To passionate followers of Viking history and culture, travelling in the footsteps of the Vikings is an unforgettable experience. There are things that can’t be experienced through books and articles alone. Since we can’t travel back in time, the best way to feel and understand the era is visiting Viking museums, chasing that awe-inspiring experience.
One must always keep in mind that the Vikings did not write down their own history. Their enemies, on the other hand, included it in their chronicles, which would explain the one-dimensional association of Vikings with pillaging, raping, and destruction. It would be false to claim that the Vikings weren’t guilty of the latter in some cases, but they were so much more than that. What better way to set the record straight whilst expanding your knowledge about Viking culture and history? In this post, we’ll discuss some of the best museums out there focusing on the Vikings.
Viking Ship Museum in Oslo
Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum is part of the University Museum of Culture and it is situated at the Bygdøy peninsula (just 10 minutes away from Oslo city center). The Gokstad Ship (the Tune Ship) and the Oseberg Ship are the main attractions of this museum, are the best-preserved Viking ships known. The museum also exhibits numerous artefacts that have been found in Borre (the chief grave). Plenty of household goods and tools can be observed here, and they will definitely offer you a better insight into the day to day life of Vikings.
Museum website: http://www.khm.uio.no/english/visit-us/viking-ship-museum/
Opening hours: from 1 May – 30 September 09:00 – 18:00 and from 1 October – 30 April 10:00 – 16:00
Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark
The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark hosts five massive Viking ships (reconstructed), that date from around 1000 AD. They have been excavated in the nearby fjord, and Viking culture and history specialists have carefully reconstructed them. Temporary exhibits are often organized and sailing trips. You can sail out with reconstructed and reconditioned Viking ships or with traditional Nordic boats (descendants of those built by the Vikings) on Roskilde Fjord every day, with pre-booked tickets (the museum offers special discounts for corporate groups, school children, and international visitor groups).
Museum website: https://www.vikingeskibsmuseet.dk/en/visit-the-museum/
Opening hours: 10:00 – 16:00 (10.00 – 17.00 for summer and holidays)
Jorvik Viking Centre - North Yorkshire, UK
After you visit the Jorvik Centre, you will certainly agree that it is more than a museum; you could easily say that it is a time travel machine. Bringing the history alive with smells, sights and original, well-preserved artefacts from the Viking era, this museum will allow you to dive in back in time and get a glimpse of the real life of Vikings.
With more than 250,000 pottery pieces and 40,000 objects, this museum is built on a key part of the old city of Jorvik and it allows visitors to discover and observe the walls of the historic city. Combining old artefacts with modern technology, the Jorvik Viking Centre offers its visitors an authentic experience of the Viking culture and history. This place truly is the best destination for anyone with an interest in the Viking era.
Museum website: https://www.jorvikvikingcentre.co.uk/
Opening hours: April – October: 10am-5pm and November –March: 10am-4pm
Lofotr Viking Museum in Borg, Norway
This is the place to visit if you want an in-depth experience of Vikings’ daily life. This museum was built around one of the 15 chiefdoms that the Vikings settled in this area, around 500 AD. The largest Viking building in Europe has been brought up by excavations, reconstructed and now allows its visitors to observe how Vikings lived, more than a thousand years ago. Broth and mead are daily served here during summer in the banquet hall and you can personally row a Viking ship. For a more authentic experience, you can book in advance tickets for dinners (served by Viking costumed specialists): wild boar and lamb and Viking chef’s specialities, and they come along with the traditional mead.
Museum website (opening hours and fees): http://www.lofotr.no
Ribe Viking Centre - Ribe, Denmark
This museum reveals numerous archaeological findings that allow visitors to deepen their understanding of trade and agriculture in the Viking culture and about craftsmanship.
The Ribe Centre recreates a Viking ship, a market and a longhouse (10th century), interconnected with five other buildings. Also, a church has been recreated in the 10th-century style, marking Christianity’s arrival in the Viking culture. This museum also features a themed playground for children, and you can meet Ribe inhabitants, such as the blacksmith or the baker.
Museum website (opening hours and fees): https://www.ribevikingecenter.dk/
L’Anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland
Vikings landed in Newfoundland five centuries before Christopher Columbus and they established a settlement that remained as the only Viking site (authenticated) on the American continent.
The visitors can observe the archaeological remains of this Viking settlement and visit the artefacts exhibitions, but the main attraction remains the recreated “village” where people with Viking costumes tell Norse legends and show visitors how to weave cloth, use swords and how to make nails.
Museum website: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/nl/meadows
Viking World - Keflavik, Iceland
The Viking World museum in Keflavik is the home of the Viking Ship The Icelander (Íslendingur), reconstructed in 1996 after the famous Gokstad ship. The Gokstad ship was found almost completely intact in 1882, in Norway. The Viking World also hosts the Viking millennium exhibition, an exhibition that allows
visitors to discover the Norse settlement and Viking explorations in unknown territories.
Celebrating Iceland’s role in North America’s discovery, the Viking World comprises wonderful and authentic artefacts and objects that allow visitors to better know the Viking culture. Hosted by a modern, spectacular building, the Viking World Museum is easy to spot when travelling between the international airport and Reykjavík.
Museum website: https://www.vikingworld.is/
Last, but not least, one of the best ways to dive into the Viking culture and history is participating at a Viking Festival. Organized in various locations across Northern Europe, these festivals draw visitors from all over the world and gather artisans, musicians, artists, storytellers, blacksmiths and Viking culture
specialists with the main purpose of keeping the Viking heritage alive.
Viking Villages and markets are recreated, people wear costumes resembling those worn
by the Vikings, crafting workshops and sword fighting demonstrations take place, storytelling and lectures from Norse sagas are organized, Viking bands perform during these festivals, and of course, there are also Viking feasts included in these festivals.
Visitors can purchase handmade Viking objects and furs, learn how to fight and tell Viking stories and can easily get a glimpse of the Viking daily life. Viking Festivals also include workshops dedicated to children, such as throwing spears, shooting with bows and arrows or wood-carving. Usually, at these festivals,
visitors can taste traditional Viking dishes such as smoked salmon and herring, smoked lamb, red cabbage, fried vegetables and the famous mead.