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Located in the middle of the Baltic Sea, Bornholm is an island filled with charisma and natural splendor. It is actually situated closer to Sweden than to Denmark, but Danish appeal is alive and well in Bornholm. The land here is rich and prosperous, growing anything from fresh fruits and vegetables to incredible assortments of botanical life. The climate never reaches extremes here; it remains tepid year round.
 
Although much nearer to Sweden, the island of Bornholm has been a Danish possession since 1522 and was once an important Baltic trading port. Today, the islanders make their livelihood from fishing, farming and, increasingly, tourism. Visitors from Scandinavia and Germany flock to Bornholm and the town of Rønne each summer to enjoy the scenic beauty.
 
The south features a coastline of white sand beaches, while the north boasts rugged cliffs; the wooded interior is crisscrossed by hiking trails. Visitors and residents alike have come to appreciate the freshly smoked herring prepared in special smokehouses - a great source of income to boost the local economy.
 
This intriguing, unusual island is especially known for its round churches, which were constructed centuries ago as fortifications against attacks by pagan invaders and pirates. At the northern tip of the island, on one of Bornholm's steep seaside cliffs are the remains of the 13th-century Hammershus Castle, boasting fine views over the coast.
 
The island's main town is Rønne. With 15,000 inhabitants, it is a busy place where ferries arrive daily from Copenhagen. Many of Bornholm's attractions are scattered throughout the island. Rønne is an ideal starting point for exploring the lovely countryside dotted with idyllic farms, ancient churches and rustic herring smokehouses. The island is only about 18 miles (29 km) across, making it easy to get around. In nice weather, biking may be the most enjoyable way to explore charming Bornholm. In recent years, the island has also become known for the Bornholm Golf Open, one of Europe's largest golf tournaments. It is held each August in the beautiful setting of the island's three varied golf courses.
 
Pier Information
Cruise ships either dock or tender to Rønne's Cruise Pier. The centre of town is a 20-minute walk or 5-minute taxi ride from the port. Taxis have to be pre-ordered for pickup pier side. Ronne runs a shuttle from cruise ship dock to the Welcome Center up near where the ferries come in. It starts running at 8:50 and runs every 20 minutes. Europcar is right next to the Welcome Center, so it looks like that is an easy option for people on cruises to be able to see the island without spending too much money on ship's excursions! I checked out a couple other car rental options, some with delivery, and all seemed to be around the same price (not too bad). Do not, however, use the U.S. Avis site. For some reason, all the cars listed there are $250 a day and up!
 
Of course, there are also public buses on Bornholm, so if a cruiser is only interested in going to a few towns, and has Danish kroner, that might work as well, and certainly be cheaper! For more information http://www.bornholminfo.dk/en
 
Attractions
 
Hammershus Castle Ruins
If you head south along the coast for 23 kilometers towards Allinge-Sandvig, one of the most attractive resorts on the island, you'll pass by Hammeren Lighthouse. Strategically placed on a rocky plateau to the southwest of the lighthouse are the ruins of Hammershus Castle, built around 1250 for protection against marauding Danish kings. The fortress was violently fought over on several occasions and then sadly used as a quarry until placed under a preservation order in 1822. Magnificent views beckon from the adjacent cliffs. Boat trips take visitors to nearby sites, including the Våde Ovn, a 55-meter-long cave. The walk along the footpath to Slotslyngen woodland is considered to be one of the most beautiful and dramatic in Denmark.-- Address: Hammershus Castle, Langebjergvej, Bornholm

Bornholm's Museum of Art (Kunstmuseum)
This architecturally cutting edge museum opened in 1993 and is considered to be one of the finest in Denmark. Occupying an enviable spot with panoramic ocean views across to Christiansoe, the museum houses magnificent collections with works by artists such as Edvard Weie, Karl Isakson, Olaf Rude, Kræsten Iversen, Niels Lergaard, and Oluf Høst, all providing fine examples of modern Danish painting and the decorative arts. There are also sculptures and earlier works, making this Denmark's largest collection of arts and crafts outside Copenhagen. There's a great café where you can sit back and admire not only the art, but also the terrific landscape. Address: Otto Bruuns Plads 1, Gudhjem, Bornholm -- Official site: www.bornholms-kunstmuseum.dk

Bornholm Museum
This fascinating museum has a collection covering seafaring history and the natural history of Rønne and Bornholm with granite, limestone, coal, and kaolin specimens. The history of art department features works by local Bornholm painters as well as drawings and examples of the decorative arts, including Viking pieces. The museum also houses several interesting artifacts, such as wartime memorials, old clocks, and items of gold. Children will love the seafaring section decked out as a ship. Also under the umbrella of the Bornholm Museum are Hjorth's Factory, Erich's Farm (both in Ronne), and Melstedgård Agricultural Museum south of Gudhjem. Address: Sct. Mortensgade 29, Ronne, Bornholm -- Official site: www.bornholmsmuseum.dk

Christiansø
To the northeast of Bornholm lies a group of islands called Ertholmene (Pea Islands), which can be reached by boat from Allinge, Gudhjem, and Svaneke. On the main island of Christiansø are extensive fortifications installed by Christian V in 1684. When the port lost its importance as a naval base in the 19th century, it became something of a magnet for poets and artists. The neighboring island of Frederiksø was once notorious as a place of exile; its most interesting building is the Lille Tarn (Little Tower), now a museum with a 17th century model of the castle on Christiansø, rifles, cannons, old furniture, and utensils. Though closed to the public, Græsholm is home to a bird sanctuary.
 
The Hills of Paradise (Paradisbakkerne)
Although Bornholm's coastline is stunning, inland is equally delightful. Around three kilometers from the busy port of Nexo, you'll find the privately owned Hills of Paradise (Paradisbakkerne), interestingly also known as The Hills of Hell (Helvedesbakkarne). This is a treasure trove for hikers and mountain bikers with rocky soaring landscapes, narrow valleys, and lush forests to explore. Park at Lisegaard and set off on your adventure. The iron-age stronghold of Gamleborg and the Rocking Stone (Rokkestenen) are well worth seeing. There's a youth hostel and various marked trails to follow.
 
Allinge-Sandvig
On the northern tip of Bornholm are the twin resorts of Allinge-Sandvig, one of the most attractive holiday locations on the island (Sandvig means sandy bay). Tømmehuset, at Vestergade 3 in Sandvig, houses a little local museum, and Allinge is home to a number of attractive half-timbered houses; an interesting old Town Hall; and a church, the oldest parts of which are Gothic. Outside the cemetery in Allinge lies an obelisk in memory of Russian soldiers who fell in the Second World War. Many quaint old farms can be found in and around the area.
 
Nylars Round Church (Rundkirke)
 Around ten-minutes' drive southwest from Ronne is the most recent and best preserved of the distinctive round churches of Bornholm in the tiny village of Nylars. The interior of the church has wall paintings depicting the Creation and the Fall of Man. In the porch, there's a huge cross dating from Renaissance times. Interestingly, the church was not only built as a place of worship, but also served a defensive role. The origin of the church dates back to 1165. Address: Kirkevej, Aakirkeby, Bornholm

Hasle Village
A northerly drive of a little more than 13 kilometers from Ronne brings you to Hasle, a little port that is home to a sturdy 14th century stone church, Nykirke, with a half-timbered tower. The beautifully carved and painted winged altar is the work of a Lübeck artist and dates from around 1450. South of the town, a sandy beach lies beyond some picturesque pine woods, while seven kilometers to the north, a stretch of steep granite coastline features a crag known as Jons Kapel (John's Chapel), which is 40 meters in height. Held in mid July, the annual Herring Festival includes a parade, a fair, food and drink stalls, a craft market, and plenty of dancing and singing in the streets.
 
Gudhjem Village
To the south of Allinge, the sea is fringed with cliffs along which winds a rocky path. Places of note include Sandkås, Tejn, Stammershalle, the Helligdom, Stevelen cliffs, and the quaint fishing village of Gudhjem. The harbor is blasted out of the rock, and numerous winding lanes and steep streets crisscross the town. Tourist attractions include the Municipal Museum, housed in the former station building, and the open-air Melstedgård Agricultural Museum, around three kilometers to the south of the village in a half-timbered farmhouse typical of those on Bornholm. The Balticum Film & TV Festival usually takes place here in May or June.
 
Osterlars Church
A six-kilometer drive south from Gudhjem is Osterlars village and another round church of the same name. This is the largest round church on the island and was built in the 11th century and dedicated to St. Laurence. The central pillar is hollow with internal ribbed vaulting. The space inside, known as the "oven", is joined to the rest of the nave by six arcades. On the exterior of the "oven", frescoes dating from 1350 portray scenes from the life of Jesus and the Last Judgment. When the church was restored in 1955 the oven was converted into a baptistery with a granite font. Around 120,000 people visit here annually. Address: Vietsvej, Gudhjem,
 
Dining and Nightlife
Rådhuskroen (Nørregade 2, 56/95-00-69) is a lovely restaurant. Perfect for lunch or dinner, the food here is as fresh as can be, and healthy to boot. The salads are made with heaping piles of colorful vegetables grown locally, and the chicken and fish are grilled to perfection. You may feel as though you are dining in a museum, as well, because the restaurant is home to one of the island's most extensive antique collections.
 
Ask anyone on this island and they will agree on the best places to be in the evening and nighttime hours. O'Malley's Irish Pub (Store Torvegade, 56/95-00-16) is a good place to grab a beer and enjoy the company of the relaxed locals. And Sputnik (Scl. Mortensgade 48, 56/95-06-88) is a hot nightclub that plays almost every type of music, from rhythm and blues to dance music, depending on the night. There is also a nice lounge area at Sputnik, so if you are not the dancing type, feel free to sit back and enjoy a cocktail instead.
 
Shopping
Guldhuset (Bornholmercentret, 56/95-02-70) is a place unlike any other. The famous Danish goldsmith Jorn-Ole Thomsen works at this shop, and many of his pieces are displayed at museums on the island. But at Guldhuset, where his treasures are created, they are also purchasable. Gorgeous, high-quality jewelry crafted by hand in silver and gold, much of it by Thomsen himself, is sold here. Do not leave the island without bringing home this wearable art. Antique specialists know that Rønne is a wonderful place to buy Baltic pieces.





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