Visby, Sweden

Visby, known for its town wall, is the largest town on the Swedish island of Gotland and is around 55 miles east of the mainland in the Baltic sea. It has a close neighbor, the smaller isle of Faro.

The two are known for their “raunks,” a series of gnarled limestone formations around the coast that were created during the ice age. Faro’s lighthouse and medieval church are popular film locations.

Many Viking artifacts have been discovered on Gotland. This also includes a vast number of coins originating from the Middle East, testament to the island’s importance among medieval traders. You can be part of this legacy with a visit to a reconstructed ninth century Viking village at Tofta, where you can try your hand at such vital Viking skills as ax throwing or handicrafts, as well as sports and games.

Visby later found renown as the main center of the Hanseatic League from the twelfth to the fourteenth century, and these strands of history led to UNESCO declaring the town a World Heritage Site in 1995.

Visby is an eye-catching walled town that is an atmospheric blend of narrow cobbled streets, ruins and roses. Its fortifications run a fraction over two miles and are still studded with 27 of its original 29 towers. Cocooned within are inviting restaurants and charming markets, as well as more than 200 warehouses and wealthy merchants' dwellings. At the heart of the city the cathedral, Sancta Maria, is a real landmark, and has been since 1225. It all adds up to make Visby one of the best-preserved fortified commercial cities in northern Europe.

There are several appealing beaches around Visby, while the Lummelunda Cave is another popular natural feature just north of the city. It stretches around two-and-a-half miles long, filled with ancient limestone formations.