This post is much overdue, but life has kept me busy the past few weeks. Back in May, Michaela and I visited my family in Malmo. When I was a kid, I spent several summers sailing and visiting family in Sweden and consequently, spent a lot of time in Malmo. It has a soft spot in my heart and we look forward to spending a few days here each time we travel abroad. Michaela and I have been together three times now, and each time we go we’re reminded of how much we love this underrated corner of Sweden.
Malmo is Sweden’s 3rd largest city. It was actually under Danish control in 1658 and it’s now a buzzing waterside community full of diversity, amazing food, shopping, nature and art. While it’s gone through IT and Biotech boom over the last decade, to me, Malmo will always be a blue collar city with great parks, access to beautiful beaches and a vibrant nightlife.The old saying for the city was “Har du sett Malmö? Sedan har du sett världen!”. It translates to, “Have you been to Malmö? Then you’ve seen the world!”
(Please do see the rest of the world but, I do really find Malmö to be a hidden gem.)
First things first: I highly recommend visiting Malmo during the summer months. Sweden benefits largely from the gulf stream making for tolerable weather considering its northern latitude, but the winters can be cold and windy. The summers are mild and you’ll have up to 17 hours of daylight for activities!
Sitting in Copenhagen’s shadow makes traveling to Malmö very easy with several direct flights available from the US. After landing at CPH airport, Malmo is just a short 15 min train ride. With budget friendly Norwegian Air offering affordable flights to Copenhagen, Malmo is a great starting or ending city on any European adventure.
Getting around in Malmo is very possible without car, in fact driving within the city is annoying and parking is very expensive. On our last trip we just used our feet, bikes, and trains to get around.
We stay with family in the Gamla Väster district, which is one of the oldest and most posh parts of the city. It’s littered with restaurants and the oldest architecture in town. If you’re looking for a hotel in the area, the Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live will put you right in the heart of the action, but it can be pricey. There are several other Clarions nearby, and if you read my Stockholm post, you know that I’m a huge fan of Choice hotels in the Nordic region.
(We stay here with family friends. Pretty sweet, huh?)
//FOOD & DRINK//
Fika: You'll learn quickly in Sweden that Fika is a cultural staple. To "fika", means to take a break during the day to enjoy coffee with freshly baked pastries or pie. It’s perfectly acceptable to substitute coffee with your favorite beverage, including beer or wine. Fika is best enjoyed outside and on sunny days just about everyone will stop what they're doing and take a fika. My favorite way to fika is to pick up coffee and a pastry from a bakery and lounge at Kungsparken.
Coffee Shops: Perfect for cozying up, getting work done, or taking a Fika. We love Djanke and Folk & Rock.
(At Djanke working away! Michaela runs a digital agency and brings her work on the go!)
Fun Dinner Vibes: Pinchos is a hip dinner spot full of young professionals. There are no servers. You order tapas style dishes via an app on your mobile phone (no ipads here). Beverages are also ordered this way, and you pick up your food and drinks at their respective stations after a push notification lets you know its ready. It was actually a really fun experience, the food was delicious and Michaela really liked the circus themed decor. Check out their menu here!
(the bar at Pinchos)
Lila Torget: Also known as "Little Square" is the happening spot in downtown Malmo. The restaurants here are a little more pricey because of the novelty but the atmosphere is worth it. We typically come here for a drink after dinner and enjoy the views and fresh air. If you're looking for a great restaurant in Lila Torget, we like Grappa.
Healthy Fare: Kao's! A local told us about this new vegan restaurant and we were blow away. Many Swedes are adopting plant based diets and are interested in nutrition, so there are tons of cruelty-free and allergen-free foods in Sweden. Kao's does not appear to have a website, but you can check out their Facebook page here!
(Michaela really liked the decor + root vegetable fries at Kao's)
There are countless shops and boutiques but our absolute favorite is Designtorget. If you love Scandanavian design as much as we do, you will love wandering around in this store.
There are three stunning parks in Malmo: Kungsparken, Slottsparken, and Pildammsparken. Each park is truly specacular and we try to spend a couple hours each day wandering through them. All three are easily walkable from the the city center. Kungsparken and Slottsparken are located right next to each other and Pildammsparken is just a few blocks south.
(The edge of Pildammsparken)
I'm combining these two because they are adjacent to eachother and when you're there it feels like one big park.
Slottsparken surrounds Malmohus Castle which dates back to 1434 and now is a fantastic museum. Malmohus had a great exhibit on post World War II immigration to Sweden, with an emphasis on refugee immigration. The entire experience was very grounding and relevant to today’s immigration climate in Northern Europe.
Slottsparken and Malmohus Castle are separated by a moat that hosts a number of birds and wildlife. We loved feeding the ducks every morning. In Slottsparken/Kungsparken there is also a nice playground area that is perfect for kids to play and run around. There’s even a Casino at the edge of the park. We didn’t go in, but it looked stunning from the outside. Surprisingly, it felt natural and the casino didn't attract any weirdos to the park.
We spent a lot of time here on our last trip. In 2015, we took a light jog into the park and discovered an outdoor gym with weights, machines, and stations for most muscle groups. It overlooks a huge pond/lake and we ended up using it every morning. On this past trip we were able to use it a few times and even brought a breakfast picnic sat by the lake after.
Besides the outdoor gym, the park is teeming with wildlife, beautiful gardens, ponds, lakes, restaurants, and more. You can get your exercise here in the morning or enjoy a picnic here for lunch. You could spend an entire day at this park and be completely content. They also have live concerts in the summertime!
We’ve been to Copenhagen several times - there’s something about this charming city that has us coming back everytime we’re in Europe. Sitting in Copenhagen’s shadow makes traveling to Malmö very easy with several direct flights available from USA. After landing, Malmo is just a short 15 min train ride from Copenhagen airport to the city center. With the low cost carrier Norwegian offering service to Copenhagen, it makes Malmo a great starting or ending city on a European adventure.
We took a day trip from Malmo to Copenhagen and loved how quick and easy the 30 minute train ride is from Malmo Central Station. We wrote a blog post on Copenhagen from our 2015 trip, but we will do an in-depth updated post on this magical city. For now, here's what I recommend seeing if you're in Copenhagen for 1 day:
Nyhavn for the iconic view (we don’t usually eat here, we just enjoy the scenery)
Cristiania for a little adventure! It’s an alternative community that separated from the E.U. and operates under it’s own set of interesting rules. Plus, they have great art and smoothies.
Paper Island for delicious food and water views (it’s an old paper warehouse full of food carts!). Great option for lunch or dinner
Grab a beer at Mikeller bar (Michaela likes the gluten free beers! Give one a try!)
Shop or browse at popular shops Normann Copenhagen or Stilleben
Indulge in a danish from Myers Bageri
(Beers at the Mikeller HQ - They have many locations now, but we always try to make a pitstop here. It's probably the coolest brewery we've ever been to)
Limhamn is just outside of Malmo's city center and is a must see. It's a small but charming harbor town and a very prestigious place to live. Sweden is extremely bike friendly and I recommend experiencing Limhamn that way. Renting a bike in Malmo and taking a 1/2 or full day trip to explore Limhamn is incredibly easy. We rented bikes from Donkey Republic via our smartphone at a very reasonable rate. It was around $12 per day for a high quality bike that gave us no issues.
(Quiet square in Limhamn)
The ride from Malmo to Limhamn takes about 25 minutes with most of the ride is along the coast. On the way to Limhamn, you pass by the expansive grassy seaside hills of Ribersborgsstranden and it's definitely worthwhile to stop here dip your toes in the water, which is typically in the 60s in the summer time.
Where to eat: Kajuteriet - an incredible restaurant at the harbor with a stunning outdoor patio overlooking the docked boats and ocean.
(Amazing waterside views at Kajuteriet)
If you’re looking for a day trip out of Malmo, jump on a train and head to Lund. Lund is a university town where you’re likely to see students having a good time. Make sure to check out the Lund Cathedral. It was built in 1103 and is the second largest Cathedral in Scandinavia. The botanical garden is a great place to take a walk or picnic.