Gotland is beautiful. And life more so. People who go on pilgrimages explore both of these truths. You pass this gorgeous landscape under your feet. Step by step. Many people experience the joy of the beauty of the cornflower and the splashing of the waves, accompanied by an unexpected feeling of peace and freedom. The body’s ambling becomes the calming of the soul.
A pilgrimage is neither stranger nor more difficult than any other hike. You don’t have to consider yourself as religious to go on a pilgrimage. All you need is suitable clothes, some food and water, and a willingness to head out.
More and more people are doing it. Interest in this ancient tradition has grown significantly in recent decades. While the purpose and goal of the trek are different for each person, many pilgrims still share similar experiences. Words like carefree, simplicity, silence, recur in many people’s descriptions of what happens during the journey.
By putting one foot in front of the other, or pushing a wheelchair step by step, we create space in an otherwise often cluttered existence. Life needs breathing space. And the body needs movement. To take a pilgrimage is to look after the whole person.
There’s something liberating about tired legs after a day’s walking, when normally your brain is working at full speed. And we find something out about quality of life when one of the best parts of the day is that cup of coffee from a thermos by the roadside, far from the usual amenities.
Our beautiful island offers endless opportunities for a pilgrimage. Search for new paths right outside your door, or try one of our established trails.
We have short pilgrimage routes of around 10k on central and southern Gotland. Then there is the longer S:t Olavsleden hiking trail on northern Gotland, which stretches almost 60k from the east coast to Visby. Some of our trails invite you to think through reflection stations, others take you on easily accessible gravel roads from one church to another.
There are maps and information material for all our trails. Everything is here.
If you want to try the S: t Olavsled trail there is information on the website about how to get to Olofsholm, the place where King Olaf first set foot on the island in 1029.
Go by car, but it’s easy to get there, or to an alternative starting point ,using public transport. Once there, you’ll feel the air of past centuries, filled with wonder on the infinitely beautiful landscape that surrounds you.
Once you start hiking, maybe after a coffee and a pilgrim prayer, find your way with our digital map and physical markings in the countryside all the way to Visby. The digital map with position indicators can use a lot of energy, so maybe take a printout or a power bank for your mobile with you.
There are older maps of the Olavsleden trail in several places on Gotland. They lead you safely to your goal, but keep in mind that the trail has a new route in some places.
Arrange accommodation in tents and/or in a centre along the road. Carry your food with you. The whole hike takes three days, but there are options for two or one-day trips. You’ll find all information under the tab for Olavsleden on the website. Olavsleden’s material is available in Swedish, English and German.
The route has been walked by countless pilgrims, and there is something special about walking in the footsteps of others, but at your own pace and with your own thoughts. You pass several medieval churches along the trail. Feel free to visit them. They have given peace to people in both joy and sorrow since the 13th century. If you want, light a candle for something or someone close to your heart.
If you are looking for something further south, we recommend the trail between Klinte and Fröjel church. It takes you up the cliff with a beautiful view, and through lush forest. Along the way you can reflect on various aspects of your life, starting from the ”saviour’s wreath.”
What are the gifts in my life? What have my barren spells been like? What does baptism, love mean, and what brings me life? The reflection stations help you focus on things that are important, but easily forgotten when everyday life chugs along.
If you prefer a flatter walk, then the 12k road between Hemse and Rone is perfect for you. The trail follows the old railway, on flat gravel and asphalt roads. You can walk the entire route with a pram or wheelchair.
Prefer a shorter trip combined with a family outing? The pilgrimage route between Roma and Dalhem could be for you. You can combine a reflection walk with a trip on the Gotland train and a enjoy a coffee break at Kungsgården.
Apart from these established trails, Gotland offers endless opportunities for longer and shorter pilgrimages. It’s not the number of kilometers you walk, but the desire to go through life with an open mind and an open heart. Because Gotland is beautiful, and life more so.
Peace and all the best.
Om du befinner dig på Gotland, oavsett i Visby eller på landsbygden är det svårt att inte lägga märke till kyrkorna. Kyrkorna och deras torn sätter sin prägel på omgivningen vare sig det är domkyrkan i Visby eller sockenkyrkan på landet.Läs artikel