Vikings were big, burly hairy men with horned helmets, who killed and razed villages.
First, the number of combs, brushes, and blades discovered among tombs and ruins suggests that “vikings”, and by that, most people mean Scandinavians, took very good care of their hair and facial hair. They also crafted colorful clothing, told stories, and carved pictures and runes into stones.
Now, judging by the harsh land, it’s also unlikely that most of them had enough food to get big. Anthropologists have also discovered that most viking skeletons were only average in size, at best, and they showed signs of malnourishment, so they were certainly fierce, and obviously smart, but they were far from the big, burly cartoon depictions we see today.
They were a crafty people, though, since their weapons were forged of steel rather than bronze; they smelted something called bog iron, and to do so, they had construct forges hot enough to smelt the ore, which is something no other culture was capable of doing at the time. The steel wasn’t just used for swords, however, they also crafted nails, which they used to build dragon boats, vessels made of long planks of oak. These boats, however small, were able to withstand the rigors of the high seas because of their flexibility.
Today, we know they sailed as far as Canada and may have traded as far south as America.
Finally, the notion that they wore horned helmets is a little strange; horned helmets didn’t make an appearance until the dark ages, and it was the British who wore them. There had never been any art in any part of Scandinavia portraying vikings as wearing horned helmets, so why cartoons, movies, and video games depict them as such will remain a mystery.