Denmark is a land of more than 400 islands and 4700 miles of coast line. In Denmark you are never more than 30 miles from the sea. And whether you choose to visit Denmark in summer or winter, the sea is always part of the bigger picture. Even more so if you choose to experience some of Denmark’s many islands. Each of them is a little gem with unique stories, communities and history.
Læsø - island of seaweed homes
The best way to discover the sandy flatlands of the island of Læsø is on horseback. But cycling around is also a good way to work up a healthy appetite for the island’s bountiful seafood, not least its langoustine. You can also visit the salt-makers and enjoy rejuvenating salt baths in a converted historic church. Or go seal watching by fishing boat.
The living roofs of Læsø are made with seagrass (a type of seaweed), which is dried and twisted into tassels. When freshly made, the roofs flutter in the wind – much like tousled hair. As the roofs grow older, they are soon covered with wild flowers. Few cottages on Læsø today have seagrass roofs but preservationists are reintroducing the craft to give new life to this age-old tradition.
Samsø - the eco-island
Officially a zero-emissions island, all Samsø’s energy is generated by wind and solar power – and electricity is exported to the mainland, too. With a small state grant the island community started its transformation in 1997. Today, Samsø has an energy academy where locals share their experience with visitors on how grass roots initiatives have changed their green island, known for its apples and vegetables, into an eco-laboratory for tomorrow’s energy supply.
Ærø - cottage living and rolling farmland
Known for its organic farming, sandy beaches and cottage B&Bs, the island of Ærø is one of the most popular destinations for island-hopping and cycling holidays in the archipelago. Its main town, Ærøskøbing, received the Europa Nostra Award in 2002 for its unique heritage preservation.
Ærø is an independent municipality with a sustainability-friendly policy. Visitors can, for instance, rent electric cars from the tourist office in Ærøskøbing. The island offers free Wi-Fi internet in the harbour towns (as of June 2012).
Bornholm and Christiansø
Denmark’s rocky Baltic Sea archipelago offers a chance to visit an island community with heritage towns, unique culinary traditions and an inspiring tradition for arts and craft. With its rugged rocky coast, sandy beaches, forests and rolling farmlands, Bornholm is also a great place for kayaking, cycling holidays and hiking.
Billing itself as “the Bright Green Island”, Bornholm looks to the future with a vision of eco-sustainability. Bornholm is also a leading cruise holiday destination in Denmark with only Copenhagen enjoying more ports of call than Rønne.
Still officially belonging to the Danish navy, the islands of Christiansø and Frederiksø (also called Ertholmene) are straddled by a 400-year-old heritage naval harbour. You can visit the islands on daytrips from Allinge and Gudhjem on Bornholm – and you can also stay at the local inn, Christiansø Gæstgiveri, and experience the unique evening bliss of a historic archipelago inhabited by just 94 souls. Several rooms at the inn offer sea views and the cuisine mainly features local seafood. Stays should be booked well in advance (preferably before the season).
Lilleø, Fejø, Vejrø and Femø - a small archipelago with Noma's secret island
They are no secret to most Danes, but the small islands of Lilleø, Fejø, Vejrø and Femø are, nonetheless, seriously off the beaten track. The islands are known for their organic apple juice and cider, and Lilleø is where restaurant Noma has its own vineyard! You can stay at Kernegaarden, an organic farm on Fejø, or simply try their cider from the farm boutique. Femø is the largest of the islands and hosts an annual international jazz festival (31 July – 5 August 2012). Vejrø offers accommodation and even a gourmet restaurant (Skipperly) serving cuisine made with local produce.
The islands (Fejø, Femø and Askø-Lilleø) can be reached by ferryboat from the town of Kragenæs.
Fanø - traditions and heritage in the Waddens Sea National Park
Surrounded by heather-clad sand dunes and open nature, Sønderho on the island of Fanø (in the Wadden Sea National Park) is one of Denmark most charming villages with a seafaring history. Its almost 300-year-old inn, Sønderho Kro, serves locally sourced seafood. Also try the local beer, including ‘Fanø Rav’, an amber lager that is “dry and aromatic like the local humour”, according to the label.