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Monday, September 30, 2019

Visiting Malmö, Sweden

While relaxing in the outdoor seating area at our hotel in downtown Copenhagen, I started to look at a map of this pretty little southern section of Scandinavia.  I soon noticed that the neighboring country Sweden had a big city just a short train ride away.  While I love to plan, there's something about looking at a map, shrugging your shoulders and heading in that direction.  For the sake of wandering, why not spend an unplanned half a day in a country I had never been to? 

After a little bit of time researching Sweden's third-largest city, I headed to Copenhagens Central Station to catch a train to Malmö, Sweden. 

Central Station Copenhagen

G e t t i n g   t o   M a l m ö

The easiest way to get to Malmö from Copenhagen is the train.  The train ride takes about 40-minutes and crosses the famous Oresund Bridge. The train departs from Copenhagens central train station roughly every 20 minutes.  You can also drive or take a bus (more on that here).  Don't forget your passport as you may be asked to present it at a border control stop when entering Sweden.  We were asked on the way there (drug-sniffing dog through the train included) but not on our way back. 

Canal in Sweden

A b o u t   M a l m ö

Malmö is Sweden's third-largest city, boasting old-world charm with some modern flair mixed in.  The city is also working on redeveloping its waterfront district.  

After spending a few days in beautifully clean and trendy Copenhagen, my first impressions of Malmö was something like "Bleh".  There was a lot of construction, more cars, it was eerily quiet in the morning, it wasn't nearly as clean as Copenhagen, and just desperately needed some life brought back into it (which apparently, they are).  It isn't as impressive as neighboring Copenhagen or Sweden's capital city of Stockholm, but, you could see the potential and the transition in the works. 

Map showing Copenhagen and Malmö

Malmö was one of the earliest and most industrialized towns of Scandinavia, but it struggled adapting post-industrialism.  The Oresund Bridge, connecting Copenhagen and Malmö, constructed in 2000 is a huge help in revitalizing the city.  Lonely Planet said it best when they described Malmö as an old city coming into the new, all with a good amount of grit.  This isn't my favorite European city by any stretch, but there were still charming waterfront canals, cobbled streets dating back to the 1500's, pretty parks, and a cute little square.  

After talking to fellow visitors while traveling through Europe, Malmö is known for it's nightlife and has a young population by Swedish standards, with almost half of the population under the age of 35.  

Whether you come for the nightlife or to see the city by day, you can find something fun to do in Malmo.  And yes, it is worth the train ride to experience another city and another country in Scandinavia.  Before you get started, you will need to change currency once you arrive in Malmö as you are now in the land of the Swedish krona.  And yes, nearly everyone accepts credit cards here as well.  

Bronze Optimist Orchestra

W a l k   t h e   C i t y  
Lila Torg and Södergatan Street

When we first arrived in Malmö, one of the first things we did was walk around the cute little square and pedestrian-only street. These walker-friendly areas consists of cobblestone streets bordering beautiful old buildings, cute shops, sidewalk cafes and restaurants.  This area is called Lila Torg (Little Square) and Södergatan Street (the pedestrian-only street).

This is the perfect way to start your trip, appreciating the history of the city and getting your bearings around Malmö.  We had fun walking through shops and posing with this adorable little band sculpture "Optimistorkestern / Optimist Orchestra " at the entrance of Stortorget on Södergatan Street.

Moderna Museet Malmö – Museum of Modern Art

M o d e r n a   M u s e e t   M a l m ö 
Museum of Modern Art

A free museum with an Andy Warhol exhibit?  What's not to love?  Welcome to the Moderna Museet Malmö.  Unfortunately, we arrived on the one day they are closed ( luck) so we did not get to experience the museum for ourselves.  However, I hear it is a great space if you are visiting Malmö, especially if you are an Andy Warhol fan.  The museum is a short walk from the train station and a perfect spot for art lovers and the budget conscious traveler alike.  

Park/Garden in Malmö

P a r k s   a n d   G a r d e n s

As you stroll through Malmö, you will notice several cute little parks and gardens along the way.  Turns out, Malmö is famous for its parks and you can find 16 in the city.  There are three main parks in the center; Slottsparken (The Castle Park), Kungsparken (The King´s Park) and Pildammarna (The Willow Ponds). In only five minutes you can walk from the center to Slottsparken and Kungsparken. Add another fifteen minutes to get to Pildammarna.

Slottsträdgården Garden  and the Turning Torso in the distance

Adventure Mini Golf in Folkets Park

F o l k e t s   P a r k

While researching Malmö, I came across Foklets Park, a 6-acre park built in the 1800's that was compared to Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens and boasts the title of "The Worlds Oldest Public Park".  I read about a park where you could "watch live music at an open-air concert stage and picnic on shaded lawns, ride fairground rides, see animal exhibits and enjoy the wading pool for families."  Instead, we saw a very run-down old park with an empty worn down stage, no rides, a grungy wading pool, some sort of an animal exhibit and an awesome mini-golf course. You could see the potential, and if you squinted a bit, you could see how it used to be great.  But at this point, it needed to be high on the revitalization list.  While disappointed in the park, we salvaged our trek with an awesome round of mini-golf.  Adam is a little more than obsessed with mini-golf and in the middle of the park, we found a Ben and Jerrys Adventure Mini Golf course, probably one of the coolest courses we have seen.   Adam won the round and we left the park with a new appreciation for Malmö and mini-golf abroad. If you are in Malmö, it is worth walking through the park, seeing some of the gardens and areas, and stopping at some of the attractions that are catered to kids, icecream and mini-golf included.  

Malmohus Castle Malmö Museer 

M a l m o h u s   C a s t l e 
Malmö Museer 

As we walked towards a castle I had quickly read about online, I was embracing myself for "Folkets Park" style disappointed.  It didn't look very special and I assumed it would be a "walk by and say we did" kind of thing.  Instead, we were presented with this amazing museum located within the old castle walls.  The castle "Malmöhus" was originally a minor citadel whose construction was ordered in 1434 by Erik of Pomerania.  Now, it's an amazing art museum, history museum, science and maritime center, and aquarium.  Admission is SEK 40 (Swedish krona) for adults, and anyone 0–19 is free.  Students with valid student ID SEK 20.  The exhibits were extensive and engaging and you could easily spend a few hours here.  We were very impressed by this museum and it is definitely worth a visit when visiting Malmo.  

Malmohus Castle Malmö Museer 

 O'Learys (Boston Sports Bar) - also where Adam left his phone 

B a r s   a n d   R e s t a u r a n t s

 Malmö is known for having great food and beer scene (and a great nightlife at that).  While we didn't have a chance to explore the nightlife or try all the amazing food, it was easy to see by the number of restaurants and bars that this city liked their food.  This article, Places to Eat and Drink and this one too will help guide you through the food scene of Malmö.  We hilariously and accidentally opted for the chains: the Joe and the Juice for something cold and refreshing and a chance to use some free wifi while navigating home, and O'Learys where we tried some local beer before heading back to Denmark. 

Refreshments and WiFi at Joe and the Juice

We got a good sense of Malmö in our day in Sweden.  We actually had the chance to cross the Denmark Sweden border four times on our trip to Europe.  Once back in Copenhagen after a day in Malmö, Adam swiftly realized his phone was nowhere to be found.  Well, he knew it was either at the sports bar we visited before boarding the train, or on the train itself.  After checking in with the train lost and found, we happened to stumble upon the exact same sports bar (O'Learys) in central Copenhagen.  We ordered wings while the server politely rang the O'Learys in Sweden to confirm Adam's phone was indeed back in another country.  We made a second trip to Sweden that day, thankful the Swedish seem to be trustworthy people who will hold onto the phones of forgetful tourists. 

We made some memories in Malmö, from the return cell phone adventure to an amazing museum and an impressive round of mini-golf.  If given the chance to explore a neighboring country, always say yes.  Another good day on this trip, experiencing another city, another country, another culture, the perfect way to wrap our stay in some of southern Scandinavia's cities.

Stay tuned as the blog goes to everything Paris for the foreseeable future. 

Happy Traveling, 

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