Birka and Hovgarden

Birka and Hovgarden, Bjorko

Birka and Hovgarden
4
Historic Sites • Ancient Ruins
About
Here at Bjorko, in the middle of lake Malaren, Birka town was based during the 750's and is today known as Sweden's first city. To this day there are visible traces of the people who were born and who lived and died here. Today Birka is one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites and has several important ruins and offers seasonal reenactments of Viking life. Birka is also a beautiful island with a historical landscape, perfect for a stroll or a refreshing swim. Restaurant Sarimner offers meals and drinks and the museum gives you an insight the the life of the Vikings that lived here.
Suggested duration
More than 3 hours
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4.0
179 reviews
Excellent
71
Very good
49
Average
30
Poor
18
Terrible
11

Gunilla K
Stockholm, Sweden211 contributions
Jul 2020 • Couples
Its nearly a fullday tour if you go here. Boats departing from Stockholm give you nice views of the city from the lakeside. Remember Birka is an outdoor museum so choose a sunny day. Several reconstructions of the Vikingatown and a small museum.
Written July 9, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Petra Heinonen
Stockholm, Sweden10 contributions
Jun 2011
Having friends from abroad visiting, I was really eager to create a memorable day where the best of Stockholm and Swedish history were combined so I decided to bring my friends to the viking island Birka http://www.stromma.se/sv/Birka/ (unfortunately this site is not in english).
The boat ride were about a 2 hour joyful trip in beautiful surrondings and we could sit outside on deck and enjoy the sun with coffe and drinks from the boats small cafeteria. Arriving at Birka we decided to join the guided tour and we were really impressed with the skills of the guides who are actually archaeologists and very knowledgeable. They also took their time to further explain details and also showed great patients with the variety of "viking knowledge" amongst us visitors. I need to stress that a lot of the sites on Birka has to be created in your own imagination since a great part of the walk are open fields and meadows, but I found the guide and his way of story telling very helpful in doing this.

There is a small authentic village and I was told that in high season people will live and work there in viking manners which I think will be a nice add on especially for families travelling with children.

The museum was small but interesting and had for its size a very nice selected giftshop which was quite surprising. Birka also host a small restaurant with a limited but good selection of food and drinks and it was rewarding to be able to sit down and drink a cold beer after the walking tour. We spotted a family, smart enough to bring swimsuits on this hot day, to dip their feet into the lake and Im sure that there are many small seluded places on this island where you can have a swim before the boat will take you back to Stockholm.
With the boat back in Stockholm City we all concluded that the trip to Birka was a nice combination of history/culture/leisure and Im sure it will appeal to visitors both from Sweden and abroad. On a sunny day, dont miss Birka out!
Written June 12, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

liverpool1023
London, UK737 contributions
Jul 2018 • Couples
We took the 10 a.m. boat trip from the pier at Mariefred. I would suggest an over night stay here as Mariefred is well worth a half day visit on itself. The town is charming and Grippsholm slot is fascinating. The boat trip is direct and takes around 1 hour fifteen minutes. The steady trip across Lake Malaren was a real pleasure. The return leaves the island at 14.45; providing ample time to explore this world heritage site. The tickets are available online and cost around 400 SEK pp from Strommar.

The Viking sites are well covered elsewhere. However, if you are happy to explore the island by yourself; the modernist 1930s chapel (some photos attached) is well worth a small detour.

A lovely day out.
Written July 19, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hi, and thank you for your review. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the boat tour. Welcome back! Best Regards, Marisa
Written July 19, 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

LaValiente777
Stockholm, Sweden111 contributions
Sep 2013 • Couples
This place should be visited for all Viking lovers as the guides truly gives you an insight in how it was to live as a Viking, what that meant to the families of the Viking and all facts surrounding this exciting time in history. The guides are archeologists with the Viking time as speciality and their true and genuine interest in giving you the what we can determine, is the true story is remarcable. A few tips and advices for you though before going:
1. Guiding is only done in Swedish and English and it is more than recommendable to visit this island with a guide. (Unless you have a brilliant imagination!) The Viking time happened before medieval times so hence, there are no ruins of old houses and such, however the island have some 3000 graves from that time. And how they were buried...I suggest you take the tour to find out more!
2. Bring your own food. Food on the boat is expensive.
3. Take the time to check out the museum, it's cute and a huge effort has been put in to make it as detailed as possible. Don't expect any old findings to be on display, they are all at Nordiska Museumet in Stockholm.

Enjoy! It's a very nice day-trip! Kudos to the guides, they truly are great!
Written September 25, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

djnToronto
Toronto221 contributions
Aug 2014 • Couples
After about 90 minutes by boat, we were dropped at the island. We grabbed a quick lunch (most others went straight to touring, so there was no line and we were on our way quickly) and had time to see the reconstructions, the museum and hike around the island a bit before the guided tour. Do not, under any circumstances, skip the guided tour. The guide was an archeologist; he was interesting, entertaining and helpful. We would never have understood what we were seeing without him.
At the end of the tour we visited the marine archeologists and were allowed to help sift through what the divers were bringing up from the water - the high point of the day took place when my wife found an artefact and realized she was the first person in a thousand years to see and hold it.
After visiting the viking museums in Roskilde and Oslo, this day was just the 'icing on the cake'.
Written August 27, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

SeasideNative
Seaside Park, NJ19 contributions
Aug 2010 • Solo
This place is other-worldly. I don't mean the village or the cafe or the museum, which are all fine, but take a long walk out to the burial mounds. It is worth it. Each pile of stones is a viking grave, and under that huge grey sky and among all the silence, just transporting to 1000 years ago. Just beautiful. Birch trees and green grass and wildflowers.
Written July 28, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Nir A
Netanya, HaMerkaz, Israel53 contributions
Jul 2013 • Family
I am in love with Nordic history and culture and Birka has that to spare!

The cruise to the island is around an hour and 45 minutes, but it passes some amazing views of the islands, and in a good sunny day (like we had) you can have a lot of beautiful pictures and just a really nice and calm start for the day.

The guided tour was very informative and interesting and took us through some very beautiful scenic landscapes on the island and very nice photo places!

The restored town was very beautiful and authentic and you really feel like you are placed in a different epic era in time!

The museum was rather small but had amazingly detailed models of the village and life in that time and place.

The souvenir shop was the best souvenir shop I've seen. It had a collection of cool and beautiful yet not tacky items that really gives you a memento of that adventure while keeping it authentic and unique!

And finally, the guides are super nice! I've contacted one of them prior to the visit to get more information about the trip and he was super nice and answered all my questions and when we arrived there and met him, he even had a surprise for me and gave me a few minutes to wear the actual clothes, shield, spear and helmet of real vikings so I could take some pictures with them...And that was a dream come true! (which you can see on my FB profile pictures lol).

So in conclusion, this was an epic adventure and I really recommend it to anyone who loves the Nordic culture and loves to feel inside an epic era!:)
Written July 19, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

ARedLetterDay
Austin, TX15 contributions
Aug 2012 • Solo
As a big history buff, I really enjoyed the day trip to Birka (Bjorko). You must go as part of a package deal. There's not a lot on the island - the small museum takes, at most, 30 minutes. The Viking town ruins are not conspicuous, except for the ramparts around the hillfort. However, it's a lovely little island and if you've done a bit of background reading and have a good imagination, it's very evocative and I could have easily spent 2-3 hours longer than we had on the island. There's a small restaurant on the island that opens to meet day trippers for lunch. I highly recommend also making a reservation to have a late lunch/early dinner on the trip back to Stockholm. Make sure you take one of the guided tours that begin at the museum (once daily in English).
Written November 30, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hi ARedLetterDay. Thank you for writing a review! We´re so happy that you enjoyed your day trip to Birka! Take care!
Written December 18, 2012
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

km22
DC3 contributions
After visiting the amazing Vasamuseum in Stockholm, a day trip to Birka (Björkö in Swedish) rounds out a Viking weekend. Ferry leaves from Stadshusbron, not far from the train station.

Ferry schedule during the summer dep 9:30a, arr Birka 11:15a. http://www.stromma.se/en/Skargard/Stromma-Kanalbolaget/Day-cruises/Birka/

Buy ticket on board, 295 SEK round trip. Very pleasant on the upper deck, enjoying view of beautiful summer homes on the various islands. Drinks & snacks available. Good small museum on the island, pleasant walks, small beach and a cafe near the deck where simple lunches available. Very informative and entertaining 1h tour of Viking settlement site on Birka by an archeologist in Swedish ~11:30-12:30, which the guide then repeats in English from 1-2p. He'll announce the timings. The Vikings sailed their wooden boats throughout Europe and to the Middle East. Birka, which seems like quite an out-of-the-way spot, was a major trading center in the 8th & 9th centuries. A lot of Swedes are on board, so it's not just a foreign tourist outing. The Swedes slather their young blond children with sunscreen, then they play on the little beach.Ferry departs for Stockholm 2:45p, arriving 4:30p.
Written June 18, 2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

SHamel67
Bromont, Canada140 contributions
Aug 2014 • Couples
We took the boat from the City Hall - it takes about 1h30m before landing on Birka. On our way, a friendly staff member with a Viking look highlighted some key historical facts while we enjoyed a great view of the lake. Once on the island, we went for the museum and took our time to read a lot about the fascinating history of Birka. We then went for the 45 minutes guided tour with an archeologist who was clearly passionate about the topic - we really enjoyed it and it could have been longer, but it was already time to hop back on the boat. We only had a few minutes to check the reconstructed houses.
Written August 31, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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