Trondheim’s compact city centre has a wonderful mix of historic and modern attractions.
Trondheim is Norway’s oldest major city. The cobbled streets and wooden buildings of the beautiful city centre whisper their secrets as you pass through them, on your way to these top attractions.
Things to do in Trondheim
Nidaros Cathedral – Built over the burial site of Saint Olav, the 11th century Norwegian king who became the patron saint of the nation, Nidaros Cathedral dominates the cityscape. The tower can be seen from across the city and its imposing carved western front, reminiscent of those at Salisbury and Wells in England, delights curious visitors from around the world.
Major reconstruction has taken place on the entire structure. It isn’t known how many sculptures there were on the original design of the western front, but today over 50 sculptured figures line three rows around the restored rose window.
The traditional location for royal coronations and consecrations in Norway, the cathedral is a must-see when in town. Don’t miss the crypt, now home to a small museum of marble gravestones. Take a guided tour (English is available, just ask when you buy your tickets) or explore by yourself. The quietest time to visit is somewhat surprisingly in the afternoon, after both the northbound and southbound Hurtigruten ships have left port.
Archbishop’s Palace – Immediately adjacent to the cathedral, the Archbishop’s Palace has changed a lot over the centuries. A museum built over the ruins of the original buildings reveals its complex history, while in the west wing, you can get up close and personal with the Crown Regalia, including the actual crown of the King of Norway – all safely behind glass of course!
Bakklandet – Just a short walk from the cathedral is the charming neighbourhood of Bakklandet, once an important trading post but now home to cafes, boutiques and restaurants. Cross the pedestrian-friendly Old Town Bridge and wander the riverside cobbled street for some of the best photo opportunities in town.
Watch out for cyclists as the street is a common commuting route for those on two wheels. If you can resist the aroma of the freshly-brewed coffee from the nearby cafes, note the unique Trampe Bicycle Lift, which has become an unlikely tourist attraction. You can see some photos from Bakklandet here.
Museums in central Trondheim
Rockheim – A contemporary music museum that’s high on interaction and low on boring exhibits. Housed in a former grain warehouse, the various rooms of Rockheim lead you through the history of modern music from the 1950s to the present day. Try your hand at electric guitar, drumming, or even DJing, or discover some of the best unsigned Norwegian acts from a variety of genres.
National Museum of Decorative Arts and Design – A diverse collection of materials including textiles, furnite and metalwork. Explore the bourgeois lifestyle of Trondheim over the years and don’t miss the room dedicated to Belgian architect Henry van de Velde, one of the principal pioneers of Art Nouveau.
Trondheim Art Museum – Landscape paintings from Norwegian artists and sketches from Edvard Munch are among the collection at this gallery frequently missed by tourists who head straight for the nearby cathedral. Frequent temporary exhibitions keep things fresh.
Museum of Natural History and Archaeology – A pair of shoes from the iron age, rock carvings from the stone age and the original Kuli stone are on display at this prehistoric museum. Children are well catered for thanks to the Ark exhibit, which helps children study animals and in particular how certain species have evolved.
Trondheim Science Centre – Visitors can get hands-on with experiments in kitchen chemistry and interactions with robots. Primarily aimed at children, but adults will be entertained too.
Attractions in the suburbs
Trøndelag Folk Museum – One of the best of Norway’s open-air museums, the buildings come alive in the summer with actors and actresses playing the parts of the farmers, traders, and their families. The grounds surround the ruins of the Sverresborg castle and offer great views of the city far below.
Kristiansten Fortress – Overlooking the city, this fortress might be small but it has a proud history. The creaky floorboards of the interior are worth a look, especially as entrance is free.
Munkholmen Island – A former execution ground, Benedictine monastery, prison, fort, and customs house, the history of this tiny island is incredible. Today it functions as a popular recreation ground for locals with a shop, cafe and plenty of room for sunbathing. Passenger ferries zip people to and from the island in the summer months.