What to do in Gotland!
Welcome to Gotland, Sweden’s largest island! I was here for five days in July celebrating my birthday and had an amazing time exploring the island! There is so much to see and do here!
Gotland was settled during the Viking Age and is still very reminiscent of a medieval town. At the time, Visby was a strategic point for trade within the Baltic Sea and a fortified commercial center. It is such an interesting and beautiful place to visit within Sweden!
Here is everything you need to know to plan your trip to Gotland!
When to Go
Gotland is a summer island and most activities here take place outside, so go when the weather is best! Summer in Sweden is amazing so visit between late June and August. But remember, it always cools down at night in Sweden and the rain can come at any moment!
How to Get There
The main city on Gotland is Visby, and this was our home-base during our stay. You can get to Visby by either flight, cruise, or ferry. We opted for the ferry, which took ~3.5 hours to travel the 100km from Oskarshamn, and passes by the tip of Öland, a smaller island off the coast of Sweden. The ferry was smooth and convenient, with a restaurant, a pet area, a children play area, and some shopping onboard.
Hungry on board? No worries! There is a full restaurant with all of the Swedish classics. Pannkakor, anyone?
Tip! Be sure to pre-book your ferry ride!
What To Do in Gotland
A short ferry ride northeast of Gotland lies the smaller island of Fårö, where the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman (1918–2007) lived. In fact, you can celebrate Bergman Week on the island each June as a tribute to the filmmaker.
Here you will find natural limestone raukar (rock formations) dotting the coastline and a lighthouse at the northern most point. The Fårö Lighthouse is 30 meters/98 feet high and was built between 1846 and 1847.
This island has a strong military past and didn’t open to foreigners until the 1990s!
It was a beautiful place to spend a few hours at! The ferry was really fast, free, and ran every 10 minutes.
Say Hi to Pippi Longstocking
You can visit Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump) at her Villa Villekulla in Kneippbyn, just outside of Visby. Here there is a Pippi theme park, which is perfect if you have kids coming along! We didn’t go, but if you are traveling with kids you might enjoy stopping by!
If you are in the southern tip of Gotland, you can visit Hoburgsgubben, a rauk. These limestone formations are 35 meters/115 feet high, and this rock is particularly famous as it looks like a man’s face in profile. Hoburgen is the area and gubben means “the old man”. Someone even painted the tip of the nose red!
(These pictures are from a different rauk, but you get the idea!)
The Blue Lagoon
No need to go to Iceland when you have the Blue Lagoon (Blå Lagunen) right here. Here you can find bright blue turquoise water in an old limestone quarry! Perfect for some swimming, cliff jumping, or stand up paddle boarding. It’s a big area so there’s no problem finding some space for your picnic and towels.
Tips! You likely want a car to access the lagoon, but you can get there by bike as well if you are dedicated to biking the 60km/37 miles from Visby. Be prepared to pack in your water and snacks as there aren’t any nearby restaurants or cafes, except an ice cream stand. There is one public toilet. Come dressed in your suit or be ready to do a quick change on the beach! Sandals that can get wet are a plus, as there isn’t sand surrounding the beach, but limestone gravel.
How Long To Stay
With everything we did, you can probably understand why we went for 5 days. If you are just going to visit Visby, 2 full days should be perfect. But I would really recommend staying a little longer and visiting the Blue Lagoon and Fårö!
Where to Eat
- Djupvik Resort – the shrimp sandwich is famous!
- Bruna Dörren
- Crêperie Tati
- Hamnkrogen i Herrvik
- Pastamakarna Fårö
- ROT – One of the owners is a glassblower and that is how they cook the food there three times a year. Read more here. This was where we celebrated my birthday dinner! They also let me try glass blowing! It was one of the best dining experiences we’ve ever had.
- Gula Hönan (The Yellow Hen)
- Smakrike Krog – Such a beautiful place
Looking for tips about what to do in Visby? Read more here.
- Looking to bus around the island? Kollektivtrafiken is where you can buy tickets and check routes.
- Lots of shops offering glass-blown items for sale!
- Plan the week you visit carefully! Almedalen Week (Almedalsveckan) and Stockholm week (Stockholmsveckan) take place the first two weeks of July each year. Almedalsveckan is a political festival that lasts just over a week. And Stockholmers ditch the city for a week on the island during Stockholmsveckan. We visited during this time and it was ___. It definitely helped that we booked all of our dinner reservations a month out and our hotels in May.
- You can easily rent bikes at many places or hotels in Gotland for about 150-200 SEK (~$15 USD) for the day.
Hope you learned some new Swedishness today and I’ll see you in the next post!