However much sights and partying Visby can offer, that was far from the main reason for my visit to Gotland. I wanted to experience the real Gotland. Many people visit this Swedish island without venturing outside Visby and I didn’t want to be one of them. Hence I’d booked a room at Lummelunda hostel about 15 km outside town for my first night on the island. As a typical last-minute, flexible traveler I hadn’t checked the bus timetable before I arrived with the ferry. Fortunately, since the last bus had left once I got to the main bus station (a ride of 5-10 minutes from the ferry stop), Lummelunda hostel’s owner Torgny happened to be in Visby and about to head home, so I could catch a ride and reached the site later in the evening.
Inside, a young couple watch TV in the living room, a few women do the dishes in the kitchen, a group of seniors enjoy a candle-lit meal by the wooden tables on the porch, and an older couple picnick on the cliffs.
Along the footpath by the sea I meet a local woman who advises against continuing as it will soon darken. As an owner to one of the summer houses west of the hostel she knows the area well; one can follow the footpath all the way to Visby, in the other direction is a “village” of fishing sheds. I opt for the latter.
There a middle-aged man talks with the wife on his cell phone (yes, I eavesdrop) while their son plays by the water’s edge. Swedish summer tranquillity in its simplest form. Past the sheds, the landscape gives way to large summer houses and year-round houses half-hidden in the forest. As you walk along the sea and watch the sun paint the sky in different nuances of red and purple, feeling the power and stillness of Gotland is unavoidable.
Upon my return to the hostel around 10.30pm, to my delight, two motorcycles stand parked outside the building. When one of the motorcyclists, a man in his early thirties, step up to the porch his face lit up in the biggest, happiest smile I have ever seen. Understandable. The serene, special atmosphere of Lummelunda hostel amidst a setting of crooked pine trees just by the sea can make wonder for your soul.
The surrounding area offers a variety of activities, from hiking in Björkume nature reserve, a 240 hectare big forest and mire area, and cycling (make sure to stick to the smaller roads – much more pleasant) to swimming at bathing sites and discovering the cave of Lummelunda.
The accommodation in the hostel is basic yet cozy with bunk beds in many rooms; the cottages offer a bit more comfort and privacy. In the main building guests have access to large kitchen, dining room, living room with a large sofa and downstairs, showers and bathrooms as well as sauna and laundry. Wi-Fi from Telia is available throughout the hostel.
Functioning as a summer camp for children in the late 1930s until 1977, the hostel opened a year later and is today one of Gotland’s most loved lodgings with 6 cottages and 14 rooms. Guests come from near and far – single travelers, couples, friends and families. The most popular time is from the beginning of July to mid August. Keep in mind the nearest bus stop is more than a couple of kilometers away. Fortunately a German couple from Hamburg was kind to offer me a ride on their way to the ferry. If you aren’t able to share a ride with anyone, renting your own car is to prefer.
For any first-time visitor to Gotland, staying at Lummelunda hostel for a few days or a week will make a great start to your trip.