A brief guide to Bornholm: A Baltic gem

DIS Student Photographer, Christian, traveled to the Danish island of Bornholm for a weekend. In this blog, Christian describes his two-day experience on the island and offers a few pieces of advice for those interested in visiting Bornholm.

Known as the “Sunshine Island,” Bornholm is a small island southeast of Copenhagen and is absolutely one of the gems of Denmark. There is much to do on this beautiful island. You can hike around beautiful lakes near the Hammershus Castle ruins, watch waterfalls flow in Døndalen, visit the Vang Quarry site in Hasle, spend a few hours with butterflies at a botanical garden, and much more!

If you are looking for an escape from the bustling streets of Copenhagen or if you are a nature lover looking for a bit more elevation than mainland Denmark has to offer, then Bornholm might be the next place you want to visit. The island feels like a different world compared to the bustling city atmosphere of Copenhagen.

It’s seaside cliffs and rock formations are a welcome juxtaposition to Denmark’s rolling hills and, away from the light pollution of the city, Bornholm is a great place for people who love to stargaze or do astrophotography.  Plus, instead of flying out of Denmark for a weekend, the journey to the beautiful island of Bornholm is a much more sustainable way to travel.

How to get to Bornholm

To get to Bornholm, you can take a bus from Copenhagen Central Station to Ystad, Sweden. From there, you take a ferry to get to the island of Bornholm. The entire trip takes a couple of hours, so bring a book to pass the time until you get to the island. To make the most out of your time on the island, I recommend booking the earliest ride in the morning at about 6:30 AM and leaving on the last possible ferry at 9:00 PM.

Remember to bring your passport! Even though Bornholm is within Denmark, if you travel through Sweden, there is always a chance of being checked at the border.

How to get around on the island

Once you arrive on Bornholm, there are a few options to get around the island. You can bike, rent a car, or use public transportation. The island is so beautiful that you could spend the whole day biking around, but beware that it is a bit hillier than biking around flat Copenhagen! There are also plenty of busses connecting the towns of the island, but you’ll have to base your travels based on their timetables. If you’d like to travel to more of the island you should take a car.

When to plan a visit

It’s important to remember that the buses change their schedule on the weekends and don’t run as often (which is strange because you think the opposite would be true), so if you plan to rely on public transit, then I’d recommend going during the week.

Season-wise, Bornholm is beautiful year-round, but if you’d like to see running water in the waterfalls then you should plan your visit in the spring.

Places to visit

From visiting the historic ruins of Hammershus castle to walking the modern day fairytale streets of Gudhjem, Bornholm has a plethora of options to visit. Here’s a visual guide to a few of the places you might visit, with pictures from the trip taken in early October 2022.

Hammershus Castle

Hammershus Castle is one of Europe’s oldest castle ruins. It’s also one of the typical destinations that most tourists to Bornholm will visit. If you like history, then you’ll want to be able to translate the informational panels dispersed throughout the ruins because they are in Danish (though there’s a short paragraph in English on each of the panels too!). I’d recommend downloading the Google Translate app. Also, make sure Danish is available offline in case there’s no service available. The views from the castle that look out onto the island and the Baltic Sea are spectacular!

Lake Opalsøen

The picturesque Lake Opalsøen is just a short walk away from the Hammershus Castle ruins. There are many different routes you can take to hike around the lake and nearby areas. The hikes can range from a quick trip directly to the lake for a swim or a more intense walk around the lake that spans a few hours. No matter which version of the hike you take, prepare to see some goats because there are quite a few roaming around the hills!


With a population of over 700 people, Gudhjem is a small town in the northeast part of the island. Stop by local pottery and jewelry shops, or visit the Gudhjem museum. Walking the streets of Gudhem is a peaceful and picturesque experience. If you like baked goods, then you’ll be in for a wonderful surprise at the cute and cozy Cafe Rosa.


Just a short walk along the coastline to the northwest of Gudhjem, you will find Røverborgen, a rock formation with a beautiful view of the sea. Keep walking a few minutes further and you’ll find Hestestenene, a humble Stonehenge-like grouping of rocks. Don’t forget to walk down to the coast and listen to the peaceful sound of the waves meeting the shore.

Other notable places to visit:

If I had more time on the island, here are some other places I would like to visit:

  • The round churches, including Østerlars
  • Ekkodalen, a valley in the middle of the island
  • Paradisbakkerne, or paradise hills, a nature area
  • Strandmarken Dueodde, a white sandy beach on the southern tip of the island
  • Christiansø, an island 20 km from Gudhjem

As a nature-lover, I enjoyed my time exploring Bornholm. I’m glad that I went on the off-season when there weren’t many (if any) tourists on the island. I will miss the charm of Bornholm that is embedded in the quiet hiking trails and cozy atmosphere of the local cafes. I hope to return to the island and walk the cobblestone streets for another trip in the future.

Bornholm is a wonderful place in Denmark, and I hope you found this guide helpful. For more information about visiting Bornholm, check out the Bornholm website https://bornholm.info/. If you end up visiting the island, there’s also a tourist center a few minutes away from the ferry station.

Happy traveling,


Hear more student perspectives on travel in Denmark:

>> A Weekend in Roskilde: DIS Slow Travel Initiative

>> A Bornholm Experience: DIS Slow Travel Initiative

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