13 Great Viking Sites and Festivals in Norway

Where to Trace the Paths of Norse Gods and Kings

    Many Viking fans make their way to Oslo and the Bygdøy peninsula, where a variety of museums and historical sites put you up close to life-sized ships and medieval treasures. This guide on great Viking sites and festivals in Norway shows you where, and roughly when, to head out for a day of adventure – with a sense of stepping back in time to the Viking Age. 

    With its fjords and islands, there are also many other spots in Norway where you can trace the paths of Norse gods and kings. You can visit recreated Viking villages that are full of life with villagers and warriors in vibrant costumes. Some sites feature rebuilt old buildings while others still have treasures buried deep beneath the soil.

    1

    Viking Ship Museum

    Admire preserved Viking ships in all their glory

    The Viking Ship Museum is one of the best places in Norway for close observations of real, life-size Viking vessels, together with treasures and burial artefacts. Most of the items were discovered and exhumed from various sites around the Oslo Fjord. The museum also screens captivating documentaries that are both informative and entertaining.

    Located on the Bygdøy peninsula, the Viking Ship Museum is part of the Museum of Cultural History, which is overseen by the University of Oslo. This also means that you can visit both museums with a single ticket – for about 100 kr for adults and free for kids below 18.

    Location: Huk Aveny 35, 0287 Oslo, Norway

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +47 22 13 52 80

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    2

    Oslo Medieval Festival

    Hark back to Oslo in the Middle Ages

    Oslo Medieval Festival (or ‘Oslo Middelalderfestival’ if you want to sound Nordic) focuses on Oslo’s founding as the Norwegian capital between the Viking Age and Middle Ages. Since 1994, the festival is traditionally held over the last weekend of May at Oslo’s landmark Akershus Fortress.

    One of Norway’s colourful annual celebrations, you can uncover unique trinkets at the medieval market. Families can have a blast at the festival, with heaps of entertainment that range from crafts making, longbow shooting demos, and medieval music concerts. You can also catch open-air theatrical performances with historical re-enactments that feature warriors, jugglers and jesters in full Viking Age regalia.

    Location: Akershus Fortress, Bjerkebakken 67B, 0757 Oslo, Norway

    Open: May: last Friday–Sunday

    Phone: +47 926 12 692

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    photo by Anne-Sophie Ofrim (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    3

    Vikingvalley

    Enter a lively Viking town by the fjord

    The village of Gudvangen on the picturesque Nærøyfjord is home to Vikingvalley, a popular living museum modelled as a bustling Viking town called Njardarheimr. Set against breathtaking mountain scenery and the narrow fjord, the town brings the Viking Age to life through crafts and activities, which the whole family can engage in.

    Walking through the village streets, you can ask the ‘Viking chief’ or the ‘villagers’ about various aspects on display. You can even enter the village houses, learn fun Viking games, try a bit of longbow archery, or do some hammer and axe throwing outside (feeling like Thor while doing so). Tickets cost around 195 kr for adults and 98 kr for kids 4-15 years old.

    Location: Njardarheimr, 5747 Gudvangen, Norway

    Open: October–April: daily from 10.30am to 1.30pm. May–October: daily from 10am to 6pm

    Phone: +47 462 45 462

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    photo by יעקב (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    4

    Tønsberg Vikingfestival

    Celebrate Viking traditions in Norway’s oldest town

    The locals of Tønsberg – the oldest Norwegian town – celebrate their Viking heritage through Tønsberg Vikingfestival every year. They organise various food stalls at a Viking market, which reflects the town’s past as a thriving trade hub, together with theatrical shows and concerts.

    Tonsberg Vikingfestival is celebrated over a weekend in September. The festival also usually sees the replica of legendary Viking ship, Saga Oseberg, sailing into the harbour at the Outer Oslofjord – not far from the foregrounds of the Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum where the festival generally takes place.

    Location: St. Olavs gate 6, 3126 Tønsberg, Norway

    Open: September

    Phone: +47 915 83 585

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    photo by Karl Ragnar Gjertsen (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    5

    Nordvegen History Centre and Viking Settlement

    The site where the nation is said to have been born

    The Norwegian History Centre or the Nordvegen History Centre and Viking Settlement is a museum and interpretation centre in the village of Avaldsnes. The location is said to be where Viking chieftains used to control the Karmsundet strait, and from where most of the museum’s treasures were found.

    East from the facility is the lushly forested Bukkøy island, connected by a small bridge. The island is home to a Viking village that features a replica farm and carefully reproduced Viking Age longhouses. Also, check out the cool Viking-inspired merchandise at the centre, as well as the 13th-century St. Olav Church right next to it.

    Location: Kong Augvalds veg 103, 4262 Avaldsnes, Norway

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +47 52 81 24 00

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    photo by Colliekar (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    6

    Lofotr Viking Museum

    Home to a massive Viking chieftain’s house

    The Lofotr Viking Museum on the island of Vestvågøya showcases the archaeological finds of an 83-metre-long longhouse – one the largest Viking structures to have ever been discovered. The excavation site is slightly south from the museum’s current location.

    On your visit to Lofotr, you’ll be able to check out full-sized replicas of Viking ships. And like many other Viking sites in Norway, there’s a good chance you’ll see a variety of re-enactments taking place, from blacksmith demos to warrior battles. Lofotr Viking Festival, which takes place near the ship moorings every August, is a good chance to see the entire site come to life.

    Location: Vikingveien 539, 8360 Bøstad, Norway

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +47 76 15 40 00

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    photo by Sveter (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Borre Mounds and Midgard Historical Centre

    Explore extensive Viking burial grounds

    The lush grounds of Borre National Park, on the western banks of the Outer Oslofjord, are home to the Midgard Historical Centre and the Historical Borre Mounds – a vast Viking burial site. The centre often holds Viking seminars and festivals throughout the year.

    The Borre Mounds is a series of 7 massive graves and many other smaller burials. Some of these mounds contained Viking vessels dating back to the 7th century. Although it’s usually deemed okay, most visitors would avoid climbing over the mounds, simply out of respect. A scenic fjord is just past behind the woodlands.

    Location: Birkelyveien 9, 3184 Borre, Norway

    Phone: +47 33 07 18 50

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    photo by Bohuslen (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    8

    Viking Swords Monument

    Monumental selfie site by the fjord

    Sverd i fjell or ‘Swords in the Rock’ is a monumental site overlooking a fjord in Hafrsfjord. The stunning monument depicts 3 magnificent 10-metre-tall swords standing over the landscape. Erected in 1983, it commemorates the Battle of Hafrsfjord that took place between AD 872 and AD 900.

    A popular selfie spot for Viking fans, Sverd i fjell can get crowded over the peak summer months. Scenic bike routes and walking paths run along the fjord and bay areas, and the waters are also popular for swimming and sailing.

    Location: Møllebukta, 4044 Hafrsfjord, Norway

    Phone: +47 51 50 70 90

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    photo by Holger Uwe Schmitt (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    Stiklestad National Cultural Centre

    Enter a Viking battleground

    The Stiklestad National Cultural Centre occupies an area where one of Norway’s famous Viking battles, the Battle of Stiklestad, took place back in 1030. It’s the battle where King Olaf II was defeated, who was then declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church 134 years later.

    Like the famous Lofotr Viking Museum, the Stiklestad National Culture Centre features a reconstructed longhouse and other evocative Viking Age buildings. Other sites you can explore near the complex include the 12th-century Stiklestad Church and Saint Olav’s chapel. There are also the Stiklestad Cultural History Museum, an amphitheatre, a museum shop, and a restaurant where you can refuel throughout your day on the battlefield.

    Location: Leksdalsvegen 1, 7650 Verdal, Norway

    Open: Tuesday–Friday from 9am to 5pm, Saturday–Monday from 9am to 9pm

    Phone: +47 74 04 42 00

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    photo by Wolfmann (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    10

    St. Olav’s Way

    Take the pilgrimage of Viking chieftains

    Known by many other names such as Pilegrimsleden, the Pilgrim's Route, and Old Kings' Road, St. Olav’s Way is a route that diehard Viking fans can take through Trondheim in central Norway. The pilgrimage harks back to the Viking Age, connecting Oslo and the tomb of St. Olav at the 11th-century gothic cathedral of Nidaros Domkirke by the Nidelva River.

    Parts of this hiker’s journey traverse wonderful Norwegian landscapes and nature mixed together with a variety of historical places and tales of Viking triumphs along the way. There are many different side routes and starting points to choose from between the 2 cities.

    Location: Gamle Kongeveg, Trondheim 7340, Norway

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    11

    Kaupang Viking Town

    Treasures are still hidden beneath the soil

    Kaupang is an archaeological site near the town of Larvik, on the west bank of the Outer Oslofjord. It is the site of a former Viking town that dates back to AD 800. Various mini exhibitions are frequently held on site, with guides in full Viking costumes showing you around the burial sites and most of the unexcavated grounds.

    Check out the reconstructed Viking house built on the grounds. You can also find more about the ancient town and its layout through site models and you study how parts of it were excavated through exhibits that show all the archaeological methods used back in the days.

    Location: Kaupangveien 276, 3261 Larvik, Norway

    Phone: +47 906 22 744

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    12

    Trondenes Historical Center

    Enjoy medieval history through modern exhibits

    A visit to Trondenes Historical Center introduces you to modern exhibits that present Norwegian history in a fun and often interactive way. The Trondenes peninsula itself is a heritage landscape with a history that spans from the Viking Age through World War II.

    A series of multimedia shows with multisensory features tell the voyages and the Vikings’ way of life. Outside, you’ll find a courtyard housing a reconstructed Viking farm complete with old houses, livestock, and guides in Viking villager outfits from the early 2nd century who’ll show you all about the old ways.

    Location: Trondenesveien 122, 9404 Harstad, Norway

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +47 77 01 83 80

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    photo by Manxruler (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    13

    Bronze Square Viking Market

    Revisit a town from the Bronze Age

    Bronseplassen Vikingmarked (Bronze Square Viking Market) is a recreated Viking farm inspired by life in the Bronze Age. The farm in Lillesand has a large longhouse adorned in Viking Age fashion, replete with sleeping areas and sections for livestock, food storage, and cooking.

    The farm’s features are brought to good use by the Agder Vikinglag Viking club during its fun Viking festivals – it takes place during the summer months (between May and September). The club arranges a wide variety of Viking activities, including crafts making and old-style cooking that results in delicious Viking food to try.

    Location: 4770 Høvåg, Norway

    Phone: +47 977 55 483

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    Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveler

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