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I treated the family with a four day trip to Visby on Gotland to celebrate signing for a new job. Gotland is the large island in the middle of the Baltic Sea. A popular tourist destination reachable in a three hour ferry ride from Nynäshamn south of Stockholm.

View from Galgberget (Gallows Hill) north of the city. Copyright Frederik Jensen, 2023.

Visby is the main city on Gotland. It has a deep harbour protected by a large reef and has been a major trade center since before the Viking Age. The old town is on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1995 with many picturesque views of winding streets and the 3.4 km well preserved city wall. No larger than you can easily explore on foot and with plenty of cafes, restaurants and ice cream shops to boost energy levels.

Detail of the city walls. Copyright Frederik Jensen, 2023.

Arriving in early June, the city is not crowded while it still shows itself from its most colourful side with lush green leaves and flowering lilacs. Water is still cold for the morning swim to be anything but a quick dip.

Visby Saint Mary Church. Copyright Frederik Jensen, 2023.

The local museum is well worth a visit. The exhibitions invites you to explore the rich history of Gotland. From fossils and 400 million years of geology to 10,000 years of human activity. One room is dedicated to the large picture stones unique to Gotland. Another takes you into a 13th century Hanseatic store house. The Treasury displays finds from the more than 700 buried treasures that has been uncovered on the island, proof that plenty of Arabic silver made its way to Gotland. The fact that the treasures were buried and not recovered by their owners suggests that times were not as peaceful as today.

Example of a Picture Stone on display in the local museum.

The tour culminates with the story of how Gotland ended up under the Danish king for 300 years, including the tragic event where a local peasant army was butchered by a professional army of mercenaries paid by a Danish king just outside the city gates, while the citizens of Visby contemplated their options safe inside the city walls.

Street view in Visby. Copyright Frederik Jensen, 2023.

There is also a large play area for the younger audience to explore trading and fishing through the ages.

I can see why Gotland is a popular destination and I can easily imagine us coming back and explore further.

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