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.
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.
Sagastad Viking centre, Nordfjordeid
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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