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Adults ISK 1500
Students ISK 1300
Free admission for children under 14 accompanied by adults
Select “Transport” in the drop down menu for pick up/drop off options
We offer guided tours of the museum for groups of up to 20 at the time. The tour takes about 40 minutes and is available in English or German. The price is 10.000 ISK and tours need to be booked a day in advance.
Large groups can get discount of admission. Please contact us for further information, tel. +354 422 2000 or by e-mail at [email protected]
Please call us or select “Transport” in the drop down menu above. 1 ticket is valid for up to 4 people. The pick up at the airport is at the designated “Meeting Point” area in arrivals. The driver will arrive an hour after your plane has landed. Please email us with your flight number.
Viking World is divided into 5 main exhibitions
Viking World’s main attraction is the magnificent viking ship the Icelander (Íslendingur) built by Mr Gunnar Marel Eggertsson who also sailed it to New York in the year 2000 to commemorate Leifur Eiríksson’s journey to the New World a thousand years earlier.
The Viking ship the Icelander is an exact replica of an old Viking ship called the Gokstad ship, which was excavated from an ancient burial mound in Norway in 1882. The Gokstad ship was very well preserved, and scientists were able to date it back to A.D. 870, the time of the settlement of Iceland. It is therefore likely that the settlers of Iceland sailed ships similar to the Gokstad ship.
In the Viking era, a ship like the Icelander normally had around 70 crew members, thus accommodating a double shift of rowers for the 32 oars. In the middle of the ship there was a sandpit to support an open fire, and livestock such as lamb would provide fresh meals for the long voyages.
The Icelander is a worthy representative of the ships that sailed the North Atlantic a thousand years ago. Like the original Viking ships, the Icelander is a fast and exceptionally stable ocean-going vessel.
The shipwright and captain Mr Gunnar Marel Eggertsson began building the viking ship in October 1994 and finished it a year and a half later. The ship was launched in March 1996. Gunnar built the ship mostly single-handedly but received directions from various sources.
The ship is made of pine and oak which was carefully selected in Norway and Sweden. The sail was manufactured in Denmark. When it came to designing the bow, many things were taken into consideration. The bow’s height was used for two purposes, both for the figurehead, which had to be visible from afar, and as as hield from high waves during sailing. The Icelander is made of 18 tons of wood and 5,000 nails. It is 22,5 m (75 feet) long and its beam is 5,3 m (17,3 feet). Its draft is 1,7 m (5,6 feet) and its average speed is 7 mph while top speed is 18 mph.
To begin with, the Icelander was used to educate Icelandic school children on the Viking era. But by 1998 Gunnar Marel had already formulated ideas for sailing the ship to America in 2000 in commemoration of Leifur Eiríksson’s voyage a 1000 years earlier. He then formed a company to undertake the voyage that began on Iceland’s Independence Day June 17 in Reykjavík, Iceland.
The Leifur Eiríksson Millennium Commission was the principal sponsor of the voyage of the Icelander. The Commission organized nearly 230 cultural events at some 70 venues in the USA and Canada for the year 2000.
On its voyage westward across the Atlantic, Icelander with its crew of 9, called at various ports in the United States and Canada, and entertainers sponsored by the Millennium Commission took part in local celebrations. The Special Celebrations Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, hosted a major celebration on July 28, when the Icelander arrived in L’anse aux Meadows, the only authenticated Viking site in North America. Numerous special events ensued in the wake of Icelanders momentous retracing of Leifur Eiríksson’s voyage. The ship arrived in New York on October 5.
After the ship’s arrival in the United States it was stored in Westbrook Connecticut for a few years. In 2002 the town of Reykjanesbær along with other parties made a decision on buying the ship and bringing it back home. During the following years the Icelander was stored outside until it received a final home in a brand new exhibition house in the fall of 2008.
The ship now rests on pillars which lift it one and half metres up into the air. This makes it possible for people to walk straight under the ship and enjoy its remarkable structure.
The following interview with Gunnar Marel Eggertsson, captain and shipwright, was published in the daily paper Morgunblaðið, June 16 2000.
The vikingship Íslendingur (the Icelander) will set sail on Iceland’s Independance Day, June 17, to take on the long voyage to the New World celebrating the millennium of Leifur Eiríksson’s journey.
Most people would agree that it is not quite an everyday idea to decide to build a viking ship and sail it to America. Therefore it is obvious that that Gunnar Marel Eggertsson, shipwright and the captain of Íslendingur, is no ordinary man. Gunnar was born into a family of shipwrights in the Westman Islands and had mastered the trade by the age of 25.
“I grew up in the Westman islands” says Gunnar, “with the Atlantic Ocean before my eyes and every conversation around the house always evolved around boats and fishing.” The first idea of sailing a viking ship can be traced back to when Gunnar was 10 years old and overheard his grandfather speaking to a journalist about shipbuilding. “My grandfather was telling the journalist how good and fast the viking ships were and how skilled people were a thousand years ago and that we had actually not pulled ahead that much since then.” Gunnar says that his grandfather’s words stayed with him and sparked a fire that was never really turned out. He had since then dreamt about sailing a viking ship across the ocean.
REPLICA OF THE GOKSTAD SHIP
The viking ship Íslendingur was built in the years 1994-1996 almost single-handedly by Gunnar himself. The origins of the ship be traced back to 1882, when archaeologists in Norway excavated the famous Gokstad ship. The Icelander is an exact replica of the Gokstad ship, the pinnacle of Viking craftsmanship.
The viking ships have usually been divided into two groups, longships and knor (knörr), the longship being rather slow freighters whereas the knor was smoother, faster and more suitable for warfare.
Gunnar says that the Iceland would be considered a longship. Many specialists believe, that the Gokstad ship might have been an attempt to combine the best qualities of both types, the stability of the knörr and the speed and manoeuvrability of the longship. The conclusion is that Íslendingur has proven to be a fast and extremely steady ocean liner.
FROM GAIA TO THE ICELANDER
In 1991, Gunnar was second in command of the Norwegian viking ship Gaia. It sailed from Norway to Washington, and then later from Washington to Rio de Janeiro. It went all the way up the Amazon river into middle of South-America. Gunnar said that the Gaia and the Icelander are alike in many ways, since both were built as a replica of the Gokstad ship.
The main difference is that the Gaia was built using blueprints from the museum where the Gokstad ship is preserved, but Gunnar says that they are not absolutely correct.
“The main difference” Gunnar says, “is that the keel in that blueprint is way too straight and therefore it lacks all strength. I knew this before I started building the Icelander and therefore went to the museum and asked for permission to go inside the chain that surrounded the ship to measure the keel. The museum director was reluctant, but I managed to sneak inside the chain when nobody noticed and get the most essential measurements. Merely because I took the chance of “crossing the line” for one moment, the Icelander is considered the best replica that has been made of the Gokstad ship.”
Still Gunnar says that the Icelander is far from being exactly like the Gokstad Ship.
NO EASY SEAWAY
The viking ship’s last stop before it left the shores of Iceland and headed to Greenland was Búðardalur. It is the closest harbour til Eiríksstaðir in Haukadalur, where Leifur Eiríksson is believed to have been born. When plans were made for the journey, it was considered respectful to begin the voyage there and to follow in the “footsteps” of Eiríkur and Leifur.
Gunnar said that the seaways from Iceland to Greenland and then on to America were far from being the easiest one in the world. It was clear that it would never be an easy voyage on a viking ship. They made sure to leave enough time for this part of the trip. Although in this part of the world one can expect bad weather, Gunnar said that it is not necessary to start worrying beforehand. It will be dealt with when faced. The ship had a good crew, most of the crew members have known each other since childhood in Westman Islands and have experienced quite a few things. “We know each other inside out and can tell each other off without any harm being done.”
VIKINGS OF THE NORTH ATLANTIC
The story of the Viking expansion across the North Atlantic. The exhibition was produced in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution in USA as a part of the millennial celebration of Leifur Eiríksson’s journey to the New World.
The Vikings (from Old Norse víkingr) were seafaring north Germanic people who raided, traded, explored, and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia, and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th centuries.
RANGING FAR AND WIDE
For two centuries beginning about a.d. 800, Vikings were everywhere, sailing the North Sea, rounding Spain to the Mediterranean, navigating eastern Europe’s inland rivers to reach the Black Sea and the Middle East. Particularly in Ireland and Russia, Vikings made inland forays to capture slaves. But not all Scandinavians who ventured out of their homelands were raiders. Some were mercenaries willing to fight for hire, much sought after in the Byzantine Empire. Others were settlers, and many were merchants looking for livelihoods, not loot.
BY SAIL OR BY OAR
Without their remarkable ships, the Vikings would not have shaken Europe’s security. Slender and shallow-drafted, Viking ships were quick under sail and nimble when rowed. They allowed raiders to scourge coastal villages and monasteries, or to strike deep inland up fjords and rivers. An average-sized ship carrying thirty men could arrive without warning, advance onto the beach, wreak havoc, and slip away before the overwhelmed victims could mount a defense. The largest vessels could carry one hundred men and several horses.
Along with riches for the taking, areas outside the Viking homelands offered other opportunities, such as plentiful land and resources for trade. Viking settlements soon appeared in the British Isles, western France, and Russia, as well as on previously uninhabited North Atlantic islands. Viking settlers left lasting imprints as they intermarried and joined the cultures of their adopted homes. Towns in England, Ireland, France, and Russia today still bear names derived from Norse words. In the Orkney and Shetland Islands, the Hebrides, and the Isle of Man, where Vikings became the dominant culture, they truly expanded the Norse “homelands.”
TAKING THE NORTH ATLANTIC
As empty lands beckoned, Norse seafaring farmers set forth. The times were ripe for leaving the homelands. Shipbuilders had perfected sea-going vessels, and the population was booming. Taxes and new rules prodded the restless in Norway, while Vikings in the British Isles had heard reports of islands inhabited only by Irish monks. By the early 800s, Norse land seekers were on the move. The warmer temperatures of the period made the North Atlantic islands especially attractive. In the Faeroes, Iceland, and Greenland, the Norse could support their livestock and their way of life. All they needed was a supply line to iron, timber, and European markets.
THE SETTLEMENT OF ICELAND
Vogur in Hafnir: Farmhouse or Outpost?
The Settlement of Iceland exhibition deals with archaeological findings from the Suðurnes/Reykjanes region. Remains from the oldest occupation on Reykjanes peninsula from the ninth century.
When the ruins of a longhouse or skáli were found in Hafnir, which is a small village on the Reykjanes peninsula, it was believed to be a traditional homestead from the Age of Settlement. It could even be the farm of Herjólfur Bárðarson, the settler of Hafnir and great-grandfather of the great seafarer Bjarni Herjólfsson. Bjarni and his crew are believed to have been the first Europeans to lay eyes on the mainland of North America. When archaeological excavations commenced in 2009, it was revealed that even though the longhouse was conventional in form, the outhouses that always accompany such structures were completely missing.
Is it possible that the ruins are not those of an ancient farmhouse? Was this instead the outpost of explorers and adventurers, like the buildings of Norsemen in Newfoundland? Such a building would have been used for a short period of time each year as a base for exploration and resource utilisation. Iceland was one destination en route further west, to Greenland and mainland North America.
During the Viking Age, a vast number of people travelled through Northern Europe in search of a quick profit. In summertime food was plentiful: birds nested in the cliffs, seals and fish populated ocean and lakes, and along the coast there was driftwood and the occasional beached whale to be found. The teeth of walruses and whales were particularly sought after and highly valued; indeed, they were often called the ivory of the north, or white gold. They were used for the carving of a variety of precious items.
There are items on display in Viking World that were found during the excavation in Hafnir as well as photographs and illustrations.
FATE OF THE GODS
This is an exhibition on Norse mythology and myths. The world of the Gods vividly appears through visual arts, storytelling and music. Audio guides are available in four languages; Icelandic, English, German and Danish.
Fate of the Gods introduces you to the worldview and religion of our ancestors some one thousand years ago. Come and learn about the society of pre-Christian Scandinavians and meet the gods and goddesses they worshipped.
In Scandinavia around the year 850 A.D. people believed that the earth was round and flat and surrounded by water. In this ocean at the edge of the world lay the terrible Midgard serpent; he encircled the earth and bit his tail. The world-tree Ash of Yggdrasil was the axis of the flat earth. In the world of the gods the three norns of fate watered the tree every morning to keep it alive; if the world-tree dried up, withered and died, the world would be destroyed.
In Asgard, far above the world of men, the gods lived. Their leader is Óðinn, the god of rune-magic, wisdom, poetry and war. Once in the beginning of times when the world was still young and evil had not yet entered it Óðinn was walking along the shore with his two brothers, Vili and Vé. By the shoreline they came upon two tree-trunks that had floated thither down a river. Of the tree-trunks they made two human bodies, a man and a woman.
Then they stood and looked at the lifeless figures and realized that more had to be done. Óðinn gave them life and breath, Vili gave them thought, sense and movement and Vé gave them faces, speech, sight and hearing. The two humans were named Askur and Embla. The gods gave them Midgard to live in and from those two all mankind is descended.
Mankind fought for survival on the flat circle of the earth. The existence and welfare of men was however entirely reliant on the goodwill of the gods. They constantly had to renew and maintain the gods’ benevolence towards them. This they did by performing various religious rituals and ceremonies on various occasions and in different seasons. That was how they worshiped their gods.
In each region people engaged in ritualistic worship a few times a year. Such assemblies were usually held and organized by the greatest chieftain and all free-born men of the district came to his homestead and took part in these ritual feasts.
In late summer people gathered together to thank their gods for good crops and the gifts of the earth, but also to secure mild weather in the coming winter. In the middle of the dark winter people worshiped their gods to secure that the sun would start its course anew and the seasonal cycle continue. Finally, by the end of winter, people carried out their rituals to ensure growth and fruitfulness of the earth during the summer season. They would ask for plentiful fishing and good health and fertility of man and beast. There were also special rituals for victory in wars and luck on long journeys.
At such religious rituals the gods were usually offered votive gifts, both weapons and precious things which were thought to please them. Often animals were sacrificed too. One part of the rituals was to drink a sacred mead as a tribute to those gods whose influence was most needed at each time.
Every nine years a great religious and communal festival was held to ensure the continuous existence of the world. People travelled from far and wide to these gatherings, which lasted nine days. The festivals were usually held outside and the ritual activities performed in holy groves. Such groves were considered to be boundaries between the worlds of men and gods and the trees there were holy because they were symbols of the great world tree itself, the essence of creation.
ICELAND SAGA TRAILS
A presentation from the Iceland Saga Trail Association. It features over 30 museums, exhibitions, heritage sites, man-made structures and festivals. It traces the history of Iceland.
Welcome to Viking World
We are the home of the Viking Ship Íslendingur (the Icelander). Built in 1996, the Icelander is an exact replica of the famous Gokstad ship, a remarkable archaeological find of an almost completely intact Viking ship, excavated in Norway in 1882.
At Viking World you can also find the Viking millennium exhibition produced by the Smithsonian Institution called Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga. This exhibition sheds light onto the Norse settlement and explorations of unknown lands. These two fine projects, both celebrate Iceland’s central role in the discovery of North America a 1000 years ago by the Norse Vikings.
The museum itself is a spectacular modern building situated right by the Faxafloi bay in the town of Reykjanes, and can be easily spotted from the main road between the international airport and Reykjavík.
For openings outside regular business hours, please contact the museum directly via email or phone.
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Very impressive and interesting. The lady working on front desk is a credit to your business and made us feel welcome. Definitely worth a visit! 👍🏾
David - TripAdvisor Review 2017
Great place to learn about viking exploration, mythology and early settlement of Iceland. Full size replica viking ship, small viking farm with animals. Great place to spend an hour or two with kids.
Susan - TripAdvisor Review 2016
Lots of historical artifacts and actually has a lot of information that makes a lot of other things you thought you knew about Vikings make more sense! Also, the Lamb Soup was incredible!
Phil - TripAdvisor Review 2016