Visit Stora Karlsö
Stora Karlsö is one of the Nordic gems of nature. Once visited, memories of the island will stay with you forever. Flowers and birds can be seen in a spectacular and very different environment. After Yellowstone National Park in the US, Stora Karlsö is the second oldest natural reserve in the world, first and foremost known for its abundant bird life, in particular the many colonies of breeding guillemots and razorbills.
KLINTEHAMN – STORA KARLSÖ with M/F Stora Karlsö. Crossing time is about 30 minutes. Departures and arrivals are indicated in local time. During the season 2023 the island is open between 5 May and 3 September.
5 May – 23 June
Departure from Klintehamn 9:30 and 14:00*
Departure from Stora Karlsö 10:30* and 15:00
25 June – 6 August
Departure from Klintehamn 9:30, 11:30 and 16:10*
Departure from Stora Karlsö 10:30*, 15:00 and 17:00
7 August – 3 September
Departure from Klintehamn 9:30 and 14:00*
Departure from Stora Karlsö 10:30* and 15:00
*) This departure intended only for those who stay overnight on the island
During parts of the season, the Karlsö boat also operates Lilla Karlsö with daily trips (limited number of places).
3 July – 13 August
Departure from Klintehamn 09:30 and from Lilla Karlsö 15:20. (If you stay overnight, departure from Lilla Karlsö is 10:20.)
20 May – 2 July and 14 August – 18 August
Groups only. Group bookings must be made no later than one week before departure, and the cost is minumum 11 regular tickets.*) This departure intended only for those who stay overnight on the island
- 23 June, on Midsummer Eve, departure only 9.30 am from Klintehamn
- 24 June (Midsummer Day) no traffic
- 19-20 August no traffic
|Prices round trip Klintehamn-Stora Karlsö, incl. guided tour||SEK each person|
|Children 6-15 years||SEK 195|
|Children 0-5 years||Free|
|Family (2 Adults + up to 4 Children)||SEK 945|
|Season ticket||SEK 945|
For booking – call us on +46-(0)498-240500 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please notise that You must check in at the embarkation port at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
Stora Karlsö is a rock in the Baltic, with an area of 2.4 km², situated 6 km off the southwest coast of Gotland. Stora Karlsö is composed of fossilised coral reefs of various sizes surrounded by limestone. The reefs were formed in warmer waters 400 million years ago when Gotland was located near the Equator. Loose fossils, dead sea plants and animals turned to stone, are abundant and visitors are allowed to pick them up and study them but they must not be taken from the island.
There are more than 20 caves on Stora Karlsö, many of them situated around the small harbour of Norderhamn. The deepest cave is 25 metres and archaeological finds show evidence of human activity there as early as the Stone Age.
Except in the sloping south, the sides of Stora Karlsö are steep, 25-45 meters in some places. The highest point is 51.6 metres above sea level. In the ravine in the northern part there is a small coastal plain and also the harbour Norderhamn. There, the motor-launch, which in the summer months operates daily from Klintehamn on the main island, can put ashore visitors, staff, provisions and so on.
Stora Karlsö is the biggest bird mountain in the Baltic and truly worth visiting, not only by avid bird watchers; the average tourist will also be fascinated by the bird life on the island. At the end of June or the beginning of July a spectacular drama is played out on the island when the newborn guillemot chicks jump from the high cliff ledges down to the sea responding to the call of their parents.
The auks – penguins of the North
Three kinds of auks dominate the bird life on Stora Karlsö: common guillemot (Uria aalge), razorbill (Alca torda) and black guillemot (Cepphus grille). Best known are the guillemots and estimated 25,000 pairs breed and hatch on the island, and about the same number of razorbills. The number of black guillemot has been declining since the 1960s and today only a few pairs breed on the island.
The common guillemot has a simple pointed black bill and a brownish-black back, which distinguishes this species from the razorbill with its broad bill, supposed to resemble old-fashioned razors. These auks nest on narrow ledges, small caves and cliffs, accessible only from the face of the steep western side, which makes Stora Karlsö an ideal site.
Other birds of interest are various species of wild duck (Anatidae), gulls, tern, among others and small song birds can be seen and heard in the bushes and shrubbery.
The major part of Stora Karlsö is a flat limestone plateau, almost completely bared because of grazing sheep. The sheep were removed in 1887 and the plateau filled with grass, brush and trees, which led to the loss of some valuable flora. Then, after 108 years it was decided that the sheep should be brought back and parts of the island are once again filled with a multitude of flowers, depending on the season, e.g. intense blue veronicas, white daisies, yellow stonecrop, fragrant violet thyme and many, many more.
In late May or early June there are thousands and thousands of orchids – a sight to be seen!
After the walking tour, you may like a bite to eat or a drink. Why not enjoy a little something from the kiosk or a nice lunch from the Karlsö restaurant? Wherever you want to sit down, indoors or outdoors, you will be sure to find a spot with a glorious view!
The kiosk offers hot and cold drinks, cakes, ice-cream and various snacks.
The restaurant serves lunch as well as dinner and breakfast for overnight visitors.
Lunch, today’s special: 12.30-14.00
Dinner: 18.00- (to be booked in advance)
For more information – please call us: +46 (0)76-622 59 99 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Many visitors to Stora Karlsö choose to stay for a night or two. This is a way of getting to know the island and explore its charms. Visit the Ancylus cave ”Stora Förvar” and find the traces of man. Have a look inside the museum. Take a leisurely walk around the island and admire the sunset. All is quiet, the breeze gentle, the air mild and the water crystal clear. You may even consider taking a quick dip instead of your morning shower.
There is a traditional hostel where you can stay. In fact the one on Stora Karlsö was appointed hostel of the year in 2003 by the Swedish Tourist Association. You might even like to stay in the old lighthouse or the former living quarters of the lighthouse keeper, where the standard is higher and room service is included in the price. Bed-linen and towels are included in all prices.
Whether you stay overnight or just for the day a guided tour is definitely something to be recommended.
|Prices – The old lighthouse / the former living quarters of the lighthouse keeper||SEK each night|
|Adults||From 1165 SEK/room|
|Prices – The Sea House||SEK each night|
|Adults, Double room/Twin-bedded room||From 1195 SEK/room|
|Prices – The Hostel||SEK each night|
|Adults, single room||From 480 SEK/room|
|Adults, Double room/Twin-bedded room||From 940 SEK/room|
A bird restriction area covers the coastline of the island, except for the beaches in Norderhamn and Hien, from 15 March until 15 Aug. The bird restriction area is marked with yellow signs. Dogs and other pets are not allowed and all fossils must remain on the island.
Do you offer guided tours in English?
We strive to offer our visitors all information in English and also to offer the tour in English. If we do there are not enough English speaking visitors to form a separate group, you will be offered to join a Swedish tour with a booklet in English.
Can I use a credit card on the island?
Is there a restaurant?
Yes. Our restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also find beverages, ice cream and snacks and souvenirs in the café.
Can I bring my dog?
No. Dogs, cats and other pets are not allowed on the island.
Can I bring a stroller or a wheel chair?
Yes, but be aware that accessibility is limited due to the rocky terrain . You cannot walk the guide path with a stroller or wheelchair, but you can reach Norderhamn (where the boat arrives). ”Off-road” strollers can also push a stroller on the gravel road (which runs from Norderhamn to the lighthouse). In Norderhamn there are concrete paths leading from the boat up to the restaurant, the museum and a handicap toilet.
Can I fly a drone on the island?
No. A flight restriction area covers Stora and Lilla Karlsö from 15 March until 15 August and flying with drones is not allowed during this period. Moreover, it is not allowed to start or land any airborne equipment (aircraft, helicopter, drone) without permission from the County Council (Länsstyrelsen Gotlands län). Please note that our promotional video was shot off season and with due permission.