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The only locality on the island of Gotland off the coast of Sweden, Visby is a picturesque port town which in the summer becomes a vibrant holidaying hub for thousands of Scandinavians, as well as not a few tourists from abroad.
One of the finest preserved medieval cities in the whole of Scandinavia, Visby has a rich history to go along with its charming beauty. This storied port town has become known as a holiday hub in recent decades, but it has been inhabited for more than 7,000 years and invaded by 13th century Germans, then colonised by the Danish, only to be given back to Sweden in the 17th century,
What this means is that the architecture of the city has been directly influenced by centuries of diversity. Alongside the beautiful waterfronts typical of beachside resorts, Visby is home to spectacular gothic churches, 2 mile long towering limestone town walls, and towers and battlements dating back to the 11th century.
Alongside these man-made marvels, Visby is also host to fantastic natural surroundings that only complement the incredible atmosphere cultivated by its vivid and unforgettable architecture. Huge sloping cliffs, undulating green hills, and of course, the amazing eternal backdrop of the Baltic Sea make Visby a port which is bound to linger long in cruiser's imaginations.
The Botanical Garden of Visby
The Botanical Gardens are an easy walk away from the centre of Visby, and one of the finest Scandinavian parks a cruiser can experience. Filled with the roses which are famous for growing abundantly upon the walls of the city's medieval ruins, the south end of the gardens contain the beautiful Romanesque church of St Olof, which dates back to 1200 A.D.
Alongside the colourful splendour of the rose garden, make sure to visit the pavilion, which contains one of the oldest rock gardens in Sweden, and the heart of the garden, the sundial place, which features pristine gravel pathways along with high stone pillars coated in lovely delphiniums.
Visby is home to five of the eight museums that make up the Gotland Historical Museum, and as such, has fantastic exhibits that are a sight to see throughout the year. The Gotland Museum was moved in 1880 to the spacious hall it occupies today, and provides an unbelievable overview of Visby's past. Among the collections are such amazing sights as the Hall of picture stones, an exhibit of stone carvings dating as far back as the 5th centuries, and medieval tableaus depicting the years of Danish rule, and the 16th century trading boom that turned Visby into the prosperous gem of a town you can visit today.
For authentic, handmade souvenirs make sure to visit the Kvinnfolki Handycraft shop, which offers wool, bark, glass and stone curios, all made by experienced professionals, using techniques that have been passed down the generations. For a cult treat, head to Kranku, which specialises in delicious teas and coffees, and features some of the finest blends in Sweden. Make sure to indulge in mug of Guteblandning before you leave.
For a dining experience unlike any other in Visby, head to Vardshuset Lindgarden for amazing service, a serene atmosphere and delectable local dishes cooked to perfection. Fantastic Gotland dishes such as glodhappa- boiled lamb racks grilled in mustard and given a sumptuous breadcrumb coating- and home-made cheeses from the Stafva farm dairy.
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