The Vikings first raided Ireland around the same time as their longships were attacking the coast of England, at the very end of the 700s. As at Lindisfarne, as well as a quest for booty, the pagan Norsemen were intent on marauding Christianity. 

After being forced out of Ireland, the Vikings then returned for a longer and more settled period in the 900s, introducing urban planning, currency, international trade, and shipbuilding, among many other beneficial things.

Apart from the names of many coastal cities – Carlingford, Wicklow, Waterford – the Vikings left behind graves and, within them, weaponry and jewelry. 

With St Patrick's Day celebrations upon us, another Viking-named town, Limerick, will have a Norse longboat as one of the floats on March 17. At the main interactive Viking center in Dublin, Dublinia, heritage St Michael's Tower will also open for the weekend's events, between March 17-20.

Here are suggestions for five top Viking attractions in Ireland, open all year round.

The stone bridge connecting Christ Church Cathedral, Wood Quay, with the old Synod Hall building, the home to the Dublinia exhibition. Photo: Kanuman / Shutterstock

Dublinia

A non-profit heritage center at what was the medieval crossroads of today's Irish capital, Dublinia offers nothing less than a living history of Viking and medieval Dublin, allowing you to walk in the steps of the city's previous Norse occupants. 

Here you can feel what it was like to be on board a longship, enter a cramped Norse homestead and test out your skills as a real Viking warrior, weapons, clothes, and all. Read and write runes, listen to a saga, and dander down a noisy Viking street. 

Rare artifacts include some unearthed in the famous Wood Quay excavations nearby more than half a century ago, on permanent loan from the National Museum of Ireland. 

The center is set in the historic Synod Hall, built by the same architect, George Edmund Street, who reconfigured the Viking-founded Christ Church Cathedral (see below). 

Integral to the building is St Michael's Tower, intertwined with sections of its previous medieval iteration, whose 96 steps you can climb for wonderful views over the city. Closed since 2021, the tower is reopening for St Patrick's Day weekend, from March 17-20. 

Dublinia also stages regular events, such as the upcoming Medieval Food tasting on March 18 and 19.

Dublinia, St Michael's Hill Christ Church, Dublin 8, Ireland

In the Irish National Heritage Park in Wexford, visitors can see reconstructed Irish, Viking, and Norman buildings. Photo: PayaoK / Shutterstock

Irish National Heritage Park

Just outside Wexford, a Viking town for nearly three centuries from when they founded it in around 800, the 40 acres of the Irish National Heritage Park showcases 16 reconstructed sites. 

These are set around the remains of the original fortifications of the Anglo-Normans, the first built in Ireland. 

Usually, two guided tours a day take visitors around the Age of Invasion area, describing life in Ireland between the late 700s and mid-1100s.

As well as day visits, guests can book the Viking Accommodation Experience when groups of between four and eight people stay amid wattle walls, under a thatched roof, and around a central hearth. 

You can also wear authentic costumes and cook on an open fire.

Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarrig, County Wexford, Ireland Y35 X313

The National Museum of Ireland, Dublin. Photo: trabantos / Shutterstock

National Museum of Ireland

The Archaeological building of the National Museum of Ireland holds an impressive collection of early medieval finds, the later ones demonstrating how Scandinavian features were melded into local culture and art styles. 

Silver brooches fashioned in the ninth and tenth centuries illustrate the work of Irish and Norse craftsmen, for example, and how these designs developed. 

Pride of place is given to the Clontarf 1014 exhibition, showcasing the battle between the victorious Christian Irish king Brian Boru and the defeated pagan Vikings. 

But it's not only weaponry and ecclesiastical treasure – the display questions the myths and assumptions surrounding this momentous event and offers a few little-known facts. 

Look out for the Carrib axes, Irish-made but produced by adapting their Viking counterparts as a model. Admission free.

National Museum of Ireland, Kildare St, Dublin 2, Ireland

Waterford's Viking Triangle is a sight to behold. Photo: Anila Joseph / Shutterstock

Viking Triangle

The museums within Waterford's Viking Triangle, named in honor of a Norse heritage dating back to the city's foundation in 914, tell of a 1,100-year-old history. 

First port of call should be King of the Vikings, a handcrafted replica of an authentic Viking house within in the ruins of a 13th-century Franciscan friary. 

Entering allows you to experience by means of virtual reality the activities of these Norse interlopers, and how they would have constructed buildings such as this one. 

There are more Viking treasures in the Irish Silver Museum, whose earliest items include a silver coin minted in Iraq in 742 that found its way to Waterford a century later, showing the global reach of the Norse domain.

In the same vicinity, you'll find the Medieval Museum, purpose-built to incorporate a 13th-century Choristers' Hall and a 15th-century mayoral wine vault, with church vestments and a charter roll from the same era. 

Alongside this olden hub, tucked in from the waterfront, stands Reginald's Tower, Ireland's oldest civic building and one in continuous use for more than 800 years. 

Built by the Anglo-Normans in the 1100s, it occupies the site of a previous wooden tower erected by the Vikings after 914. A display of decorated weights, a sword, and a brooch showcase rare original Norse finds, while a replica of a Viking longboat outside provides a suitable entrance to this multifaceted segment of Scandinavian history on Ireland's south coast.

Viking Triangle, Waterford X91 K10E, Ireland

The Christ Church Cathedral, located in the center of Dublin. Photo: Frank Lambert / Shutterstock

Christ Church Cathedral

A visit to Dublinia (see above) can be combined with a walk around what was once a Viking church, co-founded by Sitriuc Silkenbeard, the Norse king of Dublin. 

Built after the Sitriuc's pilgrimage to Rome in 1028 and subsequent conversion, today's Christ Church Cathedral features a medieval crypt running the whole length of the temple, thought to be the oldest surviving structure in Dublin. 

Here you'll find Ireland's copy of the Magna Carta, a mummified cat and rat, and a tabernacle and candlesticks used for the High Mass that James II attended in the late 1600s. Above stands the church the Normans rebuilt in stone in the late 1100s. 

Alongside is Wood Quay, the site of the original Viking settlement, where a huge excavation took place throughout the 1970s. Around 100 dwellings were discovered in what would have been a bustling commercial hub in the Viking era and beyond, and thousands of items, many on view at Dublinia and the National Museum of Ireland (see above). 

Such was the extent of the findings that demonstrations broke out in the late 1970s, urging the authorities to preserve the site as a historical monument. This was all in vain, as Dublin's Civic Offices were duly constructed above in the 1980s.

Christ Church Cathedral, Christchurch Place, Wood Quay, Dublin 8, Ireland

We get to provide readers with original coverage thanks to our loyal supporters. Do you enjoy our work? You can become a PATRON here or via our Patreon page. You'll get access to exclusive content and early access.

Do you have a tip that you would like to share with The Viking Herald?
Feel free to reach out to discuss potential stories that may be in the public interest. You can reach us via email at hello@thevikingherald.com with the understanding that the information you provide might be used in our reporting and stories.