The Irish-Canadian production of the television show Vikings is as popular for its dramatic scenery as it is for its story. The choice of Ireland as the main production location is not surprising when you see the stark beauty of the Wicklow Mountains. Composed of ancient granite and quartzite, the topography comes mainly from the ravages of the last ice age, which carved out valleys and created the isolated and picturesque lakes. Here are some of our favourite filming locations from the show…
In the heart of County Wicklow, this new studio is pulling no punches in the creation of its first production. The main stage is 2,800 square metres and more than 120 hectares surrounding the studio provide filming locations for fields, mountains and even a rock quarry. Although Ragnar’s house and a few other indoor locations are currently the only stage sets, the studio has ample room to keep adding new “buildings” to its stages.
Roughly 70 per cent of the first season was shot outdoors, much of it near Lough Tay. The lake is located on the Guinness Estates in County Wicklow, and you may hear it referred to as Guinness Lake because of this. The Scandinavian look of the majestic slopes of Luggala Mountain is the perfect backdrop to this serene lake, which is seen in so many shots. The next time you see the Viking longships, look up from the action to locate Luggala Mountain. Although many finished scenes are a combination of studio and location shots, some live-action filming is done on the shores.
The production company built an extensive set in the summer of 2013 that includes several Viking houses. A skeleton of a longboat sits near a wooden jetty that extends into the lake, and several floating longboats could be seen moored in the lake during the first production season.
If you go: Luggala is a very popular camping site for adventurers planning to climb the granite cliffs. Lough Tay can be easily viewed from above, and walking and driving routes are also available.
Gentle, forested slopes lead down to the longer Lough Dan, providing a variety of terrains in a small area. Much of this ribbon lake is on private property, but the northwest portion is part of Wicklow National Park. Although the area looks remote, the production crew takes advantage of the proximity of the national park and the developments around the area.
If you go: As most of the area is privately owned, you will need to go with either a private company or with the Lough Dan Scout Centre.
Powerscourt DemesneCreativecommons.org/Sean MacEntee
Although the spectacular Powerscourt Waterfall is not a prominent feature in the show, it is an unexpected, dramatic backdrop in several scenes. Located on the Powerscourt main estate, the waterfall sits in the beautiful foothills of the Wicklow Mountains and is the highest in Ireland.
If you go: This is a private estate, but it does welcome visitors. Some areas require a fee (such as the waterfall), and some areas are accessible only if you have booked an event. The main house is one of the best examples of the “Big Houses” of Ireland and now houses some small stores and a pleasant café.
Wicklow Way Walking Path
The sites where Vikings is filmed are all quite close and can be viewed in a long day of hiking. Begin your trek at Knockree, Wicklow, to get some spectacular views of the Powersourt Waterfall from a high vantage point. Follow the trail south to Wicklow Mountains National Park. Skirt the edge of the park on your way to the A759 – the road that will give you the best viewing advantage. There you will get some great shots of Lough Dan, Lough Tay and Luggala Mountain from the top of the ridge. Leave the main road and follow the path down to the village of Roundwood. If you don’t want to hike the entire 18 kilometres, stop in Roundwood and just stroll the last three kilometres to see the sites.
If you go: Be on the lookout for more filming if Vikings. You may have a bird’s eye view of what is planned for next season.