Interest in the Vikings has reached an all-time high in recent years. From newly discovered ships to living villages and high-tech exhibitions – here are some of Norway’s top Viking sites.
Travel back in time and explore authentic ships and treasures, as well as modern Viking experience centres filled with cutting-edge technology. Attend a Viking festival or challenge your inner Viking in one of the many villages that have been built as open-air museums throughout the country. Here are the main Viking attractions in Norway – from south to north.
In June 2019, a 1600 square metre state-of-the-art interactive entertainment centre opened in the city centre of Oslo. With ground-breaking virtual technology, high-end film productions, and a 270-degree cinema, The Viking planet is the first of its kind in Norway. Step back in time and experience Norwegian Vikings like never before!
The Viking Ship Museum on the Bygdøy peninsula just outside Oslo’s city centre has long been the most popular Viking museum to visit. Here, the three preserved Viking ships found in Norway – Oseberg, Tune and Gokstad – are exhibited. They are ranked among the world’s best-preserved vessels from the era. Unfortunately, the museum is temporarily closed for construction of the new, more modern Viking Age Museum. The new museum is scheduled to open in 2025/26. In the meantime, you can visit The Historical Museum in Oslo, which contains exquisite objects from the Viking Age.
In recent years, archaeologists have discovered two new Viking ships in the Oslo region, creating headlines around the world. The latest find was in Horten in Vestfold in 2019. Vestfold is also home to several museums where you can dive into Viking history. At Midgard Viking Centre in Horten, you can visit the magnificent Gildehallen, a reconstruction of one of the Viking Age's largest halls, and see exhibitions that show many aspects of Viking life.
In the Viking hall at The Slottsfjell Museum in Tønsberg, you can experience Norway's fourth best-preserved Viking ship, the Klåstad ship, discovered in 1970. In Tønsberg harbour, you can see, and maybe even sail aboard, an exact replica of the world-famous Oseberg ship, built by volunteers of the Oseberg Viking Heritage Foundation. At the Kaupang Viking town in Larvik, you can experience Norway’s first urban settlement from the Viking Age.
All three museums are located just a one-hour drive from Oslo.
Viking fans have lots to look forward to in Fjord Norway. At the modern Viking museum Sagastad in Nordfjordeid, visitors can explore the 30-metre-long Myklebust ship, enjoy interactive exhibitions, and learn more about the region’s proud Viking history.
Viking house, located in the heart of Stavanger, is another groundbreaking concept. The museum uses VR technology to recreate the exciting life that the Vikings from the region once lived. Only a few kilometres away, by the Hafrsfjord, you can visit the impressive monument Swords in Stone (Sverd i fjell in Norwegian). This was the site where King Harald Fairhair united all of Norway into one kingdom in 872.
Avaldsnes on the island of Bukkøya near Haugesund is one of Norway’s most important historical places. Here, the first king of Norway, Harald Fairhair, had one of his seats during what many consider to be the golden age of the Vikings. Today, you can see authentic Viking culture as it unfolds in real life on the mainland, or join a digital historical tour using the "Time Travel" app. The Viking Farm was designed on the basis of archaeological discoveries made in the county. At Nordvegen History Centre, you can learn more about the chieftains and kings that ruled at Avaldsnes for 3,000 years. The museum tells the story of how Avaldsnes became the first royal seat of Norway.
Another highlight is the Viking village Njardarheimr in Gudvangen near Flåm, where you can experience how the Vikings lived 1,000 years ago, when Gudvangen was first founded. The 400 Vikings living here have unique knowledge about Viking life, and are more than happy to invite you to learn and take part.
When it comes to Norwegian Viking history, one cannot forget Stiklestad in Trøndelag county. The site is famous for the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030, where the Christian Viking king Olav Haraldsson – later known as St. Olav – fell at the hands of local chieftains. He later became the patron saint of Norway. The battle marked the consolidation of Norway and a definitive breakthrough for Christianity.
This battle is recreated every July as an outdoor theatre event called “The St. Olav Drama”. The re-enactment coincides with the traditional celebration of Olsok, a festival full of story-telling, concerts, food, markets, and everything else you need to travel back in time and feel like a true Viking.
Stiklestad National Culture Centre is open year round and offers exhibitions, events, and fun activities. The Folk Museum at Stiklestad comprises around 30 buildings, mostly from the 1700s and 1800s. The buildings are brought to life with people, activities, music, and more at a variety of events held there throughout the year.
Spectacular remnants of Viking life are also found further north in Norway, including the remains of the longest building discovered from the period.
Located at Borg on the island of Vestvågøya in Lofoten, this 83-metre long structure has been restored and now hosts the Lofotr Viking Museum. The museum exhibits objects such as imported glass, gold and ceramics – artefacts that suggest that the area was once home to a wealthy and powerful clan.
Take part in a Viking feast, row a Viking ship, shoot a traditional bow and arrow or try setting up a timber frame building. Lofotr is a living museum offering fun, interactive experiences for Viking buffs of all ages.
Every year in August, Borg hosts a five-day Viking festival featuring more than 100 Vikings from near and far, and includes a market, competitions, theatre, concerts, and more.
The Vikings were tradesmen, farmers, seafarers, traders, and warriors from the Nordic countries during the Viking Era, which lasted from approximately 800 CE to 1050 CE. Vikings embarked on expeditions to other parts of Europe and beyond to trade and form new settlements, but also to plunder.
Harald Fairhair (850–932)
The first monarch to reign over a significant part of Norway. According to legend, he refused to cut his hair before he was the sole king of Norway.
Eirik Bloodaxe (885–954)
King of Norway from 933 to 935. The name Bloodaxe is said to be derived from his early participation in Viking raids.
Håkon the Good (918–961)
King of Norway from the 930s to 960. Used his educational experiences from England to unite larger parts of the country, more than his brother Eirik Bloodaxe managed to do.
Olav Tryggvason (963–1000)
King of Norway from 995 to 1000. His main deed as a king was to convert large parts of his kingdom from the Norse to the Roman Catholic religion.
Olav Haraldsson, (later St. Olav) (993–1030)
King of Norway from 1015 to 1028. He was a warrior leader in England and France before he returned to Norway. Olaf saw it as his call to unite Norway into one Christian kingdom. Patronised after his death in the Battle of Stiklestad on 29 July 1030.
Magnus the Good (1024–1047)
King of Norway from 1035 to 1047. His reign benefited from decreasing levels of brutality and the Vikings’ desire to re-establish the monarchy.
Harald Hardrada (1015–1066)
King of Norway from 1045 to 1066. The first year, he reigned together with Magnus the Good. He died in the battle of Stamford Bridge while attempting to attack England, thus marking the end of the Viking Period.
Visit historical sites, take a sea voyage onboard a Viking ship, or go all out and be a Viking for a day!
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