Weekend Away: Multicultural Malmö
Malmö is becoming the hub for start-ups and international companies branching into Sweden, so it’s no surprise one would find English and other languages spoken more than Swedish on its streets. Alaine Handa shows us what to do in Malmö.
With Copenhagen’s International Airport just across the Öresund strait, a short 25-minute scenic train ride across famous Öresund bridge (Check out the Nordic Noir Swedish/Danish crime TV series “Bron/Brøn”) takes you to Malmö Central Station.
As Sweden’s third most populated city, it is a vibrant mix of cultures that translates into a city which is continually evolving. Some international companies with offices in Malmö include King, IKEA, Orkla Foods, Massive Entertainment, Boozt, Stryker corporations, Honda, Peugeot, Mercedes Benz, and many more.
About a roughly six hour train ride from Stockholm also makes Malmö a nice weekend getaway to experience Sweden’s most diverse city. But it can also be a base to explore the beauty of Skåne’s countryside. However, if you have never been to Malmö before, I recommend you spend a weekend in the city exploring, eating, drinking, shopping, and just getting lost among quaint streets around Lilla Torg.
If you are coming from Copenhagen and the airport, bring your passport and ID card with you as Swedish border control officers come on the train at Hyllie to check everyone’s identification.
The food scene in Malmö is booming with exciting eateries from highbrow places like Vollmers (Two Michelin-starred restaurant in central Malmö to multiple falafel and Vietnamese restaurants popping up all over the city, as well as the fairly new Malmö Saluhall.
For an explosion of flavors from around the world, the area around Triangeln and Folkets park has plenty of Middle Eastern, Turkish, Indian, Asian food stores and restaurants to whet your appetite.
There are also great places to have fika too in Malmö. My personal favorite place is Djäkne Kaffebar because of the quality coffee, ample workspace, central location, and friendly baristas. A great place to meet up with people for fika or get some work done.
What to do in Malmö
The history of Southern Sweden has a long relationship with the Kingdom of Denmark. Take a visit to Malmö’s fort castle to find out more about Malmö’s role in World War II. Scania/Skåne was once part of the Kingdom of Denmark and the local vernacular of skånska is very distinct, even so that some Swedes from other parts of the country mistake it for Danish.
Malmö Slott is the oldest fort from the Renaissance era and was once used as the place where Denmark minted their coins. Erik of Pomerania, the King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden built the castle in 1434 on the exact location where Malmöhus now stands.
The strategic positioning of the castle facing westwards towards the Öresund strait was for the purpose of monitoring all traffic coming into the ports. During World War II, Malmöhus was used as a temporary refugee camp and housed those fleeing the war. The museum hosts temporary and permanent exhibitions regularly. The park surrounding Malmöhus slot is worth a stroll after spending a few hours at the museum.
Turning Torso is an architectural beauty and the tallest building in Scandinavia. It is a residential building and I can only imagine how lucky the residents are for the views of the Öresund bridge and Öresund strait from up there. Designed and constructed by Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, the Turning Torso building is located in Västra Hamnen district of Malmö, and a short bus ride from Central station will take you this upscale residential district by the water.
On a sunny day, especially in the summer months, this area is very popular with residents. The building is not open to the public, but it is worth the trek to this area to see the beautifully designed building.
Ribberborgsstranden is a beach and park by the water right by the residential neighborhood near the Turning Torso building. This park has beautiful sweeping views of the Öresund Bridge, lots of greenery, and a sand beach which is great spot to sit and sunbathe or have a little picnic. There is also a public sauna called Ribberborgs kallbadhus, where you can go to the sauna and then take a refreshing dip into the ocean.
Moderna Museet Malmö
The younger sister of the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, this museum in Malmö is a great afternoon activity to check out temporary exhibits. If you like modern art, this is a must-see stop as the art that Moderna Museet Malmö showcases can really provoke and make you question society, personal values, and how the artist chooses to display their point of views across.
The best kind of modern art in my humble opinion, is art that makes one question everything.
Gamla Stan: Stortorget, Lillatorg, Gustav Adolfs Torg
Wander the streets of these areas for colorful buildings typical of the Skåne region. You’ll also find the majestic Rådhus and statue of King Gustav X on a horse in the main Stortorget facing the Rådhus. These little nooks and crannies around central Malmö are picture-worthy and will fill your Instagram feed with wonderful images of Malmö.
Venture out to this diverse and eclectic neighborhood with a large open square. Along Ystadsgatan, the array of food stores and restaurants from around the world line the street and you’ll hear people speaking in multiple different languages. For a brief moment, I was transported back to the streets of New York while walking through this area.
According to my friend, she said that if you have a hankering for cooking a specific type of dish from Asia, Middle East, or India, the food stores will probably stock the specific ingredient or sauce. The area is changing and gentrification is in progress with some trendy fusion spots, hipster cafes, and of course, Poke bowls.
Over the last few years, Malmö has changed a lot and continues to evolve into a multicultural and welcoming city for people from around the world. Fear-mongering in the news can evoke a sense that Malmö is not a safe place but this cannot be farther from the truth.
Yes, there are some lone areas that you should probably not venture into when the sun goes down, but with extra daylight hours in the summer, Malmö is a vibrant city that comes alive with festivals for music, food, and performing arts. I have been coming through Malmö for short day trips and weekends countless of times, so you can read more about my personal accounts on my blog here.
Suggestions on where to eat in Malmö
- Malmö Saluhall
- Djäkne Kaffebar (more of a café)
- Burgers and Bar
- Peas and Honey Gastropub
- Jalla Jalla
- Värnhems falafel
- Nguyen’s Sandwiches (really good banh mi sandwiches and pho)