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Norwegian Vikings

Shipbuilders and state founders
The Viking legacy is strong in Norway, with many fascinating artefacts, museums, tours, and living villages throughout the country.
Two Vikings in front of the Viking chieftains longhouse at Lofotr Viking Museum, Norway
Lofotr Viking Museum in Lofoten.
Photo: Kjell Ove Storvik / Lofotr Vikingmuseum

What would have been the equivalent of today's cutting edge technology a thousand years ago? The fast-moving Viking ships, perhaps? These advanced vessels helped build cultural coherence in Europe, and were crucial to unifying the Norse tribes into a state.

The Vikings put their mark on Northern Europe forever, and the many remnants of their culture can transform your holiday into an adventure.

Viking history and culture

The Viking Age began in the year of 793 with an attack on the Lindisfarne monastery in England, which is the first known Viking raid. The event that marks the end of their glory days is the slaying of King Harald Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.

Viking throne with man and woman dressed as vikings in the Lofotr Viking Museum in Lofoten, Northern Norway
Lofoten.
Photo: CH / Visitnorway.com
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Viking warriors

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Peaceful tradesmen and mead drinkers

The Vikings are mostly known for their relentless pillaging, and rightly so. At the same time, many of them lived peacefully as traders and farmers, and many expeditions were based on barter deals. Those who stayed home supported their families through simple farming activities. Their daily life might have been tough and demanding, but was not without joy. The most well-known Viking drink is mead (mjød in Norwegian), an alcoholic beer-like brew sweetened with honey.

The end of the Viking Age

The explorers brought their cultural identity to continental Europe, while importing foreign culture, languages and knowledge. By the 1100s, the Vikings were in decline due to a combination of domestic disputes and resistance from other European countries, which had learnt the painful lesson that they needed to defend themselves against attacks by building fortifications.

Viking ships

On a good day, the rowers could move as quickly as 15 to 17 knots.

The swiftness of the Viking ships is key to understanding how these warriors could gain such sudden and surprising momentum. Their maritime innovations provided a link between the north and Southern Europe, which had a strong impact on the continent.

Innovative ship design

The design of the Vikings’ iconic vessels, called longships, was adopted by several other cultures and influenced shipbuilding for centuries. Briefly described, the method involves overlapping planks of oak that are nailed together and protected by layers of tarred wool and sometimes animal hair.

The secret behind the fast-moving longship is its long, narrow hull, kept stable by a keel. Light enough to be carried, it was designed for speed and easy navigation in shallow waters. The longship was double-ended, allowing it to reverse direction without the need to turn. This was a significant advantage in a sea filled with concealed icebergs and sea ice.

Longships had oars along almost the entire length of the vessel, with later versions adding sails.

Gokstad ship in The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo
Oslo.
Photo: Johan Berge / Visitnorway.com

Multipurpose vessels

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The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo

Here, you can get up close close the world’s best preserved Viking vessels and breathe in the scent of the tar from the Oseberg ship, the Gokstad ship, and the Tune ship, which still remains in the air after more than 1,000 years.

Female power

What role did women play in Viking history?

Women are said to have had a stronger position in Viking society than in most other parts of Europe. They usually had the right to divorce, and if their spouse passed away, they would inherit his estate and retain ownership of his belongings. They had partial legal protection against sexual harassment. A woman was respected as the head of the farm when her husband was away, which he could be for a long time. Today’s fascination with Viking culture is not only based on their image as relentless seafaring warriors, but also a result of their way of life and role in developing a new and more modern society.

Take advantage of top offers

See our selection of companies that work hard to make you happy all through your trip.

Go on a Viking tour

Visit historical sites, take a sea voyage in a Viking ship, or go all the way and be a Viking for a day.

Viking experiences
Viking Biking & Hiking offers tours - both by bike and on foot. Read more
Viking Biking & Hiking
Explore the Viking Age with all senses at Norway's first digital Viking museum Read more
The Viking Planet
Midgard Vikingsenter was opened in 2000 with the purpose of promoting Vestfold's Viking heritage. Read more
Midgard vikingsenter
Approxomately 20 minutes walk from Nordvegen history centre, through beautiful cultural landscapes, on a small forested island, you will find the… Read more
The Viking Settlement at Avaldsnes
Viking House is a groundbreaking concept. For the first time, we get a Virtual Reality based world-class visitor centre to tell the Viking history of… Read more
Viking House
The world's most important discovery from the Viking era was made just outside Tønsberg in 1904; The discovery of the famous Oseberg viking ship. Read more
The Viking Ship Saga Oseberg
Hostel with modern rooms and apartments by the Vikingskipet arena Read more
Hamar Vandrerhjem Vikingskipet
Play like the vikings! Experiences for the whole family. At the medieval farm Stiklastadir, the children can join the play battle, you can shoot with… Read more
"Stiklestad Summer"
At Avaldsnes, you can be "Viking for a day". Dress up like a Viking and experience what life was like in the Viking age. What did Vikings eat, and how… Read more
Viking for a day at Avaldsnes
Hamar Hostel offers conference facilities for both small and large groups. Our meeting facilities include rooms which seats 28 and 30 persons… Read more
Hamar Hostel Vikingskipet
Vikingegarden Maurenga is situated approx. 2 km west of Gardermoen. The building, interior and food, etc., are all based on the Viking theme. Read more
Vikingegarden Maurenga
An impressive reconstruction of the largest longhouse that has been found dating back to the Viking Age. Read more
Lofotr Vikingmuseum
The Vikingship Gaia, a replica of the Gokstad ship, was built in Sunnmøre in 1990. The ship is 23.55 metres long and 5.25 metres wide with a height of… Read more
The Vikingship Gaia
Travel back to the age of the Vikings and discover what life was really like back in the day. Catch a glimpse inside the Viking kingdom and experience… Read more
In the Homeland of the Vikings with GuideCompaniet
The Viking Chieftain and the Lady of the House welcome you to a delicious meal in the impressive Feast Hall. Read more
Join us for a Viking feast
Reconstructed settlement from the Viking Bronze Age. Fertility labyrinth, archery and story-telling. Read more
Bronseplassen Viking experiences
Janheim is a  local centre focusing on the cultural landscape and history of Jøa. The viking long house Janheim is a 26 meter long… Read more
Janheim - viking /iron age longhouse on Jøa
With fantastic views of water, waterfalls, mountains, fjord, and glaciers, you will find Vikinghaug Apartments in Odda. The guests live in large,… Read more
Vikinghaug Apartments
The world's most important find from the Viking Age was made just outside Tønsberg in 1904, the famous Oseberg ship. Read more
Vikingodden
Kaupang Viking town is open during the summer season. Learn about the history of the Vikings' life in Kaupang town. Learn something new and experience… Read more
Kaupang Viking Town
See the fjord from a bird's eye view with Snow Shoes on, and end the day on the Ægir BrewPub with Viking-inspired food and drink. Read more
Snowshoe Hike & Ægir Viking dinner
Let the family enjoy an activity together in Nordfjordeid’s unique Viking-Warrior climbing gym at Hamna Activity Centre. Hamna Activity center have… Read more
Viking Warrior | Activity center
The Irish Viking is pub located in Haugesund city centre next to well-known statue "the fishermens". Read more
The Irish Viking
Feel the magic and the thrill of the ceremony of sacrifice to the Gods to avoid Ragnarok – the Last Days! Will Volva the Prophetess make signs… Read more
Viking feast & Northern light
Historic day trip for groups Join us on an exciting journey and discover the secrets of Nidarosdomen combined with "etargilde" in the long house… Read more
"Olav - Viking and Saintly King"
In the center of Tromsø you will find the Enter Viking Hotel. Read more
Enter Tromsø Viking Hotel
A RIB takes you on a trip to Harstads archipelago to see the empire of famous Viking Chieftain, Tore Hund. Read more
Viking Chieftain Tore Hunds Empire
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