The Ultimate Scandinavian 48 Hour Detour: Malmo to Copenhagen
It’s often been said that Malmö, which was once part of Denmark, remains a suburb of Copenhagen, a feeling that grew when the Öresund Bridge opened in 2000. The bridge makes the journey between the two cities – and countries – a mere 20-minute one, meaning day trips are ideal, so get set for a 48-hour trip with our guide.
Malmö is a growing foodie mecca so this is a city where you want to eat, because between the cafés offering up delectable pastries, the kiosks and food trucks serving bargain but tasty food, and the higher end restaurants taking advantage of the coastal location, you really are going to be spoilt – and full.
Kick things off in Lilla Torg, the smaller square in Malmö’s Old Town (Gamla Staden) which is filled with cafés and restaurants. This is where you can grab that all-important cup of strong Swedish coffee and a bite to eat. Pronto Café is a great choice: it has fantastic coffee and even better cheesecake. Sure, cheesecake for breakfast is a bit odd but you’re on holiday so go on, splurge! Another good option is Espresso House – it might be part of a national chain but it’s serves great coffee and has a wide selection of sandwiches, smoothies, and other breakfast items. Even more important: Wifi is free.
Once you’ve fed yourself poke your head into into the Form/Design Center, partly located in a 16th century granary, which highlights the latest in contemporary Swedish photography and design and is one of the premier art and creative spaces in the country. Before leaving the square, wander about and take in the fantastic old timbered and stone buildings, many of which date back many centuries.
There’s also a good chance you’ll come across a public art installation in the square, which could be anything from a giant lamp to a freeform non-permanent sculpture. There are also plenty of galleries around the square, such as Formargruppen, which is a craftsman’s collective featuring a gallery, shop, and work spaces. Here you can find everything from jewellery to ceramics to art.
Next head over to sun-filled Stortorget. It’s the largest square in the city and home to not just the copper-roofed Town Hall, but numerous other historical buildings dating back to the 16th century. Take a tour of the city hall and learn more about the city and its inner-workings while also getting a chance to see the inside of this remarkable building. There is also some pretty interesting public art in a city that really loves art, including the famous bronze sculpture of King Karl X Gustav, created by sculptor John Börjeson in 1895. There’s also an Espresso House here so if you need to check your mail, you’re covered.
Kungsparken is one of many vast parks in Malmö and it’s a wonderful combination of peaceful oasis, history, and culture. The highlight of the park is Malmöhus Castle, which is the oldest surviving Renaissance castle in Scandinavia. While the castle, built by Danish King Kristian III, is probably the most fascinating attraction in the city, there are also other museums attached which showcase everything from exhibitions about the region to contemporary art – and there is just one admission fee for the entire complex.
If you need a break from the culture grab a bite and a rest at Slottsträdgårdens Kafé – you can either sit at one of the outdoor tables or take the food with you to nibble on as you stroll through the park or find a cool spot on the grass under a tree.
Time to see more of the city: head to Engelbreksgatan towards Gustav Adolfs Torg, where you’ll find plenty of high street options such as H&M, plus Skånetrafiken House. Follow the canal and cross the bridge towards Regementsgatan and Davidshallstorg, where plenty of independent clothing shops make their home. For vintage try Love Street Vintage.
While Malmö’s nightlife is fun it doesn’t quite compare to Copenhagen’s so before leaving Malmö grab one of the city’s famous falafels at Falafel No 1 before taking a stroll around Möllevångstorget, the heart of multicultural Malmö. There’s a great market here so stock up on some fruit to take with you as you head to the train.
Take the train from Malmö’s Central Station. It runs very regularly – approximately every 30 minutes depending on the time of day – and costs from 111 SEK and up, again depending on the time of day, your age, and whether you have a discount code. You can buy your ticket at the station, although it’s recommended you book beforehand.
Now you’re in Copenhagen and it’s time to enjoy some nightlife. Chateau Motel is a four-story club offering four different experiences: if you want to dance there are spaces for that, as well as quieter areas where you can sip a cocktail and have deep talks. Culture Box is all about electronica, house, and techno and is divided into three areas: White Box is for the pre-club warmup, Red Box is more intimate, and Black Box is where the biggest international names are on the lineup.
Jolene quickly became a legend when it opened in 2007 – it was such a success that endless noise complaints shut it down. It’s now in White Meat City and is known for being a proper bar. No fancy cocktails here – just drink your beer from the bottle while you relax on the rundown sofas before hitting the dancefloor.
If it’s live music you’re looking for, try Vega, which boasts around 200 shows a year on its stages. Drop Inn has been feeding the city’s love for rock, soul, and blues since 1934 so it’s something of an institution and not to be missed.
You might have a slightly sore head when you awake so do something good for yourself and head to Grød (meaning porridge) for some spelt porridge with fruit and nuts. The café is in the Nørrbro area, which is hipster central and full of vegan snack bars and plenty of great vintage shops so once you’ve come back to life it’s time to explore and do a bit of shopping.
Getting around the city is easy: there is a well-run public transport system of buses and subway, although bikes and walking are also great options. For buses, the A-buses are the primary ones in Central Copenhagen, running very regularly. The metro is in service 24/7 and trains run often. While you can buy individual tickets your best bet is to get the Copenhagen Card before you arrive. It covers unlimited public transportation in the entire Capital Region, and also gets you free entrance to a slew of museums, and discounts at some restaurants and other attractions.
Mondokaos is a specialist boutique with a great stock of retro 1950s dresses and accessories, while Bau Bau Vintage caters to the style-conscious man with vintage Dior, YSL, and Helmut Lang, among others. While you’re in the area go to Ravnsborggade, a street absolutely crawling with second-hand, antiques, and retro furniture, as well as a microbrewery, café, and wine bar.
Now it’s time for lunch. If you’re looking for a slice of heaven try Torvehallerne, a covered market with more than 60 vendors selling everything from fresh fish and meat to chocolate, pastries, organic juices, spices, flowers, and nearly anything else you can think of. There are some great little places where you can grab a bite, or just take a pre-prepared meal with you as you head out for some fun in the sun.
Superkilen is the name of one of the most diverse areas in the city and also has an urban space split into three sections: red, green, and black. The Red Square is about urban life, with cafés, music, and sports. The Black Market is a classic city square with a fountain, public art, and benches for relaxing. The Green Park is for picnics and sports. It’s a playground for everyone of every background and taste, and worth every second you can spare.
Now you’re probably exhausted and your visit to Copenhagen is coming to an end so it’s time to treat yourself to that fantastic meal you’ve been waiting for, the one that will have you talking for years. Copenhagen has fantastic restaurants, including Noma, named the Best Restaurant in the World 2010. It’s Nordic Cuisine all the way but if you haven’t booked beforehand, getting a table can be tricky. If that’s the case you still have plenty of options.
Michelin-starred Era Ora changed the way Danes looked at Italian cuisine when it opened in the 1980s and it’s still going from strength to strength, having won the Michelin star again in 2017, the 21st year in a row it has done so – and it’s the only Italian Michelin restaurant in Scandinavia.
Kiin Kiin, which means ‘eat, eat’, is probably Copenhagen’s finest Thai restaurant. This isn’t where noodles are thrown together with some protein and veg; instead this is one of the few Michelin-starred Thai restaurants outside of Asia and is known for not just its exquisite dishes but also for its carefully chosen wines.
When you’ve finished eating and drinking, take the time to visit Tivoli Gardens. It’s an amusement park but also has concerts and beautiful grounds to walk around, along with bars and cafés, a hotel with spa, and much, much more – and it’s right in the middle of the city. It’s the perfect spot to end your trip and you can grab the train at Central Station either to the airport or back to Malmö just minutes away.
Here’s a handy map to help guide you around Malmö and Copenhagen: