The Top 15 Things to Do In Malmö, Sweden
Explore the delights of Malmö with our weekend trip guide | © Michael Abid / Alamy Stock Photo
No trip to Malmö would be complete without exploring the city’s food, art, history and approach to sustainable living.
Stepping out from its big sister Stockholm’s shadow, Malmö has become a must-visit city in its own right. Our comprehensive guide will help you dive in to everything from its diverse food scene to innovative community projects and rich history.
Take the plunge at Ribersborg Kallbadhus
A beloved institution, Ribersborg Kallbadhus is a 19th century sauna and spa, at the end of a pier in Ridersborg. It features five saunas, a steam room, a sun deck and access to the ocean, alongside its spa offering massages, facials and reflexology. There’s even a restaurant so you can enjoy a beer or fjord shrimp in between dips. Scandinavians are fearless when it comes to open-water swimming: even if you visit in January, not only will Ribersborg Kallbadhus be open, but you’ll be encouraged to get into the sea. There is nothing quite like a dip in ice-cold water to get the blood pumping and the endorphins flowing.
Enjoy Malmö’s green spaces
Malmö is often described as the city of parks, so it would be remiss not to visit a few of its green spaces. There are plenty to choose from and each has a unique feature to explore, like Pildammsparken’s bird houses, Slottsträdgården’s urban farms and Kungsparken’s casino. If you can only make time for one, head to Folkets Park. Home to the oldest amusement park in Sweden and with plenty of green space to spread out, it’s a favourite spot to read a book, catch a show or enjoy a picnic. Far i Hatten, an organic café and restaurant (and club come the weekend), is based in Folkets Park, with a menu ranging from New Nordic-style dishes to take-away pizzas.
Stop for fika
Bakery, Swedish, $$$
Fika is so much more than a coffee break in Malmo, it’s a way of life. This ritual that emphasises slowing down, enjoying small luxuries and taking time for loved ones could explain why the Scandinavian countries are so frequently voted the happiest in the world. Malmö is as good a place as any to indulge in some coffee and cake, with its bustling food scene and diverse population. For traditional bakes and cakes, Söderberg & Sara is the perfect spot.
Score some bargains while vintage shopping
Market, Farmers' Market, Vegetarian, Vegan, Healthy
Second hand is big business in Sweden, and Malmö has a vast array of vintage shops to rummage through, plus flea markets full of one-of-a-kind treasures depending on the time of year. The goods on offer range from Swedish design staples to eclectic retro pieces. If you’re visiting during the flea market season, which typically starts in April and ends in September, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Drottningtorget is probably the most popular market in Malmö, transforming every weekend with clothes, antiques and other bric-a-brac on sale. Get there early, don’t be shy about haggling and reward yourself with a cardamom bun after grabbing bargain.
Take in some modern architecture
Building, Architectural Landmark
The Turning Torso, an iconic building by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is an absolute must-see when in Malmö. The twisted, towering skyscraper is a focal point of the city’s skyline and truly remarkable even if you’re not usually one for architecture. It’s close to the sea and Daniaparken – a Brutalist concrete park on the site of a former Saab factory that’s another modern architecture gem and a perfect jumping off point for some sea swimming.
Worship at the altar of Nordic Gothic
Malmö blends new and old together seamlessly, as modern buildings sit next to historic landmarks and gothic architecture nestles in with innovative city planning. There are plenty of examples of classic architecture in the city but for something really special make sure to head to St Peter’s Church, with a history that traces back to the 14th century. It’s one of only four locations to have borne witness to violence as a result of iconoclasm during the 1529 Danish Reformation and it contains one of the largest altarpieces within the Nordic countries, dating back to 1611.
Enjoy island life at Malmö castle
Located on an island fortress close to Malmö station, this Renaissance castle is now home to Malmö’s art and natural history museums. The castle is open for tours so you can explore its 16th-century chambers, or visit one of the museums; exhibitions featuring the history of Malmö, the 1531 organ from St Petri Kyrka and artwork from famous Swedish painter Carl Fredrik Hill. It’s an excellent way to pass a rainy day, but if the weather is nice make sure to take a walk around the grounds too. Slottsträdgården, the park directly behind the castle, is home to a large number of different crops and ornamental plants that are cultivated and sold from the gardens. You’ll also find a cafe, an intriguing bug hotel and a windmill.
Dine like high society at Town Hall
Located in the heart of Malmö’s old town, this 16th-century building and 19th-century facade face out towards Stortorget. Statues of Swedish historical figures like Jörgen Kock, the 16th-century mayor of Malmö, and Frans Suell, an 18th-century businessman, line the front of the building. In the bowels of the structure, underneath its medieval arches, is Rådhuskällaren – a high-end Swedish restaurant open to the public for lunch, dinner and fika.
Connect with Copenhagen via the Øresund bridge
The inspiration for The Bridge, a Nordic Noir television series that captivated audiences with its grisly murders, this impressive link between Copenhagen and Malmö is far from sinister in reality. Stand at either end and you can see the opposite country, with the bridge spanning the water. It’s an impressive feat of engineering, one that took almost a century to get off the ground after its initial inception in 1910, and a beautiful view to soak in from the beach – embodying cooperation, collaboration and unity.
Wander through a 500-year old marketplace
Malmö is famous for its charming market squares, with the most popular one being Stortorget, which is still very much active today. Built in 1540, the market square features an impressive statue of King Karl X Gustav at its centre. It’s lined with historic buildings, including the town hall, the Kocksa Huset palace and Lejonet – a pharmacy that dates back to the 1500s. Due to its size, it often hosts larger events like festivals and concerts, so it’s worth checking out what’s on before you visit.
Sample some New Nordic dining
Stockholm may well have the highest concentration of Michelin stars in any Scandinavian city, but what Malmö lacks in stars it makes up for in innovation. There’s an exciting and diverse food scene in Malmö, one which has taken the principles of New Nordic dining and run with it. Whether you want traditional Swedish, vegetarian, zero-waste or ethical meat, there will be a restaurant doing it to the highest quality. Head to SPILL, a lunch-only restaurant serving inventive dishes made from surplus produce that is a fantastic choice for anyone wanting to experience New Nordic cuisine without breaking the bank.
Muse on modern art
Although Malmö has a rich history and a large collection of classics at Malmö Art Gallery, its modern art scene is thriving. Malmö Konsthall, located in the centre of the city, is one of the largest in Europe dedicated to modern and experimental art. The gallery, designed by architect Klas Anshelm, is a flexible space which bolsters the many international artists shown within it.
Discover Malmö’s social hub, Lilla Torg
Down the road from Stortorget is Lilla Torg, a smaller marketplace opened in 1590 to alleviate some of the demand on its larger cousin. It’s lined with shops, cafés and bars – making it an excellent meeting spot for fika or Afterwork (the Swedish happy hour) drinks in the summer – and still hosts markets regularly.
Disgusting Food Museum
Have you ever tried fermented shark? Would you like to? Then don’t miss the Disgusting Food Museum. The museum explores disgust, an evolutionary function to help humans avoid disease and spoiled food. Through an exhibit of 80 of the world’s most disgusting foods, which visitors are encouraged to smell and taste, broader conversations around cultural differences – and similarities – can be had.
Take a tour
Tours can be a fantastic way to see a city – the comprehensive routes give a full range of sites in a tight time frame and expert guides are able to point out small details you might otherwise miss. This latter point is especially true of Green Bike Tours, which gives bike and walking tours plus site visits that provide a detailed look at the various environmental and community initiatives around the city. Its mission is to educate people about smart cities, which fight climate change and become more liveable. It hopes to provide guests with the knowledge they need to make small changes in their own home city and begin to lower their carbon footprint. The tours and sites visited showcase lesser-known developments, unlocking the city in a way that wouldn’t be possible without the guides’ experience.
These recommendations were updated on June 26, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.