Having the opportunity to relive the height of the Viking era in modern-day Europe is sure to be a highlight of any history buff’s vacation.
And when you visit certain places in Denmark, you can take a trip down memory lane to get a taste of how the Vikings lived. Moreover, you get to learn about the most important ways of life and how they utilized the resources that they had.
Denmark was one of the most essential regions where Viking history culminated. This makes it fascinating as a way to understand the role of Denmark and how it gave rise to Viking rule.
Read on to learn about the history of Denmark in the Viking Age and the 10 best places where you can relive this history in this part of the world.
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Are Danes and Vikings the same?
A person who comes from Denmark is known as a Dane. However, around the Viking Age, Vikings settled in different parts of Scandinavia such as modern-day Denmark. As a result, the majority of Danes at that time adopted Viking culture and their way of life.
This resulted in Danes being synonymous with Vikings. It didn’t matter that Vikings were generally a coalition of various Nordic tribes and warriors. As time went by, the Vikings that settled in Denmark made it their homeland and Danish Vikings became a big part of Dane history.
The birth of a monarchy in Dane by the Viking King Gorm around 960 AD coalesced Danes and Vikings. After that, Danes and Vikings were considered the same.
Find out more: What Do You Call Someone From Denmark?
Best places to visit in Denmark with Viking History
There are certain places in Denmark that give you a Viking experience like no other. When you visit these renowned attractions, you’ll find yourself transported into a different era altogether.
Whether you want to learn or take the kids on a fun adventure, these following 10 best places to visit in Denmark with Viking history will leave you in awe.
1. Bork Viking Harbor and Ringkøbing-Skjern Museum
To get a taste of the famous Viking Harbor Village from around 800 AD, you should visit Bork Viking Harbor. It offers you a wide range of things to see, from how Vikings lived to the kind of work that they did. It’s always best to go around the summer to get the most out of your Viking experience.
When you visit the Harbor, you’ll get to see the lagoon where Viking seafarers sailed their ships to seek shelter from strong winds. The daily guided tours include a lot of exciting activities for adults and children alike.
The Viking Harbor is also home to the historical Ringkøbing-Skjern Museum where your entire family can learn and interact with Viking era history.
2. Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde
Vikings were known for their ash wood boats and ships that sailed throughout Europe. The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde boasts a large collection of reconstructed Viking boats and ships.
What makes it even more spectacular is the fact that it’s an active museum. In fact, when it comes to Viking experiences, this museum is probably the one that Denmark is most known for.
As you go about your tour, you’re bound to come across craftsmen involved in various maritime crafts. It’s a popular spot where ships set sail and sailors learn about different techniques. This is a good place to start if you wish to educate yourself about how Vikings navigated their trade routes at sea.
3. Jelling Runes
One of the important aspects of Viking history that you should learn is their language. The Jelling Runes are considered the oldest inscriptions in the Old Norse language that were used by the Vikings. One of these stones pays homage to Denmark when it was a nation under Viking rule.
The area containing the Jelling Runes is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the vast history that it has. Fortunately, the Rune monuments aren’t the only thing worth the trip that you’ll find in these parts.
Next to the two Jelling Runes, you’ll find an experience center which is a whole cultural and historical experience on Viking Kings such as Harald Bluetooth and King Gorm.
4. Ribe Vikinge Center
Ribe is a crucial landscape site for Viking discovery. Research shows that there are archeological discoveries that are excavated in this region in Denmark every year.
The Ribe Vikinge Center helps to bring to life the Viking era through various ways. For instance, there are role plays, projects, and even a Viking International Market.
This Center comprises an exceptional group of staff with students that ensure that the area is well-maintained. Since it is situated at the core of reconstruction and excavation, a lot of work goes into maintenance of the environment. Moreover, a great deal of work goes into the expansion of activities for daily tours.
Did you know: Ribe is actually the oldest city in Denmark, making it definitely worth a day trip. This includes that many think that Denmark’s oldest church is in Copenhagen – but, in fact, it’s Ribe Cathedral!
5. Trelleborg Viking Fortress
If you want to experience the Viking Age at close hand, the Viking Fortress of Trelleborg is the place to be. What you find is the remains of the Fortress that was reconstructed by King Harald Bluetooth around 980 AD.
Today, this area is still a beautiful sanctuary that provides a vivid impression of the rich history of Trelleborg.
Additionally, there’s a museum that includes archeological evidence, models and reconstructions of the area during the Viking era. When you visit the site, you’ll have a wealth of activities and displays to keep you busy.
Apart from these, you can enjoy daily Viking tasks and crafts such as how to paint a sword and bake flat bread – with the latter being particularly important given how crucial Danish bread continues to be to the country today!
6. Lindholm Høje Burial Site and Museum
The Lindholm Høje Burial Site is considered one of the most desirable sites in the whole of Denmark.
This site is situated next to the incredible Lindholm Høje Museum that includes extensive reconstructions of Viking life. You can also experience panoramic illustrations and 3D animations.
You’ll enjoy the educational activities that teach you all that you need to know about how the Vikings farmed livestock, worked, and lived. There’s an entire activity dedicated to the Viking trades. You’ll love the fact that this site overlooks the city of Aalborg.
7. Aggersborg Viking Fortress
Fortresses were a big part of the Viking Age. What makes the Aggersborg Viking Fortress the greatest is that it’s both the largest archeological site and ring castles that you find in Denmark. Harald Blåtand built it around 980 AD.
Historical sources suggest that this fortress was used as the start point for the majority of Viking expeditions. This is why it’s located on the shallow sea area of Limfjord in Denmark.
8. Tømmerby Viking Burial Site
The Tømmerby Viking Burial Site is considered the best kept secret of Viking history. It’s hidden in plain sight. Yet, beneath these hundreds of hills and single stone monuments is a burial site that dates back to 800 AD.
In fact, a significant portion of the stone monuments form the shape of a ship, with the shape being preserved almost entirely intact. At 30 meters long, a ship of that size would have held about 30 rowers and so could have been used to reach Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, further showing the importance the Vikings in Denmark placed on this area..
9. Fyrkat Viking Center
What used to be a Viking farm with an estimated nine houses has become one of Denmark’s most visited Viking destinations to learn about Viking history.
At the Fyrkat Viking Center, you’ll find an area that has houses that were once built on oak with mud walls. This fort was first established in 980 AD and has been reconstructed as it deteriorated over time.
There are plenty of activities that you can do on this farm. For instance, you can learn more about how to forge weaponry, archery, and how to make bread the Viking way from scratch. The great news is that the center provides an annual access card that you can use to access different museums as well within the area.
10. Viking Museum Ladby
The one thing that makes the Viking Museum Ladby world-famous is that it’s the only place where you’ll find the burial mound of the only Viking ship that’s left in the world. Research suggests that it has been there for over 1000 years.
Even though it was discovered in the 1930s, you can still find the treasure and the King’s ship grave. There are other ships that you’ll find when you visit the Viking Museum Ladby.
11. National Museum of Denmark
The building of the National Museum of Denmark is spectacular enough on its own. Housed in the Prince’s Mansion on one of Copenhagen’s many scenic canals, just standing outside is quite an experience.
But go inside and you’ll find a treasure trove of Danish history, including on the Vikings. As the premier Viking museum for Denmark in Copenhagen, the exhibition called Meet the Vikings has a number of amazing pieces, including battle equipment, everyday items they would have used, Viking jewelry and more.
You’ll need a few hours to see everything that this museum has to offer as it goes well beyond pieces from the Viking Age, but it’s well worth it.
Was Denmark founded by Vikings?
While the area of Denmark was occupied before the Viking invasion in 700 AD, it began to exist as a united people during the Viking Age. Specifically, the Danish monarchy dates back to the reign of King Gorm in the 900s during the Viking era.
That said, there’s an argument amongst experts on whether Denmark was indeed founded by the Vikings or not, given that some believe that the kingdom existed before the 8th century.
Part of the reason for this lack of certainty is that there isn’t much reliable history that tells the origin story of Denmark before the Vikings settled in this region.
In the ancient inscription runic tablets that have been discovered, Denmark is mentioned after the Vikings had settled and unified Dane. This confirms and strengthens the argument that although the Danes were there, the unification of Denmark was founded by – or at least during the era of – the Vikings.
What was Denmark called in Viking times?
In Viking times Denmark was originally called Dane. This is why the Vikings in Denmark at that time were known as Danish Vikings. Under Viking rule, the Kingdom of Dane came together to form one combined territory and people in Jutland.
Research sources highlight that this was done as a way to unify the Danes and Vikings. The Viking Age foresaw the rise of Kings in Dane. In fact, the first ever mention of the word Denmark has been traced back to the Jelling Runes, which date from around 965 AD. These were raised by King Gorm and, eventually, his son, Harald Bluetooth, both of whom ruled during the Viking Age.