A brief history of Ljugarns Semesterby & Camping

Tourism and hospitality

Tourism and hospitality are now the main industry on Gotland, with agriculture and fishing taking more of a backseat role. Here on the east coast we have been welcoming visitors for quite some time, and are Gotland’s second oldest resort after Visby. Ljugarn’s first “tourists” found their way here as far back as 1887.

Built in 1955, Ljugarns Semesterby was the first resort of its kind on Gotland. The initiative came from three local men – Helmer Karlqvist, Birger Pettersson and Willy Gustavsson – and was preceded by a study visit to the mainland as holiday villages were such a new phenomenon in Sweden at the time.

Anna Gustavsson, a local girl who worked at Ljugarns Semesterby for 27 consecutive summer seasons from the time it opened, has many a story to tell. She explains that it was decided to locate the holiday village in a long stretch of woodland next to the beach, close to the village, and to the south of the old fishing hamlet of Vitvär.

Vitvär semesterby

Originally known as Vitvär Semesterby, the new holiday village was renamed Ljugarns Semesterby in 2004. With the beach so close at hand, and a post office, mini-market, bakery and many restaurants just a short walk away, the holiday village is as perfectly located as anyone could wish for.

A path running parallel to the road was built through the site, followed by 22 cabins on either side: 12 at 32 m2 and ten at 24 m2. All shared the same design: a living room with an open fireplace, two sleeping alcoves with bunk beds, a small kitchenette and a small hallway. Designed by Henning Bergström, the smaller cabins were erected on-site by Josef Björkman while the larger ones were built by Knut Sedersten and then transported to Ljugarn.

Once all of the cabins were on-site they were given their numbers which, for some unknown reason, started at 600! The colour scheme of yellow or red for the cabins’ exterior walls was chosen by well-known Gotland artist David Ahlqvist, and remains to this very day.

The interior of the cabins

The cabins were originally very simple. There was no electricity and each had just one oil lamp. The kitchen had a small and fairly hazardous gas burner, with a cement ring and metal lid buried outside by way of a fridge. Water was fetched from a single pump that served the entire site!

A new disabled-friendly service block with toilets, showers and a laundry room with washing machines was built at the southern end of the site in 1989, and it was here that the new reception/office was to be located. Drop by reception early in the morning to buy freshly baked bread and pastries, or later in the day for ice cream and other goodies. Nearby you will find the caravan site, which has 37 pitches, all with electricity. This delightful site is a firm favourite with our caravan guests.

Interior standard

Standards have improved over the years: electricity arrived in 1970, fridges were installed in every cabin and the cement ring was removed. Easy-to-launder duvets were acquired for the beds, and plastic mats went down on the floors. Of course, the old regulars moaned a bit as they missed the wide gaps between the floorboards that were just perfect for sweeping away the sand that came in from the beach…

Several more water stations sprang up around the village. Lampposts too. An asphalt path was put down between the site and the sandy beach, allowing people in wheelchairs to get to the sea more easily. An outdoor barbecue area was also built, just off the path.

Maintenance is an ongoing affair, and over the last 20 years the two leaseholders (Bjarne Abrahamsson and, more recently, Gunnar Wintland) have painted and repaired consistently to keep everything in good working order. The original roofing recommended by David Ahlqvist has now been replaced by waterproof metal sheet roofing.

Ljugarns Semesterby & camping

Since the very beginning Ljugarns Semesterby & Camping has been very popular, with many families returning year after year. In fact, one family came back every single year between 1955 and 2001… probably a record!

At full capacity we can accommodate around 100 guests in the cabins and nearly as many in caravans. During a particularly good summer it is not unusual to have a hundred or so tents on the campsite down by the beach. Bookings start early, and by February it is hard to get a place for the summer. The holiday village opens in May and closes on 15 September, even though the high season comes to an end around 15 August… not everyone realises that Gotland is fantastic in August and September too.

Modernizing the cabins

Now that Gotland Municipality has sold the cabins and the previous landowner has sold the land, the holiday village is entering a new era. The new owner intends to modernise the cabins by installing showers, toilets and a private decking area in each and every cabin. This is a sizeable project and will involve burying water and waste pipes, as well as electricity cables, around the site so that guests will no longer have to fetch water every day. There are also plans to add 20 or so more caravan pitches and to build a new service block to serve them.

The holiday village’s unique and fantastic location means that it can face the future with confidence, and old and new guests alike are in for a warm welcome from the new owner. Ljugarns Semesterby is a great choice for anyone coming to Gotland in the hope of finding self-catering accommodation in a peaceful and quiet setting… along with the option of walking to the pub and back. Forget about the car when you come to Ljugarn!