Discovering Trondheim: 14 top things to do
Planning a Scandinavian adventure? Be sure to leave some space in your itinerary for Trondheim. With its colourful houses, pretty waterways and forested hills, Norway’s third-largest city will charm the socks off you.
From hiking and fjord rafting to relaxing on the beach and fine dining, there’s loads to do in Trondheim. Below you’ll find our top picks.
1. Take a photo on Gamle Bybro
In the centre of Trondheim, you’ll find Gamle Bybro (the Old Town Bridge), a photogenic construction that crosses the Nid River. Affectionately known as ‘Lykkens Portal’ (the gate of happiness), the distinctive red bridge is over 150 years old.
Tip: Bring your camera. It’s the best place in town to get a shot of Trondheim’s riverside wharves in the trendy Bakklandet district.
2. Spot a ghost at Nidaros Cathedral
Nidarosdomen, or Nidaros Cathedral, dates back to the 11th century. Built over the burial site of Saint Olaf, the country’s patron saint, it’s an important historical pilgrimage site.
The building is awe-inspiring, with its Gothic stone carvings, which include saints, kings, prophets, and an array of grimacing gargoyles. After dark, the cathedral can take on a bit of an eerie air, and some even say they’ve seen the ghost of a monk wandering the aisles at Nidarosdomen.
In the summer months, you can go up the cathedral’s tower, though it’s not for the claustrophobic; the 172 steps to the top are dark and narrow, but the climb is worth it for the incredible views of the city and surrounding fjord.
3. Go to Hell and back
Yes, you read that right. Hell is a tiny village about 30 minutes outside Trondheim. It’s known for two things: its annual ‘Blues in Hell’ festival that takes place in early September, and its train station.
Tourists flock here to see the amusingly-named village for themselves. Those heading to the train station can even see the sign on the old freight building which ironically reads, ‘Hell Gods-Expedition’, with Gods-Expedition being the old Norwegian for cargo handling.
Hell is close to Trondheim Airport. So close in fact, that when checking in on Facebook, you’re offered the opportunity to select ‘Hell International Airport’.
4. Chill out in Bakklandet
Trondheim’s ‘old city,’ Bakklandet, is the most picturesque part of the city, with its cobbled streets and cluster of colourful wooden buildings, many of them housing cosy cafés, cool restaurants and designer stores.
Fancy a spot of shopping? Be sure to stop in at Gaven and pick up some cool handmade souvenirs, or head to the design collective, Sukker, who create their own unique textiles and jewellery.
Tip: If you’re in Trondheim at Christmastime and want to pick up a few gifts, don’t miss the Christmas market in the nearby Midtbyen area! There’s no better way to get in the festive spirit.
While you’re exploring Bakklandet, be sure to check out the Cyclocable – the world’s only ‘ski lift’ for bicycles. It takes cyclists up the steep 1:5 gradient of Brubakken Hill.
5. Dine at height at the Tyholttårnet tower
For a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the city, head to the observation deck at the Tyholttårnet, a 124-metre-tall radio tower. The views are outstanding.
Tip: If you want to earn serious brownie points from the other half, book a table at Egon. Located 80 metres up the tower, it’s Trondheim’s only revolving restaurant. You’re guaranteed to have seen all the sights by the time you get to coffee!
6. View the city from Kristiansten Festning
The Kristiansten fortress was built in the late 17th century on a hill overlooking Trondheim, to protect the city against attack. The view from the walls over the city below is spectacular, especially at night.
If you’re there during winter and are super lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the breathtaking Northern Lights.
7. Take the ferry to Munkholmen
Munkholmen – The Monk’s Island – is rich in history. It’s a former execution ground, monastery, prison, fortress, and defence station during World War II.
Despite its gruesome past, it’s got one of the best beaches in the city, making it a top spot to catch some rays.
Ferries zip people to and from the island from mid-May to late September.
8. Have a picnic in Marinen Park
Marinen is a pretty public park, located just behind the Cathedral on the banks of the river Nid. It’s a great spot to enjoy a picnic after a busy morning’s sightseeing.
For music lovers, the park hosts Pstereo, one of Norway’s favourite alternative music festivals. The two-day event takes place on the third weekend of August and attracts a diverse lineup of indie, metal, and hip-hop stars.
9. Go back in time at Sverresborg Folk Museum
Sverresborg open-air historical museum, near the ruins of King Sverre’s medieval castle, depicts everyday life in the towns of Trøndelag county during the 18th and 19th centuries. You can see a traditional stave church from the 12th century, a 1900’s dentist’s surgery, and an old-fashioned grocery store where you can buy some handmade sweets.
In the summer, there are farm animals on site and a range of activities for children. A cast of actors bring the museum to life with live storytelling and theatrical performances. This is a fun day out for the whole family.
10. Take a hike!
There’s so much natural beauty in Trondheim, the best way to take it in is on a hike. We recommend the Lade Trail (Ladestien), which winds along the coast of the Lade peninsula for more than 10 miles.
The trail goes over hilltops and passes by coves and bays. It also offers spectacular views over the Trondheim Fjord. Sponhuset Cafe is a top place to stop for a rest and some refreshments.
11. Test the waters with fjord rafting
The sights of Trondheim aren’t restricted to the city. There’s a multitude of stunning fjords, as well as 50,000 islands to explore in the Trøndelag area, where Trondheim is located. Why not explore them on an exciting rafting adventure? Crazy Coyote Events organises various tours from Trondheim.
Whether you fancy an hour on the water, a longer trip out to the coast, or a blast along Trondheim Fjord, rafting is a fabulous way to have fun and see the sights.
12. Let your hair down in Solsiden
If you’re looking for a beer and a bite to eat, head to Trondheim’s uber-cool Solsiden district. By day it’s a popular shopping centre. By night it’s a buzzing waterside neighbourhood, packed with trendy restaurants and bars.
It’s an excellent spot to kick back and sip a brew by the river.
13. Celebrate at Olavsfest
Olav’s Festival is a big deal in Trondheim. It takes place around Nidaros Cathedral – the burial place of Norwegian patron saint, Olaf II Haraldsson. Legend says he died attempting to Christianize the country. He was declared a saint when miracles began occurring around his remains.
Norwegians gather around the holy site to honour St. Olaf on 29 July. In the week leading up to it, there’s a medieval market, feasts, and a rich program of classical music, folk, pop, and jazz.
14. Grab a bite
Trondheim is well known to foodies in Norway as one of the best cities for dining out. It’s packed full of great places to eat, from fine dining spots to burger joints.
Michelin-star Credo is an unconventional gourmet restaurant with no fixed menu. Head chef Heidi Bjerkan creates unique dishes based on the ingredients delivered each morning by local suppliers.
Specialising in seafood and meat, expect to dine on the likes of wild halibut with parsley sauce, king crab with fermented butter, and duck breast glazed in summer honey.
If that isn’t reason enough to go, their wine cellar is one of Norway’s best.
A visit to Fagn is an experience in itself. Serving up traditional Norwegian grub with a modern twist, this stylish locale is run by experienced chef, Jonas Andre Nåvik.
He’s created a fine dining restaurant on the first floor, with delicate dishes such as beetroot halibut and ‘potato acting like pasta’.
There’s a more relaxed restaurant and cocktail bar on the second floor. The ox cheek and yellow curry cod will make your taste buds smile.
Ready to go?
Trondheim is a treasure trove of history, amazing scenery, and fantastic food. If you’re pressed for time, see Trondheim through the eyes of a local on a walking tour.
What about including Trondheim as part of a road trip around Norway? Find some inspiration in our guide to Norwegian road trips. Then get onto Norwegian.com, book your flights, tours, and car rental, and collect CashPoints to get a discount on your next trip!