You may know of the Vikings from the tv-series of the same name, have seen them in movies, or perhaps learned of them in school. But you have probably never experienced them as you can at Lofotr, Lofotens Viking Museum.
Lofotr is much more than just an ordinary museum, more like an experience park where you can partake in activities, sail in a Viking ship, visit the largest Viking home ever discovered, study archeological treasures found during the excavation, learn to make Viking arts and crafts, eat Viking food, and try the drink of the gods, mead.
Lofotr Viking Museum is Lofoten’s biggest attraction and a must-see stop on your trip through the Lofoten Islands.
The museum covers a huge area in the village of Borg on Vestvågøy Island in Lofoten. In this Lofotr Museum guide, we give you everything you need to know to get the most out of your visit.
Make sure to also read our complete guide to the Lofoten Islands, as well as our suggested Lofoten itinerary filled with all of Lofoten’s highlights.
Table of Contents:
A Brief History Of The Vikings
The best way to learn about the Vikings is to visit Lofotr, as you will learn everything there is to know about the Vikings at the museum.
Vikings were Scandinavian warriors and raiders from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden famous for their exploits, raids, and conquests.
The age of the Vikings began around the year AD 800 and lasted for about 2-300 years. During this period they sailed further than any had before them to wage war in foreign lands and bring back great riches to their homeland.
At one point the Vikings even invaded England and their army stood not far from the gates of London.
The Vikings created settlements in Iceland, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Greenland, North America, and other parts of the European mainland. Actually, the Vikings even discovered America. The Viking Leif Eriksson led an expedition to North America a full 500 years before Colombus was credited for “discovering” it.
In 1066, a Viking army lead by the Norwegian King Harald III Sigurdsson suffered a devastating defeat at the battle of Stamford bridge and historically this is usually considered the end of the Viking area.
The Vikings have inspired countless movies and tv series, and pop culture has adopted much from their history. For instance, the Vikings Norrøn gods, one-eyed Odin (wisest of them all), Thor the God of Thunder, and Loki (the mischievous one), have all become characters in the hugely successful Marvel universe and movies.
But not all the legends or movie depictions are true, and at Lofotr you can learn how the Vikings really lived.
The Discovery Of A Viking Chieftain In Lofoten
In 1983 the remains of what was believed to be a large Viking settlement were discovered on Borg in Lofoten when a farmer plowing his fields found fragments of glass and ceramics.
The first excavation started in 1983 and lasted about six years. What they unearthed was nothing short of remarkable! The remains of the largest Viking longhouse ever discovered in Europe, a total of 83 meters long and 9,5 meters wide.
In their homelands, the Vikings were not one nation, but rather many loosely connected small clans each ruled by a local chieftain, or in Norwegian, a Jarl. What they had discovered at Borg was the home of a powerful Viking Jarl that had ruled the Lofoten Islands.
The archeologists date the settlement to as early as AD 500 and estimate that it was in use until around AD 950 when it was abandoned.
When the excavation was concluded, it was decided to build a complete reconstruction of the longhouse. And in 1995 the Lofotr Viking Museum was opened to the public.
Lofotr Museum Guide
The Lofotr Viking Museum consists of:
- A full-scale reconstruction of the Viking longhouse
- Two Viking ships (one is modeled after the famous Gokstad ship in Oslo)
- Two exhibition halls
- A movie theater
- A blacksmiths forge
- Two cafes and a souvenir shop
All these things are located at Borg in Lofoten (see the map below).
There are also various animals that the Vikings would have kept such as horses, pigs, and sheep around the area.
The map above: Lofotr Viking Museum, Lofoten, Norway
After you enter the Museum your first stop is the exhibition halls. Bring your mobile phone and a pair of headphones along and you can use the Lofotr audio guide, and listen to stories in your own language. All in all, you can spend hours listening to the audio guide and wandering around the exhibitions.
In the first exhibition hall, you can learn about how the Viking longhouse was discovered, and about the process of excavating it.
The displays are brought to life with multimedia video presentations where archeologists explain the finds and their significance.
In the second room, you can study the archeological finds. The most significant finds include gold foil amulets, ceramics, pottery, jewelry, and Viking swords.
Then there is the cinema, where you can watch the film “The Dream of Borg”. This was one of our favorite parts of the visit and must not be missed!
This is not your typical boring museum film with talking heads, rather it tells the story of the Vikings that lived here in a beautiful and very cinematic way. It was filmed at Lofotr and while the budget is quite low, they have really done a great job bringing the Viking age back to life.
The movie tells the story of how the chieftain that lived at Borg came into conflict with Harald Fairhear, and a rival jarl Håkon Grjotgardsson, and had to leave Borg with his men and family and head for Iceland. His daughter who could never forget her home always longs to return and one day through the power of love she does.
The movie is in English, but if you are using the audio guide, you can listen to it in one of six languages.
The Chieftain’s Longhouse
The Chieftain’s longhouse is the real star of the Lofotr Museum, and as you approach it you really get a sense of its impressive scale. At 83 meters long and 9.5 meters wide, this longhouse is the largest Viking house ever discovered.
It sits beautifully on a hilltop with a fantastic view of the surrounding area and is visible from far away. Its enormous size and central location signaled the power and control of the Chieftain that lived here.
The house that stands here today is a full-scale rebuild of the original longhouse, and you can stop and have a look at the original excavation site before entering the house.
The Longhouse is divided into rooms based on the finds of the excavations.
This is where the Vikings slept and worked, and you really get to experience how it must have been living here.
It feels like you have stepped back in time and that the Vikings are just out for the day and can be back at any moment. You can even put on a Viking helmet and try to swing a Viking sword.
There are museum Viking hosts working here. Some are artisans, showing off crafts such as weaving or leatherwork.
Here you can learn about the crafts the Vikings used to create their houses, clothes, and tools.
The Feast Hall
The main hall of the longhouse and the high seat of the Chieftain himself. This is where ceremonies and feats would have been held, and this room is also where many of the most significant finds were made during the excavation.
The walls are covered in wood carvings depicting intricate patterns.
At the center of the room, you find the fire pit and there is usually a fire burning and a pot simmering here. You can have a rest on of the many long tables and benches surrounding the fireplace. This is also a great spot to take some photos with the Viking hosts that tend to the firepit and keep the pot boiling.
In the evenings there is a Viking feast being held in the Feast Hall. It’s a unique opportunity to have a real Viking meal served around the fireplace, hear some Viking stories, sing some songs, and even try some Viking Mead, a wine that was served at feasts and special occasions.
Usually, this is open for individual travelers but as of June 2021, it is only for available groups. Advanced booking is required and is done through their website.
The Barn – Yggdrasil
This used to be the barn, where the Vikings kept their animals, mainly cows, and horses. It is now an exhibition of Norse mythology. Here you can learn about the Viking gods and their beliefs of how the world was created.
At the center of the rooms stands a depiction of Ygdrasil, the great tree that binds together heaven, earth, and the underworld. It stands in the center, in Åsgard, the realm of the gods, around which lies Midgard, where humans live, followed by Utgard. Utgard is filled with evil creatures and chaos.
In the great ocean lies Midgardsormen, the great serpent that surrounds the world and keeps it together by biting itself in the tail. You can see its tail sticking up of the floor coiled around Yggdrasil in the center of the room.
The exhibition also tells the story of how Odin, the one-eyed king of the gods, got his great wisdom. You can see a well at the edge of Ygdrasil, and the story goes that Odin placed the head of Mime the Jotun in this well.
Mime was known as the wisest creature in all realms, and when he lost his head Odin preserved it in the well. Through Odin’s magic, the head stayed alive and Odin would confer with it often. He asked Mime how he could become equally as wise, and Mime said that if Odin gave him one of his eyes he could drink from the well giving him great wisdom.
It’s a pretty cool exhibition and the Viking worldview is fascinating if a little bloody and violent.
The Harbor – Viking Ships, Blacksmith, Cafe & Activities
The walk down to the harbor takes about 20 minutes and you walk across beautiful green fields and past Borg church. There are gravel pathways and it’s an easy walk suitable also for those with a baby stroller.
You can stop off and say hello to the animals along the way. You will meet horses, pigs, and sheep.
The Vikings themselves would have kept much the same animals to provide them with food, milk, transport, and hides for clothes and boots.
Sailing On A Viking Ship
Lofotr’s most popular activity is obviously the sailing tour onboard a real Viking ship!
The Museum owns two Viking ships, where one, Lofotr, is a full-scale replica of the famous Gokstad Viking Ship. The original is on display at the Viking Ship Museum in Bygdøy in Oslo. It’s a huge ship, almost 22 meters long, and can take up to 100 passengers.
The other is Vargfotr, a newer, smaller ship, built in 2002. It is about 65% the size of Lofotr and can be sailed with a much smaller crew.
If the weather permits the ship will unfurl its huge sail and take you on a trip around the lake lasting about 20-30 minutes. If the wind isn’t cooperating passengers will have to help on the oars like real Vikings.
Luckily, the weather was ok on the day when we visited Lofotr Museum, and we had a fantastic sailing trip with the Vargfotr Viking ship. So much fun!
The price of the sailing trip is included in the museum ticket, and no reservation is necessary. Just line up and wait your turn.
Ax Throwing And Archery
In the summertime, you can try your hand at some important Viking warrior and hunting skills. There are two stations where you get to try how to shoot with a bow and arrow and learn how to throw an ax at a target.
In the Viking Age, the blacksmith had an important role, making arrowheads and spearheads, iron rivets, and lots of other tools in use around the settlement. Lofotr museum has its own forge, inspired by how a forge would look and function at the time.
The forge is open to the public, and during summer weekdays, there is often a blacksmith there working away at some project.
After having sailed in a Viking ship, learned to throw a battle-ax, and met the blacksmith, we were feeling a little low on energy. Thankfully, there is a small outdoor cafe down by the harbor.
The cafe is open during the summer months and serves coffee, soft drinks, and light meals. We tried the pancakes, and they were actually really tasty.
Cafes & Restaurants
Apart from the small outdoor cafe in the harbor area, there is a restaurant inside the glasshouse near the museum entrance.
You can also join an evening Viking feats in the longhouse, but it needs to be prebooked and is as of summer 2021 only open to groups and not individual travelers.
The souvenir shop has quite a large selection of Viking-themed products.
You can buy anything from T-shirts to cutlery, and even blankets, knitted sweaters, scarves, or weaved baskets. For kids, there are wooden Viking swords and shields, jigsaw puzzles, and other toys.
They also sell locally produced products such as cheese and jam, as well as handmade soaps, jewelry, and more.
I bought a necklace with a Viking rune on it and a couple of books. Their selection of books is quite extensive and includes cookbooks, novels, and historical accounts from Viking times. The perfect place to buy souvenirs and gifts to bring back home.
That’s it, our ultimate travel guide to visiting Lofotr Viking Museum.
Lofotr is hands down one of our favorite museums! We’re not really huge fans of museums in general, they honestly tend to be kind of boring, but Lofotr is different. They have managed to make the past come alive in a fun and entertaining way while still being educational. And the fact that you can participate in activities like sailing on a real Viking ship makes all the difference and is a pretty unique and fantastic experience that you will never forget.
I’ve been to Lofotr three times now and next time I really want to join one of their evening Vikings feasts. That looks like a lot of fun!
We hope you found this guide to Lofotr Viking Museum helpful. And don’t forget to check out our recommended itinerary to the Lofoten Islands and our ultimate Lofoten Travel Guide when planning your Lofoten trip.
Lofotr Viking Museum Visitors Information
- Opening hours: Varies by time of year and weekday. During summer usually 10-17/18 (10 am – 5/6 pm). Check the website for up-to-date opening hours.
- Where: Borg, Lofoten, Norway
- Price: Summer Peak Season (1.06-31.8): Adult 225kr / USD 25, Child 150kr / USD 17, student and family packages available. Off-season prices are lower.
- Includes: Access to the exhibition halls, Viking house, boat trip with the Viking ship, ax throwing, archery.
- What to bring: Good shoes for walking and remember that the weather can change quickly in Lofoten so bring suitable outdoor clothes. Headphones for the audio guide on your mobile phone.
- Website: Lofotr’s Official Webpage
⇒ Read next, our other articles about Lofoten:
- Lofoten Travel Guide – Everything You Need To Know To Plan Your Lofoten Adventure
- The Ultimate Road Trip Adventure To Lofoten Islands (Norway) – 10 Day Lofoten Itinerary
- The Ultimate Guide To Svolvær (The Capital Of Lofoten) – What To Do In Svolvaer
- DIY Walking Tour Of The Idyllic Svinøya Island (In Svolvær, Lofoten)
- Why You Should Do A Trollfjord Cruise (By Silent Electric Ship) When Visiting Lofoten
- Top 7 Things To Do In Kabelvåg (Lofoten) – Kabelvåg Travel Guide
- The Ultimate Guide To Henningsvær (Lofoten’s Hippest Village) – What To Do In Henningsvaer
- The Ultimate Guide To Reine (Lofoten’s Most Scenic Village) – What To Do In Reine
- Travel Guide To Å – Lofoten’s Best-Preserved Fishing Village (Folk Museum)
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