as well.

Many passengers are Danish nationals visiting family or friends or groups of workers commuting to work between Sweden and the island of Bornholm. The journey from Ystad, Sweden to Rønne, Bornholm is about 2,5 hours.

Best Tips & Tools to Plan Your Trip

A bit long for some, but I am amazed by the reflection of the sun on the surface of the water as well as the vast open sea navigating through the Baltic Sea.

Bornholm coast at top of hill of Hammershus Slot (Hammershus castle). Photo by Serge Olivera
Bornholm coast at top of hill of Hammershus Slot (Hammershus castle). Photo by Serge Olivera

Historic Danish island:

As this island contains much history, few know how important this island meant for Nazi Germany during the second world war. The island became a natural fortress as well as keeping submarines and destroyers away from Nazi territory.

Concrete installations were built along the coast by the Nazis but were never used during the war. Soviet forces were also involved during the Second World War, but to the liberation of a Nazi surrender. The Soviets heavily bombarded the two main cities of Rønne and Nexø to force the Nazis to surrender.

The German garrisons eventually surrendered on 9 May 1945. Consequently, the island was reoccupied by the Danish on 5 April 1946. (Bornholm Museum)

The city centre of the city of Rønne in island of Bornholm, Denmark. Photo by Serge Olivera
The city center of Rønne is in the island of Bornholm, Denmark. Photo by Serge Olivera

Hidden Gems:

While many parts of Rønne seem calm after the work day, the biggest reward I get is walking through the streets and finding hidden gems. Walking into the city center of Rønne, the classic Danish architecture is noticeable with orange pitched roofs and either white, red or orange facades.

The streets are narrow, some paved with cobblestones, and the highest office buildings are only three stories high. The city vibes are quite mellow from Friday to Sunday as most locals stay home and spend time at other sides of the island.

The hidden gems are evident in this lovely Danish city. Walking along the street of Snellemark, I found many popular clothing shops such as #H&M and a variety of restaurants ranging from Italian to Thai. I was able to find interesting local businesses selling artwork, accessories or chocolatiers while walking through the street of Nørregade.

To really enjoy the beauty of the island, naturally, I had to do excursions outside the city of Rønne by car. There is limited bus service between the city of Rønne and the eastern side of the island. So, I jetted off to hire a car. Then, my curiosity led me to the city of Svaneke on the eastern side of the island.

There you will find another quintessential Danish city with the smell of fresh fish being cooked on old wooden stoves along the coast and the serenity of the calm Baltic Sea. Feel free to get all the fresh fish at Svaneke Rogeri, but best to avoid the long queues just before the beginning of the busy summer season during mid-April.

What is an island without sweet ice cream? The Danish ice cream Bornholm Ismejeri and Kaffebar self-proclaims to be the ‘Best ice cream in the world’ located in the city of Svaneke. Here this ice cream parlor is not shy in making everything big in their ice creams.

If you enjoy big portions of ice cream that tower over your face on an ice cream cone and add all the different types of toppings, then, this is a must ice cream parlor to visit.

Faergen ferry ready to depart to the island of Bonrholm, Denmark here in the port city of Ystad, Sweden. Photo by Serge Olivera
Faergen ferry ready to depart to the island of Bonrholm, Denmark here in the port city of Ystad, Sweden. Photo by Serge Olivera
Get digital nomad insurance for your next trip with Safety Wing.
Also, check out SquareMouth for your travel insurance needs.

Discovering Caves:

With one of Europe’s most incredible rock formations that originated from the #IceAge, Bornholm has also become one of Europe’s most incredible destinations to hike along the cliffs. Exploring through the rocky cliffs, I stumble upon a small cave. Quite small the only way to enter and exit is through a ladder, which was purposely left in order to access the cave.

As I climb down the ladder, I realize that it is quite small and can only be accessed by one person at a time. I grabbed my flashlight from my backpack to aid in navigating into the tight cave. Of course, I felt claustrophobic, but I don’t recommend this to people who cannot be in tight places for long periods.

Stepping inside the cave the rock formations look quite uniform as if two slanted walls were closing in on me. It gets narrower as I try to explore more inside the cave. Then, I realize that there is a passage down this cave that falls into a puddle of unknown proportions so I hesitate and retrieve from moving further to avoid being stuck inside this narrow cave.

Medievel Fortress:

On the last leg of my Bornholm expedition, I stopped at the northernmost tip of the island of Bornholm to visit the oldest Danish castle ruins of Hammershus Slot. The Danish call this a castle, but its purpose was mostly to be a defense fort. It is the largest medieval fort in Northern Europe and is situated on a hilltop overlooking the Baltic Sea at 74 meters above sea level.

The Hammershus Slot consisted of a castle residence, a grand tower called ‘mantel tower’, and a 750-metre-long wall surrounding the perimeter of the castle. The castle was built in the 13th century, occupied by the Swedes in the 16th century, reconquered by the Danish, and used to imprison bishops and enemies alike.

As I approach the base of the castle, I am in awe of the size of the property and the well-preserved ruins of the castle. The perimeter wall was the defense mechanism against outside enemies through its megalithic size.

Walking around the perimeter I noticed how well the Danish have preserved these ruins through the years as the island goes through acute weather patterns and strong winds from the Baltic Sea. From the distance, I can see the remains of the tall mantel tower and the half-partition walls.

The aging stone and brick walls give that nostalgic feel of the medieval ages here in Denmark. The multiple small arched window cutouts on the mantel tower and the exterior walls imply how important sight and sound were to detect enemies approaching the fortress.

Walking along the sloped rocky terrain around the fortress resembles the Danish defense strategy to slow down enemies attempting to approach the fortress on foot or on horseback. The most spectacular views of this northern part of the island are at the lower base of the Hammershus fort.

There is a zigzagging dirt pathway that I follow down this small rocky cliff that runs along the coast of the island. The views down here of the immense Baltic Sea and the waves crashing against the rocky cliffs are truly spectacular.

Whether it be in the ‘offseason’ (autumn/winter) or the ‘high season’ (spring/summer), there is something special roaming through Bornholm. On my next visit I look forward to heading down to the southeastern beach city of Dueodde where apparently, you can surf some of the best waves in the Baltic Sea!

Inspire your next adventure with our articles below:

Author Bio: Serge Olivera has been traveling to Denmark and Sweden for 5 years. He taught himself both the Danish and Swedish languages. His niche is exploring the hidden beauty of Denmark and Sweden beyond its capital cities and traveling through the vast landscapes as well as rocky coastlines.

Latest posts by Go World Travel Magazine (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *