The best TV shows with Vikings to watch right now

Katheryn Winnick, Travis Fimmel and Clive Standon in Vikings.
Katheryn Winnick, Travis Fimmel and Clive Standon in Vikings. (Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

Want to know what the best TV shows with Vikings are? Then you've come to the right place!

If you like your TV shows to be full of plundering and pillaging with plenty of blood-spurting battle scenes, plus you prefer your heroes hairy, dressed in fur and with a soft spot for lashings of eyeliner, then here’s the perfect guide for you…

The best TV shows with Vikings

Vikings

Travis Fimmel as Ragnar.

Travis Fimmel as Ragnar. (Image credit: Sky)

A blood-covered face surveys a body-scattered battleground in the first few moments of the epic series-opener to Vikings. A few enemies still dare to think they can take down this battle-worn warrior, but he deals with them easily, driving a sword through the torso of one and throwing a spear across the blood soaked ground to kill another trying to flee. 

The hero of the battlefield is Ragnar Lothbrok, (Travis Fimmel) a fearless farmer, warrior and protagonist of the series. Over the course of six seasons viewers follow his adventures as he embarks on a daring voyage across the unknown sea from his Scandinavian home to England. 

Why watch: The characters are strong and fearless and it’s hard not to get caught up in their sense of adventure and single-minded determination to explore, conquer and rob. It’s fast-paced and full of action, with all the bloodshed and violence you would expect from a series about the legendary invaders. 

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video in the UK and Hulu in the US

Seasons: 6

Episodes: 89

Average running time: 43 mins

Vikings: Valhalla

TV tonight Frida Gustavsson as Freydis Eriksdotter and Sam Corlett as Leif Eriksson.

Frida Gustavsson as Freydis Eriksdotter and Sam Corlett as Leif Eriksson. (Image credit: Netflix)

The much-anticipated spin-off to the original Vikings series, Vikings: Valhalla is available to watch on Netflix.

The eight-part series, written by Michael Hirst who also wrote Vikings, is set 100 years after the original show and follows a new generation of Norsemen and women. 

It focuses on the legendary explorer Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett) as he joins forces with the Nordic Prince Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter) and the Danish King Canute (Bradley Freegard). They plan to wage a war on England but are also fighting amongst themselves as they clash over their Christian and pagan beliefs. 

A second series has already been filmed and a third is on the way so there’s plenty more action to come. 

Why watch: A must-see for fans of the original Vikings series with plenty of action, epic battle scenes and strong characters.

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons: 1

Episodes: 8

Average running time: 50 minutes

The Last Kingdom

Alexander Dreymon stars as Uhtred.

Alexander Dreymon stars as Uhtred. (Image credit: Netflix)

Viking fans will also enjoy The Last Kingdom as it’s full of epic battles, set in the same historical era but is told from the perspective of the Saxons as they are attacked by the invading Vikings.

The action begins as a Saxon fort is destroyed, British actor Matthew Macfadyen briefly plays the King before his youngest son, Uhtred, is taken as a slave by the victorious Danes. But the courageous young boy eventually enjoys life with his new Viking family, who respect his warrior-like character and bravery.

Tragedy strikes however when the Viking settlement is attacked the night before a wedding and only Uhtred and another former Saxon slave called Brida survive. Uhtred wants revenge on the murderers of his adopted family, which sets him on a bloodthirsty course that will see him fight his own family to honour those he lost. 

Why watch: Vikings can get a bad rep and there is certainly plenty of violence and bloodshed in this series, but we also get to see another side as they settle in Northumbria and make a life for themselves. Uhtred (played by Alexander Dreymon) is a strong and interesting character as he must fight his own family to win back what he lost, a nice conflict of interest that adds to the complexity of the series. 

Where to watch: Netflix 

Seasons: 5

Episodes: 46

Average running time: 58 mins

Norsemen

Vikings are usually too busy throwing axes at one another to crack many jokes but this Norwegian series is all about the lighter side of plundering and pillaging. 

It looks great, is full of properly hairy and dirty vikings but they worry about hurting each other, ponder if their pillaging went too far and if ritual sacrifice of slaves is enough of an exact science to please the Gods?

In the first episode a long boat of brave warriors returns home, laden with slaves. The chief is not particularly pleased to see his wife who is much stronger and braver than he is (he couldn’t join them in war due to his bad back), but a great feast is thrown nonetheless to celebrate a successful if angst-ridden raid. 

Why watch: A show that makes fun of many viking traditions is a refreshing change from the usual bloodthirsty battles and violence. It’s light and silly so may not please all die-hard Vikings fans, but it’s certainly something different. 

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons: 3

Episodes: 18

Average running time: 30 mins

If you liked Vikings you will also like…

Here are a few more choices of historical dramas that pack a punch.

Game of Thrones

Sean Bean as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones

Sean Bean as Ned Stark in Game of Thrones. (Image credit: Sky)

The now iconic series ran for eight-action packed seasons, winning countless awards as viewers couldn't get enough of this epic fantasy series. 

Based on the books by George R. R. Martin, it follows the story of the battle to control the Iron Throne and made huge names of many of its stars including Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Sophie Turner (Sansa) and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen).

Why watch: If you haven’t already, then it’s time to discover what all the fuss is about. 

Where to watch: NOW TV in the UK and HBO Max in the US

Seasons: 8

Episodes: 73

Average running time: 52 minutes

House of the Dragon

TV tonight Emma D’Arcy and Matt Smith play Targaryens

Emma D’Arcy and Matt Smith in House of the Dragon. (Image credit: Sky)

The prequel to Game of Thrones is set 200 years before the original series and focuses on the Targaryen dynasty. 

On the throne at the beginning of the 10-part series is King Viserys Targaryen, played by British actor Paddy Considine. The obvious heir to the throne is his younger brother Prince Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith of Doctor Who fame. But Daemon is not well-liked and some believe the throne would be best-placed in the hands of Viserys' first-born child Princess Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy).

With huge audience figures for the first few episodes of House of the Dragon, season 2 has already been commissioned so there is plenty more action to come. 

Why watch: Staying true to its sister show Game of Thrones, this is an epic series, with a great cast that’s full of action and dramatic conflict. 

Where to watch: Sky Atlantic/NOW in the UK and HBO and HBO Max in the US 

Seasons: 1

Episodes: 10

Average running time: 58 minutes

Knightfall

Tom Cullen stars as Sir Landry.

Tom Cullen stars as Sir Landry. (Image credit: Netflix)

A historical drama that follows the trials and tribulations of The Knights Templar, the mysterious legion of warrior monks charged with protecting pilgrims across the globe.

The series begins in Acre in the Holy Land as the Knights Templar lose the city and Christianity’s most precious relic – the Holy Grail. Fifteen years later one of those knights, Landry de Lauzon (Tom Cullen) is in Paris, frustrated by the lack of action of the order: "What are we for?" he asks furiously.

But Landry is soon back in the thick of it after his mentor and Master of the Templars, Godfrey, is assassinated and he discovers a plot to murder all the Jews living in Paris. 

Why watch: A historical drama full of big bloody battles and brave and noble warriors. It lacks the pace of Vikings, but it looks great and is still worth a watch for those hungry for history.

Where to watch: Netflix 

Seasons: 2

Episodes: 18

Average running time: 44 minutes

The Witcher

Henry Cavill as The Witcher.

Henry Cavill as The Witcher. (Image credit: Netflix)

Henry Cavill stars as Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter or witcher, in this fantasy medieval drama based on the novels of Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. 

In the first season we meet Geralt and discover the future of the world depends on his protection of Princess Cirilla (Freya Allan), a young girl who has powerful magic that can't be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. 

Season 2 focuses on Geralt’s continued protection of Princess Cirilla as he brings her to his childhood home of Kaer Morhen. Many new faces also joined in season 2 including Silent Witness star Liz Carr who plays Fenn, a lawyer and detective.

Season 3 has already been commissioned and is expected some time in 2023.

Why watch: It’s exciting and fast-paced with epic battle scenes, plus a hearty dose of magic and mayhem. Cavill is great as the troubled outsider and the special effects are brilliant.

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons: 2

Episodes: 16

Average running time: 61 mins

Black Sails

Toby Stephens as Captain Flint.

Toby Stephens as Captain Flint. (Image credit: Starzplay)

Toby Stephens is Captain Flint, the boss of a motley crew of pirates in this big budget series that’s gone from strength to strength, attracting more fans with each swashbuckling series.

The action begins as Flint and his crew attack a passing ship, but the loot is poor and the crew are getting restless. Flint has a plan for a big haul of Spanish gold but he needs to find it first.

There’s a large cast of salty sea dogs, feisty women and landlubbers who are up to no good and all of them change their allegiances faster than their sails, so buckle up and get ready to ride the waves with this epic series. 

Why watch: A swashbuckling adventure brought up to date with plenty of action and strong characters. It also looks beautiful, it's set in the Caribbean but filmed in South Africa. 

Where to watch: Starzplay in the UK and Hulu in the US

Seasons: 4

Episodes: 38

Average running time: 58 mins

Barbarians

A German production based on the occupation of Germany by Roman troops in 9AD. The action revolves around the suppression of the Germanic people that led to a rebellion that stopped the mighty Roman army in its tracks and changed the course of history.

The series begins as Roman troops gallop into a village demanding more taxes than the poor inhabitants can afford. But without unity between the warring local tribes, they have little choice but to pay up to stop the Romans murdering their people and destroying their villages.

Outnumbered by the all-powerful Romans it seems the villagers have little choice but to accept the unfair and violent rule, except for a small group of rebels who just won’t let their way of life be destroyed without an almighty fight. 

Season 2 is coming on Friday, October 21, so make sure you catch up before then. 

Why watch: A classic David and Goliath tale that looks fabulous and is full of action and adventure. It is of course violent and bloody, but then you wouldn’t expect anything less from a historical drama about a hard-won rebellion. 

Where to watch: Netflix

Seasons: 1 (2 is coming on Friday, October 21)

Episodes: 6

Average running time: 46 mins

Joanne Lowles
Freelance writer and editor

Joanne Lowles has been writing about TV since 2002. After graduating from Cardiff University with a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism, she worked for All About Soap magazine covering the ups and downs of life on the cobbles, the square and the Dales. 

Next came nearly 10 years at TV Times magazine as a writer and then deputy features editor. Here she spent many happy days interviewing the biggest names in entertainment and visiting the sets of some of our most popular shows including Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife and Strictly Come Dancing

With a love of nature and wildlife she’s also interviewed the leading experts in this area including David Attenborough, Chris Packham and Steve Backshall. She’s also travelled the world visiting Mongolia, Canada and South Africa to see how the best in the business make the most brilliant natural history documentaries. 

Freelance since 2013, she is now is a digital writer and editor for What to Watch, previews the best on the box for TV Times mag each week and loves being constantly surprised, entertained and informed by the amazing TV that she is lucky enough to watch.