Seeing a real viking ship from a thousand year ago is something special, and a few viking ships have been preserved and are somewhat available to the public. There are viking ships found in both Norway, Denmark and Germany, but the Norwegian viking ships are considered to be one of the best ones to see for yourself.
We will be looking closer at where to see viking ships in Norway in this article, but also take a quick look at where to see the viking ships in Denmark and Germany at the end.
There are three viking ships on public display in Norway (Gokstad, Oseberg, and Tune), but these are currently behind closed doors while the Viking Ship Museum is upgrading their facilities. They are slated to reopen in 2026, but it’s uncertain if they will because of budget issues.
The three viking ships Gokstad, Oseberg, and Tune used to be on display at the Viking Ship Museum
The Viking Ship Museum on Bygdøy in Oslo used to be the most popular museum in all of Norway, and displayed the three viking ships Gokstad, Tune and Oseberg. It brought in around 500,000 visitors yearly, and was a great place to see the viking ships with your own eyes.
Unfortunately the buildings that housed the viking ships were determined to be too bad for the ships in the long run, so the entire museum closed down while they are construction new and modern buildings.
This means that right now it’s impossible to see these three viking ships. They are behind closed doors until the new museum is supposed to open in 2026.
While 2026 is far away, it might get worse. The museum (now having rebranded to the Museum of the Viking Ages) are already having big budget issues. If these are not resolved, the end result could potentially be that the museum won’t open again at all.
This would be extremely unfortunate, and in reality mean that no real viking ships are on public display in Norway any longer.
We can only hope that this issues revolves itself, and that you will be able to come to Oslo and see the Gokstad, Tune and Oseberg viking ships in 2026 or later.
Protip: If you want to learn more about the viking age when visiting Oslo, stop by the Viking Age Exhibition at the Historical Museum to see lots of different viking relics and items.
Viking ships like Gjellestad, Kvalsund, Myklebust and others are too fragile for display
While viking ships are still rare, there have been found more than just the three above here in Norway. Unfortunately these have been too badly damaged by being buried for around 1,000 years.
This isn’t really all that strange if you think about it, but it’s unfortunate for those of us that want to see them.
Viking ships like Gjellestad, Kvalsund, Myklebust and several other are simply too fragile to be displayed to the general public. They are kept in sealed environments with no air humidity or light. This is to prevent further decay.
Only researchers and scientists can look at these ships, but only if they have a special need for it as part of their research.
There are also some “ships” where researchers have found only the metal parts like the hinges from the ship. Some of these are on display at various viking museums in Norway like the hinges from the Borre viking ship that is going to be displayed in the Museum of the Viking Ages (if and when it opens).
You need to go to Denmark or Germany to see authentic viking ship these days
Since the Viking Ship Museum is closed until further notice, you will need to go to either Denmark or Germany to see a real viking ship.
I suggest going to Denmark to Roskilde. You will find Vikingeskibsmuseet here, which houses 5 different viking ships. All these are from the area called Skuldelev, but the ships themselves are from both Norway, Dublin, Denmark and other parts of Scandinavia. There are also lots of different viking ship replicas there.
There also another option in Denmark, where you have the remains of the Ladeby viking ship at The Viking Museum Ladeby.
The viking ship in Germany is called the Hedeby ship, and it’s on display at Hedeby Viking Museum in Hadeby. This used to be a Danish viking settlement, but is now part of Germany. The ship isn’t in as good conditions as the ones in Norway or Denmark, but it’s worth a stop by if you are in the area.
There are plenty of viking ship replicas
If you just want to learn more about the viking ships, seeing a replica of one might be almost as good as seeing one of the authentic ones. There are actually a lot of different viking ship replicas in Norway!
Some places to see viking ship replicas are Njardarheimr Viking Valley in Gudvangen, Sagastad Museum in Nordfjordeid, Sunnmøre Museum in Ålesund, Lofotr Vikingmuseum, Norwegian Maritime Museum in Oslo and more.
Most of the viking ships are currently in museums, but there are some actually in use and accept tourists as passengers in the summer months. So it’s actually possible to book a ticket to ride a viking ship when you are visiting Norway!
Go on a virtual tour of the Viking Ship Museum
Since the Viking Ship Museum has closed its doors, and might never even open again, the next best thing is a virtual tour of the museum. So check out the 15 minute long video below to see most of the museum digitally!
As you can see, the museum itself is pretty small. If the new Museum of the Viking Ages get made though, it will be a lot bigger and include much more information about the viking age in general, not only just the ships.
The Viking Ship Museum was actually originally planned to get 30,000 visitors yearly, so their facilities were made with that number in mind. So you can only imagine how crowded it could be when they began to see 400,000 – 500,000 tourists visit yearly!