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Birka Guide – things to see & do in Birka Viking City

2021-07-19

List of top tips for summer attractions, events & activities

Would you like to learn everything there is to know about the Vikings? Then take a trip to Birka Viking City this summer – one of the sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We’ve created the complete Birka guide with tips on things to do so you can plan your trip – travel solo, with a friend, or take your whole family.  Birka offers a range of activities for all ages and you decide how deep you want to dive into the Viking Age. Read our summer tips for attractions, events and activities in Birka.

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Attractions & activities in Birka

Birka offers plenty of things to see and do for children and adults. Read our top tips for guided tours, museums and places to see.

Museum and shop
The Birka Museum takes you back in time to experience history yourself. See how life in Birka looked during the Viking Age, and study the original and replica artefacts found during various archaeological excavations. You must see the “Buried at Birka” exhibition, where you can meet the Elk Man from the 700s and the famous Warrior Woman from the 900s!
In the museum’s shop, you can buy books, jewellery and other souvenirs to remind you of your visit.

Guided tours at Birka
To get the most out of your visit to Birka, we highly recommend a guided tour through the archaeological site. This gives you an overall picture of the Viking Age and the former city of Birka. The guides are incredibly knowledgeable and talented story tellers.

The Cross of Ansgar
Enjoy the view over Lake Mälaren from the hill north-east of the harbour, where the Cross of Ansgar is located. To get to the monument, follow the road past the Museum and where the road forks take the left fork and follow the signs. The Cross of Ansgar at Birka commemorates the missionary Ansgar – also known as the “Apostle of the North”. 

The Viking village
What was everyday life like in the Viking Age? In the Viking village, you get a real sense of what living and working in Birka was like. The houses are exact replicas of Viking Age buildings. A visit to the village is extra exciting during the theme weeks, when Vikings actually live in Birka. You get the chance to see how they lived and watch them ply their trades. 

Swimming on Birka
On a hot summer’s day, it’s always nice to cool off with a dip. The swim-friendly beach in Birka is well worth a visit. Just think – this is the same place and water that the Vikings used as a bathtub long ago.

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Summer events at Birka

Birka always offers lots of fun and interesting summertime events for both young and old. Be on the lookout for interesting events and the dates they take place. We’ve listed our top tips for events in the summer of 2021.

7-31 July: Vikings in Birka
Who wouldn’t want to meet a Viking? The Birka-Hovgårdens Gille is a nonprofit organisation whose members live and work in the Viking village during selected summer weeks. You can stroll through the village and talk to them, visit the craftsmen to watch them work, and stop by the small harbour to admire the Viking longships. Fun for both adults and children!

28-31 July: Starke Viking
Are you as strong as a Viking? Once again, you can watch the Starke Viking strongman/strongwoman competition live at Birka this summer. It’s a competition in which the participants compete in both historic and modern disciplines. Maybe you’re feeling strong, and enjoy carrying logs and rocks? At the event, there will be try-out stations for anyone who wants to test their own strength.

19-22 August: The Apostle of the North
Come to Birka and listen to Ansgar, the French monk, as he talks about his journeys to Birka. If you think this sounds interesting, come to Birka and join us at the exhibition, which is only open between 19 and 22 August.

29 August: Archaeology Day
Are you interested in archaeology? Come to Birka on 29 August to join a unique and in-depth 90-minute guided tour about Birka’s burial rituals and burial types. There will also be an archaeological scavenger hunt to keep any small archaeologists busy.

Podcast recordings at Birka
New for this summer! Come to Birka to join the audience as creators of historically inspired podcasts record their episodes live. Which one’s your favourite? The Viking Podcast, Mythology Podcast, Archaeology Podcast, Oknytt Podcast: Talk about Trolls or Recreated?
Sit down in the grass next to the Viking district and listen! Here are the dates for your diary:

24 July – Recreated with Henrik Summanen and Sofia Berg
July 25 – Oknytt Podcast: Talk about Trolls with Lars Wahlström and Tommy Kuusela
27 July – Archaeology Podcast with Andreas Antelid
24 August – Mythology Podcast with Eric Östergren and Lee W. Lundin
25 August – Viking Podcast with Emma Van Eelen & Eric Östergren

Book-signings at Birka
Once again, you can meet your favourite author and get your books signed at Birka. On 24 July, you can meet Agneta Arnesson Westerdahl, author of the Viking series, and on 31 July you can meet Leif Selander, author of the Väringa Saga series.

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Restaurant & café at Birka

Birka offers you options for eating, drinking, and enjoying coffee and cake – choose between Restaurant Särimner and Café Eldrimner. Don't miss the evening events in the restaurant – the After Viking Barbecue or Wild Boar Hog Roast!

Restaurant Särimner
At Restaurant Särimner, you can enjoy Viking-inspired food and a lovely view of beautiful Lake Mälaren. The restaurant is KRAV-certified and most of the food is prepared using locally sourced ingredients. On the menu, you’ll find dishes such as Oden’s Wild Game Minced Steak, Freja’s Smoked and Poached Salmon, Idun’s Pan-Seared Vegetarian Burger, and much more. Little Vikings can tuck into pancakes with cream & jam, or meatballs! Many of the beers served here come from microbreweries on nearby islands, and one of the new products this year is the unique Särimner beer from Nyckelbydals Bryggeri, which you can only drink here at Birka.

Eldrimner
Drop in at Café Eldrimner for cold drinks, coffee or tea, a warm VIKING (meat in bread, or spinach and feta cheese in bread), pancakes and freshly baked pastries. Ready for ice cream? Then you must try the organic ice cream from Sänkdalen Farm.

After Viking in July
On Fridays in July, you can come to AV, After Viking, at Restaurant Särimner. The barbecues are lit at 6 pm and you’re welcome to enjoy an evening with delicious food and drink, good company and a great atmosphere.

Wild Boar Hog Roast
The Wild Boar Hog Roast at Birka has become a popular and much-loved tradition over the years. On selected evenings in July and August, you can eat whole-roasted wild boar from the Mälaren Valley forests prepared by huntsmen and master barbecuers Peter and Claes. The meat is served with delicious accompaniments and the evening offers pleasant company in a fantastic setting.

Tip – Come by boat and moor in the guest harbour, or book a boat ticket from central Stockholm, Rastaholm and Adelsö to and from Birka for the Wild Boar Hog Roasts.

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How to get to Birka – different boat options

Birka Viking City is located on the island of Björkö in Lake Mälaren, so you can only get here by boat. Here are our top tips for getting to and from Birka by boat.

Take the Stromma boat to Birka
When you book a ticket on Strömma Kanalbolaget’s boat to Birka, you get a complete day trip. Your round-trip boat ticket across the beautiful Lake Mälaren also includes free admission to the Birka Museum and a guided tour of the archaeological site.
The boat to Birka has several departures and docks at several jetties in Lake Mälaren – which of the jetties is best for you? Choose from Klara Mälarstrand in central Stockholm, Nya Kungshatt, Vårby, Hovgården, Jungfrusund, Rastaholm, Mariefred, Härjarö and Södertälje.

Tip – Pre-book your boat ticket to Birka for a guaranteed place on board.

Guest harbour – take your own boat
If you have your own boat, you can moor at the guest harbour on Birka. You pay the mooring fee in Restaurant Särimner. During the summer season, fresh water, waste disposal, showers and toilets are available if you wish. Please remember that the water around Björkö is classified as an archaeological site, which is why there’s a ban on anchoring in the bay and 50 metres from the shoreline.

Tip – show your receipt from the guest harbour in the museum to get 20% off a guided tour of the archaeological site and admission to the museum.

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