If you’re a fan of hit TV series Vikings, you would not want to miss this unique day tour to the original filming locations just outside of Dublin! As a big fan of the show, I've tried it myself. Here is what I thought…
What is it all about?
The original Vikings may have come from the Far North, but the filming of the popular TV show Vikings (2013-ongoing) has exclusively taken place in Ireland! More precisely in the Wicklow Mountains National Park – an area, which offers spectacular coastline, mountains, glacial lakes and forests.
From Ireland's capital Dublin it's only about a one hour drive, which makes it the perfect destination for a day trip. You can either rent a car and drive yourself or – and that's the most convenient option – go there with a guided tour. Great news for film fans: a special film location tour, offered by Day Tours Unplugged already exists!
The Dublin-based tour provider, which also offers a range of other day trips and tailor-made private tours all around Ireland, specializes in small groups with a maximum of 16 people who get driven around in a van. This makes the Wicklow film location tour less anonymous and more of an insightful travel experience with a local guide.
As Wicklow County and the Wicklow Mountains National Park have long been used as a shooting location for TV shows and features films, you will not only get to see the film locations of Vikings, but also those of other feature films such as P.S. I Love You (2007) or Braveheart (1995).
How do I get there?
The Wicklow half-day tours run all year round on several days per week and start in Dublin. The tour departs at 13:00 and returns to Dublin at 18:00. So you can easily fit in a morning of sightseeing or shopping in Dublin and then sit back and relax to see the famous Irish nature in the afternoon.
Your tour guide conveniently picks you up from a choice of three hotels in central Dublin. The current times and hotel names can be found on the Day Tours Unplugged website.
What’s there to see?
1. The original filming locations of Vikings!
As we left Dublin, we received a short introductory tour of Dublin by our tour guide and driver Damian. He shared a lot of helpful tips and insightful facts about Dublin and Ireland.
Our first stop was the Vikings film location Loch Tay, also known as "Guinness lake". As fans of the series will know, this is the setting of Kattegat, the fictional home town of the Vikings. As we visited on a clear and sunny day in October, we had an amazing view over the mountains, the lake and the shores. Here is the proof:
2. The Monastry of Saint Kevin in Glendalough
Our next stop was Glendalough – a remote glacial valley surrounded by two spectacular lakes.
Established by St Kevin’s in the 6th century, Glendalough became one of Ireland's most important monastic settlements and was a veritable city in its time. Glendalough was plundered by the real Vikings, and ravaged by fire on numerous occasions before ultimately falling to the Normans in 1398.
3. An enchanted forest, a quiet lake and more Vikings film locations
We then had some free time to stroll along the lake through an enchanted forest. Here, I stood on the shores of where the Vikings in the TV series normally stand before they set out on their adventures around the world.
The film locations for Vikings in Wicklow County alternate of course, but this location did seem pretty familiar indeed.
4. The filming locations of P.S. I Love You and Braveheart
Back on the van, our tour guide pointed out the filming locations of the other famous films that have been shot here. These include romantic drama P.S. I Love You (2007), in which Scotsman Gerard Butler pretends to be an Irish man, as well as Braveheart (1995) – another story of a Scottish legend somewhat ironically filmed in Ireland. In this case, it was the story of Scottish independence warrior William Wallace.
How much does it cost and how do I book?
Tour Prices are 30.00 € for adults and 28.00 € for students and children. In my opinion, that's a fair price considering that you'll get so close to currently used film location. Plus, you learn a lot about Ireland and see some of the beautiful nature that this country has to offer.
Dublin is worth a visit, but it's a city like any other. When I was there, I noticed very quickly that you haven't see the real Ireland unless you've ventured out of Dublin.
Moreover, the included transportation in a mini van means that you can just sit back and relax instead of navigating the narrow roads yourself. To secure your spot on the tour, advanced booking via the website is essential though.
Will I see any Vikings there?
Maybe, if you're lucky… On the day I was there with the group (October 2016), we saw some film crew equipment and trailers on the way, but unfortunately no actors where in sight. Our tour guide has told us though that he occasionally gets to see the cast and crew of Vikings (or any other film for that matter).
As of February 2017, filming of Vikings season 5 has just been completed. But as far as I know, season 5 is not planned to be the final season of Vikings. So you might get lucky to spot some Vikings in action if you take the tour in the upcoming months.
More Vikings sightseeing tips:
More Dublin sightseeing tips: Dublin in a Day
More Ireland sightseeing tips: Overview of Ireland
Book the tour: P.S. I Love You tour Wicklow day tour by Day Tours Unplugged
Disclosure: I received a complimentary half-day tour by Day Tours Unplugged. The views expressed in this blog post, however, are entirely my own. They reflect my personal experience and are completely unbiased.