Skip to main content

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience and to provide additional functionality on our website. If you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time. See our cookie policy.

Walking in Visby
A couple of friends walking down a small street in Visby.
Photo credit: Tina Axelsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Gotland – where Viking-era history meets unique natural scenery

Gotland, Sweden is a paradise island with characterful wilderness and a coastline punctuated with sandy beaches and sculptural sea stacks. Historically significant, its main town Visby is a Viking-era wonder and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Anyone who’s set foot on Gotland soil would agree there’s something magical about it. This unique island off the southeast coast of Sweden has it all – natural scenery, remarkable history and unique local flavours. Wander around the cobbled streets of Visby – the main town on the east coast of the island – and it’s as though you’ve been transported to medieval times. In 1995, Visby entered the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, and for good reason – Visby is the best-preserved fortified trading town in northern Europe. Between the 12th to the 14th century, it was the main centre of the Hanseatic League in the Baltic.

Visby’s historic townscape features a high number of significant architectural buildings and structures dating back to the 13th century. Wrapping around the centuries-old centre, Ringmuren (The Visby City Wall) – complete with towers and gates – was built between 1250 and 1288 and stretches across 3.5 kilometres.

The Visby City Wall ('Ringmuren')

Visby city wall

The city wall of Visby is a medieval defensive wall surrounding the Swedish town of Visby on the island of Gotland off the coast of southeast Sweden. With 3.4 of the original 3.6 kilometres of wall still standing, it is the best preserved city wall in Scandinavia.

Photo: Emelie Asplund/imagebank.sweden.se

Discover the medieval town of Visby – and beyond

Historic architecture aside, the quaintness of the residential streets of Visby, with their idyllic cottages and characteristic abundance of sweet-smelling roses, contribute to the town’s unique charm. However, there’s also much to discover beyond the city borders.

Known as a foodie hotspot, Gotland is benefiting from the wonderful local produce available on the island – not least freshly caught seafood – and it has a significant craft beer scene too.

Its well worth a visit any time of year – every season has its own unique charm – but the island comes alive particularly during summer, when temperatures hover around the 20°C mark, and the waters are at their most bathing-friendly. Even if swimming is not on the agenda, Gotland’s distinctive coastline has much to offer. The sea stacks – or ‘raukar’ as they’re called in Swedish – found on the rocky east coast is an almost otherworldly sight to behold.

1 / 4

Visby

Gotland is an island in the Baltic Sea approximately 90 km off the eastern coast of Sweden. It has been inhabited for a long time, probably dating back to the Stone Age. Today there are more than 40,000 ancient sites to be found on Gotland, and the main town, Visby, with its medieval walls, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Photo: Jerker Andersson/imagebank.sweden.se

/ 4

Visby

Photo: Jerker Andersson/imagebank.sweden.se

Visby city wall

Photo: Emelie Asplund/imagebank.sweden.se

Limestone monoliths

Photo: Helena Wahlman/imagebank.sweden.se

Flowers on the island of Gotland

Photo: Jon Flobrant/Unsplash

Explore the natural wonders of Gotland

Gotland has amazing natural scenery and since it’s mostly flat, it is a cyclist’s dream destination. The Eksta coast is a popular biking option with much to offer. Set within an idyllic nature reserve, this coastal stretch runs across the western side of the island, from the fishing village of Djupvik to Hammarudden. Hop on a ferry to explore the neighbouring islands of Stora Karlsö and Lilla Karlsö, which are known for their rich flora and fauna.

No trip to Gotland is complete without a visit to the island of Fårö. Located just northeast of the main island, you’ll reach this characterful destination with a free 8-minute ferry-ride from Fårösund. It’s easy to see why world-famous Swedish director Ingmar Bergman fell in love with this island, where he spent much of his life from the 1960s until his death in 2007.

Fårö is formed entirely from limestone rock. Though it has a distinctively rugged beauty in parts, it also boasts sandy beaches (Sudersand is widely considered one of Sweden's top beaches) as well as fields and meadows. Fårö is also the site of impressive raukar (limestone sea stacks), which form stunning natural sculpture fields along the edge of the sea. The aptly named Stenkusten (Stone Coast) on the north coast of Gotland is another destination boasting iconic raukar.

When it’s time to refuel, consider the characterful eatery Creperie Tati & Kutens Bensin. Housed in an old gasoline station and filled with 1950s-era nostalgia, complete with a jukebox in action, French crêpes and galettes are on the menu. These delicious treats are served with healthy fillings and sides, such as organically grown vegetables sourced from local farmer Frans Brozén.

1 / 5

Digerhuvud on Fårö

Friends walking along the sea stacks “rauks” on Fårö, an island northeast of Gotland.

Photo: Tina Axelsson/imagebank.sweden.se

/ 5

Digerhuvud on Fårö

Photo: Tina Axelsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Limestone monoliths

Photo: Lucas Günther/imagebank.sweden.se

Stora Karlsö

Photo: gotland.com

Limestone monoliths on Gotland

Photo: Destination Gotland

Sudersand Resort

Photo: Sudersand Resort

The unique flavours of Gotland’s food and beer

Gotland’s privileged history as a trading post has seen it develop a fondness for ingredients from faraway lands – saffron being one example. ‘Saffranspannkaka’ (saffron pancake, based on rice) served with whipped cream and jam made from dewberry – a blackberry relative also known as salmbär – is a must-try Gotlandic classic.

Due to its strong fishing traditions, seafood of all kinds is naturally key, while meat-eaters should take the opportunity to try local lamb. The rearing of sheep dates back to the Viking-era, and the meat is known for its texture and flavour. Lamb meat (and wool) are the quintessential Gotland products, and the island’s flag even features a sheep front and centre.

Ramslök (wild garlic) and asparagus – white, green and purple – thrive on Gotland and so does truffle. The kind you’ll find here is unique to the island. Simply called Gotlandic truffle (black Bourgogne truffle), this regional delicacy has its own dedicated festival, held annually in November. During this weekend-long event, you’ll get to immerse yourself in the world of truffles. Enjoy a well-balanced medley of activities, from truffle markets and events such as truffle-hunts to workshops and seminars held by experts in the field. A wide range of participating restaurants offer the opportunity to try truffles cooked in a variety of ways – from casual affairs to fine dining options.

As for drinks, the local 'Gotlandsdricka' – a smoky-sweet, juniper-flavoured traditional ale – has been made on the island for centuries. Locally brewed beer of other types is never out of reach. Gotlands Bryggeri is a well-established brewery offering up a long list of beer varieties across the island’s bars and restaurants. You’ll also find plenty of micro-breweries – look out for Barlingbo, Hop Shed Brewery and Snausarve Gårdsbryggeri, to name a few.

1 / 8

Saffron pancake

Saffron pancake (Saffranspannkaka) at Cafe S:t Clemens on Gotland.

Photo: gotland.com

/ 8

Saffron pancake

Photo: gotland.com

Summer meal

Photo: Fredrik Larsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Alskute Brewery

Photo: gotland.com

Restaurant

Photo: Tina Axelsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Truffle hunting

Photo: Region Gotland

Truffle, Gotland's "Black Gold"

Photo: Region Gotland

Asparagus

Photo: Region Gotland

Food market

Photo: Anna Sundström

Gotland’s top restaurants

Among Gotland’s many great restaurants, make sure to visit Lilla Bjers, situated about 7 km south of Visby. They serve up vegetables exclusively harvested in the restaurant’s own organic farm, while meat and dairy are sourced via small-scale producers on the island. The menu interprets the classic flavours of Gotland – like truffles and saffron – in innovative ways. To drink – choose from wine and beer made locally. Lilla Bjers’ own craft beer is made with hops grown on the farm, developed in collaboration with local brewery Barlingbo.

Krakas Krog is another eminent option, located in east Gotland’s Kräklingbo – some 35 minutes’ drive from Visby. Dishes are cooked with seasonal, local produce and meats sourced from nearby farmers and its own garden. They also serve fine local wines, and owner Ulrika Karlsson is a trained sommelier. However, Karlsson is equally proud of her offering of non-alcoholic beverages including Krakas’ own apple must (a flavourful, unfiltered apple juice). This renowned restaurant is featured in the prestigious Michelin Guide.

Fine dining restaurant Tuppens Krog, located in the heart of Visby and housed within a 18th century wooden house that typifies the workers’ home of yesteryear, serves up dishes cooked using local produce from Gotland and the rest of Sweden. The atmosphere in this historic setting is warm and welcoming and there’s a cosy bar serving a range of wine and locally brewed beer.

Attempting to summarise Gotland is not an easy feat – it’s an island that has to be experienced first-hand with all it has to offer.

1 / 6

Lilla Bjers, Gotland

Exterior of the restaurant Lilla Bjers in Västerhejde on Gotland.

Photo: Margareta Hoas / Lilla Bjers

/ 6

Lilla Bjers, Gotland

Photo: Margareta Hoas / Lilla Bjers

Food served at Lilla Bjers, Gotland

Photo: Margareta Hoas / Lilla Bjers

Krakas Krog, Gotland

Photo: Beatrice Lundborg / Krakas Krog

Krakas Krog, Gotland

Photo: Beatrice Lundborg

Restaurant Tuppens Krog

Photo: Tina Axelsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Dinner

Photo: Tina Axelsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Practical information before your trip to Gotland

1 / 6

Medieval Week on Gotland

In August every summer there is a grand medieval festival on Gotland, with medieval music, theater, markets, crafts, tournaments, lectures and courses.

Photo: Anna Sundström

/ 6

Medieval Week on Gotland

Photo: Anna Sundström

Medieval Week on Gotland

Photo: Anna Sundström

Visby

Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/ imagebank.sweden.se

Fishing huts

Photo: Jerker Andersson/imagebank.sweden.se

Limestones

Photo: Jerker Andersson/imagebank.sweden.se

Visby cathedral on Gotland

Photo: Destination Gotland