We spent the summer raving about the Aeolian Islands, the beaches of Cyclades and the crystal-clear waters of the Balearics. But now we’re turning our gaze to a Nordic destination that deserves much more attention than it gets. Having wandered around Sofia, Zagreb and Belfast, this week we’re heading to Malmö. Sweden’s third city (by population), this city in the south of the country is among the continent’s most diverse places, with 30 percent of its inhabitants born abroad. Here’s what we’d recommend you do there.
The first thing we’d suggest you do is get the train there via Denmark. That’ll allow you to pass over the Øresund Bridge that links Copenhagen with this Swedish city. The 8,000-metre long bridge has two levels, with a motorway on top and an international rail line underneath. What a way to start your trip.
Begin your visit in the old town. Colourful, vibrant, multicultural: here you’ll find all manner of quirky boutiques, cafés and design stores. Two old buildings are particularly worth checking out. The first (and the oldest in the city) is the Sankt Petri Cathedral, built in the fourteenth century. The second is Malmö Castle, which was once a fortress and subsequently a prison and the home of various art collections. Before leaving the area, make sure to take a look at the municipal library – the design will blow you away.
And now go and see some more modern architecture. Malmö is a master in the subject. Wander around the Västra Hamnen neighbourhood to see what we mean. This former naval dockyard by the Öresund strait has been transformed into a ultra-modern sustainable development by a band of leading architects and urbanists. Västra Hamnen also offers spectacular views over the stunningly twisty Turning Torso tower, which at 190 metres high dominates the skyline.
For traditional Swedish lunch, head to Johan P. With its focus on fish and seafood, this popular restaurant adapts its menu to what's come in from fishermen that day. Some classics, however, are always there and really are unmissable, like the lobster roll and the astonishing tuna bourguignon. At once laid-back and refined, this place also has an excellent wine menu and an array of hearty desserts.
Since you’re no longer hungry, now it’s time to visit one of the most disturbing (and fun) places in the whole city: the Disgusting Food Museum. Aged shark from Iceland, maggot-stuffed cheese from Sardinia, roasted rats and all sorts of fermented things: the 90 culinary specialities you’ll find here are among the stinkiest and most revolting foods imaginable. The place is admittedly quite odd, but also poses interesting cultural questions about what we think of as ‘good’ and not, and why.
To relax a little after an experience of that intensity, we’d recommend a trip to the outdoor baths of Ribersborgs Kallbadhus. With five saunas, two sea-water pools, wood-fired jacuzzis and a solarium, this place offers all sorts of brilliantly calming activities. With the exception of a mixed sauna, it should be noted that the men and women are separated. One further bit of advice: the baths are best enjoyed here when it’s cold, and especially when it’s really cold. Don’t miss this truly unique local experience.
To round off your trip in style, head it Bloom in the Park. Set within a beautiful house overlooking a lake, this rather unusual establishment doesn’t have a menu. All you have to do is flag any allergies and dietary requirements, then say how many dishes you’d like. The kitchen sorts out the rest. Definitely make sure to order the wine pairings, which are as excellent as they are surprising. And if you’re still going after all that food? Make a beeline for Biljardhuset Malmö, a billiards hall hidden in a car park. The ideal spot to reflect on your visit to this wonderful place, alongside friendly people and with a glass of wine in hand.