Trondheim and Bergen: Exploring Two of Norway’s Picture-Perfect Towns

Trondheim and Bergen

“So what’s your favorite country you’ve ever been to?”

It’s that dreaded question I know most travelers hate. How do you narrow down the whole world to one favorite country when everywhere is so uniquely different and beautiful?

We still can’t choose just one favorite place. Everywhere we’ve traveled to has left a mark on us, a stamp on our souls so to say. But with that said, we can both easily agree that Norway is the most beautiful country we’ve ever been to. And it’s easy to see why.

Norway

 

It is without a doubt the jarringly dramatic, natural beauty that makes the country such an unforgettable experience. However, Norway also boasts numerous small towns and charming cities that are just as picture-perfect as could be—and certainly warrant a bit of exploration. To get you started, we recommend Trondheim and Bergen.

 

Trondheim

We first decided to stop in Trondheim to break up the journey between the Lofoten Islands and Bergen. Though we had rainy and overcast weather for the majority of our time there, in didn’t take long to fall in love with Norway’s third largest city.

Trondheim

 

At over 1000 years old, Trondheim was Norway’s first capital, serving as a central trading point during the Viking Ages and later as a religious hub during the Middle Ages. The city’s rich history and culture means that there is plenty to see and discover from throughout the centuries. A few of the most popular attractions are:

Bakklandet:

This area of town served as working class homes during the 17th century. Today many of the original structures still stand, though they have been restored to feature a mixture of homes, shops and cafes. We loved strolling through the streets here, a handful of which are only open to pedestrians and cyclists, and then hopping into a stylish café to warm up.

Traditional Norwegian Fishing Buildings along the Nidelva River in Trondheim

Bakklandet Trondheim

Biking in Trondheim
 

Nidaros Cathedral:

Scandinavia’s largest medieval building, the Nidaros Cathedral is a National Sanctuary of Norway, built over the grave of St. Olaf (Viking King of Norway until the 11th century). Some of the oldest parts of the cathedral date back to the middle of the 12th century; however, it’s said the cathedral is yet to be completed. The church still serves as an important point of pilgrimage.

Nidaros Cathedral

Nidaros Church Trondheim
 

Kristiansten Fort:

It takes only ten minutes to make the climb up the giant hill to the Kristiansten Fort, built in 1681 after Trondheim’s ‘great fire’. There are beautiful views of the city from the top of the hill, as well as a lovely coffee shop. (It was freezing when we were in Trondheim, so coffee shops soon became our most sought-after attraction.)

Trondheim, Norway
 

Munkholmem:

Just 2km offshore, Munkholmem (also known as Monk’s Island) has a long and complicated history. Originally an execution ground turned Benedictine Monastery, the island has also served as a prison, fort, and customhouse. Today it’s a popular beach and picnic spot.

 

While there’s plenty to see and do in the city, one of the reasons why we loved Trondheim so much was because of its great vibe. Trondheim is a university town with a lively atmosphere, trendy cafes and restaurants, and plenty of pedestrian and bike-friendly roads. There’s even the world’ first—and only—bike lift up Trondheim’s steepest hill.

And of course, there are plenty of ways to get outdoors and experience Norway’s best adventures. In the winter you’ll find downhill and cross-country skiing; hiking and kayaking are popular in the spring and summer. Bymarka, the city’s large forest park, is one of the most beautiful and convenient places to start.
 

Bergen

It’s no secret that Bergen is one of Norway’s most beautiful cities. It’s a popular spot on the tourist trail, especially for those travelers who are doing the Norway in a Nutshell tour or arriving to the country via Oslo.

Surrounded by seven hills and seven fjords, the best reason to visit Bergen is for its convenient location. From the city you’ll have easy access to some of Norway’s most beautiful fjords, including the Hardangerfjord and Sogneefjord (the third largest fjord in the world), as well as numerous other tour and package offers that make experiencing Norway easy on a time restraint. Unfortunately, the two famous fjords noted above only open from May-September. After already touring a fjord in the Lofoten Islands, and with plans to discover more of Norway’s fjords, glaciers, and hikes down south, we opted out of any of the other tours around Bergen and instead stayed to discover the best of the city.

Bergen Harbor, Norway
 

The Bryggen:

This is easily Bergen’s iconic tourist attraction. The characteristic wooden houses around the wharf date back 900 years, and today have been restored to feature shops and restaurants. Interestingly enough, the town had plans to demolish the Bryggen and build a more modern shopping district until the site became a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Inside the Bryggen, Bergen

Bryggen, Bergen
 

The Fish Market:

It’s not the most extensive, but it is a great place to grab a fresh—and pricy—plate of seafood for lunch. It’s also normally possible to sample the salmon, crab and sometimes whale meat.

Fish Market in Bergen, Norway
 

Floibanen Funicular:

This cable car takes visitors up to the top of Mt. Floyen. From here, numerous different hiking opportunities await. We would have loved to do this if the weather would have cooperated with us a bit more.
 

Choosing Trondheim or Bergen:

Why choose? Of course it’s best to visit both if you can. But Norway is huge, and if you’re on a two-week vacation, then your time is best spent exploring the stunning natural scenery—no matter how charmingly beautiful the towns are.

So we say:

Choose Trondheim if you’re searching for something a bit more off-the-beaten-track. While the landscape is beautiful around Trondheim, it is not as dramatic as what you will see farther north and south. Still, there’s plenty to do in the city itself, even if it’s just exploring the quaint streets by foot. The lively, beautiful atmosphere is sure to charm.

Arve Tellefsen Statue in Trondheim

 

Choose Bergen if you are arriving and departing via Oslo. Bergen is connected to the capital city by a popular and quite pretty railway line, making travel between the two cities quick and enjoyable. And of course, as noted above, you’ll have easy access to some of Norway’s top attractions. Basically, there’s a reason why Bergen is so touristy—it just makes sense.

Bergen

 

Have you visited Trondheim or Bergen? What’s your favorite Norwegian city?

 

Meet: Casey Siemasko


Casey Siemasko is a blogger, content marketer, and co-founder of A Cruising Couple. She has been living and traveling outside of the US full-time since 2011. She finds her life inspiration in exploring the world and seeks to find the magic in the most ordinary of places.

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22 Comments

  1. I did a student exchange to Trondheim during high school and it was fab! The city is just so beautiful! I’ve yet to visit Bergen though but it seems equally lovely!
    Van @ Snow in Tromso recently posted…Why I Want To Move To The ArcticMy Profile

    Reply
    • A student exchange must have been so fun! We loved the great college town vibe. Bergen is also beautiful, but much more suited to two-week tourists for sure.

      Reply
  2. The more I know about Norway the more I realize that I’m clearly missing out by not having been yet. These places are so perfect and pretty that they look almost unreal, it’s probably thanks to your photography skills too. Wow!
    Franca recently posted…Our Guide To Vegan Restaurants In MadridMy Profile

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    • Thanks so much Franca! Haha it’s easy to take beautiful pictures in Norway- as you noted, everything is already so picture-perfect :) Hope you get to visit soon!

      Reply
  3. I totally agree with you. Norway is by far the most beautiful country I’ve been to as well. I particularly liked Bergen and its fish market a lot. Great photos, guys, as usual!
    Bram recently posted…Exploring Shelburne MuseumMy Profile

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    • So glad you found Norway as beautiful as we did. I think the fish market was lacking a bit when we were there- we’ve seen photos with stalls and stalls, but it was quite small during our visit. We’ll have to make a return visit during high season to check it out again :)

      Reply
  4. So interesting… Wouldn’t have thought Norway would be the most beautiful country. But we can see the colors of the country are lovely. Maybe all the houses are Crayola-colored because otherwise the cool and damp weather would get people down :-). Your photos are convincing us to visit!
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Charming Europe Hotels: Five favesMy Profile

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    • Haha it’s very true about needing a bit of color to cheer you up during the winter. If it weren’t for the astronomical prices and dreary winter weather, we’d be itching to move to Norway in a heartbeat. Definitely hope you get to visit soon- I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it, too :)

      Reply
  5. To me, Kristiansten Fort is the most beautiful place for taking photos. The view from above can be nicely captured! I can just imagine how insane it looks at night!
    Agness recently posted…The Other (Unglamorous) Side of TravellingMy Profile

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    • Thanks Agness! Yea we didn’t get to visit during nighttime, but I bet you’re right!

      Reply
    • Thanks Andrew! Definitely check out Trondheim next time you are in Norway and let us know what you think!

      Reply
    • Yes you are so right- if you love those other countries, I’m sure you’ll love Norway, too! Dan has been to New Zealand and said it was a really close toss up between the two. We’re dying to go to Iceland! I don’t think we’ve ever heard a negative word about it.

      Reply
    • We didn’t get to go to Flaam unfortunately! If I’m remembering correctly, I think it was really difficult to access since we were there in April. It looks just stunning though!

      Reply
  6. Thank goodness for UNESCO! So many charming old neighborhoods would have been lost without it. I’m excited to learn that there is a rail link between Oslo and Bergen as I’m sure flights to the capital from Riga will be more affordable! Can’t wait to visit!!
    Heather recently posted…Riga, Latvia: First ImpressionsMy Profile

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    • UNESCO did a great job saving this one! We really enjoy train travel, especially when you have views like those in Norway :-)

      Reply
  7. Absolutely stunning, so beautiful. Unfortunately I never made it there (yet) but for sure would love to visit one day.
    Freya recently posted…EBC Trek Day 1: Lukla to PhakdingMy Profile

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    • There is loads of hiking in the area as well and it’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place to be outdoors :-)

      Reply
  8. So pretty! It looks like something straight out of a Viking movie! ;) I’ve heard countless people say that Norway is the most beautiful destination in Europe, and based on your pictures, I’d be inclined to agree!

    We’ve been to so many lovely places that I’m not entirely sure which one I’d say was prettiest, but I’d probably say either Vietnam or Sri Lanka.
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…24 Hours to AmbalangodaMy Profile

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    • Norway feels like something straight out of a Viking movie! It’s not hard to imagine with all the wooden fishing houses and boats that cruise through the river and harbors. I love that you chose Vietnam! We had such a wonderful experience there too :-) We’ll have to find a way to check out Sri Lanka.

      Reply

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