Denmark: Bornholm, a little closer to Paradise

Hands up those who have heard of Bornholm. There’s not much hype in UK tourist pages about this little Danish island situated near the Swedish coast. And yet, those who have ventured here have never forgotten it.

It is said that Bornholm has a little of all the finest landscapes to be found in the whole of Denmark. Vast beaches in the south of the island at Dueodde (whose fine sand was used to make hourglasses), a wild, craggy coast to the east, big forests in the centre.

Besides nature, Bornholm has good selling points from an architectural point of view, with coloured fishermen’s cottages and unexpected round whitewashed churches. These fortified churches – four in all – are one of the island’s main attractions; they enabled the inhabitants to protect themselves from attack – fairly frequent in times past. The Hammershus fortress, perched on a cliff over 70 metres high affording a spectacular view of the Baltic, also bears witness to this unsettled past.

To get from one site to another, it is preferable to use a bicycle like a good many Danes who have all, at some time or other, cycled around Bornholm – a sort of pilgrimage made possible by the 124 miles of cycle tracks. It is in fact the best way to explore this island of reassuring dimensions (227 square miles), since by car you can only skim the surface.


The røgeri

The island of Bornholm is renowned throughout Denmark for the quantity and quality of its smokehouses (røgeri) – most of the fish smoked there being wild ones caught in the Baltic Sea. Herring, mackerel, prawns, eels and other indigenous fish as well as salmon, of course. The fish are smoked in the traditional manner, hot or cold. The smoking time and temperature distinguish the two techniques and make it possible to obtain a radically different product.

In cold smoking, after being salted, the fish are smoked for 10 hours at 27°C using beech wood.  In hot smoking, the time is shorter (4 hours) but the temperature higher (70°C) and the wood used is alder, which gives the fish a very delicate flavour.

Salmon can be cold or hot smoked. In the first case, one obtains the smoked salmon that we all know, which can be finely sliced. In the second case, the fish is presented in pieces; it has the appearance of an oven-baked fillet but has a smoked taste of incomparable elegance and mildness.  In general, all fish that can be sliced can be cold smoked. The other, smaller ones, such as herring or mackerel, are hot smoked. Depending on their size, they can be smoked whole or in fillets. In this case, the fish are sometimes flavoured with paprika, pepper, garlic, etc


The gourmet island

With the development of tourism, the røgeri have been gradually converted into little restaurants offering buffets with an assortment of smoked fish. Generally situated on the sea front, these establishments enjoy an unobstructed view. The typical Bornholm dish, served in all the røgeri, is sol over Gudhjem: a whole hot-smoked herring served with an egg yolk and finely sliced red onion and chives.

Bornholm is an El Dorado of taste. The numerous producers are spread out over the whole area. Another distinctive feature is that they have all gone for quality. The products of Bornholm are consequently renowned throughout Denmark and are sometimes exported beyond the borders, like the Bryghuset beers, which are today dispatched as far afield as Hong Kong.


Christiansø Island

his tiny little island, 550 yards long at the very most and with scarcely more than 100 inhabitants, is worth a day’s visit. A fortress island dating back to the 17th century, it is now a protected nature reserve full of fragrant flora. Swimming possible.


Practical information

Destination Bornholm

Hasle Røgeri
Søndre Baek 20,
3790 Hasle
This firm only hot smokes fish, in the traditional way in an immense fireplace. Located by the sea on a wild coast subject to the winds and sea air. Sensational.

Allinge Røgeri
Sverigesvej 5,
3770 Allinge
Good smoked fish, with tables set out on a little fine sand beach.
Hummer Hytten
Strandstien 10,
3740 Svaneke/Listed
A little restaurant specialising in lobster. Poached, au gratin with garlic, in soup or simply grilled over a wood fire.
En France
La maison Olsen importe les produits de Bornholm.

The tourist attractions mentioned

Bornholm Island Bornholm Island
Bornholm Island