The Viking Festival in Hafnarfjordur, Iceland

Viking helmets in the Icelandic Festival
Ken Gillespie/Getty Images

The Viking Festival in Hafnarfjordur, Iceland, is a four-day event held annually in mid-June that draws visitors from all over the world to witness storytellers, artists, musicians, artisans, blacksmiths, and Viking "warriors ready to show their strength or marksmanship," according to the Viking Village website.

The Viking Village is a family-operated restaurant and hotel business located in Hafnarfjörður, which sponsors the event that honors the Vikings—Scandinavian farmers, fishermen, herders, and pirates who raided and invaded countries from Russia to North America between 800 and 1000 A.D.

The lineup changes somewhat each year, but the event includes daily Viking sword fighting, storytelling and lectures, a performance by a Viking jester, archery and ax throwing, performances by Viking bands, a market and, of course, a Viking feast. It's one of the most popular annual events in Iceland.

History and Getting to the Festival

According to Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir in her Guide to Iceland, the Viking Festival in Hafnarfjordur was first held in 1995 and is one of the oldest and largest festivals of its kind in Iceland. During the event, "Vikings sell handmade stuff, fur, roast a lamb, fight, dance, tell stories and show us the ways of living of the old Vikings," says Ragnarsdóttir, who is an area resident.

She further notes that the during the festival the Vikings teach visitors how to throw spears and axes and shoot with bows and arrows as well as demonstrating wood-carving and telling fortunes in a tent at the market. In the past, there have even been Viking christenings and Viking weddings at the event, Ragnarsdóttir says, adding that there is also plenty of partying after the daily market closes at 8 p.m.

Buses travel back and forth regularly between Hafnarfjordur and Reykjavík, which is only 10 minutes away by car, and the bus station in Hafnarfjördur is very close to Viking Village. If you want to drive from Reykjavik to the festival, go about six miles southwest on road 42, toward Keflavik Airport.

Dine Like a Viking

If you need a break from the festivities, you can eat at the Fjörugarðurinn restaurant, a large eatery that can seat up to 350 guests. You can even request a "Viking Kidnapping," according to the Viking Village website. During this fun activity, a Viking will kidnap a guest from their bus outside the restaurant then bring them into The Cave where the Vikings will sing Icelandic folks songs and serve mead.

Menu items for the main course include smoked salmon, herring, carpaccio, Christmas ham, smoked lamb, and two types of pate as well as traditional Viking sides like red cabbage and fried vegetables. Dining at the Fjörugarðurinn restaurant is all-inclusive for one low fee, making it one of the best places to grab a bite while you take a break from the festivities.

Additionally, you can even rent out cloaks for the groups to have during the kidnapping and Viking dinner festivities at an additional cost. If you really want to get into the traditions of Vikings, make sure to add this famous restaurant to your itinerary on your trip to Iceland this June.