Norway’s third-largest city is often skipped by tourists preferring the western fjords, city breaks in Oslo and Bergen, or a hunt for the northern lights. Yet historic Trondheim has a lot to offer to reward the curious tourist.
Norway’s former Viking capital has a charming, walkable downtown district, great urban hiking opportunities and one of Scandinavia’s most important religious buildings.
Hiking in the city forest
Every Norwegian city has great access to nature, an undoubted driver in the country’s love of the outdoors lifestyle. Foreign visitors can get a taste of this friluftsliv in Trondheim by heading to the city forest Bymarka. Marked trails criss-cross this vast forested area above the city.
Visitors can easily enjoy a taste of Bymarka thanks to the Trondheim tram. The trip from downtown Trondheim to Lian takes just 20 minutes, yet passengers emerge in a different world. You could stay on the tram for the return journey, or take a 40-minute walk around the Lianvatnet lake before returning.
City center trail
If forest trails aren’t your thing, orient yourself in the city with Midtbyrunden, one of 10 well-signed urban trails in and around the city.
The waterfront trail passes fjord, river and canal as it loops around the city center. Highlights include Nidaros Cathedral, the cobbled streets of Bakklandet and the footbridges crossing the Nidelva river.
Trondheim’s medieval cathedral is a pilgrimage destination for many who take one of nine long-distance routes through Scandinavia. But many more simply visit the cathedral as a tourist attraction.
The building holds a special place in Norway’s history. Initially built as a simple wooden chapel over the tomb of Saint Olav—the Viking king who played a big role in the introduction of Christianity—the cathedral has been improved, renovated and restored several times.
The cathedral’s eye-catching western facade was restored over a 75-year period, with much of the story told in the neighbouring museum. Norway’s crown regalia is also on display, with a combination ticket for all attractions good value for money.
Despite the name—a play-on-words of the city’s name while also meaning home of rock in Norwegian—Rockheim plays host to interactive exhibits covering all genres of contemporary Norwegian music.
Whether you want to discover new Norwegian artists or reminisce about times long gone in the era-specific installations of the time tunnel, Rockheim is an enjoyable experience for all.
Munkholmen is a tiny island with a big history. Today locals head to the island—just a mile north of the city—to sunbathe and relax, but over the centuries the island has had far more sinister purposes.
Vikings used the island as an execution site before it was converted to a monastery. Munkholmen became a prison in the Middle Ages, and it was also used by occupying German forces as a defensive position and ammunition store.
During the summer, boats regularly call at Munkholmen and the island comes to life with a cafe, art exhibitions and guided tours of the former fort buildings.