Big City, Easy Daytrip: Malmö from Copenhagen

by  Karen Gardiner | Sep 3, 2013
Malmo / Ingus Kruklitis/IStock

If you've been following FX's current cross-border crime drama, The Bridge, you might not know that the show is actually a remake of a joint Swedish/Danish series based on a border in the Øresund Region. The region, which encompasses the Danish capital, Copenhagen, and Sweden's third largest city, Malmö, is truly binational. Many residents commute back and forth across the five-mile Øresund Bridge that connects the two cities for work or play. Tourism boards tout the area as a "two nation vacation," highlighting the ease of crossing between the two countries – you don't even need a passport, though you do have to change currencies.

If you're in Copenhagen with a day (or a few) to spare, we have some tips for what to do in Malmö, the city on the other side of the bridge.

Getting There and Around

The train journey from Copenhagen Central train station to Malmö Central is only 35 minutes and stops at Copenhagen Kastrup airport along the way. Malmö is small enough to walk around the main attractions, but if you want to blend in with the locals, rent a bicycle from Malmö Travel Shop – there are bicycle trails all over the city (rates from about $18 for half day rentals).


Situated below the distinctive, twisting Turning Torso, Scandinavia's tallest building, the Western Harbour is a former shipyard that has been converted into a living and cultural space showcasing distinctly modern Scandinavian architecture and design with a strong environmental ethic. The Western Harbour is powered by 100% local renewable energy and has its own energy supply. Take a walk along the promenade and enjoy the view of Copenhagen across the Øresund strait, then head to Ribersborg, a thin man-made beach, and on to Kallbadhus, a late-19th-century open-air bath with saunas and separate nude bathing areas for men and women (about $10 for a visit).

Slottsträdgården, or "Castle Garden," is named for Malmöhus, a 15th century fortress that now houses a museum. The park is great for a sunny afternoon stroll or for paddling along the canals (free entry).


When it comes to modern art, you'll be spoiled for choice in Malmö. Form/Design Center, set in the 16th century Hedmanska Gården, showcases cutting-edge design, architecture, and art in its galleries, shop, and cafe (free entry). Moderna Museet occupies a disused power station and offers exhibits of international contemporary art (about $10 entry). The contemporary art exhibition hall at Malmö Konsthall is renowned for its aesthetics and use of space and light in its gallery (free entry).

If you happen to be in Malmö in the second half of August, don't miss Malmöfestivalen, an eight-day art, music, theater, and food festival. The event always draws at least a handful of international as well as Scandinavian acts, and the best part is that admission is completely free.

Dining and Nightlife

Bastard, possibly Malmö's most-loved restaurant, is a down-to-earth spot featuring bare wooden tables, a menu that espouses 'nose to tail' dining, and a long bar serving organic wines. Try the Bastardplanka charcuterie board.

Down by the harbor, the lunch canteen Saltimporten is run by chefs Ola Rudin and Sebastian Persson previously of the acclaimed Trio restaurant. Saltimporten offers only one meat and one vegetarian "New Nordic" dish a day – and is only open from 12pm to 2pm Monday through Friday.

For drinks, go barhopping around the Möllevången district (or Möllan, as it's known locally). Debaser, which has a sister bar in Stockholm, is popular for late night cocktails, and Babel, which is housed in a former church and retains its interiors, has a busy schedule of club nights and concerts.

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