Plan your next holiday around this unspoilt, slow-life island

Gotland is Sweden’s best-kept secret because next to no one outside of the country has ever even heard of this island, or the wonders and delights that it holds.

...That was, at least, until now.

The largest of the Swedish islands, Gotland is located on the southeast peninsula of Sweden. Its largest town, Visby, is a former Viking settlement that is still surrounded by a well-preserved medieval city wall and is now a modern-day UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visby: a town full of history and charm

Visby is bursting with charm, character and history, as seen through its twisty-turny cobblestone streets, medieval surroundings and the mismatch, haberdashery-style homes that line its streets. These homes might incorporate a wide range of colours and styles, but one thing that remains consistent is the way in which they resemble real life dollhouses. Seriously, you don’t get much more darling than a Visby cottage.

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Image via sweden.nordicvisitor.com

Island life

This island is all about embracing the slow, considered way of living; taking time to savour the smaller moments in life, such as coffee with a friend, a walk along the seafront, or an afternoon spent browsing Visby’s array of gorgeous interiors and clothing boutiques. The locals are friendly and casual, as they greet friends and strangers alike with a delightful “Heigh heigh!”.

Winter v Summer

During the majority of the year, Visby (and the entire island of Gotland) has an incredibly low population, which is surprising when you factor in the local university and the abundance of shops and restaurants dotted throughout the town centre. The reason for this is that Visby is predominantly used as a holiday destination for thousands of Swedish mainland residents who arrive by boat or by plane every summer. Their intention? To leave the mainland for a taste of Gotland’s unique sense of seclusion and calm; to wind down; embrace the stunning scenery and access to nature; and to get amongst the sudden social scene and nightlife that appears practically overnight as soon as summer hits.

Image via smashwallpapers.com

Local food

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The food on this island is healthy at its core, with a focus on locally produced dishes, products and provisions. Taking from the Swedish people’s love of Fika (which essentially means "to have coffee", often accompanied with pastries, cookies or pie) cafe culture is big. It’s also worth noting that these cafes and restaurants provide a huge range of options for vegetarians and vegans.

Being an island, the fish is as good as you’d expect, with the wild salmon and tuna being particularly mouthwatering. Another Gotland speciality of note is saffranspannkaka, a saffron pancake with red berries and cream. A weird flavour combination at first, trust us when we say you’ll come to love it, especially when accompanied by a pot of filtered coffee.

If you’re tempted by this widely unknown little island, but not yet convinced, then scroll on to see some of our favourite things to do and see in the Scandinavian haven that is Gotland.

Get a taste of Gotland’s history and culture

Image via W.carter

Gotland Museum

A gorgeous day trip destination

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Rutestenugns bageri (bakery and stoneworking shop)

Sweet tooth?

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Kränku Te & Kaffe

Healthy brunch

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H10 cafe

For reading, writing and people watching

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Ka:feit

Trendy dinner

Jessens Saluhall & Bar

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Something a bit fancy

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Lindgårdens Värdshus

 

Main image via C J West 

While we have you here, be sure to have a listen to our new podcast, The Spill!

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Featuring Sophie White and Rhona McAuliffe, The Spill is that late night conversation over wine with friends, except in lovely podcast form.

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