The Vikings of Norway
The Viking era in Norway lasted just 250 years, from about 800 AD to 1066. Yet, the cultural influence of the Vikings, as well as their legacy, is well-preserved in present-day Norway. In fact, You’ll find the cultural traces of the Vikings around every corner in Norway, from historic sites to Viking museums and festivals.
On yacht charters in Norway, you can’t help but explore the mystery and mystique of the Vikings. If you’re interested in Viking history, check out our list of top Viking heritage sites, as well as an overview of Viking history.
Who Were the Vikings?
The Vikings were seafaring pirates and colonizers who raided large swathes of Europe throughout 800-1066 AD. Vikings, which translates roughly to “pirate” in Scandinavian languages, were driven from their homes due to overpopulation, high tax burdens and food shortages. Consequently, they took to the seas, seeking adventure, fortune and new lands to farm.
Norwegian Vikings included a diverse group of people. Many were farmers, but once they took to the seas they became pillagers and raiders. They formed bands of conquering armies that colonized areas including Iceland, Ireland (in fact, the Vikings founded Dublin), England, Greenland, and they were the first to sail to “Vinland” (the United States).
The Vikings were effective sailors and fearsome warriors, but they were also merchants, seeking wealth throughout Europe. In fact, the image of the bloodthirsty Viking isn’t entirely accurate. As merchants, they traded widely in Europe, as well as in the Byzantine Empire and present-day Iraq, and many were peaceful traders.
Ultimately, the Vikings expanded their territory and wealth throughout the era. But at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, King Harold Godwinson of England repelled the Norman army from England, which marked the end of the Viking Age.
Viking Cultural Sites in Norway
Today, there are numerous historical sites, Viking museums and ruins in Norway, where visitors can explore the history of the Viking Age. From Oslo, to the Bygdoy peninsula and the fjordlands, these are some of the best places to visit.
Viking Ship Museum
The immensity of Viking vessels is on full display at this museum situated on the Bygdoy peninsula, near downtown Oslo. The museum features full-sized ships, as well as treasure and other artifacts, which were recovered near Oslo. Through interactive exhibits, the museum brings the rich history of the Viking Age to life, and it’s a must stop for any history-seeking traveler.
Reached by the Naeroyfjord, Vikingvalley is nestled into a picturesque valley with sheer cliffs on either side. The village is a living museum, a replica of Njardarheimr, a lively Viking village that was a primary outpost during the Viking Age. The village brings the history to life. Visitors can meet with the “villagers” and the “chief,” or try their hand at Viking games.
An added benefit: The Naeroyfjord is a UNESCO site, one of the narrowest arms of the Sognefjord, making this a favorite stop on Norway yacht charters.
Tonsberg Viking Festival
The coastal village of Tonsberg is south of Oslo, and it’s Norway’s oldest town. Once a thriving Viking trade hub, today Tonsberg is home to Vikingfestival, a weekend-long fest in September. The festival has it all: Replica Viking ships, food and traditional Norwegian music. Even if you miss the festival, you can still see the replica of the ship, Saga Oseberg, which is on display year-round.
Tonsberg is a favorite spot to travel to on the Oslofjord, and it’s known for its cozy pubs and eateries.
Lofotr Viking Museum
Located on Vestvagoya island, the Lofotr Viking Museum is one of the best archeological sites in Norway. The museum is home to the “Chieftains house,” a massive Viking structure. The site is also home to replica ships, as well as demonstrations by blacksmiths and battle reenactments.
Many choose to visit in August, when the museum hosts the Lofotr Viking Festival.
Lillesand Bronze Square Viking Market
You’ll find the Bronseplassen Vikingmarked (Bronze Square Viking Market) in Lillesand, on Norway’s southern coast. Inspired by a Bronze Age Viking market, the site features replica Viking longhouses, as well as exhibits of Viking Age fashion. If you go in the summer, a local Viking club puts on fun festivals, where you can enjoy Viking Age food, arts and crafts, as well as take a battle reenactment.
Urnes Stave Church
Although not specifically a Viking site, the Urnes Stave Church, which sits on the Lusterfjord, is a must-see UNESCO site. The church is famed for its ornate wood carvings of animals, which were influenced by Viking techniques. The church, one of Norway’s best preserved stave churches, is a must see on a fjord charter in Norway.
Oslo Medieval Festival
The annual Oslo Middelalderfestival, held at the end of May, is a celebration of Viking heritage. With vibrant arts and crafts markets, as well as jugglers, jesters and chieftains in full Viking Age garb, the festival brings history to life. Not to mention, it’s held at the Akershus Fortress, one of Oslo’s most revered landmarks, making this a must-visit.
Exploring Norway on a Yacht Charter
Many of the Viking Age sites are located on Norway’s beautiful fjords. Plan a multi-day itinerary in the country’s Western fjords, which feature numerous UNESCO heritage sites and Viking ruins. A few must-visit locations include:
Bergen – This picturesque coastal village dazzles with its colorful houses. A UNESCO site, the village is also home to the Maritime Museum, where you can immerse yourself in Viking history.
Geiranger Fjord – A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Geirangerfjord is home to many natural spectacles including the Seven Sisters waterfall and the “Troll’s Path” mountain road. The fjord is a favorite filming location for films and TV shows set in the Viking Age.
Flam – A favorite destination on Norway charters, Flam is located near Vikingvalley, and it’s also home to a traditional Viking pub, the Aegir BrewPub, where you can sample Viking fare.
Avaldsnes – Home to a replica Viking Farm, this tiny forested island is where King Olav Tryggvason was believed to be drowned by a group of Viking Age wizards and sorcerers. The site includes a Viking boathouse, as well as smaller outbuildings and hiking trails.
Plan your Norway luxury yacht charter with Worldwide Boat. Contact your broker today to learn more about itineraries in Norway.