There’s a host of top Viking sites to visit and among the very best are Trelleborg Fortress, the Jorvik Viking Centre and the Viking Museum at Ladby. Other popular sites tend to include Jelling archaeological site, the Viking Ship Museum and L’Anse aux Meadows.
We’ve put together an experts guide to Viking places to explore, with our top ten places to visit as well as a full list of the best Viking sites and ruins to see, which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.
What are the best Viking sites, museums and ruins to visit?
The Viking fortress at Trelleborg is one of the best preserved of four circular fortresses in Denmark. The collection of circular fortresses in Denmark is believed to date back to the tenth century and would have been heavily defended by an army of warriors led by Harald I, who was the son of Gorm the Old.
In addition to the fortress, visitors can see a large Viking cemetery, a Viking village and a museum housing numerous excavated objects, a museum shop and café. Trelleborg is very child-friendly, with demonstrations, costumed-guides and activities.
The Jorvik Viking Centre in York hosts a reconstruction of a Viking city as it would have looked in approximately 975 AD. The reconstruction of the city comes complete with figures representing the Vikings whose likeness is based on skulls found at the site. From market scenes to those showing the Vikings at home and at work, Jorvik recreates the Viking life as it would have been in what is now York.
The Viking Museum at Ladby houses the Ladby Burial Ship, a Viking ship grave found there in 1935. Dating back to around 925 AD, it is believed that the ship is the burial site of a prince or other leader, such as a chieftain.
Displaying the Ladby Burial Ship amidst a series of other excavation finds, the museum offers an insight into the history of the Vikings and their lives in the area.
Jelling is an impressive and significant Viking archaeological site containing a series of important tenth century finds. Originally the royal home of the Gorm the Old, Jelling remains a vital part of Denmark’s history, particularly as this Viking king was the first of the royal line which still rules the country today.
Gorm and his son, Harald I Bluetooth, erected several monuments at Jelling, including a pair of enormous grave mounds, which are the largest in Denmark. These are still incredibly well-preserved and can be viewed at the site. Gorm was buried in the larger one, although the second one is not thought to have been used. Runic stones also stand before Jelling Church, which dates back to around 1100. The site has a visitor centre with a series of exhibits telling the story of the monuments.
The Viking Ship Museum displays five Viking vessels and offers an incredible insight into the world of the Viking people and their era of between 800 AD and 1100 AD.
The ships are known as the “Skuldelev Ships” due to the fact that they were found sunk in Skuldelev, a deliberate act by the Vikings to form a barrier – the Peberrende blockade – to enemy vessels. The ships range from a 30 metre long warship known as “wreck 2” to an 11.2 metre fishing boat. Each one has been carefully reconstructed. The museum also has an exhibit telling the story of a Norwegian attack and there are even summer boat trips available for an authentic Viking experience.
The Settlement Exhibition displays the remains of Iceland’s first known Viking settlement set in its original location in Reykjavik. Visitors to the Settlement Exhibition can see an array of artefacts excavated at the site as well as the stone foundations of a Viking Longhouse.
The site of the Settlement Exhibition dates back to 871AD, while the longhouse is believed to be from the 10th century.
L’Anse aux Meadows is the only-known site of Viking settlement in North America, these also being the earliest European visitors to the region.
Today, visitors can tour reconstructions of a trio of reconstructed 11th century wood-framed Viking structures as well as viewing finds from archaeological digs at the interpretative centre.
Hedeby Viking Museum is located on the site of an important Viking settlement and offers great insight into the lives of the Vikings. The museum is located just across from the original settlement site and displays the results of over a hundred years of archaeological discovery. What’s more, several nearby Viking houses have been reconstructed and the fortifications are also in evidence.
Fyrkat is an archaeological site made up of nine reconstructed Viking houses and a ringfort as well as a Viking cemetery. It is thought that the fort at Fyrkat was established during the reign of Harald I Bluetooth in around 980 AD. There are also exhibitions about the history of the Vikings.
Lindholm Hoje is a large archaeological site housing Denmark’s most impressive Viking and Germanic Iron Age graveyard. With over 700 graves of various shapes and sizes found in 1952, Lindholm Hoje offers a fascinating insight into burial customs of the time. Guided tours can be arranged in advance. Lindholm Hoje also has a museum displaying archaeological finds and telling the story of the Viking and Iron ages.