The 15 Best Things to Do in Gotland, Sweden


 Gotland, Sweden’s Captivating Gems

Gotland is Sweden’s largest island, located in the Baltic Sea just off the east coast. This beautiful island is filled with stunning beaches, ancient sites, captivating museums, delicious food, and so much more. If you’re planning a trip to Gotland, you’ll want to make the most of your time there. Here are the 15 best things to do in Gotland to help you plan an unforgettable vacation.

Explore Visby’s Enchanting Old Town

Visby is Gotland’s main city and home to one of the best preserved medieval walled cities in Europe. This enchanting old town is surrounded by nearly 3.5 km of thick defensive walls built in the 13th century. Take a leisurely stroll along the cobblestone streets and browse the charming shops, cafes, and restaurants housed inside picturesque buildings. Don’t miss sights like the majestic Visby Cathedral and Gotlands Museum, which offers an in-depth look at the island’s history. Walk along the walls for sweeping views of red tiled rooftops and the Baltic Sea beyond. Visby’s magical old town is easily one of the top things to do in Gotland.

Relax on Gotland’s Spectacular Beaches

Gotland is absolutely blessed with stunning beaches. One of the best beaches, and a top attraction on the island, is Tofta Strand on the eastern coast. This 5 km long sandy beach boasts incredibly clear blue waters and smooth sand dunes. The vibrant summer sunsets here are spectacular. For more seclusion, head to the remote and pristine Vamlingbo Beach on the far southern tip. Other excellent beaches include child-friendly Sudersand Beach, lively Faro Beach near Visby, and peaceful Langstrand Beach. With over 100 miles of coastline, you’re spoiled for choice for amazing places to soak up the sun in Gotland!

Marvel at the Mysterious Megalithic Sites

One of Gotland’s most intriguing sights are the numerous ancient megalithic sites scattered across the island. The most famous of these is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gotland Stoneships, sometimes called the “Stonehenge of Sweden”. Massive ship-like formations of stacked limestone slabs create a surreal seascape landscape. Another incredible site is Gettlinge Gravfält, an ancient Viking burial ground with over 350 graves dating back 1,400 years. For more mysterious stones, visit Havdhem Vikingarve and the stone ship formation in Eskelhem. Discovering Gotland’s ancient megalithic wonders is a must for history buffs.

Tour Stylish Manor Houses & Gardens

In addition to ancient sites, Gotland has some spectacular manor houses and gardens that are fascinating to explore. Near Visby, stop by the photogenic Gunnebo House & Gardens, which includes an elegant 18th century manor, lush botanical gardens, and unique puppet theater. Further south, Suderbys offers an imposing manor home and lush gardens. Meanwhile, Hallshuk Manor features an historic windmill and gorgeous gardens with over 500 plant species. A trip to Gotland wouldn’t be complete without admiring the splendid architecture and horticulture of these stately homes and gardens.

Cycle and Hike Through Gotland’s Gorgeous Countryside

With so much beauty spread across the island, one of the best ways to fully experience Gotland is by bike or foot. There are over 1,600 km of marked cycling routes that connect villages, churches, beaches and ancient sites. Popular routes include cycling from Visby south along the coastline and the trail through scenic Fårösund. For peaceful hiking surrounded by nature, head to Gotland National Park and walk among the cliffs, forests and fields. Endless outdoor adventures await across Gotland’s expansive countryside from cycling to hiking.

Indulge in Delicious Local Seafood

Thanks to the bountiful Baltic Sea just off its shores, Gotland is a seafood lover’s paradise. Be sure to try classics like buttery Baltic herring, smoked and cured salmon, mussels and succulent langoustines (small lobsters). In Visby, stop by Feskekôrka fish market to sample exquisite seafood prepared in creative ways. For a romantic meal, book a table at coveted seafood restaurant Smakbyn. Or for a cozy harborfront setting, try Gutekällaren in Slite. With delectable fish and shellfish, a seafood feast is a must during your Gotland getaway.

Learn the History at Gotland Museum

To fully appreciate Gotland’s deep roots, spend some time at the excellent Gotland Museum in Visby. This first-rate museum provides a comprehensive overview of the island’s history and culture dating back over 7,000 years. Fascinating exhibits spotlight the Viking era, medieval Visby, traditional life and trades on the island, religious history, art and artifacts. Don’t miss the Golden Hoard of over 1,700 gold, silver and bronze objects from the Viking Age. An ideal rainy day option, the Gotland Museum immerses you in this island’s compelling past.

Shop for Antiques & Handicrafts

Combining history with shopping, scouring for antiques and traditional handicrafts makes for an engaging activity during your island visit. Charming stores like Very Vintage Visby are filled with antique Gotlandic furniture, glassware, and homewares. Check out unique ceramics, art and woodcrafts from local artisans at creative boutiques like Art Factory Visby. For authentic handicrafts, visit Hemslöjden Köpmansmagasinet featuring handmade textiles, jewelry, baskets and more crafted using traditional techniques. Gotland offers such memorable local shopping opportunities.

Explore Mystical Grottos & Caves

Gotland boasts some fascinating caves and grottos along its rocky coastline. Near the village of Lummelunda is the massive Lummelunda Cave, the largest limestone cave in Sweden spanning over 200 meters. Guided tours take you through dramatic chambers with stalactites and stalagmites. Along the northern coast lies the otherworldly Grejsudden cavern, accessible at low tide. Smaller sea grottos like Djupvik grottor make for memorable island explorations. Gotland’s magnificent caves showcase the power of nature and geology.

Go Seal Watching Along the Shores

Gotland’s shores and islets provide the perfect habitat for adorable native seals. Take a boat cruise from Kappelshamn, Fårösund or Visby to spot these charming sea creatures sunbathing on rocks or playfully swimming. The scenic islands of Stora Karlsö and Little Karlsö off the west coast are home to large seal colonies. For the best sights from shore, head to Langhammars nature reserve or the Visby Länsmansholmen breakwater. An exciting seal watching adventure is one of the most memorable things to do during a Gotland vacation.

Savor Gotlandic Cuisine

Be sure to taste Gotland’s fabulous local cuisine during your visit. Unique island specialties to try include saffron pancakes, salted lamb, smoked cheeses, and räkmacka – an open-faced shrimp sandwich. For authentic home-cooked meals, book a table at cozy restaurants like Linn Broberg’s Krog in Vall and Solberga Gästgiveri outside Visby. Sample farm fresh cuisine at Bunge Gårdsmat, an organic farm with a cafe. Of course you can always grab traditional pastries like saffransbullar (saffron buns) and kanebullar (cardamom cinnamon rolls) at any local bakery for a quick snack. Gotland’s scrumptious local food is a highlight.

Take a Road Trip Around the Island

One of the best ways to fully experience Gotland is to embark on a scenic driving road trip around the island. This lets you encounter first-hand the diverse landscapes, pretty fishing villages, towering medieval churches, and captivating sites. Must-visit stops include picture-perfect Fårö island in the north, the windswept Hoburgen cliffs, the island of Gotska Sandön, and the southern coastal gem town of Visby. With so much beauty packed into this small island, a Gotland road trip adventure promises fantastic sights and memories.

Revel in the Summer Night Markets & Events

Gotland comes alive in the summer months with vibrant night markets and cultural events across the island. Every Wednesday and Saturday in peak season, Visby hosts a bustling night market in the main square overlooked by the cathedral, filled with handicrafts, food and entertainment. Midsummer celebrations, music festivals, historical reenactments, and craft fairs are also popular. Don’t miss the raucous Medieval Week festival every August. Gotland really shines during these energetic summer events.

Take a Day Trip to Fårö Island

Just north of Gotland lies the small, tranquil island of Fårö, accessible via ferry from Fårösund. Here you’ll find gorgeous sandy beaches, unique geological rock formations, walking trails along pine forests, and the starkly beautiful Fårö lighthouse. Fårö is also home to iconic director Ingmar Bergman’s house that is now a museum. For an idyllic escape, spend a day exploring Fårö’s natural beauty and sites. This serene island getaway is a perfect day trip from Gotland.

Relax at a Spa Resort Hotel

After days of island adventures, unwind by booking a stay at one of Gotland’s fabulous spa resort hotels. Top luxury options include the elegant Wisby Hotel which boasts a decadent spa with indoor and outdoor pools, and the boutique St. Clemens Hotel featuring a spa with soothing hot tubs overlooking the bay. For a countryside setting, escape to Bunge Gård manor hotel and their pampering spa. Gotland’s relaxing spa hotels provide the ultimate island break.

Go Golfing on Championship Courses

Calling all golf lovers! Gotland is home to over a dozen excellent golf courses on the island and Fårö. Top choices include the scenic seaside links at Visby Golfklubb, the stunning parkland course at Gotland GK, and laidback Bunge Golf Course. Many courses stay open through September, so pack your clubs. With dramatic seascapes and forests as your fairway backdrop, tee time on Gotland is a special experience.

Travel Tips for Visiting Gotland

Now that you’re excited to visit amazing Gotland, here are some helpful trip planning tips:

  • The best time to visit Gotland is May through September when sights, activities and the night markets are in full swing. Late spring and early fall offer mild weather.
  • Fly or ferry to Visby – there are direct flights from Stockholm and ferries from Oskarshamn and Västervik on mainland Sweden. Rent a car for exploring.
  • Old Visby town, Fårö, and points along the coast get crowded in peak summer. Visit shoulder season or head inland for more solitude.
  • Pack layers as weather can be cool and changeable, even in summer. A sweater or light jacket is recommended.
  • Get the Gotland Pass for free or discounted admission to top museums and attractions. It often pays for itself on a multi-day visit.
  • Gotland is very bike friendly with extensive cycling routes. Rent bikes in Visby or bring your own via ferry.
  • The island has many gorgeous beaches, but the water stays cool year round. Best for sunbathing and strolls versus swimming.
  • English is widely spoken in hotels, shops and restaurants but it helps to know some basic Swedish phrases.

With its captivating blend of natural beauty, ancient history, culture, food and outdoor adventures, Gotland is an incredible destination. Use this guide to help plan your own unforgettable trip exploring the very best of enchanting Gotland, Sweden!

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