A little bit about Malmö
Sitting behind capital Stockholm and Gothenburg, the city of Malmö is Sweden’s third-biggest. Formerly a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, control of Malmö and the Scanian region was moved to Sweden following the Treaty of Roskilde, signed in 1658.
It was one of the biggest and most industrialised towns in the Scandinavian region, but struggled with post-industrialism. That was until the construction of the Øresund Bridge, linking the country’s southern tip with Denmark, which ushered in a period of regeneration and growth, encouraging a number of new developments in the area.
It is also the birthplace of famous footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic who started his career in his hometown, playing for Malmö FF – Sweden’s most successful team.
Why should you go?
Although Malmö doesn’t offer an abundance of things to do, it is a chance to visit another country should you happen to be in the Danish capital, Copenhagen. The two cities are connected by the Øresund Bridge which opened at the beginning of the millennium at a cost of 19.6 billion Danish krone, or £2.11 billion, which means that the countries are accessible by both motor and rail in half an hour or less.
Malmö is also everything you would expect of a Swedish city – nice, tidy and clean-cut with parts that make it look like it could be an urban IKEA showroom. If you want a taste of Sweden as opposed to a three course meal, then Malmö is the place to go.
The main attractions
The Turning Torso is Malmö’s premiere landmark and is visible all the way across the Øresund straight in Copenhagen, even on a cloudy day.
The residential skyscraper is Scandinavia’s tallest building and features a 90-degree twist, based on a sculpture by Santiago Calatrava called ‘Twisting Torso,’ which is a white marble piece based on the form of a twisted human being.
Whilst it is impressive to look at – even more so in person than on pictures – the one drawback is that there is no designated viewing platform, and you can’t go up to the top.
Opening times: N/A
Dating back to 1434, Malmö Castle is one of the best tourist attractions in the city. Anyone wanting to learn about the history of Malmö or the Skåne region in general will be in for a treat as the castle’s exhibits explain just how the then-town changed hands from Denmark to Sweden, as well as paint the picture of the centuries of war between the two countries.
It also describes the castle’s use over the years, including the prison which has held some high-profile prisoners in Scandinavian history.
Price: 40 SEK (Adult) / 20 SEK (Students) / Free (Under 20s)
Opening times: Daily 10am-5pm
Malmö Stadion and Swedbank Stadion
Located in the southern reaches of the city are two football stadia – Malmö Stadion and Swedbank Stadion. Malmö FF, 18-time Swedish champions, have called both buildings home throughout their history, although Swedbank Stadion is the more modern of the two having opened in 2009. There are also stadium tours available, though as Football Tripper point out they are by appointment only and are designed for groups of between 15 and 25.
But Malmö FF’s former home, Malmö Stadion, is not to be ignored as it is steeped in history. Having hosted a game at the 1958 FIFA World Cup, it also saw three fixtures at the 1992 UEFA European Championships played on its turf. The stadium is also used for athletics and was even open on the day that I visited. Needless to say that this is something I took full advantage of.
Price: Free, though there will be charges for match tickets and tours.
Opening hours: The club shop is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm, and Saturday from 10am to 3pm. Details of Malmö’s home fixtures can be found here.
Described as Malmö’s ‘new living and working city district’ by Visit Sweden, the Western Harbour is a nice spot to take a walk and relax when the weather is nice.
Located right next to the Turning Torso, the Western Harbour gives some insight into Swedish living with floating houses visible from land. From the harbour you’ll also be able to get a beautiful panoramic look at the Øresund Bridge, and take it in in all its glory.
Opening times: N/A
St Peter’s Church
St Peter’s Church is a must-see, even if only for the stunning ornate altar.
Constructed in 1319, its Gothic style is impressive, and the interior mostly consisting of bright white walls that are expected from a church in the Nordic region is bold.
It’s also a nice place to take a stress-free five minutes if the hustle and bustle of the city life becomes a tad overwhelming.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Saturday 9am-6pm, Sunday 10am-6pm
By air: Although Malmö has its own airport, it is easier to get there via Kastrup Airport, which serves Copenhagen. easyJet fly to Copenhagen from five different airports in the United Kingdom, including Edinburgh, Manchester and London Gatwick from £23.49 one way, while Ryanair have flights from Edinburgh and Luton starting at £20.99.
Alternatively there is what I did which is fly with Ryanair to Dublin and then on to Copenhagen, which ended up saving me about £20 on flying from Manchester to Copenhagen directly with easyJet. Savings will depend on time of year and date of booking.
By rail: There are trains linking Malmö Central Station with Kastrup Aiport and Copenhagen, as well as with all other major places in Sweden. For more information visit SJ – Sweden’s train authority.
By bus: Going by bus is another way to experience the Øresund Bridge, and Nettbuss serve the Copenhagen to Malmö route every four hours.
Where to stay
I stayed at STF Malmö Hostel & Hotel. It’s quite an eccentric place and reminded me a lot of student halls. STF Hostels are found all over Sweden and are overseen by the Swedish Tourist Association. If you go make sure to ask for the bottom bunk as it is a double bed – that is if you are in a dormitory.
Hotel prices are quite high in Sweden, so it is a good idea to stick to hostels if you are working within the confines of a budget. Booking.com and Hotels.com are two of my favourite websites for finding cheap deals on accommodation.
Where to eat and drink
Lilla Torg – or ‘little square’ in English – is the city’s nightlife hub. The square is packed with both tourists and locals sampling the various cuisines that are on offer. If you want burgers then try Malmö’s burger king, as it were, Tunsen & 2.
The trio of Mello Yello, Mooshead Bar and Victors all offer nice food, but also have heated outdoor areas complete with separate bars perfect for after-meal drinks.
Don’t plan a long stay
There really isn’t a great deal to do in Malmö. That’s not saying that is isn’t a good place to go and visit, because that’s simply not true, but you shouldn’t plan a week-long visit unless you are visiting family and/or friends.
I stayed for two nights and that’s probably enough to see the whole city and hit all of the major attractions. It’s a great compliment to any stay in Copenhagen.
Sports fans will love O’Leary’s
O’Leary’s is a chain of sports bar mostly based across the Nordic region, with branches in all major cities including Oslo, Copenhagen and Helsinki. Despite the sickening décor with New England-inspired wall coverings (I’m a New York sports fan, hence the disgust), O’Leary’s is a great place to watch sports.
I’ve seen plenty of them on recent trips, but I decided to try it for the first time in Malmö. Although a little on the expensive side, it was a touch of American sporting class in northern Europe. If only they had something just as good over here in the UK.
Good weather = Better time
I was fortunate to have amazing weather when I went to Copenhagen. The sun was shining and clear blue skies were a prominent feature every day. When I headed to Malmö, however, the weather quickly went south. Although rain was limited to a spitting tempo every few minutes, it was overcast the whole time I was there.
Nicer weather would surely have made for a better stay. I imagine that Malmö would look great basking in the sun’s rays.
Railway station toilets are a rip-off, even in Sweden
Not too long ago, National Rail were criticised over charges they make for using the toilet in major British railway stations.
That was over a 20p charge – in Sweden, I paid a pound to use the loo. Though while in the grand scheme of things it’s fairly minor, no-one should have to pay that much to go to the toilet. It’s a right, not a privilege.
Malmö looks quieter than it should be
Okay, so I was there on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday – but still, Malmö was pretty quiet all in all. It’s a fairly big city and a lot larger than I had anticipated.
I just expected the streets to be a bit more packed than they were, especially in the middle of the day. Then again, I’d just spent the previous four days in Copenhagen, which has streets that are always busy.
Did you know?
When Malmö FF were drawn in the same group as Paris Saint Germain, the current club of hometown hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the player rented out Stortorget – a big square located in Malmö’s city centre.
He did it so that fans who did not get a ticket to the fixture between the sides at Swedbank Stadion could watch his homecoming on a big screen.
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