Malmö: Sweden’s Gateway to Europe

As the gateway to Europe, Malmö ‘s youthful, cosmopolitan vibe is distinctive from other Swedish cities. During the summer, tourists flood the city beach, and residents stroll through leafy parks or run along the beachfront

As the gateway to Europe, Malmö ‘s youthful, cosmopolitan vibe is distinctive from other Swedish cities. During the summer, tourists flood the city beach, and residents stroll through leafy parks or run along the beachfront promenade. Everybody cycles, the network of cycle paths making it safe and convenient to do so. As we walk along the central canal, a steady stream of pedal boats passes by—carried lazily downstream by the current. A gondola drifts past in the golden light of late evening – a somewhat surreal sight here. Of course, Sweden has long summer days where the sun doesn’t set until well after 10 pm. Summer days are long and leisurely.

Scandinavian Crime Drama

I’ve been binge-watching ‘The Bridge’ ever since I visited Malmö last month. Yes, I know that I’m late to the party regarding this gritty Scandi crime-drama. I’m grateful because no matter how much I love the show (and I do), I never would have visited Malmö if I’d watched it beforehand. Why? Well, have you seen it? Malmö is depicted as a dreary, rain-sodden concrete jungle, ridden with sadistic and dangerous criminals.

Now, obviously, I’m able to separate fact from fiction; still, the show is not exactly a shining example of tourist propaganda, is it? Admittedly, if you were to visit Malmö between October and April, you would encounter suitably bleak, Bridge-esque grey skies. Still, on a bright sunny August day, it couldn’t be much further from it. Having very few expectations of the city, I found it to be a modern and fun European city buzzing with a lively beach-vibe.

Bridge Between Two Cities

Linking Sweden and Denmark is the famous Öresund Bridge. Fans of ‘The Bridge’ will recognise it from many key scenes, such as the discovery of a dismembered woman in the opening scene, and the showdown between Martin Rohde and his nemesis Jens Hansen. Grisly murder scenes aside, the iconic bridge is impressive for being a remarkable feat of engineering. Halfway across the strait, it passes a man-made island before plunging cars and trains into an underwater tunnel for the last stage of the journey to Denmark.

Malmö

One of the best locations to see the Öresund bridge stretching across the horizon is from the bathhouse on Malmö’s city beach. From here you can also see the Turning Torso: Malmö’s landmark building. Avid ‘The Bridge’ fans will recognise both of these places from the show.

Malmö promenade

We stayed in Hyllie, just outside of Malmö and the last station before the train passes to Denmark. With Central Malmö only two stops in one direction, and Copenhagen a 30-minute journey in the other, it’s possible to have breakfast in Sweden and dinner in Denmark. However, Covid restrictions meant that Denmark was off-limits this time around. I didn’t mind as I’ve been to Copenhagen before. Due to its easy connections, Hyllie was the perfect base for a visit to the city. Hyllie has a range of bars and restaurants, as well as a stadium and a shopping mall.

A Walkable City

Boasting a pretty beachfront, long promenades, picturesque parks, historic squares, and miles of waterways, Malmö is an enjoyably walkable city. Especially in the summer. My advice is simply to wander, remembering to stop for fika every now and then. You can quickly fill a day, and when you’re hungry, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. We particularly enjoyed Pinchos: a fun circus-themed restaurant with a range of small dishes that you order through an app. You will probably need to book a table, and—be warned—it’s a little too easy to get swept up when ordering and end up with far too many dishes!

Pinchos, Malmö
tapas-style dishes at Pinchos

In the evening, you can’t beat a wander down by the lighthouse for a blast of Baltic sea air to blow any cobwebs away.

Malmö lighthouse

Day trips from Malmö

Skåne, Sweden’s most southern province, is mostly mocked by the rest of the country for the indecipherable accent and I didn’t know much more about it. I had no idea what to expect, but it definitely wasn’t miles of white-sand beaches and ridiculously cute coastal towns. There are so many places to go on a day trip from Malmö that I wish I’d had more time to see them all. Still, I did get a chance to eat ice-cream in Ystad—a colourful medieval town with a lovely historic square and a nice beach.

Ystad

I also visited the beach at Skanörs Hamn, and – wow! Soft white sand. Willowy grass-topped sand-dunes. Glittering blue sea. Pastel-coloured beach cabins. This beach was a 30-minute drive from Malmö and had a cute beach-town feel. I’m not going to lie; the water was freezing, but the beach was simply perfect.

Malmö, you were an absolute delight, and I can’t wait to come back.

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10 thoughts on “Malmö: Sweden’s Gateway to Europe

  1. Love the beaches, love the bridge, and now I definitely have to check out “The Bridge”! But very happy I read your post before I do :).

  2. Malmo looks lovely! I am even later to the party as I have not seen “The Bridge” so my idea of Malmo is what I have just read & it looks like somewhere I would like to visit. So far I have only been to Stockholm for a long weekend so lots more still to discover in Scandanavia for me!

    1. You should definitely see more of Sweden. Malmö has a very different vibe to the rest of the country, I thought. It is much more cosmopolitan and vibrant (although, I do love the rest of Sweden too!).

  3. I was lucky enough to visit Malmo a few years ago, and I loved the city. I’m very tempted to return to Sweden in the summer as the long evenings and glorious sandy beaches look stunning – you’ve captured them beautifully in your photographs. As for ‘The Bridge’, I loved the show, and it’s been an eye-opener to a whole fantastic world of Scandi-Noir dramas. Highly recommend Beck (set in Stockholm) for more Swedish drama.

    1. Sweden is delightful in the summer! I have been watching Young Wallander recently, and that’s really good too. I will check out Beck, thanks for the recommendation!

  4. I visited Malmo for a few hours while I was in Copenhagen, but after reading your post I realized I missed quite a lot of things! I’ll have to go back – thanks for the tips!

    1. I think there’s a load of really interesting things to do in the whole region. I need to go back a few more times.

  5. Wow. This really was interesting, and gave me a whole new view of Malmo. My step son and his family live in Sweden and when they first moved there they lived in Malmo. They didn’t like it at all, mostly I think because of the relentless howling wind in the winter. I think the winds of Malmo are a bit of a joke in Sweden. But you’ve painted a whole new picture both with words and wonderful photos. And that beach – so gorgeous and so unexpected.
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    1. Yeah, my boyfriend told me that I probably wouldn’t like Malmö anywhere near as much in the winter! Where does your stepson live now?

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