A Bornholm Experience: DIS Slow Travel Initiative

DIS Copenhagen students Laura, Ennosen, Spencer, and Sean share a passion for sustainable solutions, and have set out to explore slow travel Denmark together. While studying abroad in Denmark, they set out to explore the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea through the DIS Slow Travel initiative. Read below to learn more about their experience slow travelling through Denmark.

The Journey

Day 1:

We were all so excited to have another opportunity to slow travel in Denmark. We’d decided on Bornholm, an island off the southern tip of Sweden. Known for its sunshine and fish smokehouses, we were all very excited to explore. Our trip started at Copenhagen Central Station, a gorgeous old building, where we got on a bus that seemed to be three times the length of your average bus. It was springtime in Denmark, and lots of people were headed to Bornholm to celebrate Påske, or Easter, that weekend. After the quite bumpy bus ride to Ystad, Sweden, our mode of transit was ferry.

With the blue sea as the living room for our voyage, the trip was already off to a good start. We landed at the port of Bornholm in the small town of Rønne. While we waited for our bus to take us to Gudhjem, we explored around a bit, admiring the cute old town.

Our bus trip to our Airbnb brought us further into the island and was full of naps and quiet enjoyment of the scenery. Bornholm had a mixture of farmlands, some forestry, ocean cliffs, and fields. The town of Gudhjem was a sight to behold. With the orange shingled homes near the rich blue of the harbor, Gudhjem truly owned up to its name, God’s House. As the bus dropped us off, we heaved our luggage by cute shops and into our home for the next couple of days. 

Getting a sense of Gudhjem. We spent a while at the shoreline, collecting both seaglass and trash.

Day 2:

One of the best forms of slow traveling is biking. Because you are not only offered faster transportation than walking but it’s also sustainable so you get to go where you want, whenever you want. Knowing the windy attitude Denmark’s weather could have, E-bikes was the transportation we chose for the majority of our trip.

E-biking gave us the flexibility to stop or take detours whenever we wanted to, while maintaining a good pace biking across Bornholm. Notably, we stumbled across a wooden dome structure used for public housing debates and several stands that sold local honey or homemade jam on an honor system, with the price listed and a cash box by the stand.

After picking up our bikes in the morning we biked over to the northern tip of Bornholm, to Allinge to see the Hammershus Castle Ruin. Known as the most popular attraction on the island, the Hammershus was an experience of imagination. With the cloudy weather and the addition of dense fog, the castle ruins came alive. The foggy oasis leaves your mind wandering in the imagination of the history that occurred at the ruins.

After we soaked up the sensational feeling of being afloat in the foggy ruins, we biked back to Gudhjem and even made a four-legged friend along the way. Quite exhausted from the first day, we ended with a local meal of Gudhjem schnitzel in the town of Gudhjem.

Day 3:

Waking up to the chime of Gudhjem’s bells, we slowly rose and enjoyed breakfast together and then e-biked to the Bornholm art museum. The stunning modern architectural structure housed much art, from sculptures to paintings, and frequently changing exhibitions from artists who were born in Bornholm, as well as artists who have spent a significant amount of time on the island. The museum also had a cafe where we dined on lunch while enjoying the scenery of the sculpture park the museum was in.

The Art Museum of Bornholm, also known for being situated above the Sanctuary Rocks, is one of the most magnificent landscapes on the island. As we headed there after lunch, before we could even see the shore, the sound of the waves announced their presence with their thundering crashing against the rocks. As we drew near, the gray sky melted into the ocean, and the view at hand was truly breathtaking. You couldn’t help but gasp as it was a mesmerizing art. One that if you closed your eyes, and stood still, letting the sounds of the waves consume you, you could not help but feel calm, like experiencing a live painting.

Hypnotized by the landscape, we scattered about on our own, exploring where the cliffs took us. After soaking up as much as we could, we slowly headed back and left a beautiful nature performance of a lifetime.

On the way home, Spencer spotted a sign seemingly indicating there was a ceramic studio down a tumbling winding road. At this point with everyone being biking champions, we decided to try it out. After a heinously bumpy couple of minutes, we approached a small house and an open barn, poorly guarded by an old, sleepy, friendly dog. We checked out the studio and talked with the artist, and then decided it was time for the bike back home.

Being quite content with our day we stayed in and had dinner together, closing the night with hearty laughs and quality time.

Enjoying the sunset as we walked to dinner.

Day 4:

As the clouds parted and the morning sunshine greeted us on our fourth day, we set out to explore the landscapes of the southern part of the island. The bike trip was intense as we rode through farmlands with nothing to break the wind. However, that did not stop us from having fun and enjoying the view of the fields where we saw rabbits playing around. As we rode and the landscapes transitioned from barren lands to fruition of hills and trees, we arrived to our first stop of the day, Ekkodalen, or Echo Valley.

Echo Valley is known as Bornholm’s longest rift valley, located in the Almindingen forest. Walkways are laid upon the valley where we were able to enjoy the scenery offered, as well as test out the echos the place is known for (when you yell). After our hike in the valley, we biked into Aakirkeby for lunch and got to enjoy some outstandingly large burgers as well as a typical Danish hot dog. We were also able to visit a local church and relax for a bit.

Our journey then continued to NaturBornholm, a nature center located in the center of the island. In the Center we got to time travel throughout the history of the geography of Bornholm dating all the way back 1.2 million years! The center also had live crocodiles which were questionable, as they barely moved! There was also bird watching, fun science experiments you could try, as well the opportunity to hold chicks that were extremely adorable as they were newly hatched. NaturBornholm truly gave a good overview of the wildlife of Bornholm and gave inspiration to new experiences outside the roads and paths of the highly colored brochures. So, if you ever want to visit Bornholm it is suggested to check out the NaturBornholm first.

Our day then ended with a bike trip back to Gudhjem. With it being our last day, we set our bikes on turbo and zoomed through Bornholm to make it in time for the famous local ice cream shop, where we got the Gudhjem Special. As the sun began to set, we recollected our thoughts on the cliffs and took everything in. The ocean and its waves, the cute town of Gudhjem, and the landscapes that we saw. All of this was an experience we will never forget.

Laura, Ennosen, Spencer, and Sean captured their trip to Bornholm on video, follow along as they take the ferry and explore the island by bike!

Become a DIS Slow Traveler

>> DIS Slow Traveler

Learn more about sustainability at DIS

>> A Weekend in Roskilde: DIS Slow Travel Initiative

>> Notes on Slow Travel through Italy & Austria: Jake, Northwestern University

>> How to Go Green in Stockholm

>> How to Go Green in Copenhagen

Leave a Reply