After sailing for three hours from Nynäshamn on the Swedish mainland, I finally arrived on Gotland at 11.20 PM on May 1st, to the beautiful town of Visby, which is the main town on Gotland. The old Hanseatic city center of Visby is surrounded by a 3,4 km. town wall and is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Scandinavia. It’s also represented on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
Because of the fascinating history and the many well-preserved ruins in the town, Visby has always been on the top of my list of places that I want to visit. Therefore, it was only natural that I made it a part of my Northern Europe journey.
I started the 20-minute walk from the harbour to the center of Visby, through the town wall, trying to find my Visby Logi & Vandrarhem, where I’d be staying for the next two nights. It didn’t even cross my mind to check it out on a map first – I had the street name and I thought that was enought, but Visby was bigger than expected, haha. Stupid me! Eventually, after walking about for an hour or so, I asked two policemen for help and they pointed me to it – it was only two minutes away… lol.
Visby Logi & Vandrarhem is a very nice, clean and cheap place and it’s situated right in the center of Visby – it does not get any better than that.
I went to bed at about 2 AM and woke up at 12 AM, ready to explore the ancient town. It was so nice to sleep in an actual bed and having a shower was amazing! I hadn’t felt so clean in a long time (backpacker life is haaard).
I had two whole days to explore Visby, which should be plenty of time, so I decided to see as much as possible. First of all, I wanted to see all of the ruins. I’m a big history lover and church ruins are one of my main interests. Visby has 13 ruins in all, 12 of which are inside the town wall and 1 is situated just 200 meters outside the town wall.
I made a plan for the next two days on my city map including all of the ruins, but my first stop was McDonalds, located on the main shopping street, Östertorg. I’m normally not a big fan of McDonalds, but I was craving it so much that day for some reason..
After a few hamburgers and fries, I went shopping (since I can’t control myself..) and then went back into the town wall, where I would finally begin my tour of the town after dropping off my bags at the hostel. Here, I met David, Samuel, Henning and Frej, who had been partying all day and they invited me to join them for a game of poker, but I really wanted to go ruin-hunting, so I told them that I would join them later.
My first stop was at Stora Torget, the main square in Visby, where the biggest church ruin, St. Karins ruin, is located. This is such a beautiful area with cozy shops and restaurants and a great atmosphere – definitely one of my favourite spots in Visby. I then went to the two smaller ruins of St. Per and St. Hans, which were open for me to investigate – so cool! I loved studying the old stones and inscriptions! On my way to the next two ruins on the list, I walked up a hill called Kyrkberget, where there was a stunning view of the entire town and Visby Cathedral. I then came to Drotten and St. Lars, which are situated just opposite each other, but unfortunately, they were closed for the evening.
By then, it had started getting dark and since everything was closed, I decided to buy some beers and join the guys at the hostel.
We played games for a few hours and then went to Surfers, a fancy Chinese restaurant near the hostel. The concept is to buy several small dishes, which all cost 85 SEK each. It can easily get really expensive, as the dishes are extremely small. I only bought one chicken dish and a coke, as I wasn’t keen on the other dishes and didn’t feel like spending a ton of money on overpriced food. I would only recommend going there, if you are very much into spicy, Chinese food and like paying too much money for food.
Since the guys had to leave Gotland early next day, we decided to go back to the hostel to continue the game, rather than going to a bar. I had a really nice evening in good company!
The next day, I felt extremely active and eager to see everything! The first stops of the day were at the ruins of St Nicolaus, St Klemens. I found St Nicolaus quite easily and spent some time studying this big church ruin from the outside, as it was closed for visitors. Afterwards, I walked to St Klemens, which was an awesome church ruin with ancient staircases and so much to explore! I easily spent an hour here just walking about the ruin, studying the old stones and taking in the history of the place.
I then bought a lovely sandwich at the local supermarket on Stora Torget, walked around the beautiful Botanic Garden to the beach, which I didn’t even know existed. Here, people were swimming, playing and enjoying the sun, and I really felt like it was the middle of July, when in fact, it was only the beginning of May. I spent some time just sitting on a bench and soaking up thesummery atmosphere and thinking about what a lovely place this was. Visby quickly became one of my favourite destinations on my journey and is also my favourite town in the entire world! The beauty of this town is too hard to describe, you’ll just have to see it for yourself!
I came to Kruttornet, which is one of Visby’s oldest buildings from around 1100 and is a part of the town wall, and then went on to Almedalen, which is a beautiful park with a lake, where people were having picnics and feeding the ducks. This is also one of my favourite places in Visby and it offers the most amazing view of the town!
Since I’m very interested in the history of Visby, I just had to visit the Museum of Gotland, located near Donners Plats inside the town wall. The museum was good, but very disorganized. There were a lot of interesting exhibitions, but unlike the Museum of Svalbard, it had no timeline, which is something that I think all museums should have. For a ticket price of 120 SEK, I can’t recommend going there, as I only spent an hour reading about stuff that I could’ve read on the internet.
After visiting the museum, I went back to the hostel and relaxed for a few hours, before heading off to see the rest of the ruins. I first walked around the town wall, starting at Österport. I came across the ruin of Dalmanstornet and walked to the ruin of St. Göran, located 200 meters from the town wall. It was also possible to take the stairs up to the top of the wall, where I had an amazing view of Visby and the ocean. I absolutely loved walking about on the ruin and felt like a real Viking trying to take over the entire city, haha!
After spending a few hours walking around the town wall, I went to try to find the last two ruins on my list – St Gertrud and Helge And, but that was easier said than done! I followed the map and after a while, found the Helge And ruin, but I just could not find St Gertrud! I walked around the street, where it was supposed to be situated, so many times, until I finally realized that this small pile of stones in what looked like someones garden was the ruin… Definitely the smallest one yet, haha!
Afterwards, I went back to the hostel again, where I packed my bags and got ready to leave for Finland, but before leaving, I wanted to see the sunset at the beach, so I headed out once a again. And what a great decision that was! I saw the most breathtaking sunset I’ve ever seen and loads of people had come to the beach to take pictures of it, just like me. It was a magical evening and a fabulous way to end my adventure on Gotland!
I absolutely loved Visby and this is definitely not the last time that I’ve visited Gotland – I’ll come back soon to see more of Visby and the rest of Gotland! The atmosphere in Visby is very special and it’s very safe and cozy and by far my favourite place in Sweden. I can really recommend going there, if you’re ever in Sweden or even Finland – you won’t regret it!