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From Rønne to Nexø

From Rønne, drive east along the island's modern highway, A38, following the signs toward Nexø. Stop in Nylars (about 5km/3 miles from Rønne), a town that's known as the site of the best-preserved of Bornholm's four round churches. The Nylarskirke (tel. 56-97-20-13), built around 1250 and rising prominently from the center of a community with no more than about 50 buildings, contains frescoes that depict the Creation and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. The cylindrical nave has three floors, the uppermost of which was a watchman's tower in the Middle Ages. You can also view two fragments of a runic stone. From Rønne, you can take bus no. 6 if you don't have a car; the bike path from Rønne to Åkirkeby also passes by the church. Admission is free May to October 20, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

Continue driving another 5km (3 miles) east until you reach Åkirkeby, the only inland settlement of any size. With an economy based on farming, the hamlet is small-scale and sleepy, and is Bornholm's oldest settlement (its town charter dates from 1346). The little town was important in medieval times when islanders had to move inland to avoid attacks from enemies at sea. Bornholm's regional council met here until 1776, and Åkirkeby was also the ecclesiastical center of Bornholm.

It's also home to the island's oldest and largest church, Åkirke, Torvet (tel. 56-97-41-03), originally built around 1250. This church isn't as eccentric as some of the others. It's a sandstone-fronted monument built with defense in mind, as you'll note from the small windows. Inside, a Romanesque baptismal font is incised with runic inscriptions believed to be carved by the master craftsman Sigraf on the island of Gotland. Other runic inscriptions appear on the cloverleaf-shaped arches. The church is open daily 10am to 4pm, charging DKK10 ($1.70/£1) for visitors.

Åkirkeby is a good point to cut inland if you wish to see some of Bornholm's woodlands, among the densest in Denmark, with forests filled with oak, hemlock, fir, spruce, and beech trees. The tourist office in Rønne will give you a map outlining the best of the trails that cut through Bornholm's largest forest, Almindingen, in the center of the island. It can be reached by following a signposted road north from Åkirkeby. The forest is also the location of the island's highest point, Rytterknægten, a 160m (525-ft.) hill with a lookout tower, Kongemindet, with a staircase you can climb for a panoramic view of the dense woodlands.

You can also pick up information at a minor, rarely used tourist office that's much less visible than the island's main office in Rønne. It's the Sydbornholms Turistbureau, Torvet 2 (tel. 56-97-45-20; www.visitdenmark.com), at Åkirkeby. Mid-May to mid-September, it's open Monday through Friday 9am to 6pm and Saturday 8am to 1pm. The rest of the year, hours are Monday to Friday 10am to 6:30pm, closed Saturday and Sunday.

A minor museum for devoted automobile fans is the Bornholms Automobilmuseum, Grammegardsvej 1 (tel. 56-97-45-95; www.bornholmsautomobilmuseum.dk), displaying vintage cars and motorcycles, plus some farm equipment and tractors that highlight the 20th century's advances in agrarian science. Antique cars and tractors derive from such manufacturers as Delahaye, Opel, Ford, Adler, Singer, Jaguar, and Fiat. It's open May to October, Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm. The rest of the year it's closed, and admission costs DKK40 ($6.80/£4) adults, DKK20 ($3.40/£2) ages 5 to 15.

From Åkirkeby, cut southeast for 4.5km (2 3/4 miles), following the signs to Pedersker, a hamlet with only three shops (which close down during the cold-weather months). Six kilometers (3 3/4 miles) later you'll reach Dueodde, the name of both a raffish beachfront community and the entire region around the southernmost tip of the island. The village of Dueodde marks the southern edge of a stretch of coastline that is the finest beach on the island. The oceanfront bounty -- and the best beaches on the island -- stretch northward and eastward to the town of Balka, 5km (3 miles) beyond, encompassing stretches of white sand with grains so fine that they were used for generations to fill hourglasses. The towns themselves are little more than backdrops for seasonal kiosks and a scattering of holiday homes for mainland Danes and Swedes. Most of the landscape is a virtual wilderness of pine and spruce trees, salt-tolerant shrubs, and sand dunes, some of which rise more than 12m (40 ft.) above the nearby sea.

The focal point of this southeastern coastline is the Dueodde Fyr (Dueodde Lighthouse), the tallest lighthouse on the island, built in 1962 to warn ships away from the extreme southern tip of the island. Weather permitting, you can climb to its top during daylight hours May to October for a fee of DKK5 (85¢/50p), which you pay directly to the lighthouse keeper. For information, call the tourist office in Dueodde (tel. 56-49-70-79).

From Dueodde, continue along the coast in a northeasterly direction, passing through the unpretentious fishing hamlets of Snogebæk and Balka. Immediately north of Balka, the road will deliver you north to Nexø, the second major town of the island after Rønne, opening onto the eastern coast facing Sweden.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.