Gotland is Sweden's largest island, in the middle of the Baltic Sea. Some 50,000 people live here all year. Together with some minor islands it forms the Gotland province, analogous with Gotland Municipality and Gotland County.
- Visby, the only city, around 20,000 inhabitants, crowded during summers.
- Gotska Sandön, a deserted island, and a national park.
- Northern Gotland, with Slite, Fårösund and Fårö.
- Western Gotland with Roma and Klintehamn.
- Eastern Gotland with Ljugarn.
- Southern Gotland with Hemse.
Gotland is said to be the homeland of the legendary Goths, who migrated through Central Europe sacked the Roman Empire during the 5th century AD. Medieval Gotland language has many similarities with the Gothic language, though there are no first-hand historical records that the Goths really came from Gotland.
In its early history, Gotland was an independent kingdom and still today, the older generations do not regard themselves as Swedes - they are nothing but Gotlanders. During the Hanseatic period in the Middle Ages, Visby and Gotland was an important stop on the trade routes on the Baltic Sea. The island lost its role after a Danish war in the 14th century. One of the best-known events of the island's history was Danish king Valdemar Atterdag's ransom for Visby, where he demanded large amounts of gold and silver to release the city. The written records are unreliable, though.
The Danes took control over the island for 300 years, and in the mid 17th century, the island became Swedish.
The island holds many medieval memories; old farmlands and more than 90 churches, all with different architecture.
The Gotland dialect is remarkable and is easy to recognize. Still, many islanders speak and understand English.
Visby Airport (IATA: VBY) lies just north of Visby, and the easiest way to get to the city centre is by taxi. There is a special reduced price for travelling the airport-city centre. Approx. 10 minutes.
There are flights all year to Visby from Stockholm, Gothenburg and Linköping. During summer, there's also flights from Oslo and Ängelholm. A flight from Stockholm takes about 25 minutes, from Gothenburg about 50 minutes.
Several international cruise lines call at Gotland.
- Destination Gotland, runs ferries from Nynäshamn and Oskarshamn to Visby all year. You can also bring your car. This is the cheapest way to get to the island. The ferry takes approx. three hours. The harbour is in the very centre of Visby.
The easiest way to see the island is by car. There are several car rentals in Visby. There are also bus services from Visby to all parts of the island, but be sure to bring a time table before you leave Visby, since many bus stops are served only a few times per day. See Kollektivtrafiken and Resrobot (a search engine for all public transport inside Sweden).
Gotland is Sweden's largest island, but still only about 120 km from north to south and 50 km across, and with relatively short distances between different sites of interest. Most roads are asphalted and there are almost no hills and definitely no mountains. An alternative to car, therefore, is to get around by bicycle. These can be brought from mainland on the ferry, or rented at arrival to the island.
- Visby is on UNESCO's World Heritage list as an "outstanding example of a Northern European walled Hanseatic town which has in a unique way preserved its townscape and its extremely valuable buildings, which in form and function clearly reflect this significant human settlement".
- There are over 90 medieval churches on the island. Most of them haven't been modernised since the 15th century.
- Fantastic rock formations (Raukar) are found along the island's coast.
- The Lummelunda cave, Lummelundagrottan, a natural reserve that hosts one of Sweden's larges caves. Located approx. 15 km north of Visby. It is open to visitors during the summer.
- From Visby going south towards Klintehamn and Burgsvik. Nice coastal roads.
- From Visby going north towards Fårösund.
- The politicians' week, (Almedalsveckan) takes place in the Almedalen park in Visby during early July. All political parties and organizations meet for debates and seminars, most of it open to the public. Big media coverage.
- Stockholmsveckan is a week of wild parties in Visby during mid-July.
- Medieval Week (Medeltidsveckan), a large feast during a whole week in the beginning of August every year. Visitors dress in medieval clothes while visiting the medieval market or the jousting tournament. The feast is concentrated to Visby, but arrangements are held on all of Gotland. 2008 was the 25th anniversary. Visby is crowded during this week.
- Go to the beach. Some of the best beaches are south of Visby, in the northwestern part of mainland Gotland, and on Fårö.
- Go cycling. Gotland is a fine destination for cyclists and popular with groups or families traveling by bicycle and staying in hostels or campgrounds.
Some typical dishes from Gotland are:
- Many types of lamb. A speciality is sheep's head (lambskalle), but it is quite difficult to find it in restaurants.
- Dessert: Saffron pancake (Saffranspannkaka) with whipped cream and dewberry jam (locally called "salmbär").
- Gotlandsdricke - local alcoholic brew. Quite difficult to get in bars and restaurants - you have to know a Gotlander to get to taste it.
- Local beer: Wisby pils or Wisby Klosteröl.
Gotland is, like Sweden in general, a safe destination. Note that Visby is crowded during summer and that pickpockets may operate in central Visby.
- Stockholm (Bromma Airport) is only 25 minutes away by plane.
- The island of Fårö is situated just North of Gotland and they are linked with a small ferry (10 minutes). Here you find nice beaches.
- The islands of Stora Karlsö and Lilla Karlsö are definitely worth a day's visit, Stora Karlsö is one of the world's oldest nature preserve, second only to Yellowstone National Park. Situated outside of Klintehamn.
- The Archipelago Sea in south-west Finland is two days away with a sailing yacht (150 nautical miles), over the Baltic Sea.
- Estonia; Sõru in Emmaste on Hiiumaa is 110 nautical miles away.