World’s Best Kept Secret Travel Spots #6: Visby, Sweden


Do you love the idea of exploring a well-preserved medieval Nordic city rich in history? Number 6 on our list has a lot to offer.

Visby is on the Northwestern coast of the island of Gotland in Sweden. The oldest continually occupied city in Sweden has approximately 24,000 residents and is a very popular vacation destination for many Scandinavians during the summer.

The name Visby comes from the Old Norse term “Vis” which means “Pagan place of sacrifices”. Visby is also called “The City of Roses” or “The city of ruins”.  Its earliest history is unknown but there it is known that that Visby was known as a center for merchandise exchange as early as 900 AD. Because of it’s easy access to the natural harbor and fresh water it has been inhabited as far back as the Stone Age.

Getting to Visby is fairly easy compared to some of the other destinations on our list. There is year around flights to Visby from Stockholm, Helsinki and Linkoping. There are also ferry’s that will transport your car, which is the cheapest rout.

Bring a good pair of walking shoes because the best way to get around is by foot in the historic Old Town area. Cars are not allowed within the city walls during the summer months, but you can park outside the wall and walk in.

Once you’ve arrived, there are many exciting places to explore.  Visby is the best preserved medieval city in Scandinavia. One of the more important preservations in the city is the two-mile-long Visby City Wall which dates back to the 12th century. The wall is the oldest non-religious building in the Nordic countries. The cities ruins are everywhere. They are only open during the summer months so if you plan to visit the city make sure to call ahead of time to confirm the open dates.

Every August, Visby celebrates its medieval heritage during Medeltidsveckan or “Medieval Week” This event has jousting tournaments, open markets, magicians, storytellers, and theater shows.

The Gotland Historical Museum is a must see. There are over 31,000 artifacts including hand-carved weapons, silverware, stone tools and many more items. There are also some of the oldest human skeletons found in Sweden that date back almost 4000 years on display.

If you need a break from the sightseeing grab pack a picnic and head just outside the city walls to Almedalen Park. Almedalen means Elm Valley; the name it was given in the 1870’s after all the Elm trees that were planted there.

You can also enjoy beautiful views of the water along the beach boardwalk known as Strandpromenaden. Walking along the 3-mile promenade you will find local restaurants, pleasure boats, fortresses, towers, yacht clubs, beaches and medieval ruins along it’s path.

Visby is a great place for a family getaway. You can explore the many historical buildings in the city center; walk along the boardwalk or spend a few hours in the Gotland Museum. It is like taking a step back in time you and your family are sure remember.


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