With the recent discovery of the supposedly mythical sunstone that may have helped them navigate the northern waters of the Atlantic Ocean, a major video game franchise and a new hit TV show on The History Channel, Vikings are ready to invade our collective unconscious, maybe chopping down a few zombies with their axes along the way. Pop culture won't be the first place most savvy travelers encounter Vikings -- the remnants of their massive empire dot Europe and extend into Canada -- but it may provide an excuse to take a second look at the great Norse destinations around the world.
The Vikings rose to power in 8th century Europe and rapidly spread through Scandinavia, eventually invading Ireland and Iceland as they took possession of Atlantic trading routes. What that means for modern travelers is that many countries have tributes to the culture that not only took their land, but also affected the culture and even the genetics of their people. From ritzy Denmark to the wastes of Greenland, monuments and exhibits devoted to these mighty warriors attract hordes of travelers and amateur historians every day.
It is impossible to understand Western culture, after all, without paying attention to the Viking's legacy. The Viking gave us Mighty Thor, inspired Wagner, kitted out Adrian Peterson and may well be the people we have to thank for our lovely blondes.
It is a Viking world, we just live in it.