Scandinavian Tour: The Vikings of Denmark, Norway & Sweden
Tour Denmark, Norway and Sweden: Follow in the path of the Vikings as we traverse three countries, with a day trip into Germany.
with Professor Jesse Byock
Why Take Far Horizons’ Scandinavian Tour?
- Traverse three countries: Denmark, Norway, Sweden
- Plus the newly renovated Haithabu Viking Museum in Hedaby, Germany
- Private tour of Tanum Rock Art, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Three full days in Visby, a medieval walled city on Gotland Island
- The New Viking Museum in Stockholm
- Six UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Maximum 14 participants
Scandinavian Tour Daily Itinerary
Day 1: Depart USA
Day 2: Arrive Copenhagen, Denmark and overnight
Day 3: Kronborg Castle, Rothkilde Cathedral
Day 4: National Museum, Ladby Ship Grave. Overnight Odense for two nights
Day 5: Haithabu Museum in Hedaby, Germany
Day 6: Ravning Bridge, Jelling. Overnight Frederikshavn
Day 7: Ferry to Gothenburg. Hedared Stave Church
Day 8: Tanum. Overnight Oslo, Norway for two nights
Day 9: Norsk Folkemuseum, Viking Ship Museum, Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
Day 10: Fly Stockholm. Nordic Museum, Ethnographic Museum. Overnight Stockholm for three nights
Day 11: Drottningholm Palace, Storkyrkan Cathedral, Viking Museum
Day 12: Sigtuna, Sigurdsristningen, Anundshög
Day 13: Fly to Visby. City tour. Overnight Visby for three nights
Day 14: Tjelvar’s ship grave, Torsburgen Fortress, Gammelgarns Church
Day 15: Tour Gotland Island
Day 16: Fly Stockholm. Vasa Museum, Overnight Stockholm
Day 17: Return flight to the USA
Highlights include the six UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Kronborg Castle, Roskilde Cathedral, Jelling with massive carved rune stones from the 10th century, Tanum’s beguiling rock art, the 17th century royal palace of Drottningholm, and Gotland’s captivating walled medieval town of Visby.
Won’t you join us on this unusual journey through three countries following In the Path of the Vikings?
Jesse Byock received his PhD from Harvard in Medieval Scandinavia and Old Norse Language, History, and Sagas. Additionally he studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, Georgetown University Law School, the University of Iceland, and the University of Lund in Sweden. At UCLA he is the Director, Old Norse Studies Program and a Professor at UCLA’s Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. He focuses on Viking Archaeology and history and has published widely with works translated into numerous languages. Dr. Byock’s books include Viking Age Iceland, Grettir’s Saga, The Saga of the Volsungs, Viking Language 1: Learn Old Norse, Runes and Icelandic Sagas, and Viking Language 2: The Old Norse Reader. He created and developed the website www.vikinglanguage.com (please click here for a digital brochure on the Viking Language Series). Professor Byock has been featured in specials on BBC Radio 3 and BBC World Service. He was the Specialist narrator for the documentary film for Smithsonian/Public Television, “Leif Eiriksson – The Man Who Almost Changed History,” and historical consultant for the History Channel’s, “The Vikings: Fury from the North.” Dr. Byock has been the recipient of many awards and honors including the Fulbright Distinguished Senior Fellowship Award for Research in Old Norse Archaeology, the Norwegian Government Kulturdepartementet for excavation research, and a Guggenheim Fellowship for Viking Archaeology. He speaks or reads several languages including Icelandic and Old Icelandic/Old Norse, Swedish, and French. For more than two decades, Professor Byock has been directing the Mosfell Archaeological Project in Iceland (http://www.viking.ucla.edu/mosfell_project/ ).
(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner
Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Arrive Copenhagen with the rest of the afternoon free to rest. Gather this evening for our gala welcome dinner in one of the city’s exceptional restaurants. Overnight in the charming, boutique Carlton Guldsmeden Hotel in Copenhagen for two nights. (D)
Day 3: Begin today in the Royal Castle of Kronborg. Immortalized by Shakespeare as Hamlet’s Elsinore Castle, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both a graceful Renaissance palace and a vast fortress, it was strategically located to ensure Denmark controlled the passage of ships at the gateway to the Baltic Sea. Almost two million ships passed through this waterway during the 16th-18th centuries, and all paid a toll making Kronborg Castle a compelling sign of Denmark’s influence. In the afternoon, drive to Roskilde Cathedral, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the island of Zealand in eastern Denmark. Built of brick in the 12th and 13th centuries, it is Scandinavia’s first Gothic cathedral and has been the mausoleum of the Danish royal family since the 15th century. Dinner is on our own to search out one of Copenhagen’s fine restaurants. (B/L)
Day 4: We begin the day in the National Museum, housed in a palace built for Denmark’s 18th century Crown Prince. The museum features exhibitions from the Stone Age, the Viking Age, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and modern Danish History. Vikings in Denmark were buried in ‘ships’ made of stone. The only exception is the Ladby Ship Grave where this important Viking was buried in an actual wooden boat that archaeologists found intact during excavations. Now protected, we will see this ship in situ, with the original anchor in the prow, along with the museum that was built to house the artifacts found during excavations. Continue to Odense and overnight for two nights in the Plaza Hotel. (B/L)
Day 5: Our all day trip takes us into Germany and to the newly renovated Wikinger Haithabu Viking Museum. Located near Hedeby, formerly a medieval Viking trading center and port, the museum presents an engaging collection of artifacts discovered during more than 100 years of excavations in the area. Jewelry crafted from gold, silver and bronze, richly decorated weapons, household items and clothing, coins from as far away as today’s Middle East, and a ship that was unearthed from Hedeby’s harbor are all on view. Originally encircled by a still visible rampart, the Viking town has been partly reconstructed based upon archaeological research, and we will step back in time as we stroll through the thatched-roofed buildings. Hedeby is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative list. Return to Odense in the late afternoon. (B/L)
Day 6: Today is filled with visits to two fascinating sites. Recently discovered in Ravning Enge are the remains of the half-mile long bridge constructed by Harald Bluetooth across the Vejle River Valley in 979AD. The span would have facilitated the king’s access to the royal center of Jelling, but it would also have made a statement about his power and wealth. A remarkable engineering achievement, it had the ability to bear the weight of 5-6 tons. In the Viking Age the water levels were higher here and the structure was used both as a bridge and a jetty for ships. Jelling, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a royal monument in the 10th century during the reigns of Gorm and his son Harald Bluetooth, who introduced Christianity into Denmark. The king proclaimed his achievements by erecting and prominently displaying an enormous runic stone, or Old Norse picture stone, the largest and most splendid in Scandinavia. Overnight for one night in the Best Western Herman Bang in the port city of Frederikshavn. (B/L/D)
Day 7: Our 3½-hour ferry ride takes us across the Kattegat Sea to Gothenburg, Sweden, and on to Hedared to see Sweden’s only surviving medieval stave church. Once common in northwestern Europe, these distinctive wooden churches were constructed of upright vertical planks. This one, according to dendrochronology studies, was one of the last erected – in the early 1500s. The interior of this tiny sanctuary is covered with beautiful sculptures dedicated to Saint Francis and the Virgin as well as biblical images painted directly upon the wood. There is an old altar in the church, dating from the 13th century which suggests that there was an earlier church here. Overnight for one night in the Hotel Tanumshede Gestgifveri near Tanum. The hotel was listed as a cultural heritage in 1983 and is the only inn in Sweden that has been in continuous operation since 1663. (B/L/D)
Day 8: Our morning will be spent in Tanum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over 40,000 rock carvings on almost 600 panels reveal the social life and religious beliefs of the people who lived here during the Bronze Age more than three thousand years ago. We will be joined by an archaeologist for a private tour of this huge area that stretches for more than ten miles and includes the paintings at Aspeberget, dominated by imagery of bulls, and Vitlycke where almost 500 images cover a huge section. Drive to Oslo and overnight for two nights in the Folketeateret, a design hotel in central Oslo. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)
Day 9: We spend today visiting Oslo’s outstanding Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Norsk Folkemuseum), where 160 historic buildings stand in the open-air. One of the most important attractions is the 13th-century Gol Stave Church, a medieval sanctuary constructed of upright planks, or staves. During the Middle Ages, when immense cathedrals were created in stone in other countries in Europe, the people of Norway built their churches of wood. They feature both Christian designs and what are most likely pre-Christian Viking motifs such as intertwined dragon themes. Indoor exhibits feature Norwegian folk costumes and folk art, along with displays of Sami culture. A part of the Norsk Folkemuseum, the Viking Ship Museum houses the world’s two best-preserved 9th-century wooden Viking ships. The museum is most famous for the intact Oseberg ship, excavated in 1904. Found in the grave were the remains of two females. They were interred with 13 horses, two oxen, four dogs, four elaborately decorated sleighs, and a splendidly carved four-wheel wooden cart. These rich grave goods suggest these were high-status women. (B/L/D)
Day 10: Fly from Oslo to Stockholm. Our afternoon includes two of Stockholm’s excellent museums. The Nordic Museum is dedicated to the cultural history and ethnography of Sweden from 1520 to modern times. And the Ethnographic Museum houses cultural artifacts from around the world. Overnight for three nights in the Hotel Elite Adlon, located in a stylish 19th-century building in the heart of Stockholm. (B/L)
Day 11: Begin today in Drottningholm Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the most well-preserved 17th-century royal castle in Sweden. It is made up of magnificent salons, imposing gardens, a wooden Chinese Pavilion, and the best preserved 18th-century theater in Europe and the only one in the world that still uses the original stage machinery. The southern wing is the permanent residence of Sweden’s royal family. In the afternoon, we move on to the Storkyrkan Cathedral, or The Great Church, built in 1279 and the oldest building still in use in Stockholm. It is an important example of Swedish Brick Gothic and the residence of the bishop of Stockholm. This is where royal coronations, weddings and burials take place. The highlight inside is the 11 ft. tall sculpture of St. George and the Dragon that commemorates the victory of the Swedish army over the Danes at the battle of Brunkeberg in 1471. In 2017, a new museum is opening in Stockholm, the Life of Vikings, or Vikingaliv. We will be one of the first groups of people to visit it. (B/L/D)
Day 12: We drive northwest from Stockholm on an all-day jaunt that takes us first to Sigtuna, created in 970AD by the order of King Erik the Victorious. Today, this small medieval village is filled with charming, multi-colored wooden buildings. But the purpose of our visit is to see the old churches and the rune stones. We continue to Anundshög, Sweden’s largest burial mound standing 30 feet high. Surrounding the tumulus are smaller graves, huge stone ships, and standing stones including a large 11th century rune stone. A ‘stone ship’ is an oval-shaped stone circle that symbolizes a boat that was to carry the deceased to the realm of the dead. This was an important royal site from the Iron Age until about 1050AD. It was here people gathered for the ting, or district court, even as late as the Middle Ages, and where the community sacrificed to their gods and later prayed to the new Christian god. Our final stop is Sigurdsristningen, an elaborate Viking-age rock carving that tells the mythological story, described in the Germanic Völsunga Saga, of Sigurd, who killed the dragon Fafnir. The ten-foot-long engraving on top of a massive boulder shows Sigurd roasting the heart of Fafnir over a fire. Dinner is free this evening. (B/L)
Day 13: An early-morning transfer to the airport puts us on our flight to Visby, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located on Gotland Island, where archaeological excavations have exposed an important commercial town from the Viking era, it was also a key location for Baltic trade between Western Europe and Russia during the Middle Ages. Visby is gorgeous! Forty-four formidable turrets are strategically placed in the ramparts encircling the town, which made it the best-preserved impregnable commercial city in northern Europe in the 13th century. Inside the walls, the serpentine cobble-stone lanes, rose-covered cottages, and profusion of old churches make this one of the most delightful towns in northern Europe. Our afternoon walking tour includes Visby Cathedral and Gotland’s Fornsalen Museum, lodged within an 18th-century distillery, where items on display reveal Visby’s history. Among the most striking sections is the collection of richly carved runic picture stones dating from the 5th to 11th centuries. Overnight for three nights in the historic Hotel Clarion, housed within a building that dates back to the 13th century located within the city walls of Visby. (B/L/D)
Day 14: We venture outside Visby and drive through the island’s countryside to explore several captivating early ancient sites. Tjelvar’s Grave is one of the best preserved stone ship settings in Gotland. According to legend Tjelvar, the first man who lived in Gotland, was buried here during the late Bronze Age. Originally built in the 1st century AD, Torsburgen Fortress was the largest ancient fortress in northern Europe. A timber-laced stone rampart encircles an area of 30 acres. Scholars estimate that nearly 1,000 soldiers would have been needed to defend it and it could have been provided refuge to the entire population of Gotland during the Middle Ages. As we drive, we will pass many medieval churches including Gammelgarns Kyrka with its 13th century fortified tower. The afternoon and evening is free for explorations on our own. (B/L)
Day 15: We will spend today exploring the wealth of historic sites outside Visby. During the 11th century, Gotland began to move from the Old Norse beliefs and adopt Christianity and there are many captivating places of worship on the island. Stenkyrka has picture stones taken from nearby Little Bjärs Grave Field embedded in the church walls. The 14th century church of Marterbo is well-known for its beautifully carved portals. Larbro church has a distinctive octagonal steeple richly adorned with gargoyles and painted reliefs, and the interior contains lovely 13th century frescoes. During a restoration in the 1950s of Gothem Parish Church, medieval frescoes were discovered that depict biblical scenes. There are more than 500 stone labyrinths and mazes across Scandinavia, some of them reputed to date back to the Bronze Age. They are generally found on islands or by the sea, and may have served ritual purposes. Trojaborg labyrinth, Gotland’s most famous, is on the outskirts of Visby. In Hablingbo Church a large fresco of a labyrinth was painted on the internal west wall of the church tower. Intriguingly, there is also a lesser (and faded) graffito of another labyrinth on an adjoining wall. At the medieval Lutheran church in Fröjel, frescoes in the chancel date from the 14th century, and there is a pre-Christian maze just outside the building. The name Fröjel was derived from the goddess Freya which suggests that the labyrinth was associated with fertility rites. Stepping away from churches, our last stop will be at Stora Hastnas, a 14th century mansion that is most well-preserved medieval residential building on Gotland outside Visby. (B/L)
Day 16: Fly back to Stockholm. Upon arrival, transfer to the Vasa Ship Museum. Built in the early 17th century on the orders of King Gustav II, this magnificent vessel was designed with two decks of 64 bronze cannons and was to be the dominant war machine for the Swedish forces. The ship’s structure was flawed, however, and the Vasa sank within one nautical mile of the start of her maiden voyage in 1628. Hundreds of exquisite carved wooden figures of Roman emperors, Greek gods, mermaids, angels, and devils decorated the ship. The vessel was raised in 1961, conserved, and, in 1990, put on display in a museum built just for it. Gather for our gala final dinner together in one of Stockholm’s excellent restaurants. Overnight for one night in the Clarion Arlanda Airport Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 17: Transfer to the Stockholm airport for our return flight to the USA. (B)
$10,995.00 (per person, double occupancy, land only) group accommodations based on double occupancy; meals as noted in the itinerary; airport transfers; entry fees to sites named in itinerary; ground transportation throughout the tour; gratuity to drivers and guides; emergency evacuation insurance for each participant.
Single Supplement: $1,395.00. Far Horizons will attempt to find a roommate for participants requesting that we do so. However, if one is not available, the single supplement will be charged.
Cost Does Not Include: Flights to Copenhagen, Denmark and return from Stockholm, Sweden and three internal flights (Oslo-Stockholm and Stockholm-Visby-Stockholm); the tax-deductible check for $150.00 per person made out to the donation project; meals other than those listed in the itinerary; food, alcoholic and other beverages not on set menus; airport fees and taxes; excess baggage charges; luggage handling (where available – see note below); email, telephone and fax charges; laundry, personal tips; or other items of a personal nature.
Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.
Donation Checks: As a travel company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural projects and museums we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant write a check to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person and is made by check directly to the donation project. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable. We will be designating a donation project for this trip shortly.
A deposit of $750.00 is required along with your registration form. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Prior to the trip, we will send links to various websites of pertinent interest. Far Horizons Tour Registration Form.
Cancellations received by Far Horizons in writing at least 120 days before departure (March 11, 2018) will result in an administrative fee of $450.00. Cancellations received less than 120 days prior to departure will not receive a refund. After March 11, 2018 if for any reason you are unable to complete the tour, we will not reimburse any fees. Registrants are strongly advised to purchase travel insurance that includes trip cancellation upon registration.
Note About Itinerary Changes
Changes in our itinerary, accommodations and transportation schedules may occur. A flexible attitude and a sense of humor are essential.
Scandinavian countries are expensive, and we will stay in 3- and 4-star hotels. Even though we have carefully chosen the hotels, many of them housed in charming historic buildings, they may be simple. Bellboys may not be available, and participants must be prepared to, at times, be responsible for their own luggage. The rooms will be ‘European’ size, which means small. If you would like to be upgraded to a larger room or suite at an additional cost, please contact the Far Horizons office.
International and the three internal flights are not included. Far Horizons, working with an airline wholesaler, has confirmed a special rate on SAS Airlines in economy for both the international and internal flights of the itinerary. Premium economy and business class available at a reduced rate. Upon registration, we will send further information on the group flights. If you do not fly on the group flights, you are responsible for all flight arrangements and transportation (including airport transfers) to join the group. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. For further information, please call the Far Horizons office.
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be onsite when our groups arrive due to other commitments
Note about this Itinerary
The itinerary is designed for energetic people in good health who like to be active and have a spirit of exploration. Meals will not be haute cuisine and several lunches will be picnics or box lunches. To reach some of the site centers entail long walks, as much as two miles or more each day. As a courtesy to your fellow travelers, participants, unassisted, must be able to walk on rough trails and keep up with group members. If you are not physically strong, are walking with a cane, or have problems with climbing, please be aware that there will be no one to assist you. Additionally, please carefully choose footwear with strong support for your feet and ankles. The adventurous nature of the itinerary makes it essential that participants be in good physical condition and have the ability to maintain a flexible attitude. Team spirit and a good sense of humor are vital! If you have questions about your ability to handle this sort of challenge, please call us.
Tour Limited to 14 Participants