Gotland is the largest island off the coast of Sweden. It has a perfect blend of history and modern living. The entire island which can be covered in a few days has a mix of everything. The beaches, the countryside, and the city. You name it and it’s there in Gotland.
How to get there?
A 3-hour ferry ride from Stockholm gets one to the main port of Visby in Gotland. An early morning ride from Stockholm to Visby makes up for some pretty spectacular views of the sea and the sunrise.
An early morning ride in the ferry
What to visit?
Visby which is sometimes called the city of ruins still retains the old city feel inside its city walls. The medieval defensive wall which runs about 3.5 km surrounds the main city of Visby. A major part of this structure still stands today as it is said to be the best-preserved medieval wall in the whole of Scandinavia.
A view of Visby from its city walls
Visby City Wall
One of the entrances to the city is through one of its oldest towers called the Gunpowder Tower. This tower is now located in what Visby calls Almedalen Park. It is said that during the wars between Sweden and Denmark gunpowder used to be stored in this tower to be used by both sides, as Visby was quite notorious for switching sides during the war.
The gunpowder tower
The wall also has other entrances to the city through the north gate, south gate and the west gates. The wall itself is built on a very steep slope that faces the Baltic Sea. The journey following the wall makes up for quite an interesting read as each tower around the wall has a story of its own to tell.
Visby city wall
Hogklint Nature Reserve
The hogklint nature reserve is another must-see place when at Visby. The best views of the sky, the Baltic Sea and of Visby are seen from Gotlands highest cliffs here at the reserve.
View from the hogklint nature reserve during sunset
The walk from the Visby wall to Hogklint is a long one. However, the view along the way more than makes up for the distance. This is definitely a journey that one doesn’t want to see the end.
Along the way to the hogklint nature reserve
Another reminder of Visby’s medieval times is its church ruins. However, despite the place is in ruins, a lot of conferences, concerts, and other such events during the medieval week occur at these ruins. St. Nikolai ruins is one of the major sights inside the city walls. Many concerts are held at this place during the Gotland chamber music festival thus earning this the name of the “cultural hall”. Katarina’s ruins is another beautiful place to visit. The high arches with the sky above probably make it one of the most beautiful ruins of Visby.
Lummelunda Caves with its beautiful stone formations is next on the list of must visit places when at Gotland. It is said that this cave was discovered by three boys in the late 1940s. The boys explored the cave on their own for quite a few years before informing anyone about it. The entrance to the cave does not seem to hold any excitement as it looks like a dead-end from where one stands. However, when the cave was thrown open to the public the entrance to the cave was kept as-is and another entrance so that the tourists didn’t have to crawl through was made. The narrow openings and crawl-through spaces in the caves do have interesting stories to be told. What was even more exciting was to check if a person of one’s size could crawl through the caves. A small cave arrangement at the exhibition room that is just as wide as the cave, at its narrowest solves this problem easily and makes the visit quite enjoyable as well.
Gotland has a lot of limestone quarries which are now water-filled. Blue Lagoon is one of the most famous ones. This place is quite popular as a bathing place in the summer. The white sand and the clear blue water make for an entertaining outing with friends.
Fårö is an island to the north of Gotland. This journey to Fårö is made in minutes via a ferry across the Fårö strait. This island is famous for rauk fields. Rauks are column-like natural sea stacks. The ones found here are from limestone. The coffee-pot and dog sea stack are one of the most popular ones at this place. The journey to it makes for some interesting views with the sky, sun and the sea all coming together to create a really nice picture.
The coffee pot and dog sea stack at sunset
What to eat?
Gotland has a distinct cuisine of its own. Merchants from the Baltic region imported saffron and rice to Gotland from very early on. These were incorporated in the cuisine to create the now famous saffron pancakes. This dish was initially made during Christmas and then later on incorporated at weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. However, nowadays you can eat it all year round as it has become the trademark of Gotland and its tourism industry.
How to get around?
Getting around Gotland can prove to be a little difficult if one is dependent on public transport. However, it’s a breeze if one chooses to cycle or drive through. Summer would probably be the best season to visit this place as the longer daylight hours allow for a lot of sight-seeing. As this is a place that most people come to relax a lot of camping places are available. It does amount to a budget-friendly and travels considering that one camp out during the vacation and cycles around to visit the sights.
May the journey continue…..
Gotland is definitely a place worth visiting and it more than lives up to its name. It does take you back through the ages and also reminds you of the present.