Vikingsholm Castle is a historic mansion and architectural highlight of Lake Tahoe. Located in beautiful Emerald Bay State Park, the majestic home overlooks the lake’s scenic Emerald Bay and Fannette Island. Blending seamlessly with its surrounding natural environment, Vikingsholm is considered to be one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere.
Vikingsholm dates back to 1929, when it served as the summer home of Lora Josephine Knight. After visiting Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden for design inspiration, Knight had the 38-room house constructed using only natural materials from the area—no nails, pegs, or spikes. She also built a small teahouse on Fannette Island in the middle of the bay, accessible by boat, kayak, and canoe. Lake Tahoe boat tours often pass by the Vikingsholm, and cruises that visit Emerald Bay share history of the house and the area. You can also spy Vikingsholm from the air by helicopter tour. To see the interior of the house, you must be on a guided tour led by an official state park guide.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Vikingsholm is a top Tahoe attraction for architecture buffs.
- The castle’s interior is available for 30-minute, fee-based tours in summer, from late May to late September.
- Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes if making the 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) hike to the castle.
- While the castle can be seen from the water, road, and sky, getting an up-close look is difficult for those with limited mobility.
How to Get There
Vikingsholm is located in South Lake Tahoe on the California (western) side of the lake. To get to the mansion, take Highway 89 to the lake’s southwest shore. The house is a short, 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) hike away from the Emerald Bay State Park lookout parking lot, which is worth stopping at for views of the bay and Fannette Island. Public bus service is available from both the north and south shores. Private boats can also pick up and drop off from a dock near the home.
When to Get There
Visitors can see the house exterior at any time of year. House tours are available only during the summer, from late May to late September. Guided tours last 30 minutes and are conducted on the half hour from 10:30am to 3:30pm.
What Not to Miss at Vikingsholm
As you enter the castle, take a look at the sod roof, which covers both wings of the house. It sprouts wildflowers each spring. Once inside, be sure to notice the level of exquisite detail, from the delicate paintings on the ceilings and walls to the antique furnishings and Nordic fireplaces.