Visby

The best preserved medieval city in Scandinavia.

Visby lies on the Island "Gotland", south east of Stockholm. It is a large island, quiet and relaxing. It is arguably the best-preserved medieval city in Scandinavia and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the most notable historical remains are the 3.4 km long stone wall called Ringmuren ("the Ring Wall"), that encircles the city and the old church ruins. A former Viking site on the island of Gotland, Visby was the main centre of the Hanseatic League in the Baltic from the 12th to the 14th century. Its 13th-century ramparts and more than 200 warehouses and wealthy merchants' dwellings from the same period make it the best-preserved fortified commercial city in northern Europe.

You need to access Gotland by ferry from mainland Sweden, from Nynäshamn or Oskarshamn or with airplane. The three-hour ferry arrives from Oskarshamn in Småland and Nynäshamn, near Stockholm. During the summertime, the ferry also runs to Grankullavik on Öland. The ferry is run by Destination Gotland and subsidized by the Swedish government.

Things to do in Gotland:

In summertime, park yourself at one of the many cafes and eateries and soak in the medieval surroundings with a contemporary cup of coffee and Gotland speciality saffranspannkaka, a saffron pancake with red berries and cream. Must do’s in Visby include footing it around town to see its medieval marvels and a walking tour along the 2 km-long medieval wall of the city. Include the Sankt Mary Cathedral (Visby Domkyrka) for some 13th century architectural delights in your walkabout. Check out the Gotland Museum in Visby for the island’s fascinating history.

If you didn’t know it Gotland was a major Viking trading settlement and a visit to Tofta Viking Village and its 10th century Viking village tells the Viking story wonderfully. You also get to throw axes (careful now), bake Viking bread and shoot bows and arrows etc.

Otherwise, Gotland has 800 km of coastline, and in summertime that means beaches, sun bathing, picnics and relaxation.