Don't Miss in Trondheim
Nidaros Cathedral and Archbishop's Palace Museum: This impressive, Gothic-style cathedral was completed in the early 14th century over the burial place of King Olav Tryggvason. Legend has it that his grave was opened one year and five days after his burial and smelled like roses. Allegedly, his cheeks were rosy, and his wounds were fresh, so he was canonized and is now the patron saint of Norway. Over the ensuing centuries, a series of fires badly damaged the church. Highlights of the extensive restoration begun in the late 19th century include stained glass windows, two German organs and sculptures on the west front. Next door, the Archbishop's Palace Museum houses Norway's national regalia, as well as original cathedral art and sculptures, including the St. Olav altar front painted more than 700 years ago. It's possible to time a visit there with an organ recital, given Monday to Saturday at 1p.m.; a summer service, with music held Monday to Friday from 5:40 to 6 p.m.; or year-round services, held Sundays at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Admission fees apply for the cathedral and museum.
Ringve Museum: This 18th-century summer manor house, formerly the childhood home of Norwegian naval hero Peter Wessel Tordenskiold, is now Norway's national music museum. The former barn has been turned into gallery space for the museum's impressive collection, covering four centuries of musical instruments from around the world. In the elegant manor house, with period rooms named for famous composers, tour guides play Chopin and Beethoven on antique clavichords, organs and square pianos. Ringve's setting is also charming, offering great views of Trondheim Fjord and a 32-acre botanical garden. (Lade Alle 60, two miles east of the city center; guided tours offered mid-May to mid-June, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily; mid-June to August 5, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; and August 6 to September 9, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily)
Trondelag Folk Museum: This Norwegian Williamsburg is an open-air museum, located around the ruins of King Sverre's medieval castle. Some 60 structures have been reassembled, including 200-year-old barns with sod roofs, farmhouses, cottages and a stave church. "Images of Life" and "The Tronder Bride" exhibitions depict life in the region over the last 150 years. Also on the grounds is Sverresborg Ski Museum, tracing four centuries of Norwegian skiing. (Sverresborg Alle, three miles west of the city center; open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, June 1 to August 31; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, September 1 to May 31)
Stiftsgarden Palace: With more than 140 rooms, there's no shortage of space when Norway's royal family comes to town. In fact, this yellow structure is Scandinavia's second-largest wood building. Built in the late 18th century as a private home, the palace features furnishings in a variety of styles, like Biedermeier, Chippendale and Hepplewhite. Princess Martha Louise had a reception there in 2002 after her wedding at Nidaros Cathedral. (Munkegate 23; open June 1 to August 20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; guided tours offered hourly for a small fee)
National Museum of Decorative Arts: Also known as the Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum, this museum's permanent collection includes gorgeous glass, silver, costumes, textiles and furniture from the 16th century to today. Art nouveau-lovers shouldn't miss Belgium architect Henri van de Velde's 1907 interior designed for the museum. The entire second floor is devoted to the work of three pioneering female artists; you'll find tapestries by Hannah Ryggen and Synnove Anker Aurdal, and glass designs by Benny Motzfeldt. (Munkegata 5, 60; open June 1 to August 20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; August 21 to May 31, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, closed Mondays; small entry fee applies)
Monk's Island: This popular summer beach destination has a dramatic history -- from an ancient execution ground and 11th-century monastery to 17th-century fortress and prison. Unfortunately, its cannons could not ward off the Swedes, who conquered Trondheim in 1658 and 1718. The prison's most famous inmate, Danish Count Peder Griffenfeld, spent 18 years there in the late 17th century. The tiny island is 1.25 miles offshore, a quick 15-minute ferry ride on the hour from Ravnkloa. (small fee applies)