Visby, located on the western shore of Sweden’s largest island, Gotland, in the Baltic Sea, is a remarkable city boasting famous landmarks like the city’s fortified wall, cathedral, and the ruins of several other churches. The city’s historic district was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995.
While this historic city may not be the first choice for tourists from outside of Europe, it is a favorite summertime destination for Swedes and other Scandinavians, drawing tens of thousands of visitors annually. One of Sweden’s most populous cities outside the Swedish mainland, Visby is also one of the country’s top party destinations. However, visitors interested in something other than nightlife will still find plenty to do in Visby since the city is also home to fascinating museums, stunning beaches, and delicious local cuisine.
Visby’s Foundations, From Its Wall To Its Winding Streets
Towards the middle of Gotland’s western shore, Visby sits on the steep limestone cliffs forming the island’s first natural harbor. The former medieval port is now a park known as Almedalen, and the town has developed around it.
The wall of Visby, Gotland
A steep climb from the dock brings visitors to Klinten, the town’s eastern upper section, where the streets run parallel to the former shoreline and the alleys sit at right angles. The historic core of Visby is primarily enclosed by the city wall on three sides, with the old harbor and the Baltic Sea on the fourth. The most contemporary parts of the city are to the east of the border and further inland.
The Visby City Wall, a 3.5-kilometer-long ring wall built in the Middle Ages, still features many of its original towers from the 1200s. The wall, originally constructed to ward off attacks from the countryside and foreign invaders, now wholly encircles the heart of Visby.
South of the border lies a modern harbor with ferry terminals, and farther south is a park called Södra Hällarna. Several beaches, including Kallbadhuset, Norderstrand, Snäckgärdsbaden, and Gustavsvik, may be found just inside the northern section of the wall and along the north coast beyond the wall.
The Streets of Visby
There are several impressive church ruins in this well-preserved medieval Hanseatic town, including those of St. Clemens, St. Nicolai, and Drotten, as well as the high-arched St. Karin. There are also several old churches in Visby, such as the Sankta Maria Cathedral, which dates back to the late 12th century.
Visby’s Popular Culture And Events
Visiting Visby will give travelers a better understanding of the city’s fascinating and eventful past. For those interested in learning more about the Vikings, the Fornsalen (Hall of Antiquities) in the Gotland Museum houses several artifacts from the Viking era.
Historic center of Visby
The cobblestone streets of Visby are now instantly recognizable as the filming locations of the first Pippi Longstocking films. One of the streets, Fiskargränd, is a short passageway composed of cobblestones and decorated with flowers and is now the most famous street in Visby for tourist photography. Additionally, nine of Mari Jungstedt’s mysteries have referred to the island of Gotland, with the novel’s protagonist, DS Anders Knutas, a police officer based in Visby.
Visby is particularly well-known for its annual cultural celebrations, which transport visitors back in time to medieval Gotland and the once-mighty city of Visby around week 32 of the summer season. There are reenactments of medieval life, complete with theater, markets, crafts, tower games, and music, attended by up to 40,000 people dressed in period garb.
Beautiful flowers of Visby
From October 14th to November 20th, the Gotland Truffle Festival celebrates the Gotlandic truffle with a week-long celebration. Several restaurants in Visby have unique truffle menus. There are lectures, a market, truffle hunts, a ceremony, and more related to the prized fungi making it the perfect time to visit the city.
Visby’s Stunning Gardens And Outdoor Activities
Visby is well-known not just for its ancient history and fascinating ruins but also for its gardens, especially the abundance of roses that blossom there during the warm summer months. The 2.5-hectare Botanical Garden in Visby goes back to 1855 and features a variety of roses in addition to the roses and overflowing flower boxes that line the city’s winding, cobblestone pathways.
Visby, Gotland, Sweden
Furthermore, Gotland’s mild climate makes it ideal for a wide variety of exotic trees and plants to thrive here. There is no cost to see the gardens, which include both a herb garden and a Gazebo Garden (an open-sided pavilion).
In the heart of Visby, next to the beach walk, visitors find a bathing jetty, and just five kilometers away, there are not one but four beaches. A visit to the well-known Tofta Beach, 20 kilometers south of Visby, is perfect for those who like venturing further out of the city.
- Where to stay in Visby: Clarion Hotel Wisby. Strandgatan 6, Visby, Gotland 621 57 Sweden. The hotel is conveniently located near the city’s top sights, including Drottens ruin and S:t Hans och S:t Pers ruiner.
- Where to eat: Gamla Masters. Sodra Kyrkogatan 10, Visby, Gotland Sweden. This trendy spot serves inventive takes on traditional European cuisine and cocktails.