7 reasons to visit Trondheim

With its world-class art, rich history, authentic food and small-town heart, Trondheim may be Norway’s third-biggest city – however it feels anything but…

Team Wanderlust
20 June 2023
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Discover Trondheim

Norway’s ancient capital has so much to offer: epic fjords, centuries of history, lively festivals and a thriving local food scene. With new direct flights from the UK thanks to Norwegian, the city has never been easier to get to. Climb the tower of Nidaros Cathedral, stroll along the charming street of Bakklandet, go hiking in Bymarka Nature Reserve or kayak down the Nidelva River: there’s almost too much to do in Trondheim.

1. The food

The food at the Michelin-starred Speilsalen restaurant at Britannia hotel (Will Lee Wright)

As the European Region of Gastronomy 2022, Trondheim is a fantastic place to sample some cutting-edge Nordic cuisine. Surrounded by farms, orchards, fruit-growers and organic producers, it’s a city that’s passionate about its food. Farm-to-table dining is a trend that’s really taken off, with innovative restaurants such as Sellenraa Bok & Bar and To Rom og Kjøkken making creative use of all the fantastic local produce, as well as foraged ingredients from berries, herbs and wild mushrooms. For the ultimate epicurean experience, book a table at one of the city’s three Michelin-starred restaurants – Credo, FAGN and Speilsalen – or just do as the locals do and settle in for some coffee and cake at a cosy cafe such as Streif or HEVD Craft Bakery. Seafood is another Trondheim highlight: tuck into king crabs, langoustines and oysters at The Crab, or sample seafood right beside where it’s caught at the harbourside Troll Restaurant.

2. The history

The Nidaros Cathedral (Mykola Ksenofontov/Visit Trondheim)

Founded more than a millennia ago in 995, Trondheim was once the Viking capital of Norway. Back then, the city was known as Nidaros, a name that lives on in the form of its soaring Gothic cathedral: it’s built over the grave of Olaf II, Norway’s patron saint, and the man who brought Christianity to the country. Take a guided tour to admire the cathedral’s stained glass, chapels and medieval artworks, then climb the 172 steps to the top of the tower for a panoramic view over Trondheim. Afterwards, wander through the historic neighbourhood of Bakklandet, lined with charming timber-clad buildings, and finish with a visit to the forbidding Kristiansten Fortress, which has guarded the city since the 17th century, and was occupied by Nazi troops during WWII. Don’t miss the museum, the spooky castle dungeons and the view over Trondheimsfjorden from the battlements.

3. The art and museums

Kristiansten Fortress (Jarle Hagen/Visit Trondheim)

From artworks to architecture, Trondheim is a city that holds culture close to its heart. The centre of the city’s art scene is the Trondheim kunstmuseum, which holds a memorable collection of Norwegian old masters and contemporary artists. The museum is one of Norway’s leading art institutions which serves as a regional base for national and international developments in art, and is also the host to one of the world’s largest art prizes: the Lorck Schive Kunstpris. Its sister institution is TKM Gråmølna, where the haunting works of Håkon Bleken take centre stage along with revolving exhibitions. For more contemporary art, visit Kunsthall Trondheim, the Trøndelag’s largest modern art gallery, or take a guided walking tour around Trondheim’s backstreets to see the city’s best street art. History-lovers will want to spend a day exploring Sverresborg Museum, an open-air folk museum that recreates the Trøndelag of yesteryear, with more than 80 traditional houses and costumed guides bringing the past to life through live music and storytelling. But that’s not all: with museums dedicated to Norwegian music, industry, fishing, musical instruments, shipping, Jewish history and trams, there’s a bit of Trondheim history for everyone.

4. The nature

The Ilabekken river (Mykola Ksenofontov/Visit Trondheim)

Located beside a vast natural fjord, Trondheim is a city where nature’s never too far away. The wild nature reserve of Bymarka covers 80 square kilometres to the west of the city centre, and is a popular place for hiking, biking and wildlife spotting in summer. Wild swimmers can take a bracing dip at the outdoor saltwater pool of Sjøbadet, or head out to Lian Lake for a wild swim surrounded by Norwegian nature. Or strap on your boots and get walking: the popular Ladestien trail begins beside a scenic fjord 3km from Trondheim’s core, while the path to Storfossen concludes beside one of the region’s most impressive waterfalls, and the hilltop of Våttakammen affords Trondheim’s best sunset view. The adventures don’t stop in winter, either: with several ski resorts close to the city, you can spend the colder months sliding down the slopes or trying out Norway’s favourite winter pastime: cross-country skiing.

5. The urban adventure

Kayaking along the Nidelva River (Jarle Hagen)

Whether it’s on two feet, two wheels or the water, Trondheim offers a wealth of outdoor adventures. The Nidelva River runs through the centre of Trondheim, and can be explored by kayak or stand-up paddleboard, offering a unique perspective on the city’s waterfront architecture. Alternatively, for classic Norwegian scenery, boat trips whizz out onto Trondheim Fjord, while RIB rides offer a white-knuckle, high-octane adventure you’ll definitely remember. If you prefer your outdoor pursuits a little more sedate, hire an e-bike or an e-scooter to explore the city at your own pace, or take a scenic spin around the city’s parks, such as Gåsaparken and Marinen. Or in winter, strap on your skates and glide out onto one of Trondheim’s public rinks: ice skating is practically a national sport in Norway, and a great way to make some new friends.

6. The festivals

Pstereo is one of Norway’s biggest music festivals (McKenna Starck)

Trondheim is a city that knows how to party. The biggest festival of the year is Olavsfest, a celebration of culture held in honour of Norway’s beloved patron saint, which takes place in late July and early August on the streets and squares around Nidaros Cathedral. Also in August, the Trøndelag Food Festival and Trondheim Brewery Festival toast Trondheim’s local food and drink scene, with 200 food stalls and 30 local breweries providing tasting sessions, cooking displays, pop-up food trucks and craft beer tents for more than 250,000 visitors. In late August, the Pstereo music festival takes over Marinen Park, while jazz hits the stage during the Trondheim Jazz Festival in May. And don’t miss the World Cheese Awards in October, when you have the chance to try more than 4,000 cheeses from around the world – as well as closer-to-home specialities like blue Kraftkar, Gouda-style Fanaost and Norwegian brown cheese.

7. The Christmas market

Trondheim’s Christmas market (ENBOVI)

Nowhere does Christmas quite like Norway, and Trondheim looks magical in the middle of winter, especially when it’s coated in a carpet of snow. Throughout December, the city hosts a huge Christmas market which attracts sightseers and shoppers from all over Norway. The main square is taken over by food stalls, fairground rides, Christmas trees and strings of kos, the twinkling lights that brighten up Norway’s long winter nights. It’s an ideal place to shop for traditional gifts such as wooden toys, knitwear, handmade crafts and chocolate. And if you get too cold, warm up with a mug of gløgg (mulled wine) inside the Lavvo, a cosy tented area inspired by the homes of Sami reindeer herders, with space inside for a roaring fire and more than 500 guests. If you’re lucky, the Aurora Borealis might even put on their own extra-special display of Christmas lights.

Feeling inspired?

For more information about this underrated Norwegian city, visit the official Visit Trondheim website.

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