Malmö – Sweden’s third largest city with a population of 280,000 – is located in the southern province of Skåne. It’s right across the Öresund sound from the Danish capital Copenhagen. It takes only 35 minutes by train from Malmö Central Station to get the heart of Copenhagen and it’s just 20 minutes to Kastrup, Copenhagen’s international airport.
Historically, Skåne has been a point of contention between the two Scandinavian neighbors. It became Swedish in 1332, Danish again in 1360, and Swedish again in 1658. The Danes tried to reclaim Skåne twice more (in 1676 and 1710) but were thwarted by the Swedish army (and the battles continue to this day on the soccer field and on the hockey rink).
July 1, 2000 marked a new chapter in the history of the region, this time more amenable than the battle of 1658. The Öresund bridge between the two cities was inaugurated by Scandinavian royalty – Queen Margrethe of Denmark and King Carl Gustaf of Sweden. It marks the development of a dynamic region with a lively cross-border art and theatre scene, as well as a thriving business community. For instance, Malmö’s art gallery, Malmö konsthall, is one of Europe’s largest contemporary art centers, while Öresund University, a consortium of twelve universities and university colleges in both countries, brings together the region’s most innovative research and science.
The iconic Turning Torso, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is perhaps Malmö’s most recognizable landmark. Officially unveiled on August 27, 2005, the tower spans 190 meters (623 feet) with 54 stories, making it the tallest building in Scandinavia and Europe’s second highest apartment building.
More than one million people visit the Malmö Festival, held the third week of August every year. It opens at Stortorget (the “Big Square”), where you can attend the world’s largest crayfish party. Here you’ll be able to catch the best Swedish artists in every musical genre at outdoor stages around town. The end of September also marks the Skåne Fair, which features the best design, fashion and food the south of Sweden has to offer.
You also shouldn’t miss Malmö by water. The “Rundan” boat tour takes you along Malmö’s charming canals. This boat sails from the quay between the Savoy Hotel and Malmö Central Station, and the journey lasts approximately 45 minutes. Notable attractions also include the 15th century Malmöhus Castle, which is the oldest Renaissance castle in Scandinavia still in existence. It is also known for its fantastic Midsummer’s celebration.
The sandy beach of Ribersborg – called “Ribban” by the locals – is just a stroll from the center of town. The water is shallow, allowing you to wade out a ways, and there are plenty of green spaces to throw down your blanket and have a picnic. The lovely Kallbadhuset (open-air bath) from 1898 is a popular for those who want to get their feet wet as well as those who just want to sip a cup of coffee.
Small and cute pretty much sum up Malmö’s most charming square (translated as “the little square”). It dates back to 1592, where it functioned as an outdoor market. Hedmanska Gården is an enclosed courtyard where the oldest half-timbered residences are from the 16th century. It is also home the 19th century warehouse that now houses the Form/Design Center, run by Svensk Form, the Swedish Association of Crafts and Design. This building is also home to an excellent Scandinavian design shop and a small café.
The most vibrant and off-beat district in Malmö, known colloquially as “Möllan”. Möllevången was the first planned, large-scale working class neighbourhood in Malmö and is the product of the growing industrialization of the late 19th century. The labor movement gained tremendous foothold here. Attractions include the first Folkets Park (“Community Park”) in Sweden. Known for its ethnic diversity and counterculture, Mölle is famous for its underground parties and nightclubs. Don’t miss highlights such as Jeriko, which takes its name from the fact that it is housed in a former church.
The Western Harbor
The Western Habor, or “Västra Hamn,” is the newly revamped residential and leisure district in what was formerly a shipyard. Close to Ribersborg beach, Malmö’s new city district attracts people with its exciting architecture, waterside walks, green spaces and a spectacular view over the Öresund sound. The area is known for its ecological housing completed in 2001 for the European housing expo Bo01. The buildings were designed by several internationally renowned architects including Ralph Erskine, Gert Wingårdh, and Mario Campi.