For many, this city’s most recognisable landmark is the Øresund Bridge, immortalised in Scandi-noir drama The Bridge, but there’s more to Malmö than its easy link to Copenhagen. For a long time, this multicultural destination has been overlooked by those travelling to the Danish capital or Sweden’s main attraction, Stockholm. But now, thanks to the rise in popularity of ‘second city’ travel, with people avoiding overcrowded spots in an attempt to lessen the environmental impact of their weekend break, it’s finally having its day.
Not only is Malmö quieter than its Scandinavian neighbours, it’s also home to a thriving restaurant scene that values hyper-local sourcing, and enough shops and galleries to keep any design enthusiast amused.
Where to stay
Not simply a hotel, but also one of the most happening bars in the city, Hotel Mäster Johans (MJ’s to its friends) has an interior designed by British brand House of Hackney. Plush and joyously over-the-top – think pink flamingo-patterned carpets – it’s a departure from the usual restraint of Scandinavian style (from £65 per night).
Those in search of traditional calm should head to Hotel Duxiana. Opened by the eponymous Swedish brand renowned for its luxury beds and mattresses, it ensures a restful night (from £120 per night). For those who want to live like a local, there’s Ohboy Hotel. The apartment block is home to eco-savvy full-time residents as well as 31 suites for visitors, each with its own fold-up bike. The brainchild of local architecture firm Hauschild + Siegel, it’s won awards for its sustainable design (from £89 per night).
Breakfast & Lunch
The Swedish love their coffee, and few places offer a more delicious morning caffeine hit or afternoon fika (coffee with cake) than Uggla, on the edge of St Knuts Square. It serves blends by Malmö-based roasters Solde, as well as Copenhagen’s famous Coffee Collective.
After a walk through the city centre, make a beeline for Malmö Saluhall. In this high-end food market housed in a former freight depot you can find anything from a Hawaiian poke bowl with a Nordic twist at Påris to pralines by Chocolatte. Alternatively, for a wholesome lunch with a side of culture, there’s Smak, a charming café in Malmö Konsthall, an exhibition space specialising in modern art.
Wine & Dine
One of the most important considerations in Scandinavian cooking at the moment is hyper-local sourcing. That’s something that Lyran does exceptionally well. Every day, this small restaurant’s menu is written anew based on what’s in season and what its local suppliers have provided.
Those looking for classic Swedish fare should head to Sture, which has been serving locals for more than 100 years. Or, for something a little different, try the homemade kimchi and ramen at Namu, opened by Swedish MasterChef winner Jennie Walldén. Not ready to end the evening? Continue the party at Care/Of, a small but atmospheric cocktail bar that takes mixology seriously. Try the ‘Them Apples’ – duck fat-infused bourbon, calvados, thyme syrup and rosemary bitters.
Art & Culture
Look out for the perforated orange-red metal façade of Malmö’s Moderna Museet (it’s hard to miss). This summer, the venue plans to present a must-see exhibition of prominent Swedish artist Annika Elisabeth von Hausswolff’s work. Fans of Scandi Noir may be intrigued by her inspirations, which include the reporting of Swedish crime in the media, psychoanalytical theories, vulnerability and violence.
No visit to the city would be complete without a trip to Ribersborgs Kallbadhus. Open all year round, this public bath is something of an institution and as popular with residents as visitors.
Situated at the end of a pier on the city’s long sandy beach, it has five saunas and two wood-fired hot tubs, but it’s taking a dip in the sea-water pools that locals recommend for the endorphin-boosting benefits. Be brave – in June the average water temperature is 14 degrees Celsius.
Gamla Staden, the city’s old town, may not be the first place you would look for contemporary design, but here, tucked down a cobbled side street, is where you’ll find Form/Design Center. As well as a popular meeting and exhibition space for architects and designers, this do-it-all venue includes a gem of a shop where you will find homeware by established and up-and-coming names and brands.
Continue your spending spree at Grandpa, a stylish lifestyle store that sells Scandinavian homeware and clothing, before visiting locals’ favourite AB Småland. This store, which describes itself as a ‘green lifestyle concept’, stocks a beautiful edit of vintage designs alongside sustainable and organic Swedish interiors, beauty and fashion brands. Its café, selling local and organic produce, is also an ideal place for a retail rest.
Escape the city
Head in either direction beyond the city limits of Malmö and you will be amazed by the beautiful rolling green countryside of Skåne, Sweden’s southernmost region. We suggest driving two hours north towards Gothenburg to Stedsans in the Woods, an eco retreat founded by Danish couple Mette Helbæk and Flemming Schiøtt Hansen.
Stedsans, in Danish, translates as a sense of place, and, fittingly, the food served in its restaurant by the lake could not be more rooted in the land – it’s sourced from the venue’s own permaculture farm. Stay overnight in one of the charming wooden cabins and dinner with wine, and breakfast, is included in the price. It’s the perfect opportunity to find peace and connect with nature (from £745 per night for two).
Meet the insiders: Stoft Studio
Founded by industrial designers Jenny Ekdahl, Ola Nystedt and Joel Herslow in 2013, this Malmö-based studio produces experimental furniture, lighting and accessories. You can see examples of its work at London design gallery Mint. Here, Ola shares more top spots in her home city. stoft-studio.com
■ Spegeln Bio-Bar-Bistro: An art deco cinema with a twist, showing classics, sing-alongs and opera.
■ Möllevångstorget: Known as Möllan, it’s a multicultural food market by day and hot spot for drinks later.
■ Slottsträdgårdens Kafé: During spring and summer this café is a perfect spot for lunch or coffee. Situated in the middle of Kungsparken, its tables are scattered throughout the garden and greenhouse.
■ Far i Hatten: In the heart of Folkets Park, this is a relaxed evening hangout with a Scandinavian-carnival-beer garden setting.