- Judi Lembke
Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, is an industrial port town with a diverse and growing population. Gamla Staden (The Old Town) is the heart of the city and, of course, the oldest part. It’s a thriving mix of museums, cultural attractions, and great eateries and bars, so it’s not always easy to know what to do there when your time is limited. Never fear, though—this is your guide to spending 48 hours in Gamla Staden.
Begin your day by visiting one of the many cafés that fill the streets of Gamla Staden. Sweden is a coffee-hungry country and Malmö in particular has some of the best micro-roasteries around, so stop by and grab a strong cup of joe and maybe a freshly baked cinnamon bun to get you fuelled for the day.
Once you’ve got some energy it’s time to explore the cobble-stoned streets, beginning at Stortorget, the biggest square in the city and right in the middle of Gamla Staden. The massively and very impressive Malmö City Hall is just off the Square and you can book tickets to tour the building and learn more about its history.
Once you’ve had your fill of City Hall, head to Södergatan, which is the main shopping street in the city. There’s a good mix of high street and independent shops for both men and women, without too much tourist tat getting in the way. When you’ve finished shopping, head back to Stortorget for lunch at the restaurant Scandic Kramer, which offers brilliant views over the square while serving up traditional Swedish fare at very reasonable prices.
Head south to Lillatorg, which is just next to Stor Torget. Here you’ll find the Form/Design Center, which has been putting the spotlight on contemporary modern design since 1964. It’s easy to find—just look for the funky broken down little orange 16th-century house. It may not look like much from the outside but one inside you’ll see why it’s been singled out as a national model for highlighting both established and up-and-coming designers.
After the Design Center it’s time to grab a drink. Lilla Torg is one of the most lively spots in the city when it comes to watering holes, so you’re spoiled for choice. Moosehead Bar is a big favorite, with a large sun-drenched terrace and a good menu if you’re in the need of an afternoon snack. The classic Scottish pub Drum Bar attracts a lively local crowd, with a very friendly staff that will make you feel so at home you might even agree to try the haggis.
If you can drag yourself away from the lively bar scene of Lilla Torg, head over to Sherlocked, which bills itself as “Old Fashioned Entertainment.” Sherlocked is basically an escape room—but one that puts in that extra bit of effort. The rooms get a lot of praise for their attention to detail and the staff has that perfect balance between fun and seriousness that you want at a place like this.
If you’ve managed to escape in time for dinner, try Bastard. With a great drinks menu and a great atmosphere, this is the perfect spot to try the famous Bastard Platter, or something else off the menu, which changes daily. If you’re looking for something a bit more sedate Årstiderna is an award winning fine dining restaurant that puts the emphasis on style and class. The brick-lined vaults create a warm, intimate atmosphere, where you will relax for hours.
Time for church! Even if you’re not religious, you’ll want to visit Sankt Petri Kyrka, which dates back to the 13th century. It’s the oldest church in Malmö, yet remains in remarkably good condition. The organ and tower are of particular interest, and the gardens are beautiful for a brief stroll.
Next it’s time for a tour and the best tours are on the water. Rundan Sightseeing will take you through the canals and under the bridges of Malmö, giving you a great view of the city from a different perspective. As you leave the dock, grab lunch at Savoy Grill, which has lovely views of the canal and train station, and serves up some serious meat.
Now it’s time to get active and work off that lunch. Rent a bike and head to Malmöhus Slott, located in Kungsparken. You can cycle all through the park either before or after you visit the castle, which is Scandinavia’s oldest surviving Renaissance castle. If the weather is right, take the time to just relax on the grass in the park alongside all the Swedes. This is people watching at its best, and it’s a good chance to take a rest before your second and final night in Malmö. There are a number of excellent cafés scattered about so grab a light dinner as you make your way back to the rental.
It’s your last night, so make time for some fun. Mello Yello is one of the hipper options, with a fantastic outdoor seating area that gets livelier and livelier as the night goes on. The menu is solid but what you really come here for is the people—they’re hip and beautiful and the staff makes everyone feel welcome. Friday Night Acoustics are a particular attraction.
In order to wind down before heading to bed, take a stroll on the canal that runs along the northern edge of Gamla Staden. The lights reflecting off the water will calm you down and leave you with one final lasting image of this beautiful area of the city.