The heart of Skåne, the playground of Swedish hipsters and a dreamland for foodies, that is Malmö to me. If you didn’t know, it is the third biggest city in Sweden, the capital of its southernmost province and just a channel train ride away from Copenhagen. Should you extend your stay in Copenhagen to visit this sister city and spend three days in Malmö? Absolutely!
You know Sweden is big. For such a comparatively small population there is a lot of landmass and you could easily travel for a day and not having crossed its entirety. So most people opt for the big cities and quaint heartland filled with deep woods and tranquil lakes. And forgot all about the province of Scania.
Since you made it this far in the article, I am assuming you’d love to hear more about why you should bother coming here. And I have a lot of reasons. These are my top five for planning three days in Malmö:
- Everything is close and you can get around easily with the train and buss system.
- See the bustling city of Malmö with its modern architecture and green parks
- Travel back in time to old cobblestone streets lined with pastel houses
- Explore woods, roam the fields and enjoy strolls along white beaches and colourful beach huts
- Did I mention the good food and coffee?
Since everything is so close and rather small, I recommend setting up camp in Malmö and explore from there. Spend one day in the city, another one exploring the Sound (that’s the channel region between Sweden and Denmark) and then the third day to set out across southern Sweden. And everything on a budget!
[su_spoiler title=”When to visit” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]May is a great time since all the flowers are out, it gets warmer and sunnier and you can attend first of May events (such as at Katrinetorp in Malmö). Skip Lund’s Valborg on April 30 as it might be a free festival in the park but ends in the park being scattered with drunk students and litter (they even use leaf blowers to clear the ground). July and August have the best weather and you can attend Malmö’s crayfish festival (a very Swedish thing).
[su_spoiler title=”Special Travel Tip” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]Download the free Sweden map through the app maps.me to get offline access and know wherever you go. You can mark spots you want to visit, too.
[su_spoiler title=”Food Budgeting” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]A sandwich or burger costs around 80 SEK (they have great sandwiches and burgers in Sweden!), a full meal double that and up to 250 SEK. A cake is upwards 30 SEK. Every restaurant will have a free cooled water dispenser (sometimes with ice and slices of lemon or oranges inside) or a water tap at the bar. You can get the water for free without asking.
Three Days in Malmö: Getting Around
The most common way is to fly into Copenhagen and then taking the train, either the Öresundståg or the regular fast trains (which besides the car is fastest). If you want the absolute Copenhagen on a budget version (which takes about 20mins longer), opt for the local 999 bus for a cash payment of 100 SEK (11€/$12), which includes a day return. You can also prebook a bus with Swebus or Nettbuss online, which comes to 89 -110 SEK (12€/$13).
For travelling within Malmö, there is no other way than to pay a local Jojo card (you buy it for 220SEK and get 200SEK credit) or download the Jojo app to pay via credit card. You can buy and recharge the card at the train stations, kiosks or 7 Elevens.
What you need for exploring the area outside of Malmö is the Öresund Rundt ticket. It allows you two day unlimited travel around all of Scania via bus or train as well as the Danish coastal train. The only drawback is you cannot travel to the island of Ven with it and have to cross the channel in one direction via one train ride and one ferry trip. It costs 249 SEK, which is a great deal considering local transport prices and the value you get.
Day One: Feasting on Art, Culture and Food in Malmö
There is actually quite a lot to see in Malmö, so that a day is pretty short. But in case you do want to attempt it (and apparently a lot of people do), you should decide between the following areas of interest: architecture and statues, museums or foodie spots.
Since I like a good mix, here is my proposal. Rent a bike for the day and off you go.
10am: Visit the old Malmöhus Castle, which hosts the Malmö Art Museum (Malmö Konstmuseum), City Museum (Stadsmuseum), the Museum of Natural History and the Science as well as the Maritime House Museum. Museums in Sweden are very eclectic.
12pm: Stroll through the castle gardens (slottsträdgården) towards the old mill and then head west along the canal and into the King’s Park (kungsparken) past the fountain and then head right towards the street. Cross it and go left into the street Jacob Nilsgatan for those typical small pastel houses.
1pm: Walk until you see the big town square (stortorget) with the statue of Gustav Adolf and the town hall. You can dine in a restaurant or fast food chain here or turn right into the picturesque old square Lilla Torg for more fine dining and local artist shops.
2pm: Head south to Gustav Adolfs Torget to check out the shopping streets, local market vendors and then cross the canal and into more shopping streets. Take a seat at the cafe Hollandia for some super tasty cakes and pastry during fika time. Don’t forget to take a number when you queue! That’s a Swedish thing (even at the post office).
[su_box title=”Sweden Must Know” box_color=”#464646″ title_color=”#e6e6e6″ radius=”1″]Fika is essentially a coffee break. But it’s a way of life in Sweden. You have fika twice a day, roughly at 10am and 2pm, in which you drink coffee, eat cinnamon buns (kanelbullar) and meet with colleagues or friends. [/su_box]
3pm: Walk to the next crossing and turn left towards the park. Follow it until you are close to an old church and then turn left and cross the bridge. Turn left at the second street and then instantly right. The big red building is the Modern Art museum (Moderna Museet) with changing exhibitions and it’s free to visit.
4pm: Walk up to the St Petri church, take a look inside and then head right towards Östergatan and then to the Centralstation. Stroll through it (and look up at the cool cutlery ‘chandelier’) and maybe grab a quick bite at the many foodie stalls. Leave at the other end and then cross the bridge towards the university district. If you like, you can get up on the 5th floor of the Niagara building (the tall brown building) or check out the colourful library in Orkanen (the unique blueish building to your right).
5pm: Visit the Ribersborgs Kallbadhus for some typical Swedish sauna experience (everyone’s completely naked) and a refresher in the ocean directly after. You can also get a massage and dine out.
Sunset time: Make your way over to the Turning Torso. You cannot possibly miss it, it’s the tallest building in Scandinavia and is supposed to resemble a human spine.
Its top can only be visited for meetings or the rare opening day (but only for groups). Afterwards, make your way across the small bridge next to the swaying reeds. Bike straight down until you see the ocean and then enjoy the setting sun and the view of the Öresund bridge in the distance.
Evening: visit the opera, the theatre or Malmö Live for evening entertainment.
Day two: Checking out the Öresund Region
7am With your Öresund Rundt ticket, board the bus of line 300 towards Skanör and head towards the dunes to see the iconic bathing houses along the beach. They come in all colours of the rainbow. It gets very touristy in summer, a lesser known spot is Falsterbo (end of the line) near the church from the 11th century.
9am: Hop back on the bus to Malmö and take the train to Helsingborg. Stroll left along the harbour and then towards the giant town gate up above. If you want, you can climb the tower (Kärnan) and visit the parks and gardens to the north (a 30 min walk). There is the Fredriksdal open air museum, which is free to visit. If you fancy flowers and castles, take the bus to Sofiero and have a little fika.
[su_box title=”Sweden Must Know” box_color=”#464646″ title_color=”#e6e6e6″ radius=”1″]Phrases you should know are ‘Hej’ for greetings, ‘förlot’ for excusing yourself and ‘tack så mycket’ for thanking someone. You will want to use these words during your three days in Malmö.[/su_box]
11:20am: Take the ferry across to Helsingor (every 20-30 mins) and walk straight to the castle you see (Kronborg Castle). It’s free to walk around the castle grounds. If you want to visit, make sure to take part in the Shakespeare tour where ‘Horatio’ will show you all the places where Hamlet’s tragedy took place.
1pm: walk back to the library by the harbour and then take a small detour to the shiny silver guy sitting on a stone. He is called Han (Danish for ‘he’) and is the male counterpart to the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. Then head past the monastery (which has wonderful rose gardens in summer) and into the old streets for a meal.
2pm: explore the streets some more and then board the train to go down to the station Humblebaek. Turn left and walk along the streets for 10 minute (or take the bus) to the Art Museum Louisiana. It is eccentric and exciting with statues outside in the parks overlooking the ocean and changing exhibitions inside. When I last visited there was a big exhibition on Yoko Ono.
3:30pm: Head down to Copenhagen (if you want, you can stop at Kokkedal and walk 20 mins to the castle that featured in ‘A Royal Affair’). Exploring Copenhagen deserves a whole different blog post but I recommend walking to the town hall and straight into the old streets towards Nyhavn with its brightly coloured houses and boats (featured in ‘The Danish Girl’). Have another fika here and explore until you’re tired.
Day three: Travelling in South Sweden
7am: Get on the train to Hjärup if you can take pictures of colourful Baltic style houses that look medieval but are actually new and then take the next train to Lund or go straight through to Lund.
8am: Visit the old cathedral with the historic astronomical clock. It is a regular clock, an astronomical clock as well as a calendar and goes until 2123. Head across the campus to get university envy and check out the open air museum Kulturen with authentic Swedish houses across different centuries including folk fashion, art and furniture.
[su_spoiler title=”Alternative 1:” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]11am: head to Höör and take the bus to Bösjokloster. Here you can have lunch, take the paddle boat out onto the lake, stroll through the gardens and into the forest before you go back to Höör and take the train to Hässleholm (don’t bother exploring the town) and hop onto the bus to Wanås Konst.
4pm: Pay the entrance fee of 130 SEK and marvel at the weird and wonderful sculptures, including circular benches, an artist’s sculpture peeing by the pond, Yoko Ono’s ladders and so much more. There also is a castle – castles, parks and art go hand in hand in South Sweden. You can stay until 7pm and then go back to Malmö.[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”Alternative 2:” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]
11am: head to Ystad and walk in the footsteps of the famous fictional detective Wallander. Explore the old churches, cloister and cobblestone streets.
2pm: Take the train to Simrishamn and enjoy my favourite Swedish town. Go to the harbour, visit the Rose Garden and the old street Rådmansgatan and nearby alleys.
4pm: If you want to squeeze in another attraction, either visit Kivik and its iconic Swedish houses as well as red beach huts or see the Stonehenge of Sweden, Ale Stenar. There is also a pretty sweet beach nearby.
[su_spoiler title=”Alternative 3:” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-circle”]
11am: head to Helsingborg, have lunch, grab a snack and then take the bus to Nimis in the Kullaberg Reserve. Wear good shoes and have no fear of heights. Better ask a local for the direction (‘Var är Nimis?’) because there are no signs, you will want to search for an illegal country. But don’t worry, Swedes come here taking their kids for a day outing.
You see, an art professor made it his mission to create house like structures from driftwood by the foot of the white cliffs and before the authorities got wind of that, he had erected them all over the beach. There is an ongoing legal war because he is not supposed to build anything here, let alone declare his structures a new country, named Ladonia. You can even apply for free (inofficial) citizenship online and get a royal title for $12.
[su_box title=”Sweden Must Know” box_color=”#464646″ title_color=”#e6e6e6″ radius=”1″]In case you are shopping at a supermarket, know that some have change dispensers at the checkout. You will receive the notes from the cashier but have to grab the coins from the machine. You can pay with credit card everywhere.[/su_box]