Embarking on the final part of our trip, we said goodbye to Copenhagen and set our sights on the multicultural metropolis of Malmo, situated on the edge of Sweden. Taking the train across the Oresund bridge, (it’s a bridge over the sea that turns into an underwater tunnel, it’s pretty cool) we found a hip, contemporary city that instilled a perfect blend of nature and modernism.
Now the third largest city in the country, it’s the most populous city in Scania and enjoys a reputation as an economic and cultural hub. There’s a pleasant, relaxed vibe to the place, with its coastal heritage forming the inspiration for Malmo’s food and art scenes; here you can find plenty of delicate fish dishes, as well as many art galleries showcasing the simplistic beauty of seaside living. A diverse city based around youth and sustainable development, we found Malmo to be a friendly, free thinking space that made a great addition to our European adventure.
Before we’d even stepped out into the city centre, Malmo had already dazzled us with its creative and architectural panache; Malmo Triangeln Station is absolutely stunning in its glass grandeur, with careful lighting and contemporary structures offering an entirely unexpected aesthetical treat. Appearing to pride itself on lavish construction, Malmo offers many sightseeing destinations that demand attention- take a stroll down through the beautiful Old Town, visit Malmo Konsthall, one of the largest exhibition halls in Europe, or else stop by the neo-futurist Turning Torso, the tallest building in Scandinavia.
Staying in a beautiful modern apartment we found on Airbnb, it was a bit of a novelty waking up to such a wonderful sea view each morning. Our host Lina was a yoga instructor who offered a serene, zen like atmosphere to her guests, as well yoga and meditation classes. If you’re looking for places to stay in Malmo, I’d highly recommend staying in the family-orientated suburbs of Fullriggaren- friendly and peaceful, it’s located a short walk from the city centre, and offers plenty of cafes, shops and bathhouses, as well as water sports if you’re feeling particularly active.
With our stay in Malmo relatively short, we immediately decided to head out towards the beach. Enjoying a surprisingly refreshing paddle in the chilly sea, we spent a couple of hours ballooning around the shore until the rain decided to interrupt our fun. We therefore took refuge in Ribersborg’s Bath house, sitting offshore in its pretty pastel hue. At the time, we were naively under the impression that Ribersborg’s was nothing more than a small sauna, but there’s actually a lot more to it. Offering the typical Swedish bathing experience, Riberborg’s visitors embark on an intense sauna session before immersing themselves in the icy clutches of the Baltic sea. This particular bath house is one of the region’s finest, giving guests a chance to enjoy traditional Swedish spa treatments as well as the quaint café overlooking the coast. However, there was a certain aspect of Riberborg’s facilities that makes it particularly unusual; visitors are to be completely naked, in both the sea and the saunas. Not entirely thrilled at the prospect of displaying our worldly goods to the general public, (I also had a particularly nasty sunburn that was already subject to great ridicule by my boyfriend) we decided to give the sauna experience a miss, instead merely enjoying the cosiness of the indoor café. If you’re braver than me, entrance to the baths costs sixty-five krona (just over five pounds) and opens till nine during summer evenings.
For those looking to take a relaxed approach to their stay, Follow the coastal path from the beach up to the outskirts of the city centre. Here you’ll pass through the quaint Kungsparken, the oldest park in Malmo, where you can canoe, feed the ducks, or enjoy a great view of the nearby Malmo Castle. It’s nice to simply stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere here- the park features many horticultural displays and exhibitions, with winding hedges and paths snaking between beautiful greenhouses and restaurants.
In the city centre, there’s plenty of places to burn your cash with its huge selection of shops, bars and eateries. For more independent ventures, head down to the colourful Old Town- there’s everything from decadent cheese shops, slick wine bars and Michelin rated restaurants. If your budget will allow, make sure to visit the slightly dubiously named Bastard Mat & Vin, a fantastic fine dining eatery offering delicately prepared Swedish food. Enjoying a reputation as one of the top restaurants in the city, Bastard has an excellent choice of wine and cuisine, friendly, knowledgeable staff, and remarkable aesthetics; the kitchen itself is constructed in the middle of the restaurant, with dining tables bordering on its peripherals offering a great view of the chefs meticulously labouring over each individual dish. Arrive early in the evening to avoid disappointment.
For a more informal dining experience, head to the main square of the Old Town. Here there’s an abundance of traditional, budget friendly eateries that cater for locals and tourists alike. Restaurant Tva Krogare, a rustic style pub that specialises in Swedish classics, dishes up generous portions in wonderfully cosy surroundings. Featuring a great selection of beers and ales, it’s a kind of hybrid between authentic English and Scandinavian culture; here you can grab a decent pint whilst simultaneously tucking into Swedish meatballs. I don’t think I’d ever seen my boyfriend so happy.
Before departing Malmo, we decided to familiarise ourselves with the distinctive art scene of the city. Boasting a variety of galleries, you can admire an eclectic mix of photographical spaces as well as an array of classic Scandinavian art. If you’re pressed for time, head to Konsthall Art Museum or Moderna Museet, the biggest galleries in Malmo. There are however a great range of smaller galleries that are worthy of a visit; head to Galleri GKM in Old Town for a display of international contemporary art, diversified through its selling of engravings, household items and cultural books, or else visit Galerie Leger, focusing primarily on modern Nordic art expressed through the mediums of photography, glass and sculpture. With such a variety of visual delights, Malmo has something to suit every artistic temperament.
Overall, Malmo certainly proves its worth as a destination. Sandwiched between two capital cities, it would be easy to overlook this hidden gem, but it’s worth taking time out to explore such a quaint and charming city. Either take a day trip from neighbouring Copenhagen, or make a quick stopover before progressing further north to Stockholm. Two nights are enough to get a feel for the place, and gain an insight into the underlying culture that defines the Scandinavian life. Edgy without being overdone, Malmo is a cosmopolitan paradise. Whether you’re seeking artistic inspiration, recreation or even meditation, the city has it all.