Just across the water from the Danish capital, the Swedish port of Malmö has reemerged in recent years from the shadow of its industrial past.
Sweden’s third-largest city is progressive, surprisingly multicultural, and possesses an undeniable charm. Getting there from neighboring Copenhagen only takes 25 minutes by train across the Öresund strait.
Twist and Shout
Signaling the revival of Malmö after decades of economic decline, the city’s undisputed icon is Turning Torso, a 190-meter skyscraper by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. It’s the tallest building in Scandinavia and dominates the former industrial area of Västra Hamnen or Western Harbor, now a carbon-neutral neighborhood that’s the ideal place for a seaside stroll.
An easy 10-minute walk from Västra Hamnen along the curving promenade brings you to Ribersborg beach, where the Kallbadhus has stood at the end of a wooden pier since 1898. Bathers at this traditional Swedish sauna come for an invigorating plunge—au naturel—into the frigid waters of the Öresund.
The aging docklands close to Malmö’s 16th-century castle have been granted a second lease on life thanks to the recent addition of a university, a concert venue, and in 2016, the opening of the brick Malmö Saluhall. What was once a roofless train depot is now a buzzing market with 10 eateries that offer everything from locally caught seafood to ramen, falafel, and rustic Italian fare.
Pop into an artisanal café to acquaint yourself with Fika, the coffee break that is a beloved Swedish tradition. In the old town, Lilla Kafferorsteriet is famed for its Buddha Special, a latte made with four shots of espresso that’s best accompanied with a cinnamon or cardamom bun. In the mood for cacao? Head over to Hollandia, two blocks south of Gustav Adolf Square, for some hot chocolate and cake.
While the stately, cobbled expanse of Stortorget marks the civic heart of Malmö, the local nightlife revolves around its smaller neighbor Lilla Torg. The open-air bars and eateries here spill out from a charming ensemble of half-timbered houses and centuries-old facades; try out Moosehead for the elk burger or moose meatballs with mashed potato and lingonberries, before washing it down with the vanilla-infused Spirit of Hven gin—distilled just 40 kilometers away on the island of Ven.
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This article originally appeared in the April/May 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Malmö Modern”).