Malmö may not rise to the top of many people’s travel lists, but it deserves to be seen as more than just a day-trip from Copenhagen. After all, it’s the third largest city in Sweden and deserves some clout of its own. Much like Oakland to San Francisco, or Brooklyn to Manhattan, Malmö has emerged from the shadow of its glitzy neighbor by embracing creative talents to forge its own identity. Malmö has quietly grown into a unique place that is steeped in history yet hip and Swedish and full of foreign influences. You’re probably wondering what to do in Malmo city, so let’s start our countdown!
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5 - Things to Do in Malmö
Check out Malmö on a Stromma Canal Tour
The best way to start your visit to Malmö is to enjoy a canal tour, as the departure dock is conveniently located a couple of blocks from Malmö Centralstation. Malmö’s center is ringed by a canal, meaning that you get a fantastic orientation to the city while relaxing on this live-guided boat. The tours take about an hour and will give you great views of Malmöhus Castle, Turning Torso, and other attractions of central Malmö.
Explore Malmö Castle and Museums
The oldest Renaissance castle and museum in Scandinavia sits in Sweden, but it was built starting in 1434 by a Danish King who was born in modern Poland. Such is the history of Skåne, the territory of southern Sweden that was long-ruled by the Danes, and this outpost was critical for there defense of the area against the Swedes. Two centuries later, the Danes left Skåne for good, and over time the castle became less important. Today it houses several excellent museums, including ones for art and natural history and an aquarium. You could spend hours here, so be sure to carve out time to enjoy the museums. You can also check out the nearby Moderna Museet. It’s a free city museum of modern and contemporary art located in the old town. That’s a lot of museum for one day but it’s doable.
Picnic in Kungsparken Like a Local
If you want to live like a local, after exploring Malmö Castle head to a grocery store and stock up for a picnic in the lovely Kungsparken park that surrounds the castle. Walk around the park grounds, including a beautiful fountain and several bridges. Kungsparken is great for a stroll, a run, or a nice picnic.
Relax at the Spa - Visit Ribersborgs Kallbadhus
The other way to experience Malmö like a local is to head to Ribersborgs Kallbadhus and enjoy a spa like a Swede. About a 20-minute walk from central Malmö, this open-air bathhouse is perched right on the Øresund strait near the famed Øresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden. There are saunas, cold-baths, hot-baths, a café, and even ice bathing in the winter! The bathhouse itself is historic, dating back to the 19th century, and is a great way to experience Swedish culture and relax.
Chill out at Folkets Park (Peoples Park)
It would be easy to spend an entire visit to Malmö in the historic Gamla Staden, but it is worth exploring more of the city and heading to Folkets Park. Literally “peoples park”, you can find amazing people watching, markets, concerts, food vendors and other entertainment in the park year-round. In the winter there is an ice rink, and in the summer there is a beer hall that is worth a visit. It is about a 25-minute walk from Malmö City Hall.
4 - Things to Eat and Drink in Malmö
What to do in Malmo after a long day of touring? Find a food market! Conveniently located only a few blocks from the train station, Malmö Saluhall is a covered market that is filled with delicious offerings that will welcome you to Sweden. Inside you will be met by a variety of vendors selling fresh fish, meat, cheese, ice cream, and other delicacies. There are also restaurant stands, including the amazing bakery St. Jakobs Stenugnsbageri. You will also get to sample a fusion of foods from all over, including falafel, pasta, noodles, and other influences from Malmö’s vibrant immigrant communities.
For Swedes, the idea of getting coffee for take-away is nearly offensive. They prefer “fika”, where you sit down, sip well-prepared coffee, nibble on a delicious cake or pastry, and either enjoy a break (either alone or with a friend). Lilla Kafferosteriet is a perfect place for this, as they offer a wide variety of hot and cold caffeinated options and sweet delights. They are located in a quirky 17th century home, and they offer a café menu that is perfect for lunch as well.
On a lovely summer day, there are few better spots than sitting in one of the restaurants ringing Lilla Torg, an old square surrounded by old half-timber buildings. The people-watching is excellent, and the view will transform you back in time, forgetting all the modern amenities outside the square. We recommend going to Moosehead, which is a rustic-themed bar with a good drink selection, good food, and a good spot outside on the square.
Mäster Johansgatan 11
For an incredible modern interpretation of traditional Swedish cuisine, Bastard is the place to go. Definitely make a reservation, as we are not the only ones recommending Bastard. The concept here is “nose to tail”, focusing on meat and offering small plates that are all delicious in an atmosphere that is pure hipster. This is not just a tourist trap, as locals fill the restaurant every evening.
3 - Places to Stay in Malmö
Norra Vallgatan 54
Located right near the train station on the canal, this 3-star hotel is a tremendous bargain for the quality of the room you will get. The location is excellent, as it is also right in the city center, and they also offer breakfast. It is minimalist but is good for the budget in notoriously expensive Sweden.
STF Malmö City Hotell & Vandrarhem
Airbnb in the Neighborhood of Möllevången
It would be easy to recommend the Gamla Staden neighborhood in the city center for an Airbnb, but for more-local experience stay in Möllevången. This formerly working-class neighborhood is now the center of “hip” Malmö. Filled with cafes, restaurants of every cuisine, and cool bars, this is a great place to stay if you want to feel what modern Malmö is like.
2 - Must-click Instagram Spots in Malmö
The central market square of Malmö since the 16th century, Stortorget offers a variety of neat Instagram backdrops to make your followers envious. At the center stands the equestrian statue of King Karl X Gustav, who defeated Denmark in the late 1600s to unite Skåne with the rest of Sweden and force the Danes across the Øresund Strait where they remain today. The historic town hall has a beautiful Dutch Renaissance façade that also can serve a fun backdrop for your selfies.
The northern edge of Malmö along the Øresund is Västra Hamnen (“west harbor”) and is home to a number of cool spots including the Stapelbäddsparken Skate Park, Scaniaparken waterfront park, and the famous Turning Torso, the tallest building in the Nordics. From Scaniaparken you can get beautiful views of Copenhagen and the Øresund bridge between Denmark and Sweden. And with a height of 190 m (623 ft), you can have it in the background from nearly any location around the harbor.
1 - Insider Tip
Malmö is the perfect complimentary day or overnight trip to pair with a trip to Copenhagen. The train from Copenhagen Central Station to Malmo Central Station runs every 20 minutes, takes about 40 minutes, and will cost about 13 USD each way. Be sure to bring your passport, as even though you are within the Schengen area Danish and Swedish border guards will check passports as you enter each country.