The oldest part of Denmark, the island of Bornholm offers both experiences that are millions of years old and those that are more freshly made. Smoked herring and beer, for example.
Historians estimate that the island was formed some 1,700 million years ago, which would make Bornholm the oldest part of Denmark. At the time, most of what was later to become the Danish landmass was below water.
Some 1,500 million years later, at least two different species of dinosaurs lived on the island. In fact, this is the only place in Denmark where it is possible to actually see dinosaur footprints. While this is a fact that Bornholm’s roughly 42,000 inhabitants quite rightly take pride in, the island has so many other facets that visitors can easily be overwhelmed by the alternatives at hand.
Bornholm looks hospitable already from a distance. One of the first buildings that you will see when arriving to the island’s main town Rønne on board a cruise ship is the Saint Nikolai Church, originally built in the 12th century. The rest of Rønne’s houses are no less characteristic: The town features a fair number of half-timbered houses and winding streets, rendering Rønne a particularly charming atmosphere.
Rønne received its rights as a borough in 1327 and, since then, has continued to be the economic hub of the island. During medieval times, the town had a strategic position in the Baltic Sea. So much so, in fact, that both Swedes and Germans showed an interest in taking over the island from Denmark. The islanders, however, were successful in influencing history in the direction that they preferred.
Herring has been of particular importance to Rønne: The fishing industry gave the town an economic boost during the Middle Ages.
The fishing industry as such might no longer be as important to Rønne and to Bornholm as it used to be. Still, smoked herring continues to be very important here: Most, if not all, of the many holidaymakers that each year make their way to Bornholm probably arrive with the intention of consuming at least one smoked herring during their visit to the island. To many, the ideal companion to a smoked herring is a Danish beer.
At least, smoked herring and beer is what people used to associate with Bornholm. More recently, though, the island has developed into something of a paradise for foodies, with a good range of quality restaurants and small breweries.
Something else that many associate with this easternmost part of Denmark: bicycles. Not least due to its sandy beaches and scenic landscape, Bornholm is a very popular destination for bicycle holidays. In fact, it’s as easy to rent a bike on the island as it is to enjoy smoked herring and a good beer.
Cruise ships dock close to central Rønne. The walking distance to town is about 0.6 miles/1 kilometer.
- Hammershus is perhaps the main attraction on Bornholm. This is Scandinavia’s largest stronghold from the Middle Ages, situated on a mighty rock just by the sea. The construction of the fort started in 1259. Throughout history, Hammershus has belonged to Danes, Germans and, for a very brief period of time, Swedes. Don’t miss the panoramic view from here.
- The exhibitions at the Bornholm Museum focus on different aspects of the island’s history: from the Stone Age to current times. There is a special exhibition with focus on the island’s fishing and maritime trade.
- For something a bit different, consider the Bornholm Bird of Prey Show: a performance by trained predatory birds. Available in both Rønne and at several other different locations on Bornholm.
- Situated some 9.5 miles/15 kilometers from Rønne, Natur Bornholm refers to itself as an “experience center,” where history meets the present day. Activities for children abound at Natur Bornholm, which claims to be the largest construction work since the building of Hammershus in the 13th century (see above). The buildings were conceived by the renowned Danish architect Henning Larsen.
- Want to experience what life could have been like on Bornholm in the Middle Ages? Pay a visit to Bornholms Middelaldercenter (the Bornholm Medieval Centre).
- Joboland is a combination of an amusement park and a more traditional park.
- The island is in no shortage of good restaurants. In addition to the many restaurants found in Rønne, you will find several other places to eat all over the island. For example, try Le Port, renowned for its quality meat. The sea view is another plus for this restaurant. Jantzens Fristelser is another restaurant worth trying, featuring modern Danish and international cuisine. If you fancy a locally produced beer of high quality together with your meal, stop by at Restaurang Bryghuset.
Several different shore excursions can be on offer in Rønne and Bornholm. Examples include:
- Roundtrips of Bornholm can include several of the island’s small towns, such as Gudhjem, Aakirkeby and Svaneke.
- Some shore excursions put focus on Bornholm’s history during the Second World War, when the island was under occupation by German forces. Another interesting aspect of this Danish island is the period immediately after the war, when Soviet forces occupied Bornholm for 11 months.
- In line with Bornholm’s reputation as a favorite destination for bicycle enthusiasts, the island can be experienced on an organized bike tour. Bornholm features 142 miles/200 kilometers of bike paths.
Ferries to Ystad (Sweden) and Copenhagen (Denmark) depart from Rønne every day.
Avid Cruiser Posts, Photographs and Videos Featuring Rønne.
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