Gotland is an island summer destination in southeast Sweden. It could claim the title of the Long Island of the Baltic. Thousands of tourists flock Gotland every year to experience its pristine beaches, unspoiled landscape, and festivals like the annual Medieval Week, which is celebrated each year in August.
You can arrive either by air or by ferry to Visby, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is the only sizeable town on the island, which houses around half the population of Gotland.
The rest of the island has a very low population, even though numbers increase rapidly during the peak season, i.e., summers.
Generally, Gotland has been the center of attraction for more sedate visitors over the centuries. However, it has started attracting the younger crowd lately to cover the shores, especially in July and August.
Frequent flights have been the prime reasons behind the seasonal crowd from the major cities in Sweden, i.e., from Stockholm.
You could take a ferry ride for 3 hours or take a flight from Stockholm, which takes only 35 minutes. Therefore, the choice is yours. Without further wait, let us take a look at some of the best things to do in Gotland.
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How to Get from Stockholm to Gotland?
You can take flights all year round from Stockholm to Gotland. You can also take flights from Gothenburg, Helsinki, Oslo, etc. It takes around 35 minutes from Stockholm to reach Gotland. The nearest airport to Gotland in Visby, which is located 3 km from the city of Visby. You can take a bus or taxi to go to Visby. Taxi is costly but the most convenient mode of transport.
You can take two types of buses from Visby airport – the first one is 61, a local bus, which goes through the north of Gotland to Visby city central and Visby Airport, and another option is the Airport Shuttle, which departs every hour.
There are ferries run from Oskarshamn and Nyashamn to Visby throughout the year. It is the most affordable way to reach Gotland. It takes around 3 hours, and the harbor is located in the heart of Visby.
Experiences and top things to do in Gotland
Visby is a quaint medieval town covered by the medieval walls built in the 13th century. If you are visiting Gotland by ferry, you will initially arrive in this city.
You may expect to see turrets, rose-dotted cottages, spires, and towers, winding streets with cobblestones, leafy bowers, and local shops during summers. You may soak up its medieval charm in many of its eateries and cafes.
If you are getting in Gotland, do not miss the saffranspannkaka. It is indeed a saffron cake choked with dollops of cream and red berries. It is delicious to satiate your sweet tooth.
Medieval City Walls in Visby
The breathtaking town walls in Visby are around 3.5km long and were built of limestone in another part of the 13th century. The walls are dotted by 44 towers, which are around 20m tall.
The Maiden’s Tower (Jungfrutornet) is located around the north end. It is believed that the daughter of a goldsmith was walled up alive as she loved Valdemar Atterdag, the Danish King and betrayed the town.
You may also join numerous walking tours, which are available in English with the Tourist Office.
One of the best things to see in Gotland is Godland Museum, where you can explore its culture and history. The museum was founded in the year 1875.
Some of the permanent exhibitions are artifacts and antiques dating back to the Stone Age to Viking times, which are around 8000 years old, along with natural art and history. It also has unique fossils and valuable runic stones.
Botaniska Trädgården (Botanic Garden)
Located just a quick walk from the sea and town walls on the northwest of Visby, Botaniska Tradgarden is a stunning botanic garden that dates back around 150 years.
At the south end of the garden, history meets nature where you can spot the ivy-cloaked remnants of St. Olof’s Church, which is a Romanesque complex.
The town of ruins and roses, Visby is well known for the garden, which is flooded with rose beds. The mild climate of Visby is ideal for apple, walnut, fig, magnolia, and mulberry trees.
St. Nicholas’ Church
You can spot the ruins of St. Gertrude, a small chapel built in the 15th century, as well as St. Nicholas’ Church along the side street from Visby’s Church of the Holy Ghost. St. Nicholas’ Church once belonged to a Dominican monastery and was built in 1230.
However, the Lubeckers destroyed it in 1525. The gable end is adorned with two stunning rose windows. This church is hauntingly beautiful to make a beautiful setting for theatre performances and live music.
St. Mary’s Cathedral
St. Mary’s Cathedral is located towards the west of St Hansgatan. It is the only old church in Visby, which is still operational.
Built-in 1225 by German merchants, St. Mary’s Cathedral houses a giant square tower on the west and two smaller ones at the east.
It features carved walnut pulpit as well as Lubeck ebony as well as 13th century’s Gotland marble font.
Hogklint Nature Reserve
Located around 10 km from Visby is the stunning nature reserve of Hogklint which is a great spot to soak in the stunning views of Visby, the rocky west coast and the dazzling blue Baltic Sea from the highest sea cliffs of Gotland.
There is a short hike to go along the rugged cliffs to a track, which winds down to the pebbly beach and shallow sea caves.
If you keep going towards the south, you will visit a sleepy fishing village, Ygne. You can climb the knobby rock cliffs along the coast.
Visitors also flock here to catch the superb Instagram-worthy sunset. However, guardrails are not available along the steep cliffs.
So, be careful. You may also rent a cycle or bike to go up the hills.