Things to do

Heavenly Hven

Take a day trip to “the pearl of the Øresund”. Only a short hop across the Øresund, Hven is a fantastic destination for a day trip.

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By Louise Chamberlain   Pictures: Bente D. Knudsen

Hven, an  incredibly scenic small Swedish island can be reached by boat from Copenhagen (or Helsingør) in only an hour and a half, yet it feels as though you are travelling back in time to an era when things moved at a much more leisurely pace.

The journey is part of the pleasure and, on a sunny day, the experience is even more enjoyable. You can sit outside on the little ferry and enjoy the breeze in your hair and the sunlight sparkling on the water.

As you approach the island, the steep slopes of the Backafall rise majestically out of the sea; an impressive sight after the relatively flat Danish landscape.

The ferry from Copenhagen( or Helsingør) arrives in the tiny port of Bäckviken. Disembark and climb the steep slope out of the harbour. Transportation around the island is by bicycle or on foot. There is also the possibility to rent an electric bike if you prefer.

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The best way to see Hven is on two wheels and you can bring your own bike with you on the ferry or rent one when you arrive. Since you have to pay to take your own bike on the ferry, there is little difference in cost between the two options.

The bike rental office is at the top of the hill and they have a vast selection of bicycles including tandems, children’s bikes, bikes with trailers and even bikes with a basket for a dog. There are over 1000 of the characteristic yellow rental bikes to choose from. You can reserve your bike online before you go to save time.

This is a particularly good idea if you require something other than a standard adult bike. There are no bicycle helmets available to rent so remember to bring your own.

The island is small (4.5km long and 2.4km wide) and dirt roads and bike paths connect the pretty harbours and villages. It’s very easy to get around and can easily be explored in a day.

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If you are not stopping to admire the scenery, you can cycle all the way around the island in around an hour. However, the big attraction of Hven is the opportunity to take it easy and enjoy a slower pace.

The picturesque villages are full of hidden treasures to explore, so take your time and enjoy “the pearl of the Øresund”.

Hven’s largest tourist attraction is the Tycho Brahe Museum. The Danish scientist built a castle and a scientific research centre on the island in the 16th Century and you can visit the exhibition, the subterranean observatory as well as the beautiful Renaissance Garden.

The main exhibition is housed inside the former All Saints church and contains interesting artefacts, models, photographs and films. It’s a small but fascinating collection. The subterranean observatory includes a short sound and light show of the night sky.

There’s a nice playground for children as well as a café selling delicious freshly made food.

Hven boasts Europe’s northern-most durum wheat fields and the Hven Durum bakery uses this locally grown grain to produce mouthwatering baked goods.

The tiny bakery is not far from the Tycho Brahe Museum, tucked away down a little street but it’s worth searching for. The bread, sweet rolls and almond biscuits make a delicious snack to enjoy as you cycle through the scenic farmland. Take note of the openings hours (Swedish style), the bakery is only open until 14:00.

For something a bit different, why not take a walk around the island with an alpaca? Hven Alpaca offers a two-hour trekking tour. Be warned – the alpaca sets the pace! You can also just visit the farm and meet the animals. Either way, pre-booking is essential.

In the north east of the island, you will find the Spirit of Hven Distillery. The distillery was opened in 2008 and is the smallest pot-still distillery in the world. They produce a range of high quality hand-crafted spirits including organic vodka, gin, whisky (Sweden’s only island whisky), aquavit and schnapps.

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For something completely different, try the Spirit of Hven Organic Summer Spirit. Local botanicals, elderflower, apple, rhubarb and orange bitters make this a very refreshing summer tipple. Swedish laws governing alcohol sales are strict but you can taste the different spirits at the distillery and buy a bottle on the ferry on the way back to Copenhagen.

Tours of the distillery are available but it’s advisable to book in advance because they are very popular.

The tranquillity of Hven makes it a great place for creative people and there are numerous artists amongst the island’s 371 inhabitants. Many of the galleries and workshops can be visited all year round.

On the Ascension Day holiday in May, the island holds an Art Day when local artists open their workshops and studios to the public.

Hven is part of Sweden so the local currency is Swedish kroner. There are no ATMs on the island but most places accept credit cards and Danish kroner. A point to note is that, while Danish kroner are accepted, the exchange rate is a rather unfavourable 1:1.

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How To Get There:
The ferry operated by Sundbusserne departs from either Copenhagen or Helsingør. It’s seasonal so in May only on weekends, daily during the summer months.

The ferry is small so it’s advisable to book tickets in advance. If there are still tickets available, they can be purchased at the quayside on the day but with a 20kr surcharge.

If you are planning to take your own bicycle, remember that you will also need to reserve a place for it and bike spaces are limited. You can book breakfast and it will be waiting for you on the boat, or you can buy coffee, juice and pastries on board.

It’s not allowed to consume your own food and drink on the boat. More information can be found on the ferry operator’s website (see below for details).

Where To Eat:
For a light lunch, the café at the Tycho Brahe Museum serves delicious homemade soups, salads and sandwiches. Some of the seasonal ingredients come from the museum’s garden. If you have particular dietary restrictions, you can contact them in advance and they will make something special for you.

Next to the harbour at Kyrkbacken, you will find Fiskboden, a quaint little smoke house. You can enjoy smoked fish and a cold beer by the water or buy some delicacies to take home with you.

For a more substantial lunch, try Tuna Krog. They serve incredible homemade burgers (also a vegetarian burger) and salads. The menu is small but the food is excellent and reasonably priced.

More information at the tourist website here:

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Getting to Hven:
Sundbusserne from Helsingør or Copenhagen more information here.

Getting around Hven:
Bicycle rental here.

Things to do:
Tycho Brahe Museum – Landsvägen 182 . More information here.
Hven Alpaca – Hakenstigen 93. More information here ( FROM JUNE ONLY)
Spirit of Hven – tel: +46 418 449 999. More information here.

Where to eat:
Hven Durum – Landsvägen 192 – tel: +46 418 724 48
Café Tycho Brahe – Landsvägen 174. More information here.
Fiskboden – Kyrkbacken – tel: +46 418 722 20. More information here.

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