Scandinavian Tour: The Vikings of Denmark, Germany, Norway & Sweden
Tour Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Sweden: Follow in the Path of the Vikings as we traverse four countries, with four private tours – Haithabu, Tanum, Roskilde Viking Ship Museum, Hedared Stave Church.
with Dr. Steven Ashby
July 6 – 21, 2019
Why Take Far Horizons’ Scandinavian Tour?
- Traverse four countries: Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden
- Private tour of Germany’s Haithabu Viking Museum in Hedaby
- Private tour of Tanum Rock Art, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Private tour of Roskilde Viking Ship Museum
- Private opening of Hedared Stave Church
- Three full days in Visby, a medieval walled city on Gotland Island
- Six UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Maximum 14 participants
(click to enlarge)
Scandinavian Tour Daily Itinerary
Day 1: Depart USA
Day 2: Arrive Copenhagen, Denmark and overnight
Day 3: Kronborg Castle, Rundetårn
Day 4: Roskilde Museum, Trelleborg Ring Fortress, Ladby Ship Grave. Overnight Vejle for two nights
Day 5: Danevirke and Haithabu Museum in Hedaby, Germany
Day 6: Ravning Bridge, Jelling, Lindholm Høje. Overnight Frederikshavn
Day 7: Ferry to Gothenburg. Hedared Stave Church
Day 8: Tanum. Overnight Oslo, Norway for two nights
Day 9: Norsk Folkemuseum, Norwegian Museum of Cultural History and Viking Ship Museum
Day 10: Fly Stockholm. Vasa Museum, Swedish History Museum. Overnight Stockholm for two nights
Day 11: Birka
Day 12: Fly to Visby. City tour. Overnight Visby for two nights
Day 13: Tjelvar’s ship grave, Torsburgen Fortress, Gammelgarns Church
Day 14: Gotland Island. Evening flight to Stockholm. Overnight Stockholm Airport for two nights
Day 15: Sigtuna, Sigurdsristningen, Anundshög
Day 16: Return flight to the USA
‘As I reflect on this more and more, it is clear that it is one of the very best tours I have ever gone on (and i have done many): great learning curve, varied sites and artifacts, excellent private guides. It far exceeded my expectations.’ – Louise A Grincelis
Far Horizons is proud to present a 16-day tour that follows in the Path of the Vikings through four countries: Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Sweden. The itinerary includes stone ship burials; charming medieval villages, fortress-churches adorned with 800-year-old frescoes, and museums filled with fascinating artifacts from the Viking period. But there’s more! See bronze-age petroglyphs; megalithic tombs; pre-Christian labyrinths and mazes; and opulent palaces.
Highlights include six UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Kronborg Castle; Hedeby Viking Village and the defensive earthworks at Danevirke; Jelling with massive carved rune stones from the 10th century; Tanum’s beguiling rock art; Gotland’s captivating walled medieval town of Visby; and Birka, an important Viking trading center located on an island in Sweden’s Lake Mälaren. .
Won’t you join us on this unusual journey through four countries following In the Path of the Vikings?
Steven P. Ashby is Senior Lecturer in Medieval Archaeology at the University of York in England, where he has won several prizes for teaching, and has run large funding projects on craft, trade, and domestic activity in Viking-Age Britain and Scandinavia. He received his MSc in Zooarchaeology, and his PhD in Archaeology from the University of York. A specialist on the Vikings, Dr. Ashby is the author of numerous articles and books including A Viking Way of Life and Pocket Museum: Vikings (in Press with Thames and Hudson). He is the co-organizer of the Craft Networks in Viking Towns Project – https://www.york.ac.uk/archaeology/research/current-projects/cnvt/ (also soon to be published) and The Vikings Studies Research Group – https://www.york.ac.uk/archaeology/staff/academic-staff/steve-ashby/vikings/ . Dr. Ashby is also the Co-Director of the Torpel Manor Field Archaeological Research Project – https://www.york.ac.uk/archaeology/research/project-archives/torpel/, and has been a featured speaker and historical consultant on TV and radio in the U.K. and internationally. He recently worked on Real Vikings, co-hosting a film based in Arctic Norway with members of the cast of the History Channel’s Vikings series. Dr. Ashby’s knowledge of the Vikings, along with his enthusiastic teaching style and love of Scandinavia makes him an ideal study leader for this trip.
(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner
Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Arrive Copenhagen with the afternoon free to rest. Gather this evening for our gala welcome dinner in a nearby restaurant. Overnight in the charming, boutique 66 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. IIn the afternoon, enter the Rundetårn, a 17th-century tower built by King Christian IV as an astronomical observatory that is the oldest functioning in Europe. The observatory is encircled by an outdoor platform from which you have a magnificent view of the old part of Copenhagen. Dinner will be in one of Copenhagen’s fine restaurants. (B/L/D)
Day 4: We begin the day in Roskilde Viking Museum, Denmark’s national museum for ships, seafaring and boat building in the prehistoric and medieval period. The museum was constructed to house the five Viking ships found in Roskilde Fjord in 1962. These ships were deliberately sunk in 1070 to block the waterway and to protect the great royal and ecclesiastical city of Roskilde from an enemy attack from the sea. In the late 1990s, excavations uncovered a nine more ships from the Viking Age and early medieval period, including the longest Viking warship ever found. We will meet with a museum curator for a private tour of the museum. Often Vikings in Scandinavia were buried in ‘ships’ made of stone. An exception is the Ladby Ship Grave where an 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. Our final visit will be Trelleborg, an enormous circular Viking fortress, the most well preserved fort of its kind. Tree-ring dating, or dendrochronology, determined that the trees used to build it were felled between 980 and 981 AD. Continue to Kolding and overnight for two nights in the Saxildhus Hotel. Dinner is on our own. (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 on a private tour with an archaeologist who works here. Then we continue to Danevirke, a massive fortification system that protected Hedeby. Both Hedeby and Danevirke are on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Return to Kolding in the late afternoon with dinner on our own. (B/L)
Day 6: Today we will see three 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 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. Our final stop is at Lindholm Hoje, an ancient burial ground with hundreds of graves and stone ships from both the Germanic Iron Age and the Viking Age. The site was abandoned about 1200AD and subsequently was covered by blowing sand which protected it. Overnight for one night in Herman Bang Hotel 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. Here, a caretaker will unlock the door so that we can enter the interior of this tiny sanctuary, 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 Stenungsbaden Yacht Club and Spa in Stenungsund, a seaside town with lovely views overlooking Hake Fjord. (B/L/D)
Day 8: Our morning will be spent in Tanum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This region of granite bedrock was scrapped clean as the Scandinavian Ice Sheet slowly moved northward, and the smooth stone left a perfect canvas for early artists. Over 40,000 rock carvings on almost 600 panels reveal the social life and religious beliefs of the people who lived here more than three thousand years ago. The rich and varied motifs of people, animals, weapons, boats, and other symbols give a unique testimony to the Bronze Age world. 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 Thon Hotel Cecil. 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. We will also visit the Viking Ship Museum housing 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. 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. Richly decorated as a symbol of the king’s ambitions for Sweden and himself, upon completion she was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. However, the ship’s structure was flawed, 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. Overnight for two nights at the Hotel Elite Adlon, located in a stylish 19th-century building in the heart of Stockholm. (B/L/D)
Day 11: The Viking City of Birka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is situated on the island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren and was the center of one of the most important and elaborate trading networks of Viking-Age Europe. Archaeological excavations began in the late 19th century and continued in the 20th century, exposing the significance of the town. Birka was the Baltic link in the river and portage route from today’s Russia to the Byzantine Empire and the Abbasid Califate in today’s Iraq. A hill fort, ramparts, jetties and harbors, and the site of the Viking Age settlement are still visible, and a museum on site displays artifacts found here. We will board a ferry to journey to Birka. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)
Day 12: 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 two nights in the Strand Hotel, located within the city walls of Visby. (B/L/D)
Day 13: We venture outside Visby and drive through the island’s countryside to explore several captivating 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 are free for explorations on our own. (B/L)
Day 14: We will spend today exploring a wealth of historic sites. 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. Fly back to Stockholm in the early evening and overnight for two nights in the Clarion Arlanda Airport Hotel. (B/L)
Day 15:We drive west on an all-day jaunt that takes us first to 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. 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 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 scattered through the town. Gather for our gala final dinner together. (B/L/D)
Day 16: Transfer to the Stockholm airport for our return flight to the USA. (B)
$10,995.00 (per person, double occupancy, land only) includes 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. Price based upon the exchange rate for the Euro not going over 1.25 and Swedish SEK not going over .12. If the value of the currency increases, the price of the trip may go up.
Single Supplement: $1,495.00. 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 8, 2019) 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 8, 2019 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. 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