Where did the Vikings travel to?

The Vikings were brilliant sailors and they were capable of sailing great distances. So, where did the Vikings travel to?

The Vikings explored far and wide by dragging their boats over land.

Why were the Vikings great explorers?

The Vikings were expert sailors. From fishing and going on raids, they were used to spending long times at sea.

They were also very good at shipbuilding and their longboats could survive difficult sea journeys.

They could tell where they were by looking at the night sky and they used sun compasses to make sure they were heading in the right direction.

The Vikings also told stories about their adventures - the battles they fought and the places that they visited. These stories were called sagas.

Sharing these sagas helped the Vikings build up a picture of what the world looked like and where it was possible to sail to.

The Vikings used a form of compass to navigate. They used shadows cast by the sun to help them determine which way they were sailing.

Where did the Vikings travel to?

Through raids and trading, the Vikings travelled to a lot of countries and covered huge distances.

As well as settling in Britain, they established Viking colonies in France, and used rivers to travel deep into Russia.

They even made it as far as Turkey – which then as called the Byzantine Empire. Over 1,000 years ago, a Viking called Halvdan was in the city of Constantinople (now called Istanbul). While at the church called the Hagia Sophia, he carved a message into a marble banister: ‘Halvdan carved these runes’.

A Viking visiting Constantinople (now called Istanbul) carved graffiti into a marble banister. It reads ' Halvdan carved these runes'.

Click on each of the Vikings to find out how far they travelled and what they discovered.

The Vikings in North America

Not only did the Vikings travel to Scotland, they also sailed west into the Atlantic Ocean.

A Viking called Erik the Red discovered Greenland. It was Erick’s son, Leif Erikson, who sailed even further west and became the first European to visit the Americas.

Leif had heard stories of an unexplored land far to the west so he set sail from Greenland and arrived in north western Canada. He called the new country Vinland because it had grape vines.

In this area of Canada, in a place called evidence L'Anse aux Meadows, archaeologists have discovered evidence of a Viking settlement – it might even have been built by Leif!

Norstead Viking Site, L'Anse-aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada