The launch of the controversial Turning Torso building, an impressive new bridge and a spot hosting Eurovision; the last decade has seen Malmö city put itself well and truly on the map. However, it’s often overshadowed by its Danish neighbour, Copenhagen. Trains cross over the iconic Oresund Bridge from Copenhagen several times an hour during the day, and once an hour at night, so a day trip across the water to Sweden is surprisingly easy to arrange. Here’s how to make the most of your Swedish experience…

malmo bridge

malmo guide

Once you arrive at Central Station you’re only a few minutes’ walk from the main square, Stortorget, and its smaller and more colourful neighbour, Lilla Torg, followed by Gustav Adolfs Torg beyond. These three squares are the liveliest parts of the Old Town (Gamla Staden) and, being lined by centuries-old buildings, they’re easy fodder for Instagram.

Moving away from Gamla Staden, Malmö Castle (Malmöhus Slott) is an ideal place to begin exploring. Admittedly it doesn’t look much like your typical medieval castle from the outside (think brick walls and a large terracotta round tower…) but it’s stood here since 1537 and used to be a prison, so there’s a lot of history covered by the exhibits inside, including furniture, paintings and a profile on city life through the ages. Don’t miss the gift shop at the castle, which has a big supply of retro Swedish posters on sale, advertising everything from lemonade to children’s toys; they make great souvenirs.

malmo city

Malmöhus Slott

Turn back to the city centre via Kungsparken (the King’s Park) and Slottsparken, two adjoining parks not far from the canal. Another option is to head south west to Ribersborg Beach, where locals like to hang out. You could join them in swimming around the Ribersborgs kallbadhus: open air swimming baths, with saunas, which opened in 1890. Otherwise, stay on dry land and enjoy the views sweeping round to the Turning Torso in Västra Hamnen.

Back in downtown Malmö, pop into Apoteket Lejonet (Stortorget 8), Sweden’s oldest pharmacy, which was established in 1896. It has beautiful original features inside, like wood panelling and original jars and labels, but you can stock up on modern beauty products here too – the no-nonsense lip balms are a great addition to any make-up bag.

apoteket Lejon malmo

malmo centre

Södergatan is one of the main shopping streets, starting from one corner of Stortorget. There are plenty of places to browse, but Indiska (Södergatan 26) ticks all the right boxes – it’s stylish and ethical, but also affordable. This Swedish clothing and homeware brand is inspired by all things Indian, and the current S/S ’15 collection takes its cue from Rajasthan. The shop is filled with gorgeous printed blouses and beaded necklaces – perfect for injecting a little boho feel into your wardrobe. Indiska supports charities including the Peace Trust, and its clothing is made as ethically as possible, with a huge social responsibility drive behind the company.

Interior design store Olsson & Gerthel (Engelbreksgatan 9) may be more of a window shopping opportunity for most of us, but it’s a great place for home inspiration. Look out for leather accessories by Gothenburg-based architect-turned-designer Cecilia Guthed Eduards, and graphic mugs by iconic Swiss furniture brand Vitra.

Olsson & Gerthel

formargrup

Next door there are further eye-catching pieces courtesy of Formargruppen (Engelbreksgatan 9), a local arts and crafts collective. If you’re looking for gifts, there’s choice aplenty – from homewares and stationery to accessories, jewellery and unique fashion pieces. Continuing south, you’ll find the Triangeln shopping centre, home to more mainstream brands – think H&M, Vero Moda et al.

In between shopping and sightseeing, make a point of indulging in fika, the Swedish tradition of taking a social break with cake and coffee, to recharge your batteries (they even do this in the office). One of the best-loved coffee houses in Malmö, Lilla Kafferosteriet (Baltzarsgatan 24), should be top of your list for fika. Like the buildings in Lilla Torg, this is an ‘olde worlde’ setting, plus the coffee is brewed to perfection and there are occasional tasting sessions held for customers.

fika

Moderna museet malmo

Just a short walk from the coffee house is the slick Moderna Museet (Ola Billgrens Plats 2-4). This very hip art gallery, an offshoot of the much larger Moderna Museet in Stockholm, has hosted work by Picasso and Robert Rauschenberg. Its current exhibition focuses on Swedish Post-Impressionist painter Nils Dardel, but in 2016 you can catch Francesca Woodman’s photography here.

When it comes to finding a distinctive restaurant, Bastard (Mäster Johansgatan 11) is the big name to know if you’re a serious foodie; the meat-heavy menu changes seasonally but always promotes Nordic or European flavours with a twist. Grab a sharing platter at the bar if you can’t get a table for dinner. Alternatively, Vegan Bar (Södra Skolgatan 45) is an obvious but reliable choice for veggies and vegans – the menu includes enchiladas, meat-free alternatives to pulled pork, and a burger of the week topped with homemade agave syrup mayonnaise. It only launched this year but is already popular with locals.

bastard meal

bastard restaurant

To raise a glass to your day trip, either nip round the corner from the Vegan Bar for a craft beer at the Brygghus (Bergsgatan 33) or, after a meal at Bastard, aim for the relatively new wine bar L’Enoteca (Västergatan 6 C), then jump back on the train to Copenhagen feeling like a Malmö expert.

For more information on Malmo, see Visit Sweden’s website.