Asking any Swedish person about the preferable holiday time, they mostly say, “A weekend in Gotland”. The place where every Swedish desire to be in solitude. Blessed with unique landscapes and serenity, the island has an old town (inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List), salt stacks on the Seashore and many other things for tourists. So, this island can be said to be a hidden treasure of Europe.
Geographically Gotland is surrounded by the Baltic Sea and 90 kilometres away from the mainland of Sweden. The province also has the same name which includes the islands of Fårö and Gotska Sandön on its northern side, along the Karlsö Islands (Lilla and Stora) to its western end. Because of heavy air flow, one must have at least a windcheater. Even the trees of Gotland are short heighted and thicker in nature.
The island of Fårö was loved by Ingmar Bergman, the best filmmaker of this planet. The roughness and emptiness attracted him so much that he built a house there and spent the last 47 years of his life there.
The islands are small enough to travel across on a weekend but one needs weeks to explore it in detail. I spent a weekend there. You can read my experience that was published in Outlook Traveller. Here I will guide the must-do experiences that an expat should not miss.
Strolling in Visby Old Town:
Visby is the capital and the only city of Gotland. The ancient part of this city is the centre of attraction of the Gotland Trip. In 1995, UNESCO declared Visby Old Town as a World Heritage site.
Before telling the detail, let’s put some light on the sepia pages of History. By virtue of its location, Gotland was famous for mediaeval traders. Fortification of the town was completed during the 12th century by the Hanseatic League. In the first half of the fourteenth century (1300–1350) Visby was at the height of its wealth and influence. Valdemar IV of Denmark conquered Gotland in 1361. 1,800 Gotlanders were killed in battle in front of the city. The old town was plundered various times in the next 160 years. In 1525, the final blow came by the Danish. Finally, Gotland was again taken into Sweden’s possession in 1645.
At present Visby Is a well-preserved old town. Sitting pretty by the streets of the town are more than 200 buildings and homes dating back to a period between the 12th and 14th centuries. The buildings are being adaptively refused as hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, cafes, bars and even as nightclubs. The exterior of the houses remains unchanged, with the interior being modified carefully and aesthetically. Upon entering the Airbnb, I booked, the interiors made me think that I have time travelled the Middle Ages. Visby old town is listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO.
Strolling on the cobbled stone pathways of Visby, I could essence the town’s past during the mediaeval era. The baroque and gothic architectures with vibrant colors were a treat to the eyes. I went to the ruin of St. Nicholas’s Church. The church was shown in Ingmar Bergman’s movie The Shame.
Witnessing a Sunset from Visby Cathedral:
Though an extended part of the Old Town, Visby Cathedral is beyond the Town Wall. I suggest tourists visit there just before dusk and witness a breath-taking Sunset.
Visby Cathedral, the oldest architectural remains, was founded in the 12th Century and was reshaped in the 13th Century to its current structure.
Admiring the Salt Stacks of Langamaras beach in Fårö:
To me, Fårö is probably the best summer destination. The calmness of the small island attracted me a lot. To reach there, I hired a taxi and reached Fårösund ferry station. Along with the car I crossed the ferry by small cruise and reached Fårö.
Langamaras beach of Fårö is world famous for its salt stacks. During the last ice age, sandstone accumulation has created various natural sculptures there. Colloquially the shapes are known as ‘Raukus’. The entire beach is rocky.
Being in the prophet’s house – Bergman Center in Fårö:
Fårö is the land of Ingmar Bergman. The greatest filmmaker of the World, Ingmar Bergman visited Fårö during the shooting of his film ‘Through a Glass Darkly’. Because of the pristine and solitude of the small island he fell in love. He built a home and lived the last 47 years of his life. Apart from ‘Through a glass darkly’ he shot four other feature films in Fårö – The Shame, Passion of Ana, The Persona, Hour of Wolf, a TV series, Scenes from A Marriage and a documentary Fårö – 1979.
After his death in 2008, his home has been converted to a museum and study center. Every July, Bergman Week is celebrated here. But the centre is open to all for the rest of the year. The set design of the movie The Persona is kept as is inside the museum. The chess board used in the movie The Seventh Seal was preserved there. Surprisingly, the pieces that look like humans; and the position of the board was the same as was in the last scene of the film.
Gotland is connected by Air from all the cities of Sweden. But Visiting the island by ferry service can be the best possible way. People can take their own car or bike with them while travelling by ferry. Every day, the ferry service runs from the Nynäshamn Port of Sweden. Early booking is mandatory. Please visit https://www.destinationgotland.se/en/ferry/
It is better to stay in Visby Town if you do not have your own vehicle. Otherwise you can book any accommodation. Booking can be done from popular apps and the Destination Gotland Site. The island is safe for everybody.