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.



During summer, planktonic algae spawn around Gotland. A nuisance for bathers, this phenomenon is beautiful from space.

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.

Get in

By plane

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.

By boat

Several international cruise lines call at Gotland.

Get around

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.


Old Visby is encircled by a city wall




Some typical dishes from Gotland are:


Stay safe

Gotland is, like Sweden in general, a safe destination. Note that Visby is crowded during summer and that pickpockets may operate in central Visby.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, August 23, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.