Trondheim is a great choice for a weekend getaway in Norway. A city founded over 1000 years ago and a former capital, Trondheim has a compact center and an old town with a few enjoyable things to visit, all within walking distance. Two of Trondheim’s most prominent attractions are Nidaros cathedral and the old wharves, with the latter boasting the most famous views in the city.
For us, Trondheim was a great opportunity to visit friends living there and to step foot in Norway for the first time. And yet another Scandinavian country that did not disappoint! Having someone local show us around was extremely helpful as we managed to get a good glimpse of the life in the city and what to see and do there.
Let’s now take a look at some of the highlights of a long weekend in Trondheim.
It’s impossible to walk around central Trondheim and not see Nidaros Cathedral towering over the other buildings. This cathedral from the 11th century is a gem of gothic architecture, certainly one of the most important monuments in Norway and the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world. Impressive, right?
We have seen a lot of cathedrals but this is one really worth visiting, including the interior which is very dark and different from a regular cathedral. And that’s not all, Nidaros is also the former location of coronation in Norway, now royal blessings, and an important pilgrimage destination.
Just next door is the visitors center building where you can buy tickets to visit the cathedral and the nearby Archbishop’s Palace and the Crown Regalia, which are definitely a good addition to any visit. Because we visited in May, we could not go to the top of the cathedral since it only opens during the summer.
The Market Square (Torvet) is the heart of Trondheim and when we visited, on a Saturday morning, this was clearly the busiest area with plenty of stalls selling different local produce. At the center of the square lies the monument to Viking Olav Tryggvason, which happens to be a sundial!
The nearby streets have some important buildings, namely the Church of Our Lady and Stiftsgården – a massive wooden building that acts as the local royal residence.
Old Town and the Wharves
Being a mercantile city, Trondheim has had throughout history many wharves but, because they were made out of wood, numerous fires destroyed them over time. The oldest ones that can be seen today are from the 18th century and this area is part of the old town of Trondheim, a very picturesque part of the city.
The entrance to the old town is through Gamle Bybro, the famous old town bridge over the Nidelva River, and the best location to see the wharves, the most famous views in Trondheim. The old town is actually a very nice area because of the state of conservation of the wharves and other old and historical buildings now converted into different shops, cafés and restaurants. Highly recommended for a nice stroll and lunch.
One interesting thing worth checking out is the bicycle lift, the world’s first such lift to help cyclists go up a very steep street.
A hilly walk up from the old town (through the street with the bicycle lift) is the old Kristiansten Fortress, which was built in 1681 to protect Trondheim. Nowadays, the fortress offers some of the finest views over central Trondheim and you can still visit the watch tower (now a museum) and see a few cannons scattered around.
The city of Trondheim is home to many students due to the presence of a very important university, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Today the university has various campuses, but the main one and its historical building can easily be seen from central Trondheim. While this part of town is not as touristy, walking over to see some of the university buildings is a good idea for a walking itinerary.
For more panoramic views of the city and further afield, the revolving restaurant at Tyholt, a communications tower not far from the city center, is a good option. The food is pretty decent too!
Bymarka is a recreation area west of Trondheim located on a small mountain and the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors close to the city. Throughout the seasons, Bymarka is a popular area for walking, hiking, running, and some winter sports such as cross-country skiing.
We spent a morning at Bymarka, getting there by bus from central Trondheim. Despite being quite a small mountain, there are nice views of the city only a short hike up a hill from the bus stop. Definitely worth it, even with snow.
We didn’t get to visit Munkholmen, a small island just off Trondheim and a popular attraction during the summer months. Munkholmen has a long history and has served many purposes, a monastery, a fortress, prison, and a World War II anti-aircraft gun station.
You can join a boat tour in order to visit the island.
Day trip to Røros
With some time to spare, we opted for a day trip to Røros, a picturesque mining town a mere 2h away and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The day trip was a great idea and we had a really nice experience visiting Røros and its streets full of wooden houses, and learning more about the mining heritage.
Interested in finding out more? Read our article with all about visiting Røros.
Trondheim is well connected with the rest of Norway, but it takes a little bit to get there because of the size of the country.
The easiest way in is to fly to the nearby airport, which has a few international routes and plenty of flights to Oslo. From the airport, the train ride is quite scenic despite being less frequent than the buses, which in turn are also more flexible and offer plenty of stops within the city.
Trains and buses are also an option if you’re already inside Norway, including multiple daily trains to Oslo.