Where the Locals Go in Malmö
If you’re travelling by rail to the Nordic countries from Northern Europe, chances are you’re going to be crossing the Öresund Bridge. On one side of the bridge is the Danish island of Zealand and Copenhagen, the country’s capital; just on the other side, at the gateway to Sweden, lies Malmö. This international city — the country’s third largest — warrants a visit on its own for its industrial past and recent post-industrial development. Here are some tips by Malmö locals to get you on your way to discovering this hidden gem that’s in the impressive process of reinventing itself.
Best bar to meet locals
Mässingshornet Restaurang & Musikpub is an ideal pick to start or end a pub crawl in Malmö. It really feels as if nothing has been done to change this bar since 1981 — and therein lies a big part of its charm, of course. With its free live music and open mic entertainment from Tuesdays through the weekend, not to mention its cheap beer, it’s one of the bars where you’d be most likely to strike up a conversation with a random Swede.
Looking for a place to recover from last night out with some hearty breakfast and, if you’re one of those freelancer types, even get some work done? Coffee Square was made for you. Not only does it have a breakfast buffet from 09:00 – 12:00 for 79 SEK (that’s cheap!), it has plenty of options you wouldn’t find at your typical hotel, e.g. real scrambled eggs with vegetables. Come early, get a second helping before noon, take advantage of the good wifi and remember — there’s unlimited refills for coffee!
Malmö’s ‘70s “welfare state” district
In the ‘70s, the Swedish Social Democratic party launched the Million Programme by which it pledged to build a million homes for ‘good democratic citizens’. Today, Rosengård is a neighborhood where you can see the results of this ambitious plan: a large concentration of unique ‘welfare’ residences. These days the houses are mostly occupied by immigrants. Visit this infamous (for Swedish standards) yet still green neighborhood with its love-or-hate aesthetic and you’ll get a better understanding of the other side of Malmö, one that is closer to its working-class past. It’s also a good opportunity to catch bus number 5 and go on a completely alternative city tour.
A playful night out
Are you one of those people who don’t enjoy just downing one drink after another when going out but prefer also engaging in some entertaining yet sociable activity? You’re not alone, and bar Interpool will get you more than covered. Here you can enjoy a game of pool, billiards and darts with new or existing friends, but of course the highlight is the (very popular in Scandinavia) shuffleboard. “Not as dodgy as other places like this,” notes local Sine reassuringly.
Take a dip in the Sound
The Öresund strait is known as The Sound in English. And now that Malmö is moving past its formerly industrial self, its waters are excellent for a swim. There’s a couple of locations you can enjoy a dip at. First: Scania Badet in Västra Hamnen, close to the old harbor. It has a wooden porch that juts out into the sea where you can soak in the sun. Here the water’s deep and cold (just like the Swedes like it!) Extra points for a view over the impressive Turning Torso, Sweden’s highest building, and the bridge itself.
You can also opt for Ribersborgs Strand, a bit to the south and closer to the bridge, which is a proper beach and has plenty of older facilities that create a scene that could easily make it into the next Wes Anderson flick.
Swedish weekday lunch
Saltimportens Canteen makes great lunch and is very popular with hungry locals. They have one dish every day and a weekly vegetarian alternative, so it is an easy choice. Isn’t it nice when picking what to have for lunch is simple for a change? It’s at the old harbor, so you can combine it with a walk, and the place is accordingly industrial. You should eat there at least once while you’re in town. Just remember: it’s closed on weekends!
Best live music venue in town
Former basement and DIY venue Plan B has fought against law enforcement for its very existence since forever (concerning alcohol restrictions and safety regulations). Lucky for us, it seems to have figured out how to not be shut down and now looks greater than ever in its current iteration as a cocktail bar. Its brand-new patio makes it worth coming over to chill for a drink or a vegan hotdog, and there’s a good show almost every night. If you can appreciate their DIY spin, make this your plan A when in Malmö.
The hills have voices
What you can find at Ljudkullar, or “The Sound Hills”, is pretty straightforward: these hills have big speakers dug inside the ground itself, and every day in the afternoon you can hear one of about a dozen daily-changing playlists by various artists — you can check them out on the sign at the entrance of the area. These secrets “hills” in Västra Hamnen are quite easy to miss, even for locals. But now you know: arm yourself with a blanket and some food and enjoy the music together with a picnic!
Header image by Jorge Franganillo
For more local favorites across Europe, check out Spotted by Locals.