The Viking Valley is located in Gudvangen deep inside the Norwegian fjords. With mountains raging on all sides of the fjord, this has been a place of pagan worship since pre-Christian times. Surrounded by the UNESCO-listed fjord landscape, you can’t ask for a more dramatic backdrop for a Viking adventure.
By Axel Winge
An insane cockrel on the loose in Viking Valley
Our visit to the Viking Valley started excitingly with little brother chased by an insane cockerel when we entered the village! Two friendly Viking women quickly came to his rescue and chased the cock away from us. The cock didn’t want to give up and kept on returning, with the Vikings eventually deciding that his time had come and brought out their axe to finish him off. We had hoped for a realistic experience, and so far this certainly lived up to our expectations!
Learning the Viking way of life
As a next activity, we joined the “The Viking Experience” tour of the village. Our guide was clearly genuine and passionate about Viking history which made for an engaging introduction into Viking life. He took us through the different sections of the village, which made history come alive. The kids did lose interest at times though, but for older children, this would be really exciting.
The “Explore and Learn” activity was on the other hand just perfect for our five-year-old. We tried out archery and axe-throwing as well as learning how to play the Viking games. The Viking villagers really showed patience with kids, making it a more relaxing experience for us parents as well. We also got to try out real and authentically made Viking helmets, shields, axes and swords which was exciting for both parents and children!
A friendly and authentic experience
We had initially feared that The Viking Valley would be a “Viking Disneyworld” with too exaggerations. However, we really felt it was an authentic experience, especially thanks to the villagers we met. Also, the kids absolutely loved the activities, and we really felt like part of the family with everyone’s friendliness.
We visited during the off-season in October, having the village almost entirely to ourselves. This was great as we could spend time speaking to the villagers and got more of a personal treatment. The only thing I was missing was a typical Viking longhouse! I’m not an expert on Viking architecture, but some of the building materials and styles did seem quite modern.
Our overall experience was really positive. With the village being open for just two years, it’s really impressive how far they have come and I’m sure there will be further expansion in the future. And most importantly the kids absolutely loved it, and I’m sure this visit will inspire them to become even more interested in history in the future. Back home we actually followed up visiting the Viking sites of medieval London, and it was fascinating to find out about all the historical links to Norway.
Driving further along the Sognefjord offers many attractions including Norway’s oldest stave-church. A 20 min drive away you can take the famous Flam mountain railway, and check out the Stegastein viewpoint. The drive down to the Hardangerfjord is around 1 hour by car. Close to the Hardangerfjord you’ll find several impressive waterfalls including the most famous one, Vøringsfossen.
Getting to the Viking Valley in Gudvangen
Address: Njardarheimr, 5747 Gudvangen, Norway