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The Best Viking Museums in Norway

Viking museum exhibits in Norway

Are you a fan of Viking history and culture? We round-up the very best Viking museums in Norway to help you plan your next trip.

Many tourists are drawn to Scandinavia to investigate and experience its Viking roots. Popular TV shows like History's Vikings and NRK/Viafilm's Norsemen have brought the lifestyle and sagas into the mainstream.

The northmen travelled to many countries in search of trade, conquest and colonisation. They used the rivers and the seas as gateways to new lands–in Europe and beyond–often travelling thousands of miles in wooden ships.

There are museums chronicling many of these stories all over Scandinavia and northern Europe. Some of the very best are right here in Norway.

Oslo's Viking ship museum

The Viking Ship Museum is one of the capital city's most popular attractions. There's good reason for that, as visitors get to see three genuine Viking ships that have been excavated from the Oslofjord region.

The Gokstad, Oseberg, and Tune ships have been partly restored and play a real starring role in this purpose-built museum. The surrounding exhibits including weapons and household objects paint a richer picture beyond the vessels.

The Oseberg ship in Oslo's Viking ship museum
The Oseberg ship in Oslo's Viking ship museum.

Historical museum, Oslo

While you're in the capital, don't miss the VÍKINGR exhibition at the Historical museum. This new exhibition at one of Oslo's lesser-known museums on Frederiks gate introduces Viking war culture, their journeys, and the societal changes of the era. A ticket to the ship museum also gains you entry here, and it's valid for 48 hours.

Midgard Viking Centre, Horten

The shores of the Oslofjord are known to have been an important trading centre for the northmen. We know this through the number of ships that have been unearthed. One recent discovery in the burial mounds near the Midgard Viking Centre confirmed this knowledge.

The centre is home to a reconstructed viking feast hall. The design of this remarkable building is based on different professional assessments and theories, and is an ongoing project. Suitable for all the family, the playground lets visitors experience fun activities including archery, axe throwing and tug of war.

While you're in the area, don't miss nearby Tønsberg. In this historic city you'll find a reconstructed viking ship in the harbour. Tønsberg is also home to burial mounds and is at the heart of the Vestfold Viking trail.

Borre burial mounds at the Midgard Viking Centre in Norway
Borre burial mounds. Photo: Midgard Viking Centre

Sagastad Viking centre, Nordfjordeid

Not many of you will have heard of Sagastad. That's because it only opened recently! Located on the shores of the Nordfjord, Sagastad houses a 30m-long reconstruction of the Myklebust ship.

It's one of the largest of its kind to have ever been found. The original was burnt in a burial ceremony, but the reconstruction gives a spectacular impression of the original ship.

Within the museum you'll also find out more about the voyages and rituals from the age. Interactive exhibitions add flavour to the stories of this important site from the Viking age.

Nordvegen history centre, Avaldsnes

Avaldsnes is said to have been home to Norway's first viking king. Known as Harald Fairhair in English, Harald Hårfagre was the first to unite Norway's kingdoms under a single crown. Or so the sagas tell, anyway!

The underground museum is named after the Northern Way (nordvegen), from which Norway takes its name. It refers to the important shipping route that passes by the island. This gave Avaldsnes strategic importance during the Viking Age.

The viking farm at Avaldsnes in western Norway
The Viking Village at Avaldsnes in western Norway.

Visitors start with a 15-minute film that introduces the northern and Norse beliefs. The rest of the museum covers stories of the kings and other noblemen that ruled the region.

But the best thing about a visit here is the Viking village a short walk away. Start with the museum and you'll have the background you need to thoroughly enjoy the village.

Read more: The History of the Vikings

Lofotr Viking museum, Lofoten

The spectacular Lofoten islands draw photographers, hikers and even surfers from all across the world. More than 1,000 years ago, they were also home to some of the world's northernmost Viking settlements.

At Lofotr Viking Museum, you can meet “real” Vikings and experience their lifestyle down to the food they ate. The museum is built on what is believed to have been a site of great importance during the Viking era. The reconstructed longhouse is built over a site where artefacts indicate a real chieftain’s longhouse once stood.

Longhouse at the Lofotr Viking museum in the winter
Longhouse at the Lofotr Viking museum in the winter. Photo: Lofotr Viking Museum.

During the summer, activities led by crafters take place. On some evenings, the chieftain and his wife invite guests (mainly from the visiting Hurtigruten ships) to an authentic Viking feast.

Stiklestad cultural centre, Trøndelag

According to the sagas, the death of Olav Haraldsson at the battle of Stiklestad in 1030 was an important moment in the transition to christianity to Norway.

Located 100km north of Trondheim, Stiklestad's national cultural centre tells more about the battle and medieval Norway in general. The site includes 30 well-preserved buildings and various exhibitions about cultural life from the transition away from the Viking Age.

Museum of archaeology, Stavanger

At this archaeological museum in south-west Norway, the Viking Voyagers exhibition provides an introduction to the Age through the lives of six local women. Recent discoveries are on display, the highlights of which include swords, buckles and glass beads. Other finds provide evidences of voyages to the west and the east.

Viking ship in the ocean

Also in Stavanger, Viking House offers a virtual reality experience based in a Viking ship. The storytelling includes the battle of Hafrsfjord in 872 where Norway became united into one kingdom.

Other Viking sites of note in Norway

There are a few other important sites to note in Norway. While not exactly museums, it would be wrong not to at least mention them.

Njardarheimr is a reconstructed viking village attraction in Gudvangen on the shores of the Nærøyfjord.

Trondheim's Nidaros Cathedral is an important monument of Norway's transition to christianity. It was built over the grave of Olav Haraldsson, who became known as Saint Olav.

What's your favourite Viking museum in Norway – and why? Let us know in the comments below. If you've enjoyed this post, why not share it on Pinterest so others can discover it too? We've got the perfect pin for that:

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

2 Comments

  1. In July 2004, I came to Norway to visit family. We went on a road trip and one of the places we visited was Rygnestadtunet, an old farm located north of Valle. What a gem! We were a party of four (three adults and one small child). No other visitors were around so we were treated to an exclusive private tour of the grounds. Our guide was a lovely college student working for the summer months. She was a credit to the museum . . . very personable, and full of information. It is a small museum but so interesting! I wouldn’t mind going back!

  2. My wife and I have been to Norway eight times since 2005. We love it and though sadly we can’t visit this year (for obvious reasons!), these articles bring it close. The Lofot and Stavanger museums are excellent and worth the journey. I recommend the Hardanger visitor centre, which though not strictly a museum, gives a good insight into life around Hardangervidda. These articles are very well written Mr. Nickel, keep it up!

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