From an imposing gothic cathedral to cozy cafes and boutiques. Norway’s former capital has much to offer in its compact city centre.
Trondheim, originally known in Viking times as Nidaros, is often ignored by tourists in favour of the western fjords, the bright city lights of Oslo, or chasing the northern lights. However, taking a simple stroll around the compact city centre reveals a city rich in history yet with a youthful vibe on the cutting edge of technology.
Start your walk at the brand new tourist office on Nordre gate, a bright and airy spot where you can pick up maps of the city centre and wider Trøndelag region and ask any questions you may have. Products from Trondheim and across Central Norway are available for sale, from Røros tweed to locally-made jams and butter.
From Nordre gate it’s a 5-minute walk to the undoubted highlight of the city.
Nedaros Cathedral, the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world, stands over the burial site of Saint Olaf, the 11th Century King of Norway. Spend some time exploring the cathedral but don’t ignore the impressive grounds of the Archbishop’s Palace (Erkebispegården) just through the gate. If you have time, you can explore a fascinating museum about the history of Trondheim and also see the Crown Regalia of Norway, including the jewel-incrusted King’s Crown.
Leave the grounds through the peaceful graveyard and you’ll soon find yourself at the Old Town Bridge (Gamle Bybro), which spans the Nidelva river. On the bridge you get a perfect view of the colourful merchant’s wharves that line the river. This district is easily the most photographed part of Trondheim, so don’t forget your camera!
The bridge leads to Bakklandet, a charming “Old Town” neighbourhood of mostly wooden houses and cobbled streets. Nowadays Bakklandet is home to numerous bars, restaurants and boutiques, but manages to do so without losing its charm. As you sip your latte outside one of the many cafes, be thankful that Bakklandet still exists. It was nearly demolished for a highway fifty years ago and only saved due to protests by the city’s residents.
The Trampe bicycle lift takes cyclists up the steep hill at Brubakken. It’s said to be the only bicycle lift of its kind in the world. For test-runs, you need a lift card and a bike. Lift cards are available at the tourist office, but many visitors are content with watching locals use the lift.
Another photo opportunity awaits you as Søndre gate crosses the river onto the artificial island Brattøya, home to the city’s train station and port. While you’re there, check out Rockheim, Norway’s national rock and pop museum and a shining example of Trondheim’s technological focus.
Inside, interactive exhibits immerse you in the story of modern Norwegian music, but also take you back through the ages of sixties rock n roll and eighties black metal. You can even play along with the greats on a guitar, jam with your family and friends, or create your own tracks on a mixing desk. This is a great place for kids, and really big kids, with a love of music.
Other things to see:
Trondheim’s musical attractions don’t stop with Rockheim. In the beautiful setting of the Ringve Botanical Gardens, the country’s museum of music and musical instruments houses two permanent exhibitions. “The Museum in the Manor House” (open from April to October) has been preserved as it was when Ringve’s founder opened the museum over sixty years ago. Meanwhile “The Museum in the Barn,” features modern sound and lighting technology.
Stiftsgården, the Royal Residence
Built during the 1700s by the ambitious widow of the privy counsellor, Stiftsgården is the largest wooden palace in Scandinavia. Guided tours are available.
Trøndelag Folk Museum
A museum of cultural history around the ruins of King Sverre’s medieval castle at Sverresborg. Expect a large open-air museum with wooden buildings and scenes from Trondheim and Trøndelag as well as beautiful indoor exhibitions. Best visited in the summer months.