Many visitors driving from Keflavik Airport into Reykjavik report seeing an ancient Viking vessel seemingly floating in midair along Faxafloi Bay. This is no mirage, rather it is an optical illusion at the Viking World Museum. Viking World houses Islendingur (the Icelander), a Viking replica ship completed in 1996 by shipbuilder Gunnar Marel Eggertsson.

The impressive achievement is an exact replica of a vessel discovered during an excavation in Norway in 1880. It is believed to have been built around 870. Islendingur’s builders used only the tools and materials that would have been available to Vikings. This challenging took task more than two years to accomplish.

Is the replica ship in Viking world usable?

In the year 2000, Gunnar Marel and a crew of nine embarked from Iceland on Islendingur. They sailed to Canada and New York and back again to celebrate 1000 years since Vikings discovered North America.

Smithsonian Institution exhibition

Viking World also hosts segments from the Smithsonian Institution’s Viking Millennium Exhibition, Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga. The exhibition sheds light on early Norse settlement and exploration of Europe and North America.

Where there Vikings in Iceland?

Yes. Athough Iceland was discovered late in the Viking age, according to the Sagas there were several Icelanders who traveled to Norway to become Vikings.

Have there been Viking ships found in Icelandic graves?

No, it seems that most Viking ships either fell into ruin or settlers used the wood to build houses. There are some burial mounds that contain smaller boats, but there are no large Viking ships like Islendingur.

What else is at Viking World?

The museum hosts four different exhibitions and has a good café. The café is is a great place to get breakfast for people arriving to Iceland in the early morning.