For your next foodie escape try Gotland, a large island in the Baltic Sea, off the southwest coast of Sweden, that’s home to beautifully wild landscapes, cosy cafés, harbourside fish restaurants and stylish little farmhouse hotels
Read our expert foodie guide and visit Gotland, Sweden. If you’re looking for bed and breakfast accommodation in Gotland, check out our Gotland guide including visiting Visby…
The largest island in the Baltic, Gotland is rather like the Cornwall of Sweden – a bewitching mixture of wild landscapes and dramatic history. It also tends to have a mild, sunny climate that produces amazing produce. A favourite summer destination for stylish, foodie Swedes, it’s still off the radar of most foreign visitors, so follow in the footsteps of the Hanseatic traders and experience Gotland lamb, cooked on an outdoor grill, mounds of smoked prawns eaten at little harbourside tables and saffron pancakes served with local berries.
Hotel Stelor, Visby
This dreamy little farmhouse hotel serves some of the best food on the island, almost all of it sourced from its closest neighbours. Farmer Janne arrives with his biodynamic vegetables each day, Erik, the local hunter, provides wild roe deer, while fresh milk and yoghurt come from Lotta, the dairy farmer.
The hotel’s sustainable philosophy is evident as much in the interiors as in the food – the seven bedrooms are each individually decorated with antiques, handcrafted rugs, local art and organic linen. There’s a little shop selling the hotel’s own produce, such as rhubarb kombucha and pickled pears with saffron, and on summer evenings there’s often live music in the barn and food, such as Gotland lamb, cooked on an outdoor grill.
Those might be pine rather than palm trees on the beach but on a hot summer’s day at this buzzy, laid-back beach bar and restaurant you could almost be in the Caribbean. Sip kick-ass mojitos or prohibition rum as you listen to vintage reggae in the One Love bar or grab a home-brewed beer and try a potato pizza from Potobers, the site’s potato-themed restaurant (not as strange as it sounds – Gotland potatoes are a real delicacy). Prefer linen tablecloths and three course meals? The stylish Smakrike restaurant is just up the road.
Martin and Emma left their life on the mainland to run an organic farmshop/café in an idyllic 17th-century farm surrounded by poppy fields. Sit in the courtyard and enjoy simple, healthy food, using local produce such as truffles, berries, asparagus, flowers and herbs, served on Emma’s handmade ceramics. Martin also runs the restaurant at nearby industrial-chic hotel Fabriken Furillen (furillen.com).
This simple, old-school smokery and restaurant, on the east coast of the island, has been run by the same family for three generations. Fish, most of which has been caught in Gotlandic waters, is smoked over alder and juniper wood and the outdoor wooden tables right by the harbour are perfect for watching the world go by as you tuck into mounds of smoked prawns with the house aioli. They also do a mean saffron pancake for pudding – a Gotlandic speciality served with jam made from salma berries (like blue blackberries and native to the island) and whipped cream.
A charming stone oven bakery and café, owned by the people behind Fabrique (the Swedish bakery chain that now has a branch in London), is set in a small, picturesque, hamlet. Stylish Stockholmers (who don’t flinch at the big city prices) gather here for excellent coffee and possibly the best cardamom buns on the island.
In the evenings the wood-fired oven is used to bake sourdough pizza (try the truffle one, with local Gotland truffle). Eat outside or cosied up by the open fireplace in the huge greenhouse on chillier evenings.
Gute organic ice cream is sold all over the island, but the best place to eat it is at the company’s own ice cream bar in Visby, with its stunning views over the medieval walled city and Baltic sea beyond. Try typically Gotlandic flavours such as saffron (the island’s mild microclimate allows saffron to be grown here in small quantities) or the native salma berry, otherwise known as dewberry.
A wonky yellow wooden house, it hosts a delightfully bohemian, family-run restaurant that serves outstanding food. The wild garden produces most of the food, and vegetables take centre stage but you may also find Gotland rabbit or lamb on the menu.
Tasting menus come in two sizes – small and large – and dishes such as zander with jerusalem artichoke or Gotland rabbit and cress are served on grandma’s old china with flowers from the garden, and are accompanied by organic and natural wines. There’s also a more casual outdoor kitchen, Picanteria, serving spicy Peruvian-inspired tapas on the veranda, and if you can’t resist one of it’s rhubarb or lemon thyme cocktails you can stay overnight in one of the simple rooms or cabins.
This Nordic fine dining restaurant is part of trendy Bungenäs, a former military zone which has been transformed into an other-worldly, car-free summer playground for in-the-know Swedes. Expect unfussy, confident cooking in the former officers’ mess building, with glorious sunsets over the sea as a backdrop. There are a handful of bedrooms if you fancy staying over.
Take the (free) ferry across to the little neighbouring island of Fårö (where Ingmar Bergman lived and worked) and, before long, you’ll spot this former petrol station surrounded by the wrecks of vintage cars, gas pumps and old fridges. Inside, it serves delicious crêpes and galettes using local produce in a quirky, 50s-nostalgic setting.
If you like spankingly fresh fish and shellfish classically prepared, this authentic, unpretentious little restaurant is a great spot to stop off at when you’re exploring Visby. Try the “sillröra på smörstekt Gotlandslimpa” (pickled herring with sour cream and onions on locally made bread) or ‘fish and chips’ with grilled scallops and a wild garlic dip.