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!
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).
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.
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.