I've been a huge fan of Vikings ever since I discovered the first episode on Amazon Prime in 2013. Meanwhile, there have been five incredibly entertaining seasons – perfect for an evening of time travel into rough, but realistic Scandinavia brought to life (mostly) on the shores of Ireland!
The story is loosely based on the sagas surrounding Ragnar Lothbrok who was supposedly a legendary Viking king in the late 8th and early 9th century AD. However, the existence of the historical person is not proven, so he may be a construct of different kings and rulers who lived in Scandinavia (modern Denmark, Sweden and Norway) at the time.
Ragnar Lothbrok portrayed by Travis Fimmel. Photo: Vikings Facebook Page
In the legends as well as in the series, Ragnar sets out on several bloody raids to the land of the Anglo-Saxons (modern-day England) with the typical Viking ships. There were also fights with other Viking kings and rulers at home.
And of course there is some personal drama, too. According to legend, Lothbrok was married three times and had several children, mostly boys. As legend has it, Ragnar's life ended when one of his main Anglo-Saxon enemies, King Ælla of Northumbria, threw him into a pit of snakes.
Although the Vikings are supposed to be in what is now Denmark, the series has been filmed on the shores of Ireland, more precisely in Wicklow County on Ireland's East Coast. The hilly coastline, which is located a short drive from Ireland's capital Dublin, looks a lot like the Scandinavian homelands of the Vikings.
"Kattegat Bay" in Wicklow County, Ireland. Photo: Sonja Irani / filmfantravel.com
In addition to Vikings, the area has served as a filming location for many other Hollywood productions such as Braveheart (1995) or P.S. I Love You (2007). Film crews still regularly choose this versatile filming location and as of 2018, filming for Vikings is still going on, so on a dedicated half-day Film Location Tour from Dublin you might even spot some film stars in action.
Read more about this tour in my post Vikings Film Location Tour in Wicklow County, Ireland
Photo: Vikings History Facebook page
What I particularly like is that there is a very realistic feel about this TV series, which is partly due to all the blood that the Vikings got on their faces after a battle. Even though it's not a pretty sight, it is exactly what they would have looked like in real life.
Another detail adding to the Vikings authenticity is the language they use. The dialogues are usually in modern English. However, some of the characters (including the main ones such as Ragnar and Lagertha) speak with a slight Scandinavian accent on purpose. When the Vikings face the Anglo-Saxons in Britain or the French in Paris, there are also several scenes where Old Norse, Old English and Old French are used to highlight the actual language barrier that the real Vikings faced on their raids.
Read On: Four Vikings-inspired Travel Posts
Travel Tip 1: In case you're finding yourself in Stockholm, a day trip to the former Viking stronghold of Birka is a must!
Travel Tip 2: A range of amazing displays, exhibitions and museums make the Viking age come alive once more in Gothenburg, Sweden and Oslo, Norway!
Travel Tip 3: To check out the stunning film locations in Wicklow County just outside from Dublin, book the half day film location tour offered by Day Tours Unplugged. I took this tour in November 2016 and have written this post about my experience.
Travel Tip 4: To trace the main film locations of season 5 (including Iceland and Morocco as brand new destinations), check out my new Vikings Film Locations Guide.
Over to you: What do you like best about the Vikings? Tell me in the comments below!
Ragnar's son Björn and ex wife Lagertha! Photo: Vikings History Facebook page