Norway is famous for being an expensive country, but that should not stop you from visiting such a beautiful place. The capital Oslo attracts many tourists and has all the entertainment a big city has to offer. But if you rather go local on a trip to and have a budget to stay on, Trondheim might be a perfect choice.
Make local friends
Trondheim is known for gathering university students from all over Norway and the world. So it’s obviously crowded with young people that live in houses and apartments rented with other friends. Students usually rent a hybel, a room in buildings designed for young people – individual rooms with a little bathroom, a kitchen in each floor with more or less six rooms – or rent an entire apartment, where they live together with other students.
For a traveler, that means you will always have someplace to crash. Norwegians are known for being reserved and shy people, but they are really welcoming and many students use social networking apps to meet other people and even to host them. Trust and respect is a big trait of Norwegian people, so finding a host on apps like Couchsurfing won’t be a hard challenge, especially if you have some time before the trip to talk and get to know better your possible host. This is my biggest tip for traveling to Norway: start talking to local people before going there.
Stay in Trondheim during the weekend
The way the city works is pretty much influenced by the student’s routine. From Monday to Thursday there is not much happening, since the students have classes and other activities. On weekends, the vibe is completely different. From Friday to Sunday, the streets are full all the time – especially if the weather is good -, and people go hiking, skiing, partying, have barbecues and picnics by the seashore and meet friends in pubs and bars. So another tip is to stay in the city during the weekend.
It is no surprise that, in a place full of students, partying and drinking are the most popular things to do. Once again, my recommendation is to make Norwegian friends, so you can join them at the pre-parties they have at home – alcohol is super expensive in Norway, so pre-parties are mandatory – and, also, have access and friends to go with to the student’s parties, like the ones that happen at the iconic red building Studentersamfundet (The Student Society in Trondheim).
The Studentersamfundet is the largest Norwegian student society and houses coffee shops, restaurants and many bars. Frequently hosts concerts and other activities, such as the Gudenes Natteliv, when students from the NTNUI, the athletic association connected to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, dress up in the sports uniform and have a massive party fueled by booze. Believe me when I say this will be the best opportunity to see Norwegian people dancing and being extremely sociable.
Buying alcohol in Norway
That leads to a very important subject of interest for non-locals: buying alcohol. Norway is super restrictive when it comes to buying booze. Supermarkets only sell beer – or low percentage alcoholic drinks – and, to have access to the vast diversity of alcoholic beverages above 4,75 % alc. vol., you need to head to the state-owned store: the Vinmonopolet. The “Polet” stores are spread around the country and it is the only place you can buy drinks to take home. To shop there, you have to be over 18 years old and, for buying hard liquor over 22 % alc. vol., you have to be over 20.
The fact that the state has the monopoly over the commercialization of alcohol is not the most important detail though. What a tourist should actually worry about is the hour restriction for buying it. The “Polets” are open from Monday to Wednesday between 10:00 and 17:00, on Thursday and Friday between 10:00 and 18:00, on Saturday between 10:00 and 15:00 and is closed on Sunday. Yes, drinking in Norway does require some planning if you are not willing to go bankrupt at bars and restaurants. This may be the most important tip when traveling to Norway: make sure to get your arsenal of alcohol on Fridays. Keeping up with Norwegians drinking on weekends is surely a challenge that requires some preparation.
Partying is not the only local recreation though. Norwegians are famous for their fondness for sports, especially winter ones. People of all ages carrying ski boards in the streets or all dressed up for a hike is a very usual thing to see during the weekends. Again, it is very advisable having a local friend that can guide you through the snow and the forest – and even borrowing their loved ski boards to you. For cross-country skiing, Granåsen Ski Center is a great call. There you can go skiing in the woods or even check out the ski jumping hill, that hosts the World Cup and Continental Cup competitions.
For hiking, Bymarka nature reserve is the place to go. It has many routes and lakes and you can get a great view of Trondheim from there, especially from the top of Geitfjellet (Goat Mountain), a 416 meters height hill. In case you are going during springtime, it is a good chance to see some snow, which will probably have already melted in the city center by then. Ladestien is a beautiful and easy hike for everyone, a broad walking track that strolls along the Trondheimsfjord. Make sure to head there just in time for watching the sunset on your way back home. That is a great spot for pictures and you can exercise your creativity for photos in the huge cone they have along the way. There are lovely cafes/restaurants on the way, like Ladekaia, great for a coffee or a drink with friends in the esplanade.
Walk in the city center
For getting to know the city, a walk around town is enough and getting lost is not a concern. Strolling along the seashore and the river is a good way to wander around and have a notion of how the city works. Visit the Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet, the university’s Hogwarts-like building, and the Nidarosdomen (Nidaros Cathedral), considered the most important Norwegian church with gothic, romantic and baroque touch architecture.
The Bakklandet Old Town is the charming place where you can see the traditional colorful small wooden houses. From there, you can walk to the Kristiansten Fortress on top of the hill, with a great view of the city. Going up the hill is not a difficult quest but, if you feel like you need an energy boost, stop at Jacobsen & Svart Coffee Roasters, probably the best coffee shop in town. And, for the ultimate local urban experience, get tickets for the local team, Rosenborg, soccer match the Lerkendal Stadion.
Public transport in Trondheim
Walking around the city is pretty easy but to get out of the airport or go to the skiing and hiking spots, for instance, you will need to take the bus. Like everything else in Norway, bus tickets are expensive, so make sure to buy a two-way Nettbuss ticket with the driver you can find right at the exit of the Trondheim airport. Ask for a student’s ticket if you are one, they are much cheaper. And to take the bus, boat and tram in the city center, you can easily buy tickets through the AtB Mobillett or get the travel card t: card at the AtB service center, in Kongens Gate, 34.