Gotland is as close to a holiday abroad as you can come without leaving the Swedish borders. So say many visitors to the island. And there is of course good reason for the saying. In the summer, Visby has a continental atmosphere with buzzing street life into the late night hours.
The Gotland nature stands out from the usual Swedish pine and fir forests, and farming landscape. The island is surrounded by steep cliffs, sea stacks and both shingle and sand beaches. The Gotland earth is rich in lime and fertile. The island belongs to hardiness zone one – the same zone as the continent. There is even a vineyard on the slopes towards the sea on the island’s eastern coast.
Visby’s many guises
If you like history, Visby has much to discover. Traditional houses with stepped gables, many medieval churches and the three and half kilometer-long defensive wall give the city its character. Visit Gotland’s National Historical Museum and see the Viking treasures and Gotland picture stones. But Visby has more than history to offer – for several weeks in the summer the city transforms into a party zone, and many choose to visit the popular Gutekällaren night club.
For one week in August, Visby also transforms into a medieval city with jousting, jesters, music, lectures and markets. It is easy to cast your mind one thousand years back in time. A more modern market place is Almedalen Week which takes place each year in Visby. Here, important social issues and politics are key themes. It is a week that few politicians, debaters and lobbyists would want to miss.
Pedal your way around the island
Gotland is a perfect destination for those of you planning a cycling holiday. With a length of 170 kilometres and a width of 80 kilometres, the whole island is accessible. Therefore during the course of a week-long cycling holiday, it is not unreasonable to explore the whole island – from the famous Hornborgsgubben sea stack in the south to the limestone quarries in the north, and from Visby’s shopping and restaurant haunts in the west to Ljugarn’s historic bathing resort in the east. You don't need to bring your own bicycle as you easily rent one at Visby Airport.
A popular excursion is to jump on the ferry to Fårö. The island, which is located to the north of Gotland, inspired the director Ingmar Bergman to make many of his world-famous films. Here you can participate in a week of film in honour of Ingmar Bergman and see many of the locations that represent scenes from several of his films.
If you are interested in birdlife, Stora Karlsö is worth a visit. The guillemots breed on the plateaus of the high cliffs on the island’s eastern side. If you are lucky you can witness when the newly hatched chicks start their lives with a dangerous drop down to the beach and sea below.