The hit TV series ‘Vikings’ from the History Channel has been enthralled audiences worldwide since its release in 2013. This historical drama with a total of six seasons was created by Michael Hirst, an English screenwriter and producer. 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 series was so popular that it earned many nominations and awards. It got praised globally not just for the riveting plot and special visual effects but also for its outstanding cinematography and beautiful Vikings filming locations.
If you have seen the series, the mesmerizing landscapes from this spectacular show must have made you wonder where was Vikings filmed. 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.
Famous Vikings Filming Locations To Visit
Come let’s take you through the stunning mountains, lakes, rivers, beaches, waterfalls and countryside that will transport you to the world of the Vikings.
1. Lough Tay, County Wicklow – Kattegat
Lough Tay in County Wicklow is one of the main filming locations for the settlement of Kattegat. This is where Ragnar Lothbrok and his family resided in the show. 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 village. Snow and other Scandinavian elements to the scene were often digitally edited and added to make it apt for the series. 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.
2. 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 (especially during the third season). These lakes cover 500 acres in the majestic Wicklow Mountains and were only formed over 50 years ago. This is where Ireland’s largest man-made reservoir (Pulaphuca Reservoir) from where electricity and water is supplied to many parts of Dublin. Just remember to keep away from the water as swimming is prohibited in Blessington lakes because of the many hidden dangers. Several scenes were also filmed at the nearby Lough Dan.
3. 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. Luggula Estate, also known as “Fancy Mountain” is rightly famous for its breathtaking beauty and dramatic landscapes. As the estate is owned by the Guinness family, ask your tour operator to take permission if you wish to see it from close proximity.
4. Powerscourt Waterfall, County Wicklow
Another filming location in County Wicklow was at Powerscourt. This gorgeous estate and its gardens cover 47 acres and date back to the 13th century. The 400-foot-high Powerscourt Waterfall was used in the scene where the audience is first introduced to Aslaug, the future wife of Ragnar. This waterfall is not just a popular attraction for people who loves to connect with nature but also one of the highest waterfalls in Ireland.
5. 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.
6. 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. The Boyne River was picked for filming as it runs through some of the most beautiful countryside in Ireland. The River Boyne runs through many counties but much of the Viking scenes were filmed along the walls of nearby Slane Castle.
7. Ashford Studios, County Wicklow
Finally, a lot of the show’s magic happens at Ashford Studios as most part of the series was shot in this studio. Also located in County Wicklow, this campus has been the show’s base since 2013. This is because of the 30km of shore that has forest, lakes and mountains which are perfect scenic locations for outdoor scenes. Many blockbuster movies have set up their sets at Wicklow and hence this place came to be known as ‘The Hollywood of Europe’. For indoor scenes, Ashford Studios had set up detailed and immersive sets to create convincing and captivating representation of Kattegat. This location has greatly contributed to the making of the series.
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).
Last but not the least, don’t miss to visit the Dublinia Viking Festival and Museum in Ireland. It is at the Dublinia Viking Festival where one can see what life was like aboard a Viking warship. Different Viking houses, the weapons they used and the clothes exhibited here are sure to take one back in time. The museum too has a good collection of artifacts that shows the blend between the old and new Dublin.
These remarkable Vikings shooting locations has been instrumental in creating an immersive depiction of the Viking age that led to the huge success of the series. Must say, the beautiful landscapes of Iceland have left an indelible mark in the hearts of its audience forever. Are there any Vikings filming locations that we’ve missed? If so, be sure to share them in the comments below.
Some FAQs On Vikings filming locations
During the first two seasons the entire town of Kattegat was the Vikings filming locations. From the filming of the third season the shooting was moved to Ashford Studios in Ireland to make it easy for the cast and crew to get to the location. The good news for Vikings fans is that, both the real Kattegat Vikings location and the manmade location at Ashford Studios are open for people to visit.
The stunning Nuns beach in the west Coast of Ireland is where the battle scene was shot, the black sand beaches near Vík is where the Land of the Gods that Flóki was shot in season 5 and Silverstrand beach in the south of Wicklow are beaches where the Vikings series was filmed.
Although the majority of the series was filmed in Ireland, some breathtaking serene landscapes in Norway were also used to film Vikings. The most significant Norwegian filming location was the village of Avaldsnes in Karmøy as it offered a wealth of stunning landscapes. Apart from these two locations, Denmark, Sweden, distant lands like England, France, and even the Mediterranean’s geographical area was explored over the course of its six seasons.
The Golden land in Vikings discovered by Ubbe and the settlers is believed to be in North America. The land is called ‘Golden Land’ as the land is quite fertile with forest, fruits, water and animals.