The hit TV series Vikings from the History Channel is all set to end this year. It follows the adventures of Ragnar Lodbrok, a legendary 9th century Viking, and later his family and is based equally on fact and fiction. The majority of the show is set in England, Denmark, and other parts of Northern Europe, though there are also scenes set around the Mediterranean.
However, a lot of Vikings filming locations are actually in Ireland. In fact, many locations can be found just south of Dublin in Wicklow County. This area is known for its lush Nordic-looking landscapes and is filled with mountains, glacial lakes and forests.
Lough Tay, County Wicklow – Kattegat
Lough Tay in County Wicklow is one of the main filming locations for the settlement of Kattegat. Also known as “Guinness Lake” (as it’s owned by the Guinness family) the fjord-style mountains of Wicklow County provide the perfect backdrop for the fictional Danish village. Unfortunately, the Loch itself lies on private land and you can’t get up close. The set of Kattegat village was located right near the shore before it was moved to Ashford Studios in Ballyhenry.
Blessington Lakes, County Wicklow
Many scenes featuring Ragnar and the other Viking Norsemen exploring the vast seas on longships are also filmed on the Blessington Lakes. These lakes covering 500 acres in the majestic Wicklow Mountains and were only formed over 50 years ago. Scenes were also filmed at the nearby Lough Dan.
Luggula Estate, County Wicklow
Lough Tay is situated on the Luggala Estate, which is owned by the Guinness family. The Estate and its mountains also feature heavily in Vikings as the rugged Scandinavian landscape surrounding Kattegat.
Powerscourt Waterfall, County Wicklow
Another filming location in County Wicklow was at Powerscourt. This gorgeous estate and its gardens cover 47 acres and dates back to the 13th century. The 400 foot high Powerscourt Waterfall was used in the scene where the audience is first introduced to Aslaug, future wife of Ragnar.
Nuns Beach, County Kerry
Nuns Beach in County Kerry was used to film scenes set in medieval Northumbria. Located along the Wild Atlantic Way, Nuns Beach lies just beneath an old convent and gets its name from the nuns who used to bathe there. The beach is only accessible by boat or by a very steep path set on the side of the cliffs surrounding it.
Just around the corner is an area called the Nine Daughters, which is associated with a fascinating legend. The story goes that the 9 daughters of the local Village Chief fell in love with Viking invaders and planned to run away with them. But, their father caught them and threw both his daughters and the Vikings into the sea, where they drowned.
River Boyne, County Meath
In Season 4 of the show, the Vikings sail down the Seine River to take Paris. However, this was actually filmed on the Boyne River in County Meath, with the city of Paris being added in later with CGI. Scenes were also filmed along the walls of nearby Slane Castle.
Finally, a lot of the show’s magic happens at Ashford Studios. Also located in County Wicklow, this campus has been the show’s base since 2013.
Other Vikings filming locations to visit include:
- Vik Beach and Skógafoss Waterfall in Iceland‘s South Coast, which we see in Season 5 when boat-builder Flóki (who is loosely based on the real Viking Flóki Vilgerðarson, who according to the Icelandic sagas was the first Norseman to set foot on Iceland) sets out on his own and discovers the land, which he names “The Land of the Gods”;
- Parts of the Sahara Desert near Erfoud and Errachidia in Morocco, when in season 5, Ragnar’s eldest son Björn Ironside travels to the Mediterranean and to Sicily (because modern-day Sicily looks nothing like it did in medieval times). Here the fortress of the Byzantine commander was filmed at the Atlas Film Studios in Ouarzazate. The same fortress has previously been used in several other films, including Kingdom of Heaven (2005), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Gladiator (2000) and The Mummy (1999).
Are there any Vikings filming locations that we’ve missed? If so, be sure to share them in the comments below.