Trondheim, city of kings and home to what feels like Norway’s highest concentration of microbreweries per capita, is the perfect place to spend a day in the sun with some beer and exploring a city tied to its past. From the statue of the Viking King Olaf that watches over town to the massive Nidaros Cathedral, burial site of the ancient kings of Norway, Trondheim is a city that won’t let you forget it’s history. With a great modern coffee shop and bar culture too, it’s one that is embracing the future as well.
For a city nearly entirely surrounded by water, Trondheim feels rooted to the ground. Though the harbor is sprawling and impressive, it feels less influenced by the water than many other Norwegian coastal towns. Though it sits near the entrance to the Trondheimsfjord, the massive mountains and waterfalls of Western Norway aren’t as omni-present here. Instead, Trondheim embraces its connection to the land and past with a large downtown, huge squares, and monuments, feeling more like a southern (from here everything is southern) European city more than a Norwegian village.
If you only have a day in this beautiful city, here’s how to make the most of it.
Start up by the canal at the Fish Market where you can watch fishermen bring in their fresh catches. It’s not the sprawling market you might expect from other European cities, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in selection of incredible fresh fish and shellfish. Absolutely do not miss the salmon cakes here. A small cake made of fresh caught nordic salmon makes for an incredible sandwich and will surprise you with how much flavor non-frozen salmon can pack. Tables outside along the water make for a relaxing spot to enjoy it.
Fuel up for a short walking tour of the city with some incredible coffee at Dromedar. This camel inspired coffee shop has several locations in the city, but the one across the river on Bakklandet has a great streetside cafe vibe and makes for great people watching. This area is the heart of the modern and hip neighborhood thanks to the nearby school and is littered with excellent and hipstery coffee shops, bookstores, and antique stores. Nearby is also the bike lift, a unique mechanized lift that carries bicycles up the steep hill.
Heading back into town, cross the Gamle Bridge, a landmark of Trondheim and gift to the city by a former ruler. The bridge is best enjoyed while hand-in-hand with a lover, so you might want to find one of those first. Coffee works too. You’ll also want to explore the old wharf area next to the bridge. The wooden houses lining the water here are incredibly picturesque and the serene water makes a beautiful backdrop. There’s also a pizza place that cooks with a lot of garlic so standing here might make you hungry.
Don’t eat yet! Head down the island to Nidaros Cathedral, the massive church that’s hard to miss. This is one of the largest cathedrals in northern europe and quite awe inspiring especially when viewed from below on the river. Next to the cathedral is the Archbishop’s palace, a fortified structure that feels more like a castle than a palace. On summer days, there are often exhibitions and demonstrations of medieval weaponry and artefacts going on here, all held under the towering spires of the cathedral. From here, there’s also a nice scenic walking path along the river with more views of the town and cathedral.
For the final segment of walking – I promised this was short – head to the main square, Trondheim Torg. This large square centers around the massive statue of old King Olaf up on a pedestal and is hard to miss. You may find a few merchants here selling produce – the local strawberries were exceptionally delicious – and a few cafes and bars set up outside. A stop here is well earned, so feel free, but nearby are a few great options as well.
At Trondheim Microbrewery, you’ll find a huge indoor space with light and airy booths tucked around a massive bar and between the actual brewing fermentation tanks. You may encounter this beer across the country as it’s one of the bigger craft brewers of Norway, but nothing beats getting it from the source. You’ll also find the full selection of brews here. Out front is a large patio not only with nice seats and tables to enjoy the beer outside, but even warm furs and heaters to do so on less warm days.
Barely just across the street is Kiegelkroa which sounds like either a germanic girlscout cookie or an ancient monster from the deep that emerges only on Christmas, but is actually a great cozy bar. The building is historic and once housed a bowling alley apparently. Inside the stone walls is a multi-floored bar adorned with large black tables topped with candles and furs that evokes Game of Thrones, with less incest and murder. There’s also a nice selection of craft beers on tap including a nice Norwegian Bavarian-style dunkel, always a hit. The big soft couch inside is a great spot to indulge in a few drinks while the outside world slips away. It’s also perfect for reflecting on how you might be related to old King Olaf, if that’s your kind of thing.
A stroll around Trondheim is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with the past. The city is deeply connected to its long ago glory of being the seat of power in Norway and embraces the viking history with it. Trondheim isn’t stuck there though. With a strong modern craft beer and food scene, complete with hip coffee shops, the future is well connected as well. For these reasons, Trondheim is a must-visit location in Norway and one of my favorite spots.