There are many ways you can get to the Nordic country of Sweden. While flights are getting cheaper, you might decide to take a road trip through Europe, in which case you will have to pass through the city of Malmö. Located on the southern coast of Sweden, this city is connected to Copenhagen, Denmark and the rest of mainland Europe via the iconic Øresund Bridge. The third largest city in Sweden after the capital of Stockholm and Gothenburg, like many other cities and towns in the country, Malmö flourished thanks to its shipbuilding industry which has suffered in previous decades, but it is going through something of a revitalisation.
Once a part of Denmark until the 17th century, Malmö is a city that mixes modernity with antiquity, with towering skyscrapers constructed alongside historical squares. There are many ways you can experience what has to offer. Malmö is a very walkable city, but you can also sign up for a tour like this one that takes you along the many canals which dissect the city. Whatever you decide to do, there is more than enough here to keep you entertained during a weekend in this unique corner of Sweden.
Know Before You Go
As previously mentioned, you can take a car or a train into Malmö via Øresund Bridge from nearby Denmark. If you’re flying, you have two options - you can either fly into Malmö Airport, which is served by budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizzair, or you can fly into Copenhagen Airport as this airport is much larger and serves more international locations, then take the train over. Copenhagen Airport is also served by budget airlines like Ryanair. There are also ferry routes to Malmö coming from the rest of Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Swinoujscie in Poland.
The different counties in Sweden are serviced by bus companies, and since Malmö is part of Skåne county, the city is served by Skånetrafiken. You can purchase tickets via bus stations and on the buses themselves, or you could download the Skånetrafiken app for added convenience. Malmö is also part of a train network that connects the city to the rest of Sweden and Copenhagen.
To rent a car in Sweden, you must be at least 18 years old and have held your license for at least two years. Drivers under the age of 25 may incur a young driver surcharge. Seatbelts are mandatory, and cars travel on the right-hand side.
Though Sweden is well known for its cold winters, Malmö has a much more mild climate throughout the year compared to the rest of the country. The best time to visit is between May and August when the temperature is at its warmest and the days are longer, while the coldest is between December and February.
The national currency of Sweden is the Swedish Krona or Krowns. Sweden can be a bit pricey, especially if you decide to go out for a drink with friends. You will be able to get away with using your credit or debit card without lifting cash, but as always, we recommend carrying some just in case.
Day 1: The City of Malmö
A great aspect of the city of Malmö is that despite being the third largest city in Sweden, it is still relatively small and can easily be explored within a day. And there are many sights for you to enjoy here, from the historic Old Town of Malmö which is a local reminder of Sweden’s medieval history to the modern examples of architecture and the vibrant nightlife. There is something here to scratch every tourist’s itch.
If you’re doing a road trip of Europe and you decide to go to Sweden, Malmö is a place that is worth spending some time visiting. Even if it is just a purposeful excursion to the city or it’s a day trip from nearby Copenhagen, here is our pick for the top attractions to visit in the gateway city of Sweden.
Where to Eat
A good place to get something to eat is St. Jakobs Stenugnsbageri, a great spot to get a hearty breakfast before heading out and sampling the Swedish tradition of fika.
Let’s start with the feature Malmö is most recognised for. Opened in 2000, the Øresund Bridge is the longest in the whole of Europe, made up of a motorway and railway line. This bridge is a marvel of engineering, with the 8km bridge section being only a single part of the full connection, the rest being a 4km underwater tube tunnel to allow room for ships to pass undeterred and a further 4km on the island of Peberholm. The bridge part of the link is the longest rail and road bridge in Europe.
Øresund Bridge is one of the most recognisable landmarks of the region and is a notable photo opportunity for tourists. Jointly owned by the Swedish and Danish governments, it has also made its way into popular media, like the series The Bridge, in which detectives from both countries work together after discovering a body on Øresund. One of the best viewpoints of the bridge is Öresundsbron Viewpoint, and it is especially gorgeous at sunset.
HSB Turning Torso
While we’re on the topic of unique feats of engineering, another interesting example can be seen in Malmö’s skyline. The HSB Turning Torso is a skyscraper which stands out because it is modelled after the form of a twisting human body - hence the name. Built in 2005, it also used to be the tallest building in the Nordics until September of 2022, when it was surpassed by Karlatornet, Gothenburg’s first skyscraper which is due to finish construction in 2024.
Though this is a Swedish building, the architect, Santiago Calatrava, is Spanish and has created notable buildings all over the globe, including the Olympic Sports Complex of Athens and the City of Arts and Sciences complex in Valencia. Calatrava’s works are all notable for having a distinctive Futurist style, and the Turning Torso was constructed with the specific purpose of putting a unique feature in the Malmö skyline.
Do you want to wash off the grime of travelling and relax before continuing your visit in Malmö? Then you should check Ribersborgs Kallbadhus. Located on the popular beach of Ribersborgs, this establishment is an open-air bath house which is a great spot for both locals and tourists alike to take a load off. At Ribersborgs Kallbadhus, there are five saunas, two seawater pools, two wood-fired hot tubs and a sun deck available.
While this itinerary is for two days, if you have longer, you can easily spend a full day here, and there is a restaurant here to make sure you don’t go hungry if you do. In addition to their spa treatments, Ribersborgs Kallbadhus arrange Queer Kallis once a month, an event in which the facilities are open for everyone, discarding the male and female segregation with the goal of being more inclusive for LGBTQ+ visitors.
There are many different parks around Malmö but in the centre of the main park of Slottsträdgården is Malmö Castle. Built in the 1530s by King Christian III of Denmark, Malmö Castle is the oldest preserved Renaissance castle in the Nordics. This was both an important fortress in the defence of Denmark and a prison, notably housing James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell and the husband of Mary Stuart Queen of Scots.
Nowadays, this castle makes for a unique city landmark on the outside and is a part of the Malmö museum network on the inside, hosting the Malmö art museum and the natural history museum of Malmö, with the rest of the Malmö Museum complex being nearby. Even if you don’t go inside, the castle is a historical marvel in and of itself, still keeping its 16th-century look.
There are many different squares throughout Malmö, but Stortoget is the largest and oldest square in the city. If you have read some of our previous Swedish itineraries before, you might have heard of the name Stortorget. It simply translates to The Grand Square. Once the largest square in Northern Europe, this square is within a short distance of a few of Malmö’s attractions, including the nearby St Peter’s Church. In the centre of Stortoget is a statue of King Karl Gustav X.
Ever since its construction in 1540, this 2500 metres square has been a meeting spot and location for events, originally serving as the market square and now hosting the annual Malmö festival, an annual festival that has been taking place since 1985 and is the largest and oldest city festival in Northern Europe, with 1.4 million visitors attending and watching live music performances and sampling many different facets of the city’s culture.
Disgusting Food Museum
If you’re going to check out this museum, maybe take a water bottle with you and swap it out with something nice to wash out your mouth. Here at the Disgusting Food Museum, 80 of the world’s most disgusting foods are exhibited, and this museum is… interactive. You can smell and even eat some of the foods on display.
Now, before you go thinking you have an iron stomach and you can easily rattle through each of these exhibitions, you should know what you’re getting yourself into. Some of the foods here include maggot-infested cheese from Sardinia, the infamously foul-tasting Durian fruit, and - if you want to go local - Swedish fermented herring called Surströmming. Bon appetite! You can book a ticket for the museum here.
While Stortorget is the largest square in the city, nearby is the picturesque Lilla Torg. Built in 1590, Lilla Torg is in the heart of Malmö’s Gamla Staden - or Old Town - and was constructed to serve as a market square. Though it is dwarfed by its neighbour, Lilla Torg is much more aesthetically pleasing compared to Stortorget, with cobbled streets and timbered houses.
There are many different cafes and restaurants in this square with open terraces which are especially lovely when you want to take a break in the summer. For food enthusiasts, there is also the nearby Malmö Saluhall, which is a covered market which has all sorts of different nibbles up for grabs. If you want to take a walk through the rest of Malmö’s Old Town with a tour, you can book yourself in for one here.
St Peter’s Church
Behind the city hall of Stotorget is another notable piece of Malmö history, St Peter’s Church. While there are several different churches in Malmö, St Peter’s church is probably the most spectacular of any in Malmö.
This towering gothic place of worship is the oldest building in the city, constructed in the 14th century to function as the main church of Malmö and remains the oldest preserved brick building in the city. It is also one of the largest churches in Sweden and has the largest baroque altar in Northern Europe, dating back to 1611. Whether you’re a practising Christian or not, this church is truly a remarkable location worth seeing for yourself.
St John’s Church
In contrast to St Peter’s church being the oldest church in the city, St John’s Church is one of the newest in Malmö. Concluding construction in 1907, the church was designed by Axel Andeberg and is constructed in the Art Nouveau architectural style, having soft rounded edges compared to the sharp steeples of St Peter’s Gothic style.
Though it is much more simplistic compared to St Peter’s, it is still worth visiting to see the differences in how churches have been built in the city of Malmö. One interesting thing you’ll see on this church is that above the door, it says 1906 after the planned opening year, but the opening was delayed due to a labour dispute.
If you want to visit another intriguing place in terms of architecture, check out the Moderna Museet. First opened in 2009, this is a museum of modern art which is open throughout the week except on Mondays, and you can book a guided tour here.
However, one of the most interesting things about this museum is the design - in a city with antiquatedly designed buildings, the museum from the outside is just a large red block. An architectural eye-sore to some, a unique building that stands out to others, this establishment is both an intriguing visit both on the outside and the inside.
Where to Stay
Budget - HOTEL N Hostel Malmö City
Though there aren’t too many hostels in Malmö, this establishment is one of the best places if you want to meet like-minded travellers while saving pennies.
Mid range - Ohboy Hotell
If you’re looking for a spot with more privacy, this accommodation provides private apartments at a decent price, and includes a bicycle to use per room.
Luxury - UNITY Malmö
One of the most luxurious spots in the city of Malmö, this aparthotel is an amazing place to stay to maximise comfort with a modern design and sun terrace.
Day 2: Outside Malmö
While this city in the south of Sweden is worth visiting purely in itself, there are a few places outside Malmö which are equally worth seeing as well. Skåne County is spread over 11,000 square kilometres, and while almost 97% of the whole nation of Sweden is untouched wilderness - which due to Sweden’s camping laws, can make for a great adventure - there are a few notable places to check out here.
From flat farmlands to thick, lush forests, from the Swedish equivalent of John O’Groats to picturesque towns, here is our pick for places to visit on your day going outside of the city of Malmö.
Where to Eat
Before leaving Malmö, we suggest a packed lunch for today and loading up at breakfast at Coffee Square in the city centre.
If you want to take a seaside swim, then you should check out Sandhammaren Beach. Considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Sweden, it is definitely a popular destination in Skåne County for locals and tourists alike.
This fine white sand makes for a nice getaway throughout any time of the year, from the beach, sand dunes and seaside making for an enjoyable excursion in the summer, while the nearby pine forests can be enjoyed all year round. Though if you go for a swim, be careful - the shifting sands and strong currents have brought down many ships throughout history.
Söderåsens National Park
If you are interested in hiking in this area, one place you should check out is the Söderåsens National Park. Established in 2001, this national park is considered to be Skåne's Grand Canyon, but while the Grand Canyon is a vast carving into the rock, Söderåsens is verdant and covered in thick forest.
It’s not just hiking that you can enjoy at this national park. There are mountain biking paths which are separate from the hiking trails, as well as canoeing up the many streams and rapids that dot the area. Definitely an area for any outdoor enthusiast.
A nice diversion from Malmöis the university city of Lund. Lund University was founded in 1666 and is ranked as one of the top 100 universities in the world, however, the town is much older and is considered to be one of the oldest settlements in Sweden.
Lund is worth visiting in and of itself, from the centuries-old Lund Romanesque Cathedral, the open-air Kulturen museum with historical replicas of buildings from medieval times to the Lund University Historical Museum displaying archaeological artefacts from the Stone and Bronze ages. One of the ways you can experience what Lund has to offer is via this guided tour from Copenhagen.
While Malmö may be the most notable city in southern Sweden, it is not the most southerly settlement. One town that comes close is the town of Trelleborg. This is a ferry town that has trips connecting Southern Sweden with many parts of Europe.
As with many of the other towns in the area, Trelleborg is an ideal destination for nature lovers, who like hiking, though it is probably best enjoyed in the summer when you can go camping and visit the nearby seaside. There are also a couple of different attractions you can visit in the town, like the reconstructed Viking fort known as Trelleborgen, a reconstructed Viking ring castle and the only one of its kind on Swedish soil.
And finally, the most southerly point of Sweden, Smygehuk. This is a small fishing village that is the most southerly point of the Scandinavian peninsula. A flat, sandy point surrounded by stony beaches, the signpost here is similar to that of the one at John O’Groats.
Should you decide to visit all of the country, a road trip you could do is between Treriksröset, the most northern point of Sweden, to Smygehuk. As for Smygehuk, it makes for a lovely little place to visit should you want to get away from the busy nature of Malmö.
Where to Stay
Budget - Äspögården Bed & Breakfast
If you want to stay in the countryside of Skane County and save money, then this beautiful bed and breakfast a short drive from Smygheuk is for you.
Mid range - Bed & Breakfast Vragerups Gård
While there are a few accommodations in the city of Lund which we consider mid range, this B&B is on the cheaper end of the scale and promises an excellent stay.
Luxury - Radisson Blu Hotel Lund
Finally, this design hotel has free access to sauna facilities and a gym as well as a couple more additional comforts on top of the room.