Karlsöarna Travel Guide

Discover the best places to visit, things to do, where to stay, and more in Karlsöarna, Sweden. Read this comprehensive guide to plan a perfect trip to the beautiful island.

A Comprehensive Travel Guide to Karlsöarna, Sweden

Located in the Gotland region of Sweden, Karlsöarna is a beautiful island that offers a unique travel experience to its visitors. With its stunning natural beauty, fascinating history, and plenty of activities to indulge in, Karlsöarna is a perfect destination for all kinds of travelers. In this comprehensive travel guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to plan your trip to this paradise island.

Introduction to Karlsöarna

Karlsöarna is a group of islands located off the west coast of Gotland, which includes the two main islands of Stora Karlsö and Lilla Karlsö, and several smaller ones. With a total area of around 1,300 acres, Karlsöarna is a relatively small island that can be easily explored on foot. The island has a rich history dating back to the Stone Age, and it has served several purposes over the centuries, including as a military outpost during the World War II. Today, Karlsöarna is a popular tourist destination that attracts visitors with its scenic beauty and unique cultural experiences.

List of Places to Visit in Karlsöarna

Karlsöarna is an island that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. Here are some of the must-visit places on the island:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • East Harbour Museum: A museum that offers insight into the history of the island and its importance in the fishing industry.
  • Karlsöarna Lighthouse: A historic lighthouse on Stora Karlsö that offers a stunning view of the sea.
  • Karlsöarna Nature Reserve: A nature reserve that covers the entire island and is home to a variety of flora and fauna.

Natural Attractions of Karlsöarna: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Kyrkbyskogen Nature Reserve: A nature reserve that covers a quarter of the island and offers some of the best hiking trails on the island.
  • The cliffs of Stora Karlsö: A scenic spot on the island that offers stunning views of the sea and the surrounding landscape.
  • The Blue Lagoon: A crystal clear lagoon that offers a perfect spot for swimming and snorkeling.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Karlsöarna

Karlsöarna is a paradise for hikers and bikers, with a variety of trails that offer breathtaking views of the island. Here are some of the best hiking and biking routes on the island:

  • Stora Karlsö Nature Reserve Trail: A 10 km trail that leads through the nature reserve and offers stunning views of the sea and the island’s flora and fauna.
  • Lilla Karlsö Coastline Trail: A 4 km trail that covers the coast of Lilla Karlsö and offers fantastic views of the sea and the island’s landscape.

Best Things to Do in Karlsöarna: Activities and Tours

Karlsöarna is an island that offers a variety of activities and tours to its visitors. Here are some of the most popular things to do on the island:

  • Boat Tour around the Island: A boat tour that takes you around the island and offers stunning views of the coast and the island’s wildlife.
  • Fishing Trip with a Local Guide: A fishing trip with a local guide that takes you to the best spots around the island and helps you catch some fantastic fish.
  • Kayaking Tour: A kayaking tour that takes you around the island and offers a unique perspective on the island’s landscape and coastline.

Week-Long Itinerary for Karlsöarna

Here’s a week-long itinerary for Karlsöarna that covers all the must-visit places and activities on the island:

Day Activities
1 Arrive on the island and settle in your hotel/hostel/guesthouse.
2 Explore the island’s museums and historical sites.
3 Hike/bike along the trails of the island’s nature reserve.
4 Take a boat tour around the island and enjoy the scenic views.
5 Indulge in fishing with a local guide or take a kayaking tour.
6 Relax on the beach or explore the island’s local culture and customs.
7 Depart from the island after a fantastic week full of adventure.

Food and Drink Scene of Karlsöarna

Karlsöarna has a modest food and drink scene that is based on the island’s fishing history and local farming culture. Here are some of the must-try dishes and local beverages of the island:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Smoked Herring: A traditional dish of the island, made with fresh herring fish that is smoked over beechwood and served with potatoes and lingonberries.
  • Potato Bread: A unique variation of bread that is made with potatoes and served with butter.
  • Lingonberries: A popular fruit of the island that is used in several dishes and desserts.

Local Beverages

  • Gotlandic beer: A locally brewed beer that is known for its unique taste and aroma.
  • Starrkärrsglögg: A mulled wine that is made with local herbs and spices and is served warm.
  • Åkerö Vodka: A locally distilled vodka that is made with potatoes and is considered the strongest in the world.

Where to Stay in Karlsöarna: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Karlsöarna has several options for accommodation, which includes hotels, hostels, and guesthouses. Here are some of the best places to stay on the island:

  • Karlsö Värdshus: A hotel that is located on Stora Karlsö and offers fantastic sea views and easy access to the island’s attractions.
  • Lilla Hotellet: A hotel that is located on Lilla Karlsö and offers quaint rooms and a peaceful ambiance.
  • Karlsöbo Gård: A guesthouse that is located near the island’s nature reserve and offers a rustic experience to its guests.

What to Buy in Karlsöarna: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Karlsöarna is famous for its unique souvenirs and local products that are handcrafted by local artists. Here are some of the best shops on the island to find unique souvenirs and local products:

  • Karlsöarnas Butik: A shop that sells local handicrafts, souvenirs, and local delicacies.
  • Karlsöhamn Karlsö Lighthouse: A shop that sells lighthouse-themed souvenirs and local handicrafts.
  • Klockarhagen Gård: A shop that sells local products, including organic honey, vegetables, and fruits.

Local Culture and Customs of Karlsöarna

Karlsöarna has a rich local culture and customs that are heavily influenced by the island’s natural beauty and rural lifestyle. Visitors are expected to respect the island’s environment and traditions and follow the island’s rules and regulations.

Best Time to Visit Karlsöarna

The best time to visit Karlsöarna is between June and August when the weather is pleasant, and the island is bustling with activities and events. However, visitors can still enjoy the island’s beauty and peaceful ambiance during the offseason which runs from September to May.

Do’s and Don’ts of Karlsöarna

Here are some of the do’s and don’ts to keep in mind while visiting Karlsöarna:


  • Respect the island’s environment and follow the rules and regulations.
  • Try the local food and drink specialties of the island.
  • Explore the island’s unique heritage and culture.


  • Litter on the island and disturb the island’s natural habitat.
  • Ignore the island’s traditions and customs.
  • Make loud noises or cause any disturbance that may affect the peace and tranquility of the island.

Safety and Health

Safety in Karlsöarna

Karlsöarna is generally a safe place to visit, with low crime rates and a friendly local population. Visitors are advised to follow the island’s rules and regulations and take necessary precautions while hiking or participating in outdoor activities.

Health in Karlsöarna

Karlsöarna has a basic healthcare system that can handle minor medical emergencies. For any serious health issues, visitors are advised to go to Gotland’s main island, which has a better healthcare infrastructure.

Getting to Karlsöarna: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Karlsöarna

Visitors can fly to Visby airport on Gotland’s main island, which is the closest airport to Karlsöarna. From Visby, visitors can take a bus or taxi to Klintehamn harbor, from where they can take a ferry to Karlsöarna.

Bus Stations Near Karlsöarna

Visitors can take a bus from Visby to Klintehamn harbor, from where they can take a ferry to Karlsöarna.

Other Options

Visitors can also take their cars to the island, but they need to book a slot on the ferry in advance.

How to Get Around in Karlsöarna

Karlsöarna is a relatively small island that can be easily explored on foot or by bike. Visitors can also rent a car or hire a taxi to travel around the island.

Where to Go Next from Karlsöarna: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Visitors can explore the beautiful region of Gotland, with its rich history and cultural heritage. They can also visit other islands nearby, including Visby Island, Fårö Island, and Gotska Sandön Island.


Karlsöarna is a paradise for nature lovers, history buffs, and adventure enthusiasts. It offers a unique travel experience that is hard to find anywhere else in the world. We hope this comprehensive travel guide helps you plan your perfect trip to this beautiful island and enjoy everything it has to offer.