The Best Viking Sites and Ruins to Visit

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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?

1. The Viking Fortress Trelleborg

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.

2. Jorvik Viking Centre

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.

3. The Viking Museum at Ladby

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.

4. Jelling

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.

5. The Viking Ship Museum

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.

6. The Settlement Exhibition

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.

7. L’Anse aux Meadows

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.

8. Hedeby Viking Museum

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.

9. Fyrkat

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.

10. Lindholm Hoje

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.

Full list of Viking Ruins to Visit

Beyond the most famous Viking places, there’s many similar sites to visit, including Lindisfarne Priory, Moesgard Museum and Fyrkat to name but a few. We’re constantly expanding this list of Viking sites and you can view the current selection below.

Brough of Birsay

The Brough of Birsay is an uninhabited tidal island off the north-west coast of The Mainland of Orkney, Scotland, in the parish of Birsay. It is located around 13 miles north of Stromness and features the remains of Pictish and Norse settlements as well as a modern light house.

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Camas Uig

Camas Uig (Uig Bay) is a bay on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The Lewis Chessmen were discovered in the dunes behind the beach.

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Cappadocia Underground Cities

The Cappadocia Underground Cities are incredible Christian subterranean fortified cities in Turkey protected by UNESCO.

Chateau de Pirou

One of the oldest Norman castles in existence, the Chateau de Pirou is picturesque, small and yet well-fortified.

Gamla Uppsala

Gamla Uppsala is an ancient Swedish burial site which includes at least 300 ancient graves, most notably the three large burials known as The Royal Mounds.

Jarlshof

Jarlshof is the best known prehistoric archaeological site in Shetland, Scotland. It lies in Sumburgh, Mainland, Shetland and has been described as "one of the most remarkable archaeological sites ever excavated in the British Isles". It contains remains dating from 2500 BC up to the 17th century AD.

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Lindisfarne Priory

Lindisfarne Priory, on the mystical Holy Island, is the dramatic ruin of a eleventh century Benedictine monastery and a place of pilgrimage.

Maeshowe

Maeshowe (or Maes Howe; Old Norse: Orkhaugr) is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave situated on Mainland Orkney, Scotland. It was probably built around 2800 BC. In the archaeology of Scotland, it gives its name to the Maeshowe type of chambered cairn, which is limited to Orkney. Maeshowe is a significant example of Neolithic craftsmanship and is, in the words of the archaeologist Stuart Piggott, "a superlative monument that by its originality of execution is lifted out of its class into a unique position." The monuments around Maeshowe, including Skara Brae, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

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Manx Museum

The Manx Museum celebrates the 10,000 year history of the Isle of Man, the self-governing Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between the English mainland and Northern Ireland.

Moesgard Museum

The Moesgard Museum is an archaeological museum near Arhus in Denmark.

National Museum of Denmark

The National Museum of Denmark contains an impressive range of exhibits about the country’s history and culture.

Old Scatness

Old Scatness is an archeological site in the parish of Dunrossness in the south end of Mainland, Shetland, near Sumburgh Airport and consists of medieval, Viking, Pictish, and Iron Age remains. It has been a settlement for thousands of years, each new generation adding buildings, and leveling off old ones. Among the discoveries is an Iron Age broch.

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Port an Eilean Mhòir boat burial

The Port an Eilean Mhòir ship burial is a Viking boat burial site in Ardnamurchan, Scotland, the most westerly point on the island of Great Britain. Dated to the 10th century, the burial consists of a Viking boat about 5 metres (16 ft) long by 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) wide in which a man was laid to rest with his shield, sword and spear as well as other grave goods.In 1924 nails, rivets and other finds were discovered by T. C. Lethbridge at Cul na Croise (English: Gorten Bay) in Ardnamurchan, which were characterised at the time as having come from a ship burial; the exact location of this site is lost and so the nature of the finds cannot be determined with certainty. A similar case was the mainland burial site at Huna, in Caithness, discovered in 1935, although this was better documented and is accepted as a ship burial. Nine other Viking ship burials, or possible burials, have been found on Scottish islands, including six in the Hebrides and another three in the Northern Isles.The discovery was announced by archaeologists from the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project, directed by the Universities of Manchester and Leicester, CFA Archaeology and Archaeology Scotland on 18 October 2011. Students and academics have for several years investigated archaeological sites on the Ardnamurchan peninsula and have previously made a number of discoveries, including an Iron Age fort and a Neolithic chambered cairn. The project aims to examine social change on the peninsula from 6,000 years ago to the 18th- and 19th-century Highland Clearances. Its work has been supported by the Ardnamurchan Estate, which owns a large part of the peninsula.The site is located on the north coast of Ardnamurchan at Port an Eilean Mhòir between Achateny and Ockle. The archaeologists had initially thought that the site of the burial was merely a mound of rocks cleared from fields in recent times. On further investigation it was realised that it was a boat burial.

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Rubha an Dùnain

Rubha an Dùnain or Rubh' an Dùnain (Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [ᵲu(.ə) ən t̪uːnən]) is an uninhabited peninsula to the south of the Cuillin hills on the island of Skye in Scotland. This headland rises to over 30 metres (98 ft) above sea level. Loch na h-Airde or Loch na h-Àirde (Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [ɫ̪ɔx nə haːɾʃtʲə]) is a body of freshwater that is situated to the east of the peninsula close to the sea shore. To its north is Camas a' Mhùrain (bay of the marram grass).The peninsula has a variety of archaeological sites dating from the Neolithic period onwards. The name of the peninsula is Gaelic—the meaning of Rubha an Dùn is evidently "headland of the fort" but the last syllable is less clear. In a different context, Mac an Tàilleir suggests Dùnain may mean either "bird's hill" (Dùn Eòin) or "John's fort" (Dùn Eòin/Dùn Iain).

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Scar boat burial

The Scar boat burial is a Viking boat burial near the village of Scar, on Sanday, in Orkney, Scotland. The burial, which dates to between 875 and 950 AD, contained the remains of a man, an elderly woman, and a child, along with numerous grave goods. Although the site had to be excavated quickly because of the threat of coastal erosion owing to bad weather conditions, it yielded many important finds.

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St Magnus Cathedral

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall dominates the skyline of Kirkwall, the main town of Orkney, a group of islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. It is the most northerly cathedral in the United Kingdom, a fine example of Romanesque architecture built for the bishops of Orkney when the islands were ruled by the Norse Earls of Orkney. It is owned not by the church, but by the burgh of Kirkwall as a result of an act of King James III of Scotland following Orkney's annexation by the Scottish Crown in 1468. It has its own dungeon.

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Swedish History Museum

The Swedish History Museum in Stockholm has pieces ranging from the Stone Age to medieval times.

The Braaid

The Braaid on the Isle of Man contains the remains of a Celtic stone-built roundhouse and two Viking longhouses, though little remains to be seen today.

Wyre, Orkney

Wyre is one of the Orkney Islands, lying south-east of Rousay. It is 311 hectares (1.20 sq mi) and 32 metres (105 ft) at its highest point. It is one of the smallest inhabited islands in the archipelago.

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Our database of Viking landmarks is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. So, if you know of other Viking places to visit, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by contacting us today.