Where to stay: Unfortunately, there aren’t any hostels in Visby, and being in Sweden, it’s a pretty expensive place to stay. Given the budgets required for a hotel in the city, it’s likely that an Airbnb rental will be the only feasible option for budget travelers. Visby is a really small city on a pretty small island, so staying within the general Visby area will likely be fine. I found, though, that the money I spent on taxis getting to my apartment outside of the old town (about 30-40 minutes by walking) was just as pricey as it would have been to stay in the old part of the city, since that’s where I spent all of my time.
Because Visby is so small, the public transport is equally small, so keep that in mind when picking your spot! That being said, if you’re visiting Visby more for its natural beauty, you might want to stay outside of the old city because it’s more likely you’ll be able to have a car out there, and some of the most beautiful places are within walking distance if you’re in the suburban area of the city.
Where to eat: My absolute favorite spot in Visby, particularly for lunch, is Eden. This restaurant is located right on the main square near the St. Katarina Cathedral ruin, and is a tapas-style cafe. They have lunch specials which work well if you’re on a budget, but also a ton of options for dinner. If you’re looking for Swedish pub food (which you should), check out G:a Masters. It’s located in an old building tucked away on a side street in the city (screen shot a map route to this one!), and you’ll find great traditional food, local beer (definitely try), and friendly service. And lastly, I recommend Italienaren, a small and cosy Italian restaurant located near the tourist information office in the main part of the old city. This spot has a mix of traditional Italian food, and some different, interesting menu items, making it a great spot to treat yourself to a nice dinner. It is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but absolutely worth it!
What to do: For such a small town, Visby has an absolute wealth of interesting things to do. For those of you who are largely unfamiliar with Gotland and Swedish history, I recommend visiting the Gotlands Museum. It contains interesting artifacts from pre-history through more recent centuries, and gives you such a great insight into the city and island. If you’re traveling with kids, it also has a ton of activities for them!
Beyond the Gotlands Museum, walking around the city is absolutely the best way to get to know it- no purchase required! The old town in Visby is fairly small, and is easily walkable in a day (I spent at least 2 full days wandering, though!). The architecture of the city, especially the cottages near the far city wall (opposite the water) is incredibly unique and beautiful. There are several cathedral ruins spread throughout the city which are great places to explore. The cathedrals are only open during the summer months, but you can still see them any time of year by simply walking around the exteriors. St. Clemens is the exception, open all year long, this ruin also has a café attached- definitely a beautiful place for a picnic or a cup of coffee. Along with the cathedral ruins, there is the Visby Botanical Garden, which is a beautiful park worth wandering around if you have sunny weather!
St. Clemens Ruin in Visby, with the attached café
If you’re in Visby for more than a couple of days, you have plenty of time for adventures outside of the town. One of the most famous spots, Faro, is a small island on the northeast of Gotland famous for its rock formations. Getting to Faro from Visby via public transportation is quite easy- there’s a bus that goes directly to the ferry port in Farosund. I will warn, however, that getting around Faro itself is a bit challenging if you don’t have some form of transportation (bike, car, etc.). The ferry from the main island to Faro is free and runs regularly, so renting a car for the day may be the best option if you don’t have a bike available to you. The town of Farosund nearly shuts down outside the summer months, so don’t plan for food options or bathroom breaks unless you’re there in the summer! All of that being said, the landscape on Faro is BEAUTIFUL, and I didn’t even make it to the rock formations:
The coast of Faro
Overall Opinion: I absolutely fell in love with Visby and Gotland in my few short days there. This little city on this little island absolutely stole my heart with its beauty, history, inhabitants, and culture. I visited in autumn when the island is largely hibernating, but I still found plenty to do and see for 4 days. With that being said, Visby is quite cold and dark throughout the autumn and winter, so if you’re more interested in hiking and exploring the island at large, visiting in the summer might be your best bet. I truly enjoyed the short days exploring the city and long evenings sitting in warm pubs and enjoying the cosy culture that Visby offers. If you’re looking for a non-traditional destination in Sweden, I highly recommend Gotland and Visby!