4 days in Gotland
Off the Beaten Track
Each season on Gotland is filled with its own unique experiences, meaning there are a lot of different things to do. You can go shopping and visit a museum on the same day as you fish on the rocks or glide by canoe along a chalk-white beach. The distances are short, and you can easily get from a cafés and sights to barren cliffs and rustling forest groves.
It’s well worth a visit any time of year – but the island comes alive in particular 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.
Day 1: Discover the medieval town of Visby
Destination Gotland´s ferries depart from Nynäshamn, a 1 hour train ride from Stockholm, and take you to Gotland in just over 3 hours. If you choose the fly from Stockholm the flight time is only 30 minutes.
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.
Whether you’re looking for history, nature, culture, good food or just want to relax on the beach, the town of Visby has it all. Located in the Baltic Sea, this fairy-tale town is a national treasure. It’s also a UNESCO Word Heritage Site, characterised as having “outstanding universal value.”
This well-preserved medieval Hanseatic town dates back to the 12th century and contains a number of remarkable church ruins from the period such as the St Clemens, St Nicolai and Drottens ruins, or the St Karin church ruin with its high arches. Visby boasts a number of historic churches as well, including the Sankta Maria Cathedral built at the end of the 12th century.
Visby also has a well-preserved 3.5 kilometre long medieval ring wall with many of its original towers from the 12th century still intact. The wall encircles the centre of Visby and was originally built for protection against both foreign enemies and Swedish assailants from the countryside.
Along the streets of the town there are more than 200 buildings and homes dating back to between the 12th and 14th centuries. The Gotland Museum´s Fornsalen (Hall of Antiquities) contains a number of archaeological discoveries dating back to Viking times. A visit here will help put the town’s long and fascinating history into perspective
Day 2: Rent a car and drive to Fårö
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.
Day 3: Explore the natural wonders of Gotland by bike
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.
When you cycle along the Gotland roads, you will come across both small and large surprises in the form of cafés, farm shops, lamb pastures, flea markets, rauka areas or sandy beaches. If you have a hard time tearing yourself away from all the wonders, you can always cheat a little and take the bus back. A couple of bicycles can be accommodated if there is room.
Day 4: Stay in Visby and eat
Known as a foodie hotspot, Gotland is benefiting from the wonderful local produce available on the island – especially freshly caught seafood – and it has a significant craft beer scene too.
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 outstanding 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 Brewery 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.
Tailor make your own itinerary, or look for the “4 days in Gotland” pre-costed package in WebConnect:
- Ferry to/from Stockholm
- 3 nights’ accommodation at Clarion Hotel Visby
- 2-day bike hire
We also recommend that you do one of the free guided walks in Visby while you visit!
Gotlands best restaurants
- Surfers, Visby
- Lilla Bjers Gårdskrog, Västerhejde
- Backfickan, Visby
- Krönet, Visby
- Krakas krog, Katthammarsvik
- Smakrike, Ljugarn
- Tuppens krog, Visby
- Bungenäst Matsal, Fårösund
- Bruna Dörren, Ljugarn
Gotlands best “fika”
- Crêperie Tati, Fårö
- Rute Stenungsbageri, Lärbro
- Café Gula Huset, Visby
- S:t Hans Café, Visby
- Glassmagasinet, Visby
- Själsö Bageri, Själsö
- Sylvias Döttrar Hembageri, Fårö
- Leva Kungslador, Visby
- Ljugarns Strandcafe och restaurang, Ljugarn