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What to do in Visby July 20-22

Edina
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What to do in Visby July 20-22

We will be in Visby from July 20-22, staying in Hotel Stenungen. What should we do? We want to see the city, but also see the countryside and beaches? Are there any good bike tours?

Thanks!

Stockholm
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1. Re: What to do in Visby July 20-22

The best beach is Sudersand on Fårö but that would mean a day tour. If you rent a car you could then see the fantastic rauk landscape at for example Langhammar (limestone pillars on a rocky coast). This is Ingmar Bergman country. You must leave early to catch the ferry before it gets crowded though (cars can stack up a long way). Otherwise there is the main party beach near Visby: Tofta, accessible by bus or bike (20 km). There are small beaches inside Visby as well.

The city in itself is unique, it's nothing like the rest of Sweden, more comparable to Tallinn in Estonia. It has a wall (the only in Sweden), loads of old houses and church ruins from the 13th C onwards.

Visby, Gotlands...
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2. Re: What to do in Visby July 20-22

I would recommend renting a car and spending your days on excursions and early mornings/evenings in Visby. That week is when the partygoers from Stockholm come in hordes, so the restaurants and clubs are packed. They just drink all week so the mornings in Visby are quiet and the activity is at night. They take the bus to the most famous beach at Tofta and bake all day. I would go elsewhere for beachen. Sudersand is too crowded, but the nearby Norsta Aurar is off the beaten path. Sandviken by Östergarn, Ljugarn, Åminne, and Herte are all nice beaches on the East coast. Sandhamn in Fröjel and Björkhaga in Sanda are nice, shallow beaches on the west coast.

Places to see in the north: Krusmyntagården, Lickershamn, Hallshuk, Rute bakery, Furillen, the stonestacks and landscape on Fårö (go early if you go there) plus Sylvis döttrar bakery, and any of the small farm shops along the way (like the candle makers in Norrlanda).

East: Åminne beach, Katthammarsvik fish smokery, Grogarnsberget, Sysne fishing hamlet, Sandviken beach, Ljugarn and the stonestacks and fishing Hamlet at Vitvär, Närsholm lighthouse, Herte.

South: Hoburgen, Körsbärsgården art exhibits in Sundre, stone museum near Burgsvik, Holmhällar stone stacks, Vamlingbo prästgård for watercolor, café and nature exhibits, medieval farm at Grötlingbo, Öja church, countless farm shops, Lojsta lake and wild horses.

West: Stora Karlsö nature preserve (full day, boat from Klintehamn), Eksta coast, Djupvik restaurant, ship setting from bronze age in Fröjel at Gannarve, Kovik fishing hamlet in Sanda, Gnisvärd in Tofta, Högklint in Västerhejde with cliff and coast, Fridhem.

Visby, Gotlands...
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3. Re: What to do in Visby July 20-22

My conscience is making me say this. If you haven't yet paid for the Hotell Stenugnen, I might look elsewhere. It is very central, but it is VERY central. I would be concerned about not getting any sleep there during that particular week. It is too close to the bars and harbor where most of the nocturnal shenanigans take place. I work a block from there, but haven't stayed there, so I can't comment on the interior. Unless you are there to party; then it couldn't be closer.

Darwin, Australia
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4. Re: What to do in Visby July 20-22

I am most interested in your comments. What a joy to get such valuable feedback from a local resident. My 18 year old son and I will fly into Visby on 21 September and fly out the next afternoon. We are staying at Hotel Helge and Wisby and will have a car. Our interest is in anything old, viking, landscape. Is there anything that you consider would be a must see for us? From what you have already sent I am thinking the south may be better for our interests, but you know best.

I look forward to your reply.

Many thanks

Vicki

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5. Re: What to do in Visby July 20-22

I moved here after completing my Archaeology degree, so it sounds like we have the same interests :) I used to work as a tour guide, but otherwise have unfortunately never used my degree as a profession, so it is more of a hobby.

With such a short time span, I would start with the local museum, Gotlands Fornsal. You will love the gallery of Picture stones, which are found only on Gotland and were created from the Bronze through the Iron Age. They also have a lot of interesting artifacts and displays from natural history and geology through the Medieval period. There is interesting info on the churches (about 90 still in use, so the most church-dense area of Europe) and the make-up of the medieval town.

I would follow it up with a walk starting across the street from the museum and heading out of the town wall into the park called Almedalen. Head north along the wall toward the Powder tower, the oldest stone structure in Visby from the 11th century, predating the wall itself. Follow the oldest portion of the wall North along the water, and then go in again through the Lovers' Gate, a rounded arch. The botanical garden is just inside, and often the roses are still blooming in September. After, go north again on the inside of the wall and climb the tower where they have recreated what they think the wooden walkways looked like. It has a good view over the north end of town. Once down, go out through the gate (Snäckgärdsporten) and walk along the outside of the wall along the foot paths. There are some fabulous views along the way. When you get to the road that goes in through the wall, go in through the North Gate and up the hill to a grassy area on the left called Rackarbacken. There is a spot where you can climb the wall if you are in good shape and aren't that afraid of heights (My 9 year old does it so it isn't that bad). Great views. Then I would go along the road heading south and take your first right to get to the cliff overlooking the cathedral St. Maria's. There are two stairs that go down, one at the church and one more if you continue a bit south (the Finn stairs - a very picturesque view of the church from the side). Go down one of these and visit the church if you haven't already, then visit the main square and the ruin of St. Karin. From there you can go back toward the cathedral and just past it is your hotel at Helge And, the ruin of the church of the Holy Spirit. That ruin was the crusaders church, which is why it was built in a non-traditional from. It is octagonal. It was a gathering point before making crusades in the East and South. Later it was used as hospital for the elderly and ill. I have seen people up on the upper floor looking out, so maybe your hotel staff know how to score that kind of a view. I have never been up there. That church is locked most of the time. If some of the ruins are locked at that time of year and you would like to see them, you can rent a key for 100 SEK at the museum. I like the ruins of St. Lars and St. Drotten that are right next to eachother on St. Hans street.

I think a walk like that would take about 2+ hours if you are stopping to see the sights and take pictures. When I just walk around the circumference of the wall for a detour on my way to work, it takes about 45 minutes.

As for sights to see in the countryside, you can go just about in any direction and find something historic. The west coast has a lot to offer with less driving time. There is a rune stone standing in the graveyard at Västerhejde church. There is a Bronze Age cairn and two ship settings at Gnisvärd in Tofta parish, easy to find. At Västergarn there is an interesting timeline visible. The foundation of a fortfied tower and a Romaneque church can be seen, and the current church is just the nave of the Gothic church that they intended to build but was never completed. There was an early medieval harbor at Västergarn and there is an earthen wall that was built up around parts of the community, though hard to find. There is a ship setting with a beautiful backdrop of the ocean and the Karlsö islands in the background at Gannarve in Fröjel. Also in Fröjel on the inland side of the highway is an iron age fortification on a high spot. There is a picture stone standing outside in the church yard at Sanda church. (By the way, there is a brochure available at the cathedral in Visby, The Key to Gotland's Churches. Pick that up before heading out into the country.) Just below the church in Fröjel is an area that once was a Viking Age harbor. There isn't anything visible, but you can imagine how it may have been when the sea level was higher. At Fröjel church there is the ruin of a fortified tower that is very early medieval. In the old school building below the church, there is a picture stone that was found when I was excavating there in 1999 (though not by me). When you look at it with oblique lighting you can see the pattern of ship and sails, and the outlines of human figures, as with the other examples you will see at the museum. The entire area around and below the church was once graveyard, and many graves were found in the yard of the house below that date to the transitional period between the Viking and medieval. The Viking harbor itself was in the farm fields below the church. There is a dirt track that goes out there. The harbor was sheltered by a small island with an inlet on each side, but that island is now just a rise where trees grow, compared to the low, marshy areas around. There have been reports of shipwrecks out there, but nothing they have excavated. Here is a link to some info about what has happened there in recent years: gotland-fieldschool.com/frojel-discovery-pro… Many of the objects at the museum come from this excavation. South of Fröjel church is a road pointing toward Sandhamn. You can drive down to the coast there, and follow the coastal road down to Djupvik in Eksta. It is lovely scenery. In this part of Gotland there have been found many remains from the Neolithic, on display at the museum. There is a ship setting at Djupvik (as well as a restaurant and fishing hamlet). From there you can drive inland back to the highway or continue along the coastal plain, very flat but lovely. Across from Fröjel church is a road inland to Vallhagar. This is definitely worth a stop. It is a big area full of remnants of houses, animal enclosures, and graves from the early Iron Age.

The driving time on the highway without stops from Visby to Eksta is 40 minutes. In between the two is the town of Klintehamn which has 2 grocery stores and 2 banks, a couple of cafés and an unmanned gas station in case you need anything.

Read up on the museum's website before your trip. They have a lot of events as well. http://www.gotlandsmuseum.se/#

Edited: 06 June 2014, 09:06
Visby, Gotlands...
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6. Re: What to do in Visby July 20-22

Oh, and a footnote. If you are going to walk around in the tall grasses at archaeological sites, remember to check for ticks afterwards. They are very small.

Darwin, Australia
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7. Re: What to do in Visby July 20-22

Thank you so much for taking the time to post this amazing response. We will certainly do the walk you described, it will be just like having our own tour guide, with all the valuable information you have given us.

This will make our short trip to Gotland so interesting to have all this background.

Again thank you so much for your time and information.

Cheers

Vicki

Edina
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8. Re: What to do in Visby July 20-22

Thanks Ugurd!

Edina
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9. Re: What to do in Visby July 20-22

Thank you for all of your great posts! They were so informative.

Charlotte, North...
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10. Re: What to do in Visby July 20-22

Thanks, Pinnsvein and Ugurd for your incredibly helpful posts.