The interest in the Vikings has reached an all-time high over the last years. From newly discovered ships to living villages and high-tech exhibitions – here are some of Norway’s top Viking sites.
Published: 20 May 2019
Travel back in time and explore authentic ships and treasures, as well as brand-new 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 recreated as open-air museums throughout the country. Here are the main Viking attractions in Norway – from south to north.
Norway’s newest Viking attractions, which opened its doors in June, is a 1600 square metre state-of-the-art interactive entertainment centre located in 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 the Norwegian Vikings like never before!
The Historical Museum in Oslo houses a new Viking exhibition, Víkingr, containing exquisite objects from the Norwegian Viking Age. Another must-see is The Viking Ship Museum on the Bygdøy peninsula just outside Oslo’s city centre. 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.
In recent years, archaeologists have uncovered two new Viking ships in the Oslo region, creating headlines all over the world. The latest finding 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 different aspects of Viking traditions.
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, an exact copy of the world famous Oseberg ship, built by volunteers of the Oseberg Viking Heritage Foundation. If you travel to the Kaupang Viking town in Larvik, you can experience Norway’s first urban settlement from the Viking age.
All three museums are located within a one-hour drive from Oslo.
All Viking fans have an extra reason to visit Fjord Norway this year. At the brand-new 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. By using VR-technology, the museum recreates the exciting life that the Vikings from the region lived. Only a few kilometres from here, by the Hafrsfjord, you can witness the impressive monument Swords in rock (Sverd i fjell). This was the location where 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 areas of cultural history. 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 get a glimpse of authentic Viking culture as it unfolds on the mainland. The Viking Farm is designed based on archaeological findings in the county. At Nordvegen History Centre you can learn more about the chieftains and kings that ruled at Avaldsnes for 3000 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, showing how the Vikings lived 1000 years ago when Gudvangen got its name. The 400 Vikings living here have unique knowledge about the Viking life, and happily invite you to participate.
When it comes to Norwegian Viking history, one cannot forget Stiklestad in Trøndelag county. The place 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 the definitive breakthrough of 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 the whole year and offers exhibitions, events, and fun activities. The Folk Museum at Stiklestad comprises of around 30 buildings, most from the 17- and 1800s. During different annual events, the buildings are brought to life with people, activities, music, and more.
Spectacular traces of Viking life are also found further north in Norway – among them the remains of the longest building discovered from the period.
At Borg on the island 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 this was home to a wealthy and powerful clan back in the day.
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, a market, competitions, theatre, concerts, and more.
A Viking was a tradesman, farmer, or sea warrior from the Nordic countries during the Viking era, which lasted from approximately year 800 to 1050. They participated in expeditions and raids in Western and Eastern Europe to trade with other people, settle in new countries, plunder, and bring goods back home.
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 in a Viking ship, or go all the way and be a Viking for a day.
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