In the middle of the Baltic Sea, the Swedish island Gotland is a beautiful place to be, especially in summer. With a surface of 3.000 km², it is, after Sjælland in Denmark, the second largest island in the Baltic Sea. Gotland actually consists of two islands – the main island, and in the north a smaller one called Fårö.
In the summer, I spent five days traveling 300 km with my bike in the north of Gotland and on Fårö while sleeping in a tent at the shore of the sea.
This was my first encounter with real Swedish summer.
Arriving in Visby
From Stockholm, Gotland is easily accessible by ferry. The ride from Nynäshamn to the island’s capital Visby just takes 3 hours and is quite affordable if booked early. When I arrived in Visby I was irritated because it was crowded. Totally crowded. Seeing people everywhere was not what I hoped for when I decided to spend some days in remote places sleeping in a tent.
It turned out that I managed to arrive during the Swedish Almedalsväckan. This is a weeklong political and cultural meeting with a forty year history tracing back to a speech given by Sweden’s well known prime minister Olof Palme, that should later be the victim of an assassination. But soon after I left Visby in a northward direction, the cycle paths along the coast were empty and I could enjoy the nature.
On this first day the wind was coming from behind making biking so easy, that I managed to go almost twice as far as I originally planned. After having stopped at the famous rock formation Jungfrun close to Lickershamn, I continued up to the northernmost point of the main island, where I found the most beautiful place to set up my tent.
Because large areas of Gotland, and especially the shores, are protected nature reserves, it is difficult to find a place where it is allowed to sleep in a tent. The area around Bläse however is not protected and thus a good place to search for a nice spot to sleep.
Translating to Fårö
The next day I visited the Blå Lagunen, which was a bit different from the one we saw on Iceland, but still a nice place to swim – however it was crowded once more. So soon I moved on to the city Fårösund, where I stocked up my supplies and waited for the ferry to Gotland’s smaller, and possibly even more beautiful, sister Fårö.
The so-called Raukområde is located at the north-western coast of the smaller island. Within a kilometer-long area, hundreds of bizarre looking stone formations can be found. A long time ago, when Gotland was covered by a tropical ocean, coral reefs decorated the island. What we can today see at Gotland’s shore is the fossilisation of these coral reefs shaped by erosion. The largest of them is Jungfrun at the main island, but most of the Raukar are located on Fårö.
Back on the Main Island
On my third day on Gotland, I returned to the main island and visited the nature reserve Bungenäs before returning to Blå Lagunen for another swim. In the afternoon I came back to my beloved camp site of the first night.
The first goal of day four was Hallshuk, a steep coastline in the north. As Gotland is super flat, this was the steepest ascent of my trip. But even though it was just an inclination of around 80 m within 1 h it was challenging, considering that I carried all the equipment on my back.
For the last night I wanted to enjoy some luxury and headed for a commercial campground in the southern coast of the northern part of Gotland. However, after they told me that one night would be more than 30 €, without thinking twice, I changed my mind and started looking for a free spot on the coast that offers the same service free of charge.
Return to Visby
With only 40 km the last day was the shortest distance on bike, but also the toughest. The return to Visby felt at least twice as long due to the strong wind opposing my will to advance. Heavy flaws made me almost stop and I had a hard time crossing the island from east to west.
When I finally arrived in Visby my trip counter jumped to 300 km directly in front of the city wall that surrounds the historic centre. Luckily I started early in the morning, so I had enough time to visit Gotland’s capital city, which is definitely beautiful and worth a visit on its own.
After taking a coffee I boarded the ferry taking some nice memories back to Stockholm.
Physically, it was a tough week, but it was worth the experience being alone in the amazing nature of Sweden’s biggest island. The 50 € that I spent in total (including the ferry and excluding the campground) was probably the best spent amount ever.