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Visby

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Sunset over Sankta Maria Kyrka at Visby, Sweden

Visby is one of the most remarkable towns in Sweden and Scandinavia, and it is situated on the west coast of Gotland Island. The population is about 23,000. It is known for the medieval city ringwall, the Cathedral (Sankta Maria Kyrka), and many medieval church ruins. A former Viking site on the island of Gotland, Visby was the main centre of the Hanseatic League (German trading federation) in the Baltic from the 12th to the 14th century. Its 13th-century ringwall and more than 200 warehouses and wealthy merchants' dwellings from the same period make it the best-preserved fortified commercial medieval city in northern Europe. In 1995, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage[1] site.

During the Swedish summer Mid June - Mid August, Visby is crowded. It is one of the best party cities in Sweden in the summer. Many Visby residents leave during these hectic months and rent their apartments. During the rest of the year, the atmosphere is quite different.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

There are flights all year to Visby from Stockholm and Linköping. During summer, there are also flights from Gothenburg, Oslo, Hamburg and Ängelholm.

By boat[edit]

Ferry MS Visby in Visby harbour
Visby harbour with cruise ship; Sankta Maria Kyrka in right background

Destination Gotland [2] runs ferries from Nynäshamn and Oskarshamn to Visby. You can bring your car on the ferry. The ferry takes approximately three hours and is the cheapest way to get to the island.

Cruise ships plying the Baltic Sea, from May to September, call on the port of Visby, Small cruise ships dock at berth 7 at the port. Large cruise ship hold position at anchor, and passengers are tendered past the breakwater to the port. The port has only the most basic facilities; but shops and restaurants are in town, only about a 5-minute walk away.

Get around[edit]

East side of the Visby medieval ringwall

The inner city (Old Town), which is located within the medieval city walls, is small enough to be covered by foot. The rest of the city is easy to get around by bike and has plenty of good bikes paths.

Tourist information[3] may be obtained from the Donnerska huset, Donners plats 1, near Almedalen and the waterfront in Visby.

By Foot[edit]

Visby is best enjoyed by foot, especially the Old Town, located within the city wall. Be aware that some of the streets (alleys) are quite narrow, cobblestone-paved, and somewhat hilly and thus can be difficult for people with handicaps.

By Bicycle[edit]

During the summer there are usually plenty of bike rentals, but they can be expensive, if you're staying for a longer period purchasing a used bike might be a cheaper option.

By Bus[edit]

There are several bus lines going out to the rest of the island, check the time table before heading out though.

By Car[edit]

During the summer cars are not allowed within the city walls, though parking outside the walls is free of charge.

By Taxi[edit]

Like the rest of Sweden, taxis can be expensive, and are best for short trips when you are unable to get around otherwise.

  • Taxi Gotland, phone number: +46 498-200 200
  • Taxi Kurir Gotland, phone number: +46 498-50 000
  • Din Taxi Gotland, phone number: +46 498-20 70 70
  • Gute Taxi, phone number: +46 498-44 44 44

See[edit][add listing]

Note that many of the town's attractions are only open during the summer months, usually until Aug 30th.

Old Town[edit]

Burmeister House in Donnersplats, Visby
  • Burmeister House, Strandgatan 9, on Donners Plats. Oldest surviving merchant house in Visby. Hans Burmeister, a merchant and an alderman, built this two-story house in 1652-1653 using horizontal timber in the log cabin principle with interlocking logs, painted with red color mixed with tar.
  • City Ringwall Begun in the late 13th century, Visby's city ringwall stretches almost three and a half kilometers and stands 11 meters high. Today, 36 towers and three main gates remain. It is considered one of the best preserved medieval city walls in Europe. Take a stroll to the north gate for an unsurpassed view of the wall.
Botanical Garden in Visby
  • DBW's Botanical Gardens[4] (1855). Enter through the "Door of Love" to this picturesque garden of trees and ruins.
Gamla apoteket, Strandgatan 28, Visby
  • Gamla Apoteket Strandgatan 28. A medieval step-gable house in stone built in the 13th century, likely used as a warehouse and/or residence. In the 1800s, there was a pharmacy in the building; hence its name.
  • Klinten Once the workers' quarter and now a popular spot to take in the view over the lower town, Klinten is an attractive maze of small, rose covered, homes.
Visby Sankta Maria Kyrka, from the south showing one of its three towers
  • Sankta Maria Kyrka[5] Visby's cathedral is the only one of the town's 13 medieval churches that is still intact and in use. It was originally built between 1190 and 1225 for the town's German parishioners.

Church ruins in the Old Town[edit]

Medieval Visby had more churches than any other town in Sweden - fifteen within the walls and two outside, which served various functions: parish churches, guild churches, monastic churches, and hospital church.

  • St. Clemens ruins [6]
  • St. Gerturde ruins
  • St. Hans ruins
  • St. Karin ruins on Stora Torget is one of the most evocative of Visby's medieval church ruins. It was founded by Franciscans in 1233 and the construction extended in the early 14th century. The Church was built with large stained glass windows, seven altars inside the church, and in 1404 an organ was installed, making St Karin the richest Church in Gotland.
  • St. Nicolaus ruins (1230). In 2012 a new glulam roof was erected over the ruins to adapt it to a concert hall.
  • St. Olof ruins (located in the Botanical Gardens)
  • St. Per ruins

Art and Museums[edit]

  • Gotlands Museum [7], Strandgatan 14, Open 10 AM-6 PM, Entrance: 80-100 SEK. Museum of local history (Fornsalen), plus a science museum for children (Fenomenalen).
  • Gotlands Konstmuseum [8], S:t Hansgatan 21, Open Tu-Su 12 PM-4 PM. Entrance: 40-50 SEK, or it's included in the fee for Gotlands Museum above. Art museum.

Do[edit][add listing]

Tours[edit]

There are several tours of the Old Town during the summer, most available in Swedish, but occasionally in other languages, and they are sometimes available for group bookings. The best bet is to check with the Tourist Centre (Skeppsbron 4-6, 62157 Visby) what guides are available in your language. Also ask whether you need to get a ticket before the tour starts or if you pay when you meet up.

  • Classic Tour of Visby [9] Available in English, German and Swedish.
  • Sexualiteten i den medeltida staden [10] Available only in Swedish. Adults 100SEK, Children 9-12 years 50SEK.
  • Free tours of Visby are held every day Mon to Sat from 11.00am starting outside the Tourist Information Office. See Facebook page free tours visby or google page visby free tours both of which provide further information. Payment is by way of tips which are at the customers discretion. The walking tour is in english and lasts approx 2hrs.

Other Events and Activities[edit]

  • Boda Borg [11] Fun and challenging quests for people of all ages.

Buy[edit][add listing]

There are only three ATM machines in the old town and port area: one at Donners Plats just as you come up from the water front, one on Adelsgatan, and one on Stora Torget. Along the Östercentrum there are several others.

Most shops close at 5pm on weekdays, 3pm on Saturdays and are closed on Sundays.

Adelsgatan Visby
  • Adelsgatan This is the major shopping street, and by far the most touristy. Don't be discouraged though, it has plenty of interesting shops selling small trinkets and local handicraft. If you venture off this street you'll get to see the beautiful alleys and the smaller streets, which are less crowded, and there are smaller shops hidden here and there.
  • Hästgatan
  • Sankt Hans Quarter (Sankt Hansgatan) - some clothes and design shops
  • Östercentrum (exit the old city through the Österport gate) Modern pedestrian shopping district with most of the usual European retail outlets, as well as banks, pharmacies, and fast food joints.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Strykjärnet Visby Crêperie & Logi, [12], Wallérs Plats 3. Nice crêperie with world music on the stereo.
  • Köpmannen II, Wallérs Plats 7. Tasty pasta.
  • Bakfickan, [13], Stora Torget 1. Seafood.
  • Kafé Strandporten, [14], coffee shop near Hotel Strandporten.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • G:a Masters, [15], Södra Kyrkogatan 10, Open 6PM-2AM.
  • Munkkällaren, [16], Sankt Hansgatan 40. They also have club nights.
  • Hamnplan 5, [17], Hamnplan 5. They also have club nights.

Gotlandsdricke is a local type of beer. It is no longer legal to sell, but it's still legal to make it yourself so if you ask around you might be able to find someone who makes it. Back in the day, every farm had their own recipe.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Clarion Hotel Wisby, [18], Strandgatan 6, south of Donners Square.
  • Donners Hotell, [19], Donners Plats 6, on Donners Square.
  • Hotell Strandporten, [20], Strandgatan 13, formerly Hotel 1.
  • Hotell Villa Borgen, [21], Adelsgatan 9-11. Nice rooms, breakfast and location. Good wifi.
  • Strand Hotel, [22],Strandgatan 34.
  • Visby Fängelse Vandrarhem, [23], Skeppsbron 1. Hostel that used to be a prison.

Contact[edit]

  • Tidsfördriv, Hästgatan 12. Free wifi for the cafe's customers.
  • Café Amalia, Hästgatan 3. Free wifi for the cafe's customers.
  • Almedalsbiblioteket, [24], Cramérgatan 5. Free wifi at the public library.

Get out[edit]

  • Visit various small villages and other interesting places here on the Gotland island.
  • The bigger cities Stockholm and Uppsala are reachable from here without too much effort.
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