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Jorvik Viking Centre Review (York)

The Jorvik Viking Centre takes you on an archaeological tour of York’s rich medieval Viking history. And having thoroughly enjoyed the experience during our trip to York, I thought I’d share an in-depth review of the museum along with everything you can expect during your visit. 

Jorvik Viking Centre Review (York)

History and Significance of the Viking Age in York

The Viking Age, which spanned from 793 to 1066 CE, was a monumental time in European history. And in 866 CE, Ivar the Boneless, along with King Halfden and an army of Vikings, took over the northeastern English city of York, renaming it Jorvik. 

For 100 years, York remained under Viking rule. And despite the warriors’ fierce reputation, the city actually flourished.

The Vikings farmed the land, crafted goods, traded, built ships, and even created astonishing pieces of art, ultimately transforming York into the Viking capital of England.

Today, however, the city of York looks very different to how it did over 1000 years ago. But the area still celebrates its Viking heritage with the period’s influence reflecting itself through street names like Stonegane, Swinegate, and Petergate, as well as village names that end in ‘by’ and ‘thorpe’. 

Jorvik Viking Centre York, United Kingdom

Visitor Experience at Jorvik Viking Centre

As York was such a hub for Viking activity, it probably comes as no surprise that the city now boasts a world-famous Viking museum

In 1984, the York Archaeological Trust opened the Jorvik Viking Centre as a way to educate visitors on the history of York’s Vikings. And having undergone a £4 million refurbishment in 2017, the museum, with its interactive and immersive exhibitions, is now one of the best Viking attractions you’ll find throughout Europe

From the moment you step inside the museum, you’re transported back in time. And you’ll enter a room with a glass floor that looks down on where real Viking settlements were found. 

With the help of a ride that takes you through a recreated Viking village, realistic animatronics, and an abundance of artefacts, the Jorvik Viking Centre has created both an educational and fun experience, making it the perfect attraction for children who are interested in the culture, heritage, and history of the Vikings.

For other great York attractions that are suitable for children, check out Things To Do In York With Kids.

Wax figure, Jorvik Viking Centre York, United Kingdom

Jorvik Viking Centre Ride

During our time in York, we, of course, couldn’t pass up the chance to visit the Jorvik Viking Centre. And my girls, who were 6 and 9 at the time, thoroughly enjoyed each and every exhibition. However, unsurprisingly, the ride was by far their favourite.

The ride takes around 12 minutes and showcases different aspects of Viking life. You’ll learn all about the Vikings’ occupations, the food they would have eaten, and even the animals that were around during the period. The are even some bad smells from the era!

Plus, as everything inside the museum is based on archaeological evidence, you’ll truly get a feel for what Jorvik was like all those years ago. 

Interactive Exhibits and Displays

Once you’ve finished up on the ride, you can then make your way around the different exhibits and displays. 

Having visited plenty of museums with my kids in tow, I know how quickly they can lose interest. However, at the Jorvik Viking Centre, thanks to the attraction’s interactive elements, my girls actually took the time to learn the information at all of the available stations.

They even asked the staff—who are more than happy to share their Viking knowledge—plenty of questions, which, as a parent, was great to see! 

In my opinion, the Jorvik Viking Centre has done a fantastic job of capturing all your senses. And through touch screens, videos, music, and even smells (brace yourself for those), you’re led on a path to discovery and will come out of the attraction with a broad knowledge of the Vikings and how they impacted York and England as a whole. 

Inside with wax figures, Jorvik Viking Centre York, United Kingdom

Viking Artifacts and Archaeological Discoveries

In total, the Jorvik Viking Centre has over 40,000 artifacts on display. And all of these artifacts archaeologists recovered from dig sites around York. 

You’ll see things like bone ornaments, pottery, and tools that the Vikings would have used at work. Plus, there are also items of clothing, coins, and games for visitors to look at. 

Many of the artefacts at the Jorvik Viking Centre are from an extensive dig that took place in Coppergate from 1976 to 1981. Before this large-scale dig, Viking artifacts were largely found by chance.

However, once archaeologists realised the true extent of what may lay under the city of York, the Coppergate excavation began. 

With 250,000 pieces of pottery, 5 tonnes of animal bone, and 40,000 other objects unearthed, historians were then able to piece together the lives of the Vikings who once inhabited York, putting the information on display at the Jorvik Viking Centre museum.

Inside Jorvik Viking Centre York, United Kingdom

Educational Programs and Workshops

If you live in the York area, then it’s likely that you would have visited the Jorvik Viking Centre on a school trip. And luckily, for your kids, the museum still puts on informative educational programs for pre-schoolers all the way up to post-graduates. 

The exhibition even has virtual outreach programs where kids can experience a digital history lesson via video conferencing. Pretty cool, right?

Dining and Shopping Options at Jorvik Viking Centre

Unfortunately, the Jorvik Viking Centre doesn’t have a cafe or a restaurant. But thanks to its location, there are plenty of food options just a short walk away. (Harry Potter fans, will like the Hole in Wand indoor wizarding themed golf just opposite.)

The attraction does have an onsite gift shop where you can purchase a souvenir to commemorate your visit to the museum.

Tips for Planning Your Visit to Jorvik Viking Centre

After visiting the Jorvik Viking Centre, here are some of my tips for planning your next visit.

  • Head to the exhibition early or in the late afternoon as queues can get long, especially on weekends and during school holidays. 
  • The Jorvik Viking Centre ride is quite dark. So if you have children who may be frightened, ask a member of staff for a lamp. 
  • The smells inside the attraction can get extremely smelly. So, take this as a warning! 
  • Purchase a passport ticket, as passport tickets also allow you to visit DIG and Barley Hall.
  • Alternatively, if just one hour of history is enough and you have a Harry Potter fan in tow, then head across the road to Hole in the Wand, a wizard-themed miniature golf course that my girls couldn’t get enough of!
  • York Minster and the York City Walls are other great York attractions to pair with the Jorvik Viking Centre.
  • If you can, prebook online to ensure you get into the attraction with little to no wait time. 

Other Important Information

Location: Coppergate Shopping Centre, 19 Coppergate, York YO1 9WT

Opening Hours: 19th February – 22nd March 210 am 10 am – 4 pm and 23rd March – 14th April 2024: 10 am – 5 pm

Website: Jorvik Viking Centre

Ticket Prices: Adults tickets are £15.00. Children’s (5-16) tickets are £10.50, and a ticket for a family of 4 is £43.00. 

The Jorvik Viking Centre is wheelchair-accessible, and guide dogs are always welcome. 

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