An Unlikely Island Escape: Bornholm, Denmark

Bornholm, Denmark

When you’ve danced your loafers off in Ibiza, surfed the breaks of Tahiti, and game-fished your way through the Caribbean, you need an island of serenity – an island just like Bornholm.

Denmark’s most easterly outpost sits in the Baltic Sea, a 15-minute flight from Copenhagen by light plane; a tiny dot beneath Sweden’s long exclamation mark. Bornholm is about as wholesome as an island can get and the sort of place you might remember from a dreamy childhood holiday. A place where the clean smell of the ocean and the first touch of summer sand are the bringers of unbounded joy. A place where ice cream is organic and made with real local cream, and where the haddock travels fewer than 100 yards from the boat harbour before being deliciously cured in seafront smokehouses.

It’s no surprise that Danes have been taking gentle family holidays here for generations. There are pristine Nordic forests of spruce and beech trees, blonde-sand beaches inhabited by blonde beach-going families and rolling fields of wheat and barley punctuated by dark-green copses of oaks. Cycling is the perfect mode of transport around this idyllic island and well-marked trails wind through forests and farmland.

Fruit and vegetable stalls decorate the roads, each with its own small honesty box for change. Wind turbines dot the horizon, and inland are remarkable 12th- century round white churches (rundkirkes) unique to the island. Even in high summer, when daylight lingers until 11pm and the swifts wheel in the wide blue northern sky, the island is quiet so romantic couples have little trouble finding deserted beaches for evening walks.

Dueodde Beach Bornholm, Denmark
Dueodde Beach – Bornholm, Denmark

One of the best is Dueodde, at the south-east corner of the island where you park under pine trees and stroll down a sandy path and over wooden walking boards that crosses shallow marshes and run out just where the dunes give on to the beach. The hardy can strip off and dive in and add the chilly Baltic to their list of experienced oceans while the timid can wade out to sand banks and watch the late sunset streaking across the glistening surface of the water.

It could be the fresh fish, the sea breezes, the empty windswept beaches or the whispering forests, but Bornholm undeniably does something to the soul; it replenishes visitors in a way few other islands are able to do.

Need to Know

DO: spend a week, rent a bike and spend as much time out of doors breathing the clean, fresh pine-scented air as possible.

DON’T: miss the remarkable whitewashed rundkirkes unique to Bornholm.

COUPLES WILL LOVE: the wholesomeness of Bornholm, which offers a simple, uncomplicated and romantic holiday saturated by an abundance of natural beauty.

WINE AND DINE: on a DIY and BYO basis. Buy as much smoked fish as you can carry from the smokehouse in Snogebaek , purchase local pumpernickel bread, remoulade (Danish mayonnaise) and beer (Carl’s Special is an excellent dark ale) and head for the beach with a blanket and a windbreak. 

Related: Discover Copenhagen with our travel guide for couples.

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