If you feel Sweden is too Swedish, you should visit Malmö, as this city is more like continental Europe, with its traditional corner pubs (where there are no bouncers, even on a Saturday night), honking car horns, dogs that are allowed to roam free (on the northern part of the Ribersborgsstranden), numerous bakeries called “brödbutik” (i.e. bread shops) and bus drivers playing Arabic music on their radios. Some restaurants have a common toilet for men and women and waiters sometimes put their hands on a guest’s shoulder while serving him.
Ideal for cyclists and bathing lovers
Malmö has many large squares, wide streets and fashionable boulevards. There is plenty of space everywhere, even in the city centre. The city is therefore a paradise for cyclists and ranked as one of the ten most bicycle-friendly cities in the world.
In the summer, you should not forget your swimwear as there is a great sandy beach on the Öresund, right in the middle of the city. It’s name is Ribersborgsstranden, but most people usually just call it “Ribban”. For cold water enthusiasts there is a winter swimming facility, sauna, café and restaurant called Ribersborgs Kallbadhus.
Malmö is usually given considerably less space in guidebooks than Stockholm and Gothenburg because both Malmö’s importance and attractiveness are often underestimated. Until a few years ago, even we ourselves hardly reported on Malmö as we were more attracted to the essentially Swedish regions, such as Dalarna and Värmland.
Västra Hamnen with the Turning Torso
A very modern and architecturally interesting residential and office district has emerged on a former shipyard area (Kockums), which has the 190m high Turning Torso as its landmark. This area is called Västra Hamnen (Western Harbour) and a Swedish TV show for kids is shot here in the summer. At the end of the show, the guests jump into the water and read the temperature on a thermometer floating in the harbour, while the young audience scream for joy. You can usually see countless sailing and motorboats in the background, a blue summer sky and the bright white facades of the surrounding office buildings – it’s a perfect promotion for a summer holiday in Malmö.
In sharp contrast to the highly modern Western Harbour there is Gamla Staden, Malmö’s old town. Here stand many buildings that are hundreds of years old, including Scanian half-timbered houses and Hanseatic-looking houses made of dark red brick. These buildings are often integrated into modern conservatory glass structures.
Old often stands next to new (a good example is the Malmö Central station) and the height of the buildings varies greatly, with three-storey houses often standing next to larger ones of five or six storeys. The mix of styles, colours and height results in a colourful, lively town centre. This pleasing mixture continues even in the extremely varied development found in the Western Harbour.
Unfortunately, whole districts of Malmö disappeared in the demolition craze of 1955-1980. Back then it was called “total renovation”. Small houses, where artisans, workers and bohemian Malmö lived, had to make way for gigantic hotels, offices and shopping complexes. This madness only stopped in the eighties. This was partly the result of insight, partly because the city ran out of money due to the shipyard crisis. Fortunately, some of the original buildings of Malmö survived.
City tour with the bus route no. 3
An inexpensive city tour can be done by jumping on bus no. 3 (“ringlinje”), which goes in a circle around downtown Malmö. The ideal place to start the tour is the main railway station (“Centralen”).
Short trip over the Öresund Bridge to Copenhagen
Anyone who spends a few days in Malmö, should take the opportunity to explore Copenhagen, the Danish capital. All the transport you need is just over the Öresund Bridge – by car, bus or train. The bus (line 999) takes about 60 minutes and the train (Öresundstågen) about 35 minutes from Central Station to Central Station.
Malmö belongs to Skåne (Scania), a region with long history, flourishing culture and acclaimed cuisine. It is often noted that Skåne is both Swedish and a little Danish.
Our recommendations for Malmö
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The new Malmö Live (photo: Adam Mörk)