The Viking era defines a period in Scandinavian history characterized by daring seafaring expeditions and profound cultural transformation. The Vikings left an indelible mark on the lands they traversed and the realms they conquered. 

Here, we delve into the heartland of the Vikings – the Stockholm region – guiding you to various Viking sites and destinations perfect for a weekend or longer trip. 

The early Swedish kingdom, known as Svea rike, emerged from what is now the Stockholm and Mälardalen region, with Birka, Sigtuna, and Uppsala serving as central hubs of development. 

Sigtuna, located by Lake Mälaren just north of Stockholm, is Sweden's oldest remaining town, founded over a thousand years ago by King Erik the Victorious. Photo: Arild Vågen (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Sigtuna: Where Sweden begins 

Sigtuna, situated by Lake Mälaren just north of Stockholm, has a history spanning over a thousand years as Sweden's oldest remaining town. 

Founded in the Viking Age by King Erik the Victorious, it quickly flourished into a hub of trade and culture, linking Scandinavia to the broader world. 

This ancient town, with its preserved cobblestone streets, wooden buildings, and St. Mary's medieval church, offers a window into Sweden's medieval and Viking past. 

As a trading center, Sigtuna attracted people from diverse cultures, leaving an enduring imprint on its customs and architecture. 

Archeological excavations, similar to those in Birka (another Viking settlement in eastern Sweden), have unveiled Sigtuna's rich history. 

The Sigtuna Museum houses a collection of artifacts shedding light on daily life, trade networks, and regional connections stretching all the way to modern-day Istanbul. 

While Sigtuna's prominence waned over time, its heritage and importance to Swedish history make it well worth a day trip from Stockholm. 

Today, it blends rich history with contemporary life, welcoming visitors to explore boutiques, dine in diverse restaurants, and engage in cultural events. 

Sigtuna's legacy endures through preservation, ongoing research, and cultural activities, making it a cherished destination for history enthusiasts and travelers alike. 

As you wander through its ancient streets and historical sites, you feel a deep connection with the generations that once called this vibrant town home. 

Built in the 11th century by Jarlabanke, a Viking chieftain, this 150-meter bridge originally connected lands around Lake Vallentuna and later transformed into a causeway as water levels lowered. Photo: Berig (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Jarlabanke Bridge: A show of power near Stockholm 

In the northern suburbs of Stockholm lies Jarlabanke's well-preserved Viking Age bridge, a testament to this Viking lord's power and religious beliefs. 

Jarlabanke, a member of a Christian Viking aristocratic family in Täby, built the bridge in the 11th century to connect lands around Lake Vallentuna. 

Originally, this structure was a 150-meter bridge serving both practical and symbolic purposes. Over time, as the water levels lowered (they were about five meters higher during the Viking Age), the bridge transformed into a causeway. 

This structure helped communities unite and secured Jarlabanke's authority. 

Jarlabanke's desire for remembrance and eternal salvation as a Christian is evident in the runestones he commissioned, which state that the bridge was built for his soul. 

Such bridges were common in Viking times and often tied to spiritual well-being, reflecting the importance of community and faith. 

Along with being renowned for their longships, Viking bridge-building was significant in its historical context. Jarlabanke's project represented a consolidation of societal changes, demonstrating his power and influence. 

The question of Jarlabanke's personality arises as he raised runestones in his own memory during his lifetime, a rarity in Viking culture. 

While most runestones commemorate deceased relatives, it's possible that Jarlabanke, who gained power in his early twenties, sought to establish himself as a worthy local earl. 

The dating of Jarlabanke's runestones suggests he was relatively young when he raised them, highlighting his early achievements. 

The accuracy of the dating methods used is subject to debate, but they place the bridge runestones in the late Viking Age (1020-1050), while another nearby runestone suggests Jarlabanke's death around 1060-1100. 

Granby is one of the best-preserved Viking farm sites near Stockholm, with house foundations that provide a clear visualization of the settlement a thousand years ago. Photo: Catasa (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Granby: Viking farm life 

Granby is an archeological Viking site located a 40-minute car ride north of Stockholm. Alternatively, you can take the train from Stockholm Östra to Lindholmen and walk for 20 minutes. 

There are many known farm sites where the Vikings lived, but few are as well-preserved as Granby. 

Here, you find a set of house foundations lined up on a hill, giving you a strong visualization of how the site could have appeared a thousand years ago. 

Imagine the wooden longhouse walls and ceilings rising above you as you walk into the stone foundations. 

Feel the presence of Finnvid and other Vikings as you walk through the building, and learn about the family by looking at the runestone outside. 

Arkils Tingstad, located about 30 minutes north of Stockholm in Vallentuna, is one of the best-preserved Viking assembly sites in the world. Photo: Catasa (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Arkils tingstad: A place for law and order 

Want to see where Vikings met to rule? 

Arkils tingstad, one of the best-preserved Viking assembly sites in the world, is located only about 30 minutes north of Stockholm in the community of Vallentuna.

Situated by the lakeside of Vallentunasjön, it offers tranquil views of Swedish nature. 

Vikings from the local area could take their boats to the ting meetings. The "ting" was a legal institution in Viking society where all free men had the right to raise concerns and participate in the political process. 

Scholars debate the details and social structure of Viking society, but the "ting" system contained elements comparable to Athenian democracy. Some argue that the roots of modern Swedish democracy lie in its Viking past. 

Located in Stockholm's Old Town, Gamla Stan, Aifur Krog och Bar provides an immersive Viking longhouse atmosphere where guests can enjoy dishes like smoked reindeer and elk meat. Photo: HasimYazici / Shutterstock

Viking-themed dining at Aifur Krog och Bar 

Aifur Krog och Bar is a Viking-themed restaurant located in Stockholm's Old Town, Gamla stan. 

It offers an immersive dining experience with a Viking longhouse atmosphere, complete with traditional decor, mead, and Viking-inspired cuisine. 

Guests can enjoy dishes like smoked reindeer and elk meat while embracing the Viking spirit by eating with their hands and drinking from horns. 

Live Viking entertainment adds to the themed atmosphere, making it a popular destination for those interested in Nordic history and culture. 

Tours for Viking history enthusiasts 

Most Viking sights around Stockholm are difficult to reach using public transportation. Thankfully, a few companies operate tours with hotel pick-up and drop-off from the Stockholm city center. 

The oldest of these companies is STOEX, which began offering Viking history tours more than ten years ago. 

Their tours take you to runestones, grave sites, a Viking assembly, archeological farm remnants, the town of Sigtuna, and the royal burial mounds of Uppsala. 

Vikingaliv provides an engaging experience with model displays, expert-guided tours, and a unique ride that immerses visitors in Viking exploration and trade. Photo: Jules Verne Times Two (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Viking Museum: A ride through history 

The Viking Museum, Vikingaliv, is an engaging, interactive attraction dedicated to sharing the Viking story. 

Here, you can spin a globe to track the Viking voyages of plunder and exploration. Follow a digital timeline that explains the major events of Viking history and their influence on world history. 

Additionally, you can join a guided tour during which an expert will describe the objects in the displays and their importance to the Vikings. 

You can also go on a slower-paced ride to experience the story of a Viking man who traveled to Turkey to trade, raid, and serve in the Byzantine emperor's army. 

Your carriage takes you past model displays with realistic backgrounds, engaging your senses with the sounds of battle and the smells of the city. 

The restaurant at Vikingaliv serves food and drink inspired by the Viking Age, and the gift shop sells Viking-related souvenirs created by professional craftsmen. 

The Viking exhibition at the Swedish History Museum features artifacts from Birka, a significant Viking trading center, providing insights into Viking society, trade networks, and daily life. Photo: Øyvind Holmstad (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Swedish History Museum: How Vikings traded 

The Viking exhibition at the Swedish History Museum showcases artifacts from the Birka archeological site, located on Björkö Island in Lake Mälaren, a significant Viking trading center. 

The collection provides valuable insights into Viking society, trade networks, and daily life

Featuring a diverse array of Viking artifacts, including weapons, tools, jewelry, and everyday items, the exhibition offers visitors a comprehensive understanding of the craftsmanship and technological advancements of the Viking Age. 

Additionally, models and reconstructions of Viking ships emphasize the importance of maritime activities, exploration, and trade. 

Interactive displays, such as virtual reconstructions and touchscreens, provide a more immersive experience. 

The exhibition explores themes of seafaring exploration and extensive trade networks that characterize the Viking Age. It details the Vikings' journeys to distant lands and their interactions with other cultures. 

Beyond the stereotypical warrior image, the exhibition delves into the social structure, religious beliefs, and cultural practices of Viking society. 

Gunnes gård, a living Viking farm in Upplands Väsby, brings history to life with reenactors, authentic animal breeds, and buildings based on archaeological findings near Bålsta. Photo: azaleapoena (Public domain)

Gunnes gård: How Vikings farmed 

Want to see how archeologists think the Vikings lived their everyday lives? Take the train from Stockholm to Upplands Väsby and visit Gunnes gård

This recreated settlement is largely based on excavations near Bålsta on the E18 highway northwest of Stockholm. 

The reconstructed Viking houses are situated in the neighborhood of Smedby, in the northern suburb of Upplands Väsby. 

This was the site of an actual Viking farm a thousand years ago, and burial fields surround the reconstructed buildings. 

Professional reenactors work daily on the farm, taking care of real animals, including old Swedish breeds similar to those that existed in the Viking Age.

In this sense, Gunnes Gård is a living Viking farm run by archeologists and historians to create as historically accurate an experience as possible for visitors.

You can arrange a guided tour if you are coming as a group or simply explore as an individual visitor during the opening hours from April to September. 

This branded article was produced in collaboration with STOEX, a partner of The Viking Herald. You can find out more about their Viking and history tours - and book one - here.

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