Plenty of Walking
There is so much to see on this island so make sure you bring an excellent pair of walking shoes or consider renting a bike. Of course the best alternative is to just stay over a long weekend. You'll want to bring some shopping money for the medieval market and make sure you have plenty of film (or batteries for the digital cam) because you can get up close and personal with all of the old ruins spread throughout the city. Take the time to research the history of this town to really enhance its' authentic spirit. The residents have to be some of the most remarkable people I've seen. The most interesting thing about them is that it seemed like everyone from the grandparents to the teenagers wore period garb as they made their way through their day to day tasks. Whether it was a merchant or a pirate, the locals did their part to ensure the town's authenticity. Overall this was both highly interesting and very relaxing.
As you walk from the harbour to the Old Town, you are met by a lush little park just before the city walls start along the water. This is Almedalen and was actually Visby's harbour in medieval days before the landrise. Today it is a cherished park where once in the 1960s, Olof Palme (having a summerhouse on Fårö) was talked into holding a spontaneous speech from a lorry. This he did, not knowing that he has just started a tradition, since these days "Almedalsveckan" is a whole week full of political speeches by all parties here every July. This of course generates a lot of seminars and so on as well, so if you are going in mid July, it is worth checking that you've got accommodation if you clash with this event.
The Island of Faro
The small island of Faro (sorry the gramatical accents are missing) is just across a narrow channel at the northern tip of Gotland. A ferry ride of less than 10 minutes across the Farosund brings you to this island where time has stood still. It is an island of undisturbed beauty with 17th century farmsteads and cottages. Sheep are more plentiful than people here. Sheep and people lead a peaceful life, and the pace of life is even more leisurely than the relatively bustling Visby.
If you are considering going to Faro, contact the Visby Tourist Office for ferry information and availability of accommodations.
This is redoubtably my favourite lane in Visby. Translated it means Fishermen's lane since in the medieval times fishermen had their business' here. At the time a rather smelly lane :-) Somehow to improve the "smell" roses were planted and today they nestle and lean on every house - making this lane the most photographed lane in Visby.
Returning from the farther reaches of Visby's medieval wall, we happened onto the "Stora Torget" or market square. The square, which is not quite as large as that of some other medieval towns, but it is a nice plaza surrounded by several pubs and cafes with outdoor seating for guests which really lends alot of ambience to the setting. Market Squares or City Plaza are one of the things I love most about Europe which many more modern cities do not have.
In the middle there is a market with many vendors sellings all kinds of items from jewelry to leathergoods, art, food and craft items--some vendors are under tents and others not which makes the whole scene rather colorful. It was pleasant to stroll around and see what kind of indigenous crafts were for sale as I always like to return from a trip with something particular to a country or region. I didn't purchase anything this time except postcards! But this market is a good place for those last minute purchases before you leave the island.
The Stora Torget has some special permanent guests--the 3 lovely, carved, stone rams which you can see in the accompanying picture. The Ram is the symbol of Gotland, and you will discover many things related to sheep throughout the island. I particularly like the mosaic of the shepherdess and her sheep which hung outside of the Visby Art Museum and which I mentioned in a previous tip.