We get asked a lot about what Viking-related sites should be visited when in Sweden. The truth is that it’s a very difficult question to answer. We do, after all, have thousands of runestones dotting the landscape, burial mounds, ship settings, and countless other historical sites. In addition there are viking centers, villages and great museums that display ancient artifacts and treasures. Here are our top picks if you’re visiting Stockholm.
There are many ways to experience Viking Age Sweden. What we prefer to do is use maps that can lead to amazing discoveries in the deep forests – but it’s not for someone who’s a brief visitor in Sweden. As a visitor you want to experience the top sites, rather than risk getting lost in the dark woods. There are many fantastic sites across southern and central Sweden, such as Ale Stenar, Foteviken and the island of Gotland – but with a lot of visitors flying to Stockholm, we’ll focus on easy trips using Stockholm as a base.Here’s our top pics for someone visiting Stockholm and who has a few days to spend walking in the footsteps of the Vikings:
- The History Museum: The History Museum in Stockholm have incredible amounts of archaeological finds from the Viking Age, and their exhibition “Vikings” put a lot of those on display. The exhibition naturally includes weapons, but it also includes thousands of objects which give a different picture, telling the story of everyday activities, religious beliefs and family life. The museum always has a free admission and it’s located in Stockholm city. Here’s their website: http://historiska.se/utstallningar/vikings-2/
Birka: Birka was one of the most important cities and trading centers in Viking Age Sweden. It is located on the island of Björkö which can be reached with special passenger boats from Stockholm, which makes it a full day trip. On the island you can go strolling in the cultural landscape, join a guided tour of the archaeological fields and visit the Birka Museum. You can also visit the reconstructed Viking village with its typical houses and craftsmen. Here’s their website, which also has a film about the site: http://www.birkavikingastaden.se/en/
- Old Uppsala: Less than an hour by car or train north of Stockholm lies the city of Uppsala and the ancient site of Old Uppsala. Monumental mounds, burial sites and other archaeological remains are found at Old Uppsala. The area is considered to have contained between 2000 and 3000 graves, and it has been excavated since the 1600s, with major excavations in the 1840s, 1870s, 1990s and 2010s. The Old Uppsala Museum is a good starting point. Here’s their website: http://www.raa.se/in-english/in-english-2/
- Anundshög: About an hour west of Stockholm, in the outskirts of Västerås city, lies Anundshög – the largest burial mound in Sweden. A large and beautiful runestone is located there, as well as several ship settings, out of which a large twin ship setting is the most prominent one. There is also a walking trail that takes you through ancient burial grounds and other historical features in the nearby woods. There are plenty of signs in English and German along the path that explain everything encountered along the way. Here’s a website that offers some info – but in our opinion, the area can be experienced quite well without a guide: http://visitvasteras.se/en/actor/anundshog/
Here’s a short film we did a while ago from Anundshög: