EAST DENMARK: A smogasbord of 22 pristine islands scattered around Zealand and the wild island of Bornholm in the Baltic sea
By circumnavigating Zealand one will find a smorgasbord of different islands of which 22 destinations really stand out.
Obviously, in the East of Zealand, Copenhagen dominates the landscape. It is the largest city in all of Scandinavia with 1+ million inhabitants. A few islands and island forts are located off-shore Copenhagen, and alle are worth exploring. Being on one of these islands, Copenhagen seems very far away.
Outside Copenhagen, much of Zealand is quite rural, just like Funen and Jutland. The island is stuffed with lakes and smaller villages and hamlets, and offshore and in the different fjords cutting into Zealand are many islands.
Far, far to the East the island of Bornholm lies is isolation. It's part of Denmark, but the landscape and to some extend also the local tongue is more close to Sweden. It is a fascinating place to roam around.
Hiking and camping excursions to 22 unique island destinations off Zealand in Denmark & Bornholm
Starting at 12 o’clock North of Zealand, the remote and wildly isolated island of Hesselø lies in Kattegat Ocean. Very few people have been to the island or even know about its existence. Further southwest lies Sejerø with a mild climate and hilly landscape, and some of the beast snorkeling and spear fishing spots in all of Denmark. Closeby is Nekselø, one of the most beautiful islands in all of Denmark with a wild coastline that calls for good day treks. In the Storebælt Ocean lies uninhabited Musholm which is a great day tour by kayak. Going South in Storebælt, three islands, Agersø, Egholm and Omø are silent islands with idyllic villages that have kept their original preindustrial structure.
Next is the unique so-called barrier islands in the South coast of Zealand, comprised of Glænø, Enø and Gavnø, and a handful of small islets. The islands form a border between Zealand and the South Sea of Denmark are nicknamed the South Zealand Double Shore. These islands were formed thousands of years ago when the low lying areas behind them where flooded, and thus huge lagoons formed, today including the fiords of Dybsø and Karrebæk. The distinct island geography includes sandy beaches, salt marshes, reed marshes and beach meadows, and thus large bird habitats. Beach camping, long walks and kayaking are three key activities around these islands to enjoy the nature.
Further up north in Zealand lies two long fiords, Isefjord and Roskilde Fjord, the former almost 35 kilometers in length and Denmark largest of its kind. The two fiords have a number of very small islets, but two larger islands – Orø and Eskilsø - are nice to visit to enjoy the beautiful landscape.
Off the Eastern coast of Zealand, in the strait between Denmark and Sweden, there are two must-visit but very different smaller islands. Saltholm is rather large but uninhabited today. It has a very interesting past and history – perhaps the most unknown pearl very close to Copenhagen and not described by any tourist brochure. Getting to Saltholm is actually quite difficult. The other island is Ven, which is actually Swedish. It has been included in our Ø-dyssey due to its proximity to Denmark and because it used to be Danish before year 1660. The island is wonderfully idyllic and invites for a coastal walk circumnavigation on small paths. Further to this, Ven has a super interesting museum: The observatory used by famous astronomer Tycho Brahe. Finally, three artificial islands are present in Øresund between Denmark and Sweden. The Danish Sea Fort Islands, each with largest fortresses, which were build many years ago to protect Copenhagen from foreign invasions.
The islands of Bornholm and Ertholmene lies far away in the Baltic Sea, to the East of “mainland Denmark”. The islands are made of granite rock, including dramatic formations, and has many natural and historical wonders. Perhaps Bornholm is the most touristy of all the islands in our Ø-dyssey, and also one of the geographically largest. But we could not resist the tempt of including this gem in our Danish island hopping tour-de-force.
Background information about the Ø-dyssey project and our selection of 130 islands to be visited in total can be found here.
Check out our other Ø-dyssey travel sites:
PART IV: South Funen Archipelago
PART VI: The South Sea Islands
Selected pics from all islands - part V:
Asterisks denote islands visited so-far, updated February 2022
The vast Bolund Stone north of Roskilde in Zealand Island is a remnant of the ice age. The peculiar preserved iceland/peninsula of Bolund is an interesting geological phenomenon in the low waters of the fjord. The flora of the hill and the meadows is very exciting.
A flat and very seldom visited Danish island located in the strait between Denmark and Sweden. The bridge to Sweden can be seen in the background
The plant Lepidium latifolium (or 'beach watercress') is very abundany only on Saltholm. On other Danish islands one needs to look for a long time to find it. It's perfect for the salmon lunch that we brought along for our Saltholm trip
Flakfortet island can be seen in the background
A very special and tranquil place in Denmark
Baltic prawns, known as "fjordrejer" in Denmark, caught during foraging in Ise Fjord. They are quite easy to find using a specially designet net - a "rejestrygenet".
Of a pirate that used to roam the Ise Fiord thousand years ago
During 8.30 AM sunrise in the winter time
...meaning "the part of Denmark sitting near the water"
...during winter time. The hike can be completed in 4-5 hours
The small island is 1 hour south of Zealand with a slow ferry. Small place with a big nature