This week in Postcard, Felicity Glover recommends Gotland, Sweden
Tucked away in the Baltic Sea, 90 kilometres off the coast of Sweden and a three-hour ferry ride from the mainland, is the beautiful island of Gotland. Often called the “Pearl of the Baltic”, it has a rich and diverse history spanning as far back as the Vikings, while its medieval capital Visby is a Unesco World Heritage Site. With 800km of coastline, it’s a large island worthy of exploring in the summer months – from the famous sea stack fields, known as rauk, in Ljugarn to wandering around picturesque fishing villages, hiking in nature reserves and even dropping in to say “hej” to Pippi Longstocking at Kneippbyn Resort. It’s a great place in the summer, especially if you can time your visit during Visby’s week-long Medieval Festival in August, where jousting, feasting at long tables, knights and fair maidens abound.
My favourite place:
I have two contrasting favourites: the walled city of Visby and the tranquility and natural beauty of the beach in Ljugarn, where the sea stacks can be found. The sea stacks are tall rock formations that have been weathered by the Baltic Sea over quite a few centuries. To get there is equally as stunning. We drove through picturesque villages dotted with cute cottages, cafes and pottery studios, while the roads were lined with colourful wild flowers. On the flipside, the walled city of Visby is more crowded, but the winding cobblestone streets and rose-covered houses have a wonderful quaintness about them thanks to their medieval roots.
From watersports to cycling around the island to heading underground – and 400 million years back in time – to visit Lummelunda Cave, there is something for everybody on Gotland. The Tofta Viking Village is a great place where you can try your hand at axe throwing, local handicrafts and even dress up in Viking costumes for a Viking feast. If your little ones are fans of Pippi Longstocking, head to Kneippbyn Resort, where you’ll find the original crazy house from the movies.
I can’t think of any, to be honest. But winters can be harsh, so the best time to visit is in the summer.
Gotland is famous for its sheep, which is one of the oldest breeds in the world, and you’ll find a lot of souvenirs related to them. Otherwise, there are dozens of pottery studios dotted around the island, where you’ll find unique, one-off pieces to remind you of your stay.
Where to stay:
We were lucky to stay with extended family, who own a gorgeous converted farmhouse on Gotland, but there are a range of choices to suit all budgets, such as the Clarion Hotel Visby, and the family friendly Sudersands Semesterby, where you can go camping or stay in fully equipped cottages.
Top five things to do:
1. Take in the Medieval Festival
2. Visit the sea stacks at Ljugarn
3. Head to Lummelunda Cave
4. Don’t miss Tofta Viking Village
5. Wander the cobblestoned streets of Visby