Photo: VisitOSLO/Didrick Stenersen
Fjord Tours Articles / 15 Feb 2022

The History of Norwegian Vikings

Though the Vikings lived long ago, their strong legacy lives on and there’s no shortage of interest in their history and traditions. There are plenty of ways for interested travellers to experience Viking life and traditions in modern Norway. For history buffs and families with kids, a trip to Norway is a fantastic way to explore Viking history – all over the country, you’ll find museums, tours, Viking villages and more just waiting to be discovered.

VIKINGBÅT Gudvangen Viking Market Krystkowiak Photography.1200X627

When did Vikings exist?

The period we refer to as the Viking Age lasted from around AD 800 to 1050. Vikings had settlements of small farming communities dotted around the Scandinavian countries where a handful of families would live in traditional Viking longhouses.

After a long period of Viking expansion abroad, the Viking era ran its course. The year 1066 is often considered the end of the Viking Age as Harald Hardrada was defeated at the Battle of Stamford Bridge during the final Viking invasion of England in 1066. After this defeat, there were no more Viking raids. By the early 11th century, the Scandinavian kingdoms were Christian, making the pagan Viking culture obsolete.

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Photo: Ørjan B Iversen

Where do Vikings come from?

The origin of Vikings was in the Nordic countries. Their homelands were what we now know as Scandinavia, but the countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark didn’t come into existence until the end of the Viking era.

Evidence of Viking settlements has been found all over the Nordic countries. Though the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish Vikings were separate groups living in different areas, they all shared certain common features and would sometimes form alliances with each other. These Scandinavian seafaring warriors would travel near and far on their distinctive Viking longships, raiding villages, trading goods, and much more.

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Photo: Berge/Knoff/Natural Light/Visitnorway.com

What is the history of Vikings in Norway?

For many people around the world, Norway is the country of Vikings, and Vikings have a long and interesting history in Norway and abroad.

Vikings are generally presented in history and in popular culture as brutal warriors destroying everything in their path, burning villages, plundering and killing – and there’s plenty of evidence for this interpretation of Vikings. However, the truth may be more nuanced, as there’s also evidence of Vikings traveling for the purpose of amicable trading and bartering with other people.

Norwegian Vikings were known for being excellent boat builders and sailors. The Vikings traveled extensively around the world, and they wouldn’t have been able to reach faraway shores if it hadn’t been for their fantastic craftsmanship and ingenuity when it came to their Viking longships.

There’s no doubt that seafaring Vikings were pioneers, brave and adventurous – they set sail for distant lands with no knowledge of what awaited them at foreign shores. At home in Norway and the other Scandinavian countries, Viking communities were generally peaceful, with the main focus being on farmwork, fishing, and boat building.

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Photo: Victor B Lyyvakvhi/ Unsplash

Do Vikings still exist?

Though Vikings are no longer around, Viking culture, history and tradition is alive and well, and there are plenty of opportunities to explore Norway’s strong Viking past today. Viking traditions are brought to life in the dedicated Viking villages dotted around Norway, and there are a number of fantastic museums that focus on Viking history as well.

The history of the Norwegian Vikings is interesting to locals as well as travelers. If you’re spending time in the capital, Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum is a fantastic place to start. Here, visitors can see the world’s most well-preserved Viking vessels, such as the Oseberg, Gokstad, and Tune longships. If you’re in the north of Norway, the Lofotr Viking Museum located on the stunning Lofoten Islands gives visitors the chance to check out the biggest Viking age longhouse in the world and gain valuable insight into how the Vikings lived.

You can still find modern-day Vikings in the fascinating and unique living history Viking Villages dotted around Norway. Here, kids and adults of all ages can get a taste of true Viking life. The lively Njardarheimr Viking Village in Gudvangen on the picturesque Nærøyfjord is one of the most popular Viking attractions in Norway – and you can visit this unique place on our legendary Norway in a nutshell® tour.

Another great option for those looking to connect to their inner Viking is to visit the well-known Viking Farm at Avaldsnes on the island of Karmøy in Rogaland. This popular Viking-era settlement offers plenty of insight into Viking history and tradition, with guided tours, a history centre and fun activities for kids and adults.

 

Check out some Viking Activities!

Njardarheimr Viking Village in Gudvangen

Join in on an exciting and incredible journey which will take you back over a thousand years in time! The brand new Viking Village in Gudvangen is a perfect place to spend a day with the whole family!

Winter Tour to Trolltunga

Trolltunga is one of Norway's most spectacular, and photographed places. The rock formation hanging 1,100 meters over the Ringdalsvatnet lake is, literarily, a breathtaking view. In winter this place is even more fascinating, and going on a winter hike to Trolltunga is an experience of a lifetime!

Heritage fjord safari and Viking Dinner in Flåm

Join in on a fjord adventure for the whole family and get close to nature in the heart of Fjord Norway! Experience a RIB-boat tour on the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord, followed by a delicious dinner at Ægir Brewpub in Flåm!

Winter fjord safari and viking dinner in Flam

Join in on a soft adventure suitable for the whole family, and get closer to nature in the heart of Fjord Norway – the UNESCO listed Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. The RIB-boat tour is followed by a delicious dinner at Ægir Brewpub in Flåm!

The Viking trail-Sverrestigen from Voss

Join in on a historical hike on the Sverrestigen Viking trail through the beautiful Raundalen valley. Raundalen is a 25km long valley that stretches from the landmark of Rastalii, all the way to Upsete. Thanks to its wild nature and interesting history, Raundalen is the perfect valley for hiking; a rare gem, just a few minutes out of Voss!

Snowshoe hiking and Ægir Viking dinner in Flam

Come and experience the Norwegian winter on snowshoes! After an amazing trip to Stegastein viewpoint, you can enjoy a delicious dinner at Ægir Brewpub in Flåm!

Trolltunga Sunset Go Viking tour

This year we invite you to “Go Viking”, to explore a new season, join in on a new unique Trolltunga hiking adventure! “Go Viking” to Trolltunga.