Nordic Mythology and the Viking Gods and Goddesses

Unveil the Enchanting World of Folklore


Nordic Mythology: Legends and Lore

Embark on a journey of discovery into the enthralling panorama of Nordic mythology, where ancient tales and mythical beings come alive. A rich and strange folklore has shaped the cultural heritage of Norway and the Nordic countries, and now you can unveil centuries-old wisdom and captivating stories on your own Norwegian journey.

The Beginning

Norse mythology features two groups of Gods: the Æsir residing in Asgard, and the Vanir, who live in Vanaheim. But it’s not only gods who reside in the Norse cosmology. The mythology takes place among nine interconnected worlds, believed to be Asgard, Vanaheimr, Jötunheimr, Niflheim, Muspelheim, Álfheimr, Svartálfaheimr, Niðavellir, and Miðgarðr – our own human world, Midgard.

These worlds are bound together by the ash tree known as Yggdrasil, which stretches through the heart of the universe. The ash tree not only serves as the cosmic axis but also as a wellspring of wisdom, and a gathering place for the Æsir gods.

Even though it has been a long time since the Vikings held sway, their culture and traditions can still be detected in modern-day Norway. If you’re interested in learning more about the Vikings’ incredible history, we can recommend a range of Viking exhibitions, museums and even a village – with real-life people recreating the life of the Vikings as it was a thousand years ago.

Gods and Goddesses: The Nordic Pantheon

Norse mythology is rich with gods and goddesses. The Aesir and Vanir hold a significant place in Nordic folklore and cultural heritage, and beyond, as all fans of the Marvel universe will know.

At the head of the table is Odin, god of wisdom, war, and magic. Odin has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and can see into the future, while his trusted ravens, Huginn and Muninn, bring back news from all realms.

Frigg is Odin's wife, the goddess of marriage, motherhood, and destiny. As queen of Asgard, she has the power of foresight and the ability to shape the fates of mortals and gods alike.


Thor is the god of thunder, and his enchanted hammer Mjolnir gives him unmatched strength. He is often depicted as a symbol of resilience and a champion of righteous causes. Thursday actually comes from ‘Thor’s Day’ in Old English. On the other hand there is Loki, the mischievous trickster. His cunning and shape-shifting abilities make him a master of deception, often blurring the lines between chaos and order.

These are just a few glimpses into the captivating world of Viking gods and goddesses. Norway's religious history has shaped our country's cultural, political and architectural landscape. The wooden stave churches were actually built with Viking construction techniques. If you wish to learn more about these magical realms, you can join one of our local insiders on a Viking-inspired experience. In Oslo you can visit the interactive digital Viking Planet and the Historical Museum with authentic artifacts from the Viking Age. The world's best-preserved Viking ship is preserved in Oslo. You can also learn more about the Vikings in Ålesund, while you board a genuine dragon ship, taste what Vikings used to eat on board, learn about their religion, laws, daily life and hear the saga of the legendary Viking Rollo.


Jotunheim – Realm of Giants

As one of the Nine Realms of Norse cosmology, Jotunheim was inhabited by the jötunn – a diverse group of beings including giants and trolls. The Viking gods despised the wild jötunn, and they fought endlessly.

One of our favourite ways to experience Jotunheim National Park is by staying at Skåbu Mountain Lodge in Northern Europe’s highest settlement on our ‘Modern Luxury In The Realm Of Norwegian Folklore’ journey. Or on one of Norway’s most iconic hikes, across the Besseggen Ridge. Here, the folklore about Peer Gynt also comes alive.


The Norsemen and the Viking Village

The TV series Norsemen transports viewers to Norway in the late 8th century, to a captivating world populated by a vibrant ensemble of characters. Norsemen offers a humorous and satirical take on Viking life, showcasing the daily routines, traditions and challenges faced by the villagers. Viewers are introduced to a diverse cast navigating the complexities of Viking society, from dealing with power struggles within the village to engaging in comical interactions with neighbouring tribes.

Overall, Norsemen offers a fresh and lighthearted perspective on Viking culture. Parts of the series were shot in Gudvangen, Norway’s Viking Village. Up Norway guests can visit Gudvangen as a part of their curated journey through UNESCO fjord heritage area Nærøyfjord and learn about Viking travels, their boats, and how the Viking age and its teachings have left a mark on Norwegian history that affects our lives to this day.

Vikings as Traders, Explorers and Fearsome Warriors

The Vikings were renowned for their prowess as traders, explorers and skilled warriors. Fuelled by their innovative longships and an insatiable curiosity, the Vikings ventured far beyond their homelands, leaving an indelible mark on history. Their seafaring expertise enabled them to navigate oceans and rivers, establishing trade routes that stretched across Europe, Asia, and even as far as North America. Viking ships were crucial to this success. Their longships, characterised by sleek design and shallow hulls, allowed the Vikings to navigate both open seas and narrow rivers, enabling them to reach distant lands, establish trade routes, and execute devastating surprise attacks.


Their legacy is equally defined by their fearsome reputation as warriors, raiding and conquering distant lands. The Vikings' multiple identities as traders, explorers, and warriors facilitated their deep impact on both local and global history. Experience the Viking legacy for yourself during your Norwegian adventure on one of our private tours visiting the unique 'Swords in Rock' monument just outside Stavanger, where Harald Fairhair gathered Norway into one kingdom in 872.

Reading the Runes – The Viking alphabet

The Vikings' alphabet, or ‘runes’, encapsulated their rich cultural heritage and unique linguistic system. With their distinctive angular and straight lines, runes were not only a means of communication but also held mystical significance within Viking society. Runes were inscribed on various surfaces, from monumental runestones commemorating important events to personal items like jewellery and weapons.

Runes served to communicate both mundane messages and profound beliefs, often conveying the Vikings' connection to the natural world, their bravery in battle, and their reverence for the gods.

Through runes, the Vikings established a link to their ancestors and traditions, leaving behind a legacy that offers insights into their complex culture and mindset.

One of the oldest rune stones is the Kuli Stone, originally found on the island of Kuli, in Smøla municipality. On one side, a cross is carved, while there are runes cut into the two shorter edges. The rune inscription is the first known instance of the name ‘Norway’ being used on Norwegian soil, and is therefore called the ‘ Birth Certificate of Norway’. It also gives early evidence that people had started to embrace Christianity. Explore more on our Coastal Cultural and Rural Norway journey.

A Norse Luxury Oasis

280 meters above the majestic Sognefjord, Hugin stands as a solitary marvel. This is a truly exceptional treehouse named after one of Odin’s ravens, which draws inspiration from the intricate beauty of Norway's stave churches Urnes and Borgund. This architectural gem embraces the essence of Norse craftsmanship and is decorated with meticulous carvings and artistry. Up Norway guests with an interest in Norse mythology and the Viking age will find this place captivating. The unique cabin has all the facilities you could need, including an option for a private chef. And if you are looking for a lasting souvenir of your visit, one of the two brothers who own the cabin specialises in Norse tattoos. Private guided tours of the local stave church can be arranged on request.


Urnes – Norway’s oldest stave church

Urnes is Norway’s oldest and most finely decorated stave church. It is estimated to date from 1130 AD and since 1979 has been included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. If you are interested in the intricate details and stories of Urnes church we recommend joining a local insider on a privately guided excursion on e-bikes. To pay it a visit, cruise along a historical trail and take the ferry across the fjord. After your visit, continue to Feigefossen Waterfall – a beautiful way to discover history, culture and nature.


The realm of Nordic mythology is a treasure trove of captivating stories, ancient wisdom and profound insights into the human experience. On your journey to Norway, we can help you delve into the its magic and gain a deeper understanding of Nordic culture. Get in touch to get a curated Norwegian journey through time, where legends come alive, and mythic adventures lie behind every rock.

You might have questions about our journeys? Here are some of the most common ones.

Danny Dodd

Travel Curator
Hi! I'm Danny, and I'm a Travel Curator here at Up. Get in touch, and I'll do my best to answer any questions you might have.
August 8th, 2023

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