In this guide, you’ll discover the best things to do in Trondheim, one of Norway’s liveliest cities, with its quaint old town, centuries-old colorful waterfront houses, and one of the country’s foremost gastronomic scenes.
Trondheim is Norway’s third largest city, with a population of 210,000, of which at least 40,000 are students. So, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most open-minded, friendly and vibrant cities in Norway, with so many bars, restaurants and parks where locals love to hang out and chat.
Trondheim is also a popular stop on the route of the Hurtigruten, the coastal ferry that connects towns from Bergen to Kirkenes, so many visitors choose to visit on a stop on their cruise, as the ships stop long enough to visit Trondheim.
The city offers many interesting attractions and is one of the best places to experience authentic local life, so one of the best things to do might be to visit it with a friendly local guide.
What you’ll find in this guide to the best things to do in Trondheim:
- Trondheim: Curious Facts to Know Before You Go
- 20 Best Things to Do and See in Trondheim
- Best Things to Do in Trondheim in Winter
- 5 Best Places to Eat in Trondheim
- How to get to Trondheim
Trondheim: Curious Facts to Know Before You Go
Trondheim, Norway’s ancient gem, boasts a rich history dating back to the year 997 when it was founded by the Viking King Olaf I of Norway, initially known as Kaupangen and later rebranded as Nidaros. For centuries, it stood as the capital of Norway until 1217 when a complex web of events led to Norway’s union with Denmark and Sweden, only regaining its independence in 1905.
At the heart of Trondheim’s historical significance stands the awe-inspiring Nidaros Cathedral, a masterpiece constructed in 1070. This iconic edifice served as the solemn venue for the coronation of Norwegian monarchs, lending the city an air of regal elegance and historical importance.
Today, Trondheim has gracefully evolved into a thriving, modern city. It’s home to one of Norway’s premier universities, nurturing young minds and driving forward a legacy of academic excellence. The city also stands proudly as one of the country’s primary centers for cutting-edge scientific and technological research, making it a hub for innovation and progress.
But Trondheim is not just about its illustrious past and promising future. It’s a vibrant, bustling city that offers a plethora of experiences for travelers. Its charming old town, with narrow streets and colorful houses, invites exploration. The serene Nidelva River winding through the city creates picturesque scenes, perfect for leisurely strolls. The fusion of history, academia, and modernity makes Trondheim a unique destination for all kinds of travelers. Whether you’re interested in exploring its historical treasures, engaging with the contemporary cultural scene, or simply savoring the warmth of its welcoming atmosphere, Trondheim has something to offer everyone.
20 Best Things to Do and See in Trondheim
Nidaros Cathedral is one of the most important churches in Norway, and the world’s northernmost medieval cathedral.
It was built in 1070 on the burial site of King Olaf II of Norway, who was killed during the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030, who became the patron saint of Norway.
Over time, Nidaros Cathedral has become one of the main pilgrimage destinations in Northern Europe and, despite having been damaged several times by devastating fires, it has become one of the most prestigious and most beautiful churches in Norway.
Coronations of the Kings of Norway have been held here since 1400, while the coronation ceremony has only recently been moved to Oslo, after regaining independence in the early 1900s.
Nidaros Cathedral was also the burial place of the Kings of Norway. Today the wonderful, large stone church that we can visit is the result of a series of restorations and reconstructions that took place over the centuries. The oldest part is the octagon, located on the original place of the altar, which has remained intact for over a millennium.
Today the Nidaros Cathedral retains some treasures, such as the remains of St. Olav and a wonderful Baroque organ, dating from 1738. Its imposing facade is a masterpiece of Gothic and Romanesque architecture and features sculptures of saints and kings flanking a beautiful rose window.
Bakklandet is undoubtedly among the most famous things to see in Trondheim. Its picturesque and colorful houses are probably the best-known picture of the city, especially the Nidelva waterfront, one of the oldest and most evocative places in the city.
The Bakklandet is the old town of Trondheim, and is made up of a small hamlet of old Nordic style houses. One of the unmissable things to do in Trondheim is to stroll through its narrow-cobbled streets, where there are cute niche shops, craft shops and good restaurants and cafes.
The most beautiful view is that between the Bakke Bridge and Old Town Bridge: along the east side of the Nidelva River you can see the heart of Bakklandet, made up of a series of painted wooden warehouses, dating back to the 17th century.
Gamle Bybro (Old Town Bridge)
The Gamle Bybro is the most iconic place to see in Trondheim, and is an ancient and picturesque bridge that crosses the Nidelva River right in the Bakklandet neighborhood.
Built in 1681, Gamle Bybro maintained its function as a guarded city gate until 1816. At each end of the bridge there was a toll and guardhouse, today only one of the access houses is still visible, the one on the west end.
The Old Town Bridge is also known as Lykkens Portal (Gate of Happiness), after the lyrics of a popular Norwegian waltz.
Music fans should not miss a visit to the Ringve Museum, located in an 18th-century manor overlooking the city and the enchanting Trondheim fjord.
This was the home of the Bachkes, who spent all their money collecting musical instruments from all over the world. The collection boasts over 2,000 old musical instruments, including 16th-century violins, antique pianos, 18th-century spinets and clavichords, and percussion that belonged to ancient African tribes.
The Ringve Museum today is a very interesting national museum dedicated to Norwegian and European music, and is worth a visit also just to see the wonderful estate surrounded by a beautiful botanical garden.
The museum features several permanent exhibitions dedicated to traditional European music and the most modern sound and lighting technology.
The Ringve Museum is located outside the city center, and can be reached by car or by bus no. 2 or 20.
Sverresborg Trøndelag Folkemuseum
The Trøndelag Folk Museum is one of the most interesting open-air ethnographic museums in Norway. This museum is located near the ruins of Sverresborg Castle, Norway’s first medieval castle built by King Sverre Sigurdsson, who was a Norwegian king from 1177 to 1202. Around the ruins today stands the Trøndelag Folk Museum, an open-air museum on the history and culture of the peoples of Norway and the native Sami people.
It is a village made up of over 80 historic wooden houses, which once stood in Trondheim’s Old Town and the surrounding region, called Trøndelag. Among the buildings, the Haltdalen Stave Church, a wonderful wooden church dating back to 1170, is noteworthy.
You can also visit the Old Town, with the wonderful wooden buildings that once stood in the heart of Trondheim, including the dentist’s house, the post office, the old grocery store, and the shoemaker’s workshop, while around there is a rural village, with old school, some farms and old wooden houses, where you can learn many interesting things about the culture of local people, about fishing, and about the nomadic life of the Sami, the people of Lapland.
The Trøndelag Folk Museum is located outside Trondheim town, and can be reached easily by car, otherwise from the city center you can take Bus no. 11 directed to Stavset.
Archbishop’s Palace Museum
One step away from Nidaros Cathedral is the Archbishop’s Palace, dating back to the 12th century, an imposing masterpiece of Romanesque Gothic architecture.
For hundreds of years the Archbishop’s Palace was the seat, residence and administrative center of the Archbishop of Nidaros, which held the administrative, religious and military command of the entire region, and had its own army and coin.
The Archbishop’s Palace today houses the interesting Army and Resistance Museums, dedicated to the military history of the region, from the Vikings to the Second World War, but the highlight of the collection is located in the palace’s west wing, where the Royal Regalia is kept.
Here you can see the jewels that belonged to the Kings of Norway, including the 200-year-old Crown of Norway, adorned with precious gems and crested with an amethyst cross.
Trondheim Kunstmuseum and The National Museum of Decorative Arts and Design
Near Nidaros Cathedral, art lovers can visit two of Trondheim’s best museums, the Trondheim Kunstmuseum and the National Museum of Decorative Arts and Design.
The Trondheim Kunstmuseum, also known as the Trondheim Art Museum, houses several permanent and temporary exhibitions and boasts a good collection of artworks by contemporary Norwegian painters from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The National Museum of Decorative Arts and Design is instead a very interesting museum dedicated to local art and crafts. Open since 1893, it boasts an impressive collection of local crafts, silverware and Norwegian glassware from the 16th and 17th centuries, Art Nouveau furnishings and some of the best works of contemporary Scandinavian design.
Torvet (Trondheim Town Square)
The Torvet is the main square in Trondheim, and is one of the main meeting points for the locals.
This square dates back to 1681 and is characterized by the statue of Olav Tryggvason, the first King of Norway and founder of Trondheim. A large number of cafes and restaurants line the square, while the southern end is packed with market stalls, selling fresh local produce, flowers and souvenirs.
If you visit Trondheim during the Christmas period don’t miss a visit to the Torvet: here every year during the month of December the wonderful Trondheim’s Christmas Markets are held and the square is filled with stalls selling delicious local specialties, sweets and handicrafts. Children will be amazed by the many rides and attractions that animate the Christmas markets.
One of the weirdest things to do in Trondheim is to visit Rockheim, a modern, eclectic and vibrant museum entirely dedicated to pop and rock music.
Located in what was an old granary from the early 1900s, transformed into a colorful masterpiece of modern architecture, this museum boasts engaging permanent exhibits, with multimedia and interactive installations on the history of Norwegian music, from the 1950s to the present day.
A visit to Rockheim can be a great thing to do in Trondheim if you are traveling with kids. In fact, you can try to play electronic guitar like rock stars, or learn to use turntables like a real hip-hop DJ.
The Kristiansten Fortress, located on a hill with a beautiful view over the city, was erected at the end of the 17th century, and was one of the main defensive structures of the city.
This fortress played an infamous role during World War II, when the Nazis used it as a prison and execution site for members of the Norwegian Resistance.
Today it is possible to enter the fortress for free and visit the cells and the small museum.
Trondheim Science Museum
The Trondheim Science Museum is my favorite museum in Trondheim and is a must do experience if you are traveling with kids.
This museum, located within walking distance from the train station and the city center, allows visitors to learn a lot of interesting things about the human body, physics, chemistry and science in general.
It has a nice planetarium, interactive rooms with films and multimedia installations, but the best part are the laboratories where adults and children can have fun with the experiments. There are chemistry and biology laboratories, as well as rooms where you can experiment with robots.
The museum also has a nice shop where they sell experiment kits, so kids can play at home while learning lots of interesting things about science.
Munkholmen, or The Monk’s Island, is an island located in the Trondheim Fjord, near the mouth of the Nidelva River, and which has had an infamous past, as former execution ground, prison and fortress.
Many centuries ago there was a Benedictine monastery here, which was later transformed into a fortress in the 17th century. Today visiting the island it is still possible to see the well-preserved round tower belonging to the former Benedictine abbey of Nidarholm, founded in the 12th century.
You can visit the island in summer, when a ferry shuttles between Trondheim and Munkholmen, to visit the old fort, prisons and the remains of the monastery.
Tyholttårnet is the iconic tower that characterizes the Trondheim skyline. This radio tower, located just outside the city center, was erected in 1985 and is 124 meters high, making it the tallest building in Norway.
At the top, about 70 meters high, there is an observation deck and upstairs the revolving restaurant Egon Tårnet. You can go up for free to have a view of the city from the observation deck, or dine at the restaurant overlooking the city.
This is certainly among the weirdest things to do in Trondheim. The CycloCable is the world’s only ski lift for cyclists.
Trondheim is a bike-friendly city, and to help cyclists overcome the impressive 20% gradient climb near the Old Town Bridge in Bakklandet, this ingenious system was built in 1993. The current version is a modification of the original one, invented by Jarle Wanvik, a resident of the city who was sick of arriving at work exhausted after pedaling up the hill.
This elegant villa located in the heart of Trondheim, is a magnificent example of 18th-century Baroque architecture, is easily recognizable by its bright yellow color and is used by Norway’s royal family as their official residence when they visit Trondheim.
Built in 1778 as the private home of Cecilie Christine Schøller, a wealthy Norwegian socialite, land owner and businessperson, it became a state property in the early 1900s.
As early as the 1800s this was the place where royalty was housed, and is one of the most impressive wooden buildings in Europe, with over 100 richly decorated rooms.
It can only be visited by participating in one of the guided tours, which are held only in summer.
Solsiden is a vibrant and lively neighborhood located on the marina near the Blomsterbrua (Flower Bridge), within walking distance of the city center and nestled in the Nedre Elvehavn district. The name Solsiden translates to “the sunny side” in Norwegian, and this area is known for its lively atmosphere and fun-loving spirit.
Solsiden was born on the ashes of an old shipyard, and is an excellent example of architectural recovery and reconversion of an area that was once quite run down. Wandering through the few streets of the neighbourhood, which is a sort of open-air shopping centre, you will be able to appreciate its post-industrial feel and its contemporary architectural accents.
But what makes this area very popular is that it is one of the best areas for nightlife and meeting up with friends. It is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, with a variety of restaurants, bars, and shops to enjoy.
One of the main attractions in Solsiden is the marina promenade, which is dotted with restaurants and bars with outdoor terraces that are perfect for soaking up the sun with friends and great food. There are several pizzerias, bars and restaurants serving international cuisine. Local favorites include Una Pizzeria, Selma Bar & Pizza, Olivia Restaurant, and Hector, which serves Mexican-inspired cuisine. For a night out with friends, Søstrene Karlsen, San Sebastian, Sot, Café Løkka, and Cowsea are all great options.
In the winter, the dry dock from the old shipyard is converted into an illuminated ice skating rink, and in the summer it is converted into a stage for concerts and festivals that attract local and international music stars. The converted pump house, called Dokkhuset, is now a modern venue that houses local and international artists and musicians, and it is run by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Dokkhuset is also a great place to enjoy the Norwegian custom of utepils (drinking beer outside) on a sunny day.
Also, art lovers will want to check out the Trondheim Kunstmuseum Gråmølna, another popular attraction in Solsiden. This small museum, located in a converted mill house dating back to the 1840s, features permanent and temporary exhibits by local artists. Solsiden is also popular with locals for its large, modern shopping mall, where you can find dozens of shops, eateries and shopping opportunities.
If you’re staying in Trondheim for a while, then you might want to spend a relaxing day at Pirbadet, the largest indoor waterpark in Norway.
This water park is very popular with families and is a great place to go on rainy days. There are several kids’ pools, waterslides, wave pools, swimming pools and a nice spa, with jacuzzis and saunas.
Trondheim Maritime Museum
The Trondheim Maritime Museum is a small museum dedicated to navigation and the history of Trondheim’s trading tradition.
Here are several fun activities for children, who can feel like sailors, as well as several exhibits and films on the history of navigation from the 17th century up to the present day.
Skiing at Fjellseter Gråkallen
Trondheim is also a popular skiing destination. A few kilometers from the city is Mount Fjellseter, which is not very high (only 367 meters) but is enough to spend a day of skiing fun. Here you will find an equipped ski area and even a ski-jump.
In the summer the area is a popular destination for hikers, who can take easy walks to the summit of Gråkallen (555 meters) from which there is a beautiful view of the Trondheim Fjord.
Best Things to Do in Trondheim in Winter
During the long and cold months of winter Trondheim is one of the liveliest cities in Norway, thanks to the presence of many young people and students.
The mountains around Trondheim are a popular ski destination, while the city center can be easily explored on foot. If you travel during the Christmas period, you cannot miss the wonderful Christmas Markets, with many stalls of street food, sweets and local crafts.
And what about the Northern Lights in Trondheim? Well, it’s pretty rare to see the Northern Lights in Trondheim, because it’s too far south.
Sometimes, during the peak periods of solar activity, it is possible to see the Northern Lights in Trondheim, but honestly it is not that frequent and it is not comparable with what you can see in the North, in the region around Tromsø.
5 Best Places to Eat in Trondheim
One of the best things to do in Trondheim is to experience its vibrant food scene.
The city boasts several starred restaurants, such as the Michelin Star-awarded FAGN, which serves outstanding contemporary culinary creations, with an interesting tasting menu starting at NOK 1600.
Another excellent restaurant is Credo, also awarded a Michelin Star, which serves an excellent 20-25 course tasting menu (starting at NOK 1900), made from sustainable, organic and local ingredients.
In the very elegant setting of the Britannia Hotel, we find Speilsalen, another Michelin Star restaurant, which offers an exceptional fine dining experience, with tasting menus (starting from 2250 NOK), a selection of the best champagnes and a prestigious caviar bar.
If you are looking for a more informal place to try delicious local specialties, a good address is the To Rom og Kjøkken restaurant, which serves tasty Scandinavian specialties made with the freshest local, organic ingredients.
Or pop into Bula Neobistro, a friendly restaurant very popular with locals, serving great menus inspired by the best of international cuisine, made with quality fresh local ingredients.
How to get to Trondheim
Trondheim is easily accessible from Bergen, Oslo and Bodø. Many travelers visit it during a spectacular road trip through the Norwegian Fjords, while many others visit it during a stop on the Hurtigruten, the world-famous fjord cruise.
Getting to Trondheim by the coastal express Hurtigruten
The legendary coastal express Hurtigruten calls daily at Trondheim, both on the north-bound and south-bound route. The ship stops in port for about 3 hours, which is enough time to take a quick look at the city.
If you want to stop here and make the most of the city, then you might want to buy a port-to-port ticket. So, you can stop here for a day or two, and then board one of the next ships.
Getting to Trondheim by Plane
Trondheim Airport, also known as Trondheim Værnes Airport, is situated just 19 km away from the heart of Trondheim. It boasts excellent connectivity to the city center through both express trains and buses, ensuring convenient and swift transportation options for travelers.
This airport serves as a pivotal hub for both international and domestic flights, making it an ideal gateway to Trondheim. Notably, it stands out as one of the swiftest and occasionally most budget-friendly means of reaching Trondheim from key cities like Bergen, Oslo, and Tromsø. Whether you’re arriving from or departing to these destinations, Trondheim Airport offers an efficient and well-linked travel experience.
Getting to Trondheim by Train
The best way to get to Trondheim by train is from Bodø or Oslo, while there are no direct connections from Bergen. There are daily trains from Oslo (takes about 7 hours) and from Bodø (takes about 10 hours).
Getting to Trondheim by Bus
Trondheim can also be reached by long bus trips from Oslo, Bodø, Ålesund and from inland towns such as Stryn and Otta. There are no direct buses from Bergen.
Getting to Trondheim by Car
The car is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get to Trondheim and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Trondheim Fjords. You can rent a car in one of Norway’s major cities, and reach Trondheim via Norwegian North-South Highway E6 or the Coastal Highway E39 to Klett and from there highway E6 to Trondheim.
One of the more scenic alternatives is to drive from Oslo to Trondheim on Norwegian National Road 3 (Rv3), also called “The green shortcut”.
Tips for your trip to Trondheim and Norway:
Planning your trip to Trondheim? Then here you can find many useful tips: