Think of it as an ancient city with a modern soul. Trondheim was Norway's first capital city, founded more than 1,000 years ago, in 997 - but now instead of Viking raiders and Hanseatic traders, you'll find jazz musicians and an international student body savouring Trondheim city life.
The city's cafes spill out onto cobblestone streets lined with colourful wooden buildings, while the twin towers and copper-clad spire of Europe's northernmost gothic cathedral frame the southern skyline.
Music and more
With a population of about 165,000, Trondheim counts itself as Norway's third largest city. It's big enough to host a full range of cultural offerings, from museums and a symphony orchestra at Olavshallen, to a full-out blues festival in nearby Hell, yet small enough so that school-aged children can safely ride city buses by themselves. NTNU itself adds to the spice, particularly when ISFIT, the bi-annual international student festival, is in full swing.
An international city
It's also a city that's particularly family friendly. Because the university, SINTEF and the StatoilHydro research centre attract such an international workforce, non-Norwegian residents will find it easy to arrange international schooling for their children. One of the benefits of working at NTNU or SINTEF is the ability to take advantage of the institutions' two parent-owned preschools.
Hiking and skiing
Trondheim's charms extend well beyond its city centre. The city maintains two public parks with extensive trail networks: the larger, Bymarka (literally, city land) lies to the west while Estendstadmarka, right next to NTNU's Dragvoll campus, lies to the east. The two parks collectively offer 460 km of paths and trails for hiking and walking, of which 160 km are maintained in the winter as groomed cross-country ski trails. Fully 75 km of these groomed trails are lighted for night skiing.
For those looking for more far-flung adventure, the mountains of Trollheimen are just two hours south, while Sylan, on the Norwegian-Swedish border, lies about two hours northeast of the city. The Trondhjems Turistforening, known as the TT, is an excellent source of hiking information.
Trondheim fjord also offers its own attractions, whether you just want to gaze over the water from a warm pool at Pirbadet, Norway's largest indoor swimming centre, or whether you want to be out swimming at Munkholmen, the little island with a monastery that's one of the fjord's most recognizable landmarks. You don't have to just look at the water, either: join one of NTNU's many student organizations that will get you out and about, or try the Trondheim Kayak Club and paddle out to Munkholmen yourself.