The Vikings certainly got around. In real life as well as in the popular TV series. As the first part of the final season 6 has just landed on our screens, I thought it was time for a round-up post of some of the series' best filming locations: From the main filming location in Ireland to the Viking town of York in England, the Nordic beauty of Iceland and all the way to mysterious Morocco – here are 4 Vikings Film Locations from the previous season 5 you can discover on your very own travels…
The Vikings are back! Photo: © History
1. Ireland as Kattegat
Although the Vikings are kind of all over the place in season 5, they still return regularly to their homebase Kattegat in Norway. Most notably when Ragnar's son Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh) claims the title of king of Kattegat and starts a massive civil war against the current Queen Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick).
But Kattegat is in fact not in Norway. Ever since season 1, the fjord-style mountains of Wicklow County not far from Dublin in Ireland have been used as the main filming location for the fictitious Vikings settlement of Kattegat.
"Kattegat" in the TV series "Vikings". Photo by Bernard Walsh © History
Travel Tip: Film fans who would like to see Kattegat for themselves are in luck. Specialist tour provider Day Tours Unplugged offers a guided half-day Vikings Film Locations Tour (including round transportation from Dublin). On the tour, your guide will also point out filming locations for other films shot in the area, such as Braveheart (1995) and P.S. I Love You (2007).
Read more in my post Vikings Film Location Tour in Wicklow County, Ireland
Overlooking "Kattegat" bay in County Wicklow, Ireland
2. Iceland as Iceland
At the time of the vikings (in real life as well as in the series), Iceland was an uninhabited island with spectacular natural phenomena Flóki has never seen. For example the impressive Skógafoss waterfall on Iceland's South Coast. Thus, Flóki calls Iceland "the land of the gods".
Flóki at the Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland. Photo by Jonathan Hession © History
Me at the Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland.
The TV series character Flóki is loosely based on the real Viking Flóki Vilgerðarson, who according to the Icelandic sagas was the first Norseman to set foot on Iceland. And just like in the TV series, ravens have allegedly pointed him to the right direction for where to go on shore.
Travel Tip 1: To learn more about this and other Viking sagas, check out the Saga Museum in Reykjavik – a really well done interactive time travel experience with lots of wax figures that bring the Vikings alive! An equally fun way to learn about the real Vikings is the 75 minute theatrical comedy show Icelandic Sagas – The Greatest Hits in Reykjavik.
Say cheese! Me, a viking and a polar bear at the Saga Museum in Reykjavik.
When he discovers Iceland in "Vikings", Flóki first lands on the black sand beaches near Vík.
Travel Tip 2: Read more about how you can trace Flóki's footsteps (including the Skógafoss waterfall and the black sand beaches near Vík) in my post Touring the Film Locations of Iceland's South Coast and the Glacier Lagoon Jökulsárlón
3. Morocco as Sicily
In season 5, Ragnar's eldest son Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig) has become quite the explorer himself. So together with fellow Viking Halfdan (Jasper Pääkkönen), he is off to the exotic shores of the Mediterranean.
Their target destination is the island of Sicily – a mysterious, but promising island with a flourishing trade business. However, at that time Sicily (now Italian) is controlled by the mighty Arabs, which the Vikings either have to fight or form an alliance with. They decide to do the latter and discover the deserts of North Africa together on camel back.
The "Vikings" in Morocco. Photo: © History
Both, the desert scenes and the scenes that take place in Sicily, were actually filmed in Morocco.
The fortress of the Byzantine commander in Sicily can be found in the Atlas Film Studios in Ouarzazate. The same fortress has previously been used as a filming location for several other films, including Kingdom of Heaven (2005). Furthermore, the Hollywood blockbusters Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Gladiator (2000) and The Mummy (1999) were also filmed here.
The desert as well as nearby Marrakech also were the main filming locations for Sex and the City 2 (2010), although it is said in the film that the girls travel to Abu Dhabi.
Travel Tip: For your very own Sahara adventure, you can visit the film studios on a 1‑day or 2‑day guided tour from Marrakech or on a longer guided group tour with Busabout, which offers several guided tours from 5 to 15 days for budget-conscious travellers.
Filming in Morocco. Photo: © History
4. York, England as Jórvík
Just as in the other seasons, season 5 also sees the Vikings paying regular visits to their arch enemies in England.
The season starts with Ragnar's sons Ivar (Alex Høgh), Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø) and Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) launching a massive battle to defend their English colony Jórvík (modern-day York in England) against the Anglo-Saxons.
This, too, is based on true historical events. First founded by the Romans around 95 AD, the city of York was raided and captured by the Vikings in 866 AD. The Vikings then called the city Jórvík (Old Norse) and made it a major river port and trading centre. The last viking ruler of an independent Jórvík, Eric Bloodaxe, was driven from the city in 954 AD by King Eadred.
Ivar and Hvitserk in Jórvík. Photo: © History
Travel Tip 1: You can learn more about the Vikings in York at the interactive museum experience Jorvik Viking Centre, which just got some new exciting features after a large-scale overhaul.
I visited in early 2015 and thought that the ride through Viking times and the adjoined exhibition were really cool even back then.
Viking Wax figures at the Jorvik Viking Centre
Travel Tip 2: York, which you can visit on a day trip from London, also offers many more pretty sights. My favourites are the impressive York Minster cathedral and the interactive History Museum York Castle.
Over to you: Are there any "Vikings" travel locations to add? Let me know in the comments below!
Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | filmfantravel.com
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