Last month I did not only visit Jerez de la Frontera. I also finally went to Norway, which was on my bucketlist for years! I visited the third largest city of this gorgeous country: Trondheim, located somewhere in the middle, in the Trøndelag County. Next to the sea, cute colorful wooden houses, lots of students, cozy coffee shops… Trondheim may feel like a village, it has more to offer than you may think! Let me show you what’s there to see & do.
Kings & Pilgrims
Olaf II Haraldsson was King of Norway from 1015 to 1028. After his death, all kinds of mysterious miracles happened around his grave. King Olaf was declared Saint in 1164, attracting pilgrims from around the world to his last resting place: the Nidaros Dom. This is still the church where all Norwegian Kings get crowned and the third most visited place of pilgrimage in Europe, after the St. Peter in Rome and Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Nowadays it is still possible to walk the old pilgrims’ paths and see his statue at Torvet Square (currently under construction).
Students in Trondheim
With more than 40.000 students in a city of 193.500 inhabitants, you can safely call Trondheim a student city. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet, NTNU) is responsible for attracting students from all around Norway and beyond. I love the ‘student vibe’ of student cities; always lots of bars and young, energetic people. The only downside in Norway is the price of drinks; it’s actually a challenge to find a glass of wine or beer under EUR 10 per glass. Ouch! There goes your student budget…
Old storage houses
The old storage houses along the Nidelva River form part of the most attractive sights of Trondheim. The oldest wharfs in Trondheim were built around 1700.
Kristiansten Fortress (Norwegian: Kristiansten Festning) was built to protect the city against attack from the east. It is located on a hill, providing great city view!
Old Town Bridge
Most of those nice photos of the old storage houses are taken from the red Old Town Bridge, which was built in 1681. This bridge always attracts people as it’s one of the main attractions of Trondheim. In Norwegian the bridge is called Gamle Bybro.
Shopping in Trondheim
I was actually a bit surprised to see how busy Nordre gate, Trondheim’s main shopping street, got on Saturday. Around the corner at Kongensgate there is also a nice local farmer’s market called Bondens Marked, between Nordre gate south end and Torvet Sq. Other central shopping areas include Trondheim Torg, Husfliden and Trenerys gate (Solsiden).
Other things to see
There are a bunch of museums that you may want to visit on a rainy day, including Trondheim Kunstmuseum (Art Museum), Trøndelag Folkemuseum, The Crown Regalia, Rockheim and Ringve National Music Museum. For people interested in WWII remains, the Dora U-boat Bunkers is worth a stroll. Or check out the National Justice Museum.
What else? You might be surprised how many things there are to see and do in Trondheim. Take a look at Stiftsgarden, Erkebispegarden (Archbishop’s Palace), Møllenberg, Svartlamoen, Ringve Botanical Gardens… Simply enjoy!
Norwegians are sporty folks who love the outdoors. Not strange when you have such beautiful nature! In Trondheim you stumble across the runners, cyclists and Nordic walking sticks. In Norwegian culture, the only thing you can brag about, is sports performance.
Everywhere around the city you can rent a bike and the city even has its very own unique bike lift (sykkelheis) between Bakklandet and Kristiansten Festning (Kristiansten Fortress). Also cool: rent a kayak to go around the Nidelva, or try hiking or cross-country skiing at Bymarka!
One of the good things in Trondheim is that nature is just a tram ride away! You can catch the tram up to Lian at St. Olav’s Gate in the city center. The tram ride is a bit of an experience on itself, going uphill through some nice neighborhoods with cute wooden houses. And the tram driver had pink hair!
Lian is a small lake where you can easily walk around (30-45 min). If the weather is good, you can relax on the grass and have a picnic or something. Don’t bother walking up the hill to Lian Restaurant; it’s quite posh, thirsty walking folks are not welcome, and it’s open only a few days a week. A pity with that view!
Tip: buy your tram ticket at the ticket machine instead of the driver to save about 40% off the ticket price (NOK 37 vs. NOK 60). The tram ticket is valid for two hours; upon re-entering the tram, the ticket still needs to be valid up to the point where/when you intend to get out.
Close to Trondheim there are lots of other places to enjoy nature, beyond Lian and Bymarka. Trondheim Fjords, Munkholmen Island, Korsvika Beach, Ladestien hiking trail… Or if you have a car, take a ride to Jonsvatnet (lake) for example.
If you are lucky enough, you may see the Northern Light on a clear day. Generally speaking, it is best to get out of the city center for a bit due to the light pollution. Still, it’s said that aurora borealis is seen within the city itself for about 2-3 times a year. Best chances are between December and March, but sometimes also in October or November already.
Do you travel to another country also to experience a bit of culture? The longer you stay, the more you will notice the differences. The Social Guidebook to Norway by Julien S. Bourrelle has a funny way of explaining the Norwegian culture, obviously a bit anchored and comic. Some interesting examples:
- A Norwegian WOMAN without a MAN, is like a FISH without a BICYCLE.
- Conversations are direct, simple and pragmatic.
- If you want to discuss feelings, get an appointment with a psychologist.
- Norwegians socialize around “framed activities”. Sports, games, activities, etc. They form social bubbles, which bubbles do not interact.
- The cleverest kids learn to take care of the ones who struggle. Helping the weak lies in the basis of the Norwegian social democratic model.
You can browse through this funny book with a cup of coffee and cinnamon roll at Kaffebrenneriet at Bakklandet.
Bakklandet is the most charming neighborhood of Trondheim, on the east side of the Nidelva. It has those cute, authentic wooden houses that radiate a very cozy atmosphere.
Although Starbucks infiltrated in Trondheim, the best authentic coffee places can be found in Bakklandet: the earlier mentioned Kaffebrenneriet and Dromedar. Kaffebrenneriet has mouthwatering cinnamon rolls and tea cups the size of soup bowls! Besides this super cute library-style bar called Antikvariatet is located at the same street. A must visit!
Where to eat & drink
Village atmosphere or not, Trondheim has enough eateries, coffee shops and bars to measure itself with bigger cities.
Besides several cozy coffee shops mentioned earlier, Trondheim has a bunch of nice bars and pubs to quench your thirst. Warning: alcoholic drinks are extra expensive! If you do not mind spending around EUR 10 or a glass of beer or wine, go to for example Antikvariatet, E.C. Dahls, Café Dublin, The Three Lions or Kieglekroa. Pubs like The Three Lions do offer relatively cheap food.
Restaurants in Trondheim
For authentic Norwegian food Baklandet Skydsstation is the place to be. Trondheim has a remarkable amount of good Italian restaurants too. We loved the salmon at Olivia Solsiden and Frati is hip and happening. Reservations recommended! We spent around EUR 45 per person on each dinner including a glass of beer or wine. Trondheim includes many burger places, but they are usually not as cheap and different flavors than you may expect.
Egon is a chain of restaurants with multiple locations in town, such as Solsiden. The most interesting location is inside Tyholttårnet, the city’s TV tower that offers a 360 degrees view at 74 meters above the ground. It’s outside the center so you will have to walk, take a bus or taxi to get there and enjoy your drink and/or food with a view!
Looking for more suggestions for restaurants in Trondheim? Check the Tripadvisor app or website, select your preferences via filters and I am sure you will find something suitable.
A bit off topic, but should you be in the mood for or need of a massage, I can highly recommend Svane Thai Massage & Spa. One of the best I ever had!
TMV-kaia is the hip and happening street for the latest restaurants in Trondheim. This area is completely renewed and looks quite attractive. The wooden river promenade just behind Verftsgata, Ferjemannsveien and Dokkgata is also part of it, with plenty of inviting restaurants and bars, offering river view across Radisson Blu. Take a walk around by crossing the river at Brakke Bru, the promenade, TMV-kaia and back via the walking bridge between Beddingen and Brattørbrua.
Where to stay in Trondheim
Expect most hotels in Trondheim to offer an Ibis-ish kind of atmosphere for double the price. Not cheap, but if you go just for a few nights, the cost will remain limited. My recommendations:
This mobile friendly map includes most things mentioned in this article and is smartphone friendly. You can use it easily via Google Maps. Click on the top left icon to open the menu. You can (un)select categories/areas to customize the map to your needs. Via Google Drive you can copy it to your folder of My Google Maps.
How to get to Trondheim
For flights to Trondheim’s Værnes airport (TRD) check out Skyscanner. For example a flight from Amsterdam takes about 2 hours and costs around EUR 200.
From Værnes airport you can take the bus to the center of the city. There are several bus services such as the purple Flybussen and white Værnes-ekspressen which offer similar services between the airport and city center. They make a lot of stops in the city center and announce the closest hotels around that stop. Pay by card in front of the bus. The bus ride takes about 25 min and there is one every 10-30 min. A return bus ticket costs app. NOK 260 (around EUR 27 or almost USD 31), but I bet a taxi ride will be a lot more expensive (unless you can share).
How to get around
Within the city you will probably be mostly walking or get around by bicycle. To Lian you can take the tram. Should you plan to get out of Trondheim, most likely you will either use public transport or rent a car. Renting a car is highly recommended as it gives a lot of freedom and flexibility. Personally I am a big fan of Sunny Cars, an all-inclusive, worry free rental concept with affordable, fair prices, great service and no unpleasant surprises upon pick up or drop off. Ideal, I use them all the time!
Getting a tour is a super easy way of getting around and seeing/hearing a lot of stuff in a short period of time, often things you would not see/hear when you would be going around by yourself. A local guide can show you the hidden gems and tell all about the interesting history of the city.
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