Trondheim: a taste of the good life

Trondheim, Norway’s historical capital, is the home of Nordic cuisine and is also filled with a youthful vibe thanks to being the home of the country’s largest university. But the real attraction here is the easy access to the surrounding nature and the deliciously slow way of life it encourages.

How to make the most of your trip to Trondheim

With a population of around 200,000 people, Trondheim is Norway’s third-largest city. It was once the country’s capital, but as you explore the city, that’s not immediately apparent. There are no grand boulevards here, no ornate palaces. Instead, the beauty of Trondheim is in its minimalism. Colourful warehouses, a small but partly pedestrianised city centre, and hundreds of boats at anchor along the waterways make it a pleasure to walk through. The most beguiling views are the glimpses of the vast wilderness surrounding the city: wooded hills to the west, and the deep blue of the fjord to the north.

The buzz of caffeine

In Norway, the national drink is coffee. Wander around any of the cities in the country, and you’ll turn up countless cafés on every corner; in the world rankings on coffee consumption, Norway is second only to Finland. Inside, locals take their drinking habits seriously, with many drinking four or five cups a day. Everyone has their favourite spot. It could be the latest café with alluring Scandinavian design. Or a more traditional locale with fluffy cushions, antique furnishings, and handmade cross-stitching on the wall. But of course, the most important factor is the coffee. Where are the beans from? How were they roasted? How were they dried? It’s big business.

In Trondheim, whiling away some time in a café lets you easily put your finger on the pulse of the city. The people-watching is always fantastic – students leaf through hefty textbooks, while outside, people in hiking gear stroll past on their way out of the city for a day of adventure. The gentle Scandinavian lullaby is there as well: the buzz of a coffee machine, the clinking of cups being put on saucers, the steaming of milk, the creak of wooden floorboards in historical buildings. It’s the best way to start each day in Trondheim.

One of the favourites in the city is Sellanraa Bok & Bar in central Trondheim. This café is also a restaurant that focuses on simple ingredients from the region cooked to perfection. Bookshelves line the walls, offering you something to read while you enjoy a coffee or wait for a meal. And if you find something you like? All the books are also for sale.

For some true Scandinavian atmosphere, you’d do well to stop in at Mormors Stue. Located in a building that dates to 1840, it’s like stepping back in time. Comfortable, mismatched armchairs are scattered around the room, while frilly curtains and antique décor complete the café. Whatever your style, there’s a café for you. And once you’ve charged up with a few cups, it’s time to hit the streets and explore.

 

The New Nordic cuisine

A great way to start any culinary journey in Trondheim is with a taste of the traditional fare. Next to the old bridge is a restaurant called Baklandet Skysstasjon. Made up of classic Norwegian food, the menu has a range of homemade favourites such as fish soup, rye bread, and liver pâté. Equally as traditional is the décor. Wooden walls painted in a soft mint green, cross-stitching on the wall, pictures of the Norwegian royals, and cushions all make it feel as if you’re enjoying a meal inside the home of a welcoming Norwegian grandmother.

For something more cutting-edge, head to the trendy Solsiden neighbourhood on the eastern bank of the river and just above Bakklandet. Formerly the city’s shipyards, the old industrial brick buildings that line the dock here have been taken over by a dazzling array of restaurants and bars, all of them overflowing with large outdoor seating areas perfect for the dreamy summer days. A favourite amongst the students of the city is Sot Bar & Burger. Hip hop music bounces around the large space, while old episodes of the Looney Tunes play on repeat. There’s even a Super Nintendo for you to try your hand at some retro games. The burgers here are also creative, fun, and delicious.

There are three restaurants with Michelin stars in Trondheim: Speilsalen, Fagn, and Credo. There are also plenty of others that are on the radar, including Bula Neobistro. Head chef Reneé Fagerhøi describes it as ‘the rebellious little sister of Trondheim’s restaurant scene’, and the menu is a celebration of all the junk food she craved as a child. From cheeseburgers and pork rinds to petrol-station hot dogs, every dish has a funky twist to it that elevates it to the next level. This is rock-and-roll food at its finest.

Taking to the water

Another fantastic way to enjoy the best of Trondheim is to take to the water. Trondheim by Boat offers all kinds of tours of the city, including cruises up and down the river in a Viking longboat. It’s a fantastic way to see the beauty of Trondheim and its surroundings in a more traditional way – as the Norwegians of old would have.

A tour on the river also gives you one of the best views of those colourful warehouses that line the water. Sailing underneath the bridges, you’ll also enjoy incredible views of the fortress atop the hill and, of course, Nidaros Cathedral.

Back towards the harbour at the waterfront, things are a bit more modern. Trondheim is loaded with history, but today it also acts as Norway’s capital of technology. It was the first city in the country to get a 5G network, and, thanks to the University of Science and Technology, there’s a lot of math, science, and engineering research that takes place in the city’s streets. Keep your eyes peeled for the city’s newest architectural wonder on the waterfront, the Powerhouse. This sleek black building produces 30% more energy than it uses and is the world’s northernmost energy-positive building. The excess power is currently used to charge up the city’s electric buses. Next door is another architecturally fascinating building, the Rockheim Museum. A huge block seemingly hovers over the building below, all of it housing a museum that delves into the history of Norway’s music scene from the 1950s onwards.

Continuing out onto the fjord itself is also possible. There are fishing tours available, and even a sunset tour that captures the magical golden hour setting over the incredible scenery.

On the edge of the wild

By far the biggest draw to Trondheim is its proximity to nature. Hiking is the biggest attraction, even in the city itself. There are the banks of the river and the climb up to the fortress, but soon you’ll be pining for the outstanding trails beyond the city limits.

The obvious hiking area is to the west, where hills covered in tall pine trees rise beyond the outskirts of the city. This is where the Bymarka Nature Reserve begins – an expansive forest laced with hiking trails, rivers, lakes, and, of course, a scattering of restaurants to aim for on Munkholmen, an islet north of Trondheim, has served as a fortress, a monastery, a prison, and also a place of execution. your wanderings. There’s no need for a rental car, because public transport to the area is fantastic. Such as the historical tram that makes its way to the edge of the forest, dropping visitors off at Lian Station. It’s only 20 minutes out of town, but it feels as if it’s an entire world away. There’s a beautiful lake, easy access to some hiking trails, and, of course, a cosy restaurant where you can fill up on food and coffee.

Just a short distance from the city centre in the other direction is the Lade Peninsula. This is a quiet residential area jutting out into the fjord, but here’s also where you’ll find the popular Ladestien Trail, which goes up and down the cliffs along the shoreline of the peninsula. The trail starts only a kilometre from the city centre and extends for around eight kilometres along the coastline. There are several spots for bathing if the weather cooperates, and even a few spots to recharge with some food and coffee. Try Sponhuset for waffles and coffee, or Ladekaia for a more filling lunch or dinner. Above all, Trondheim is a destination that encourages you to slow down and savour the moment – even with all the coffee on offer.

 

Read more about Trondheim in Baltic Outlook.

Text by James Taylor

 

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