Not many people have heard of Malmö. If you’ve ever watched the joint Swedish-Danish crime drama The Bridge you may have caught a glimpse of the city (in between various grim murder scenes). It is really easy to cross to Malmö from increasingly popular Copenhagen in Denmark and it well worth the effort. Actually, I warmed to Malmö more than I did to Copenhagen and it is definitely on my list of places to return to.
From Copenhagen’s main train station there are regular high-speed services that cross the Öresund Bridge and deposit you firmly in the centre of Malmö quickly and for a reasonable price. It makes visiting the city in a day really easy.
When I was in Copenhagen for my birthday last year I did exactly that and got the train to Malmö. Of course, because it was easy and I had never been to Sweden before but I went for another reason as well. I did part of my degree with the University of Malmö (Malmö högskola) and even though I went to Tbilisi, Georgia to do my fieldwork with them, the rest was from a distance so I never actually had to go to Malmö. But being in Copenhagen anyway, with such a convenient rail link and with the University helpfully located in the centre of Malmö, it all seemed very convenient.
I have to say, I liked Malmö a lot. It had a really nice atmosphere, everywhere was clean and well maintained and it had a great mix of striking modern buildings sitting peacefully alongside the well-maintained older parts. The University buildings were all shiny and new, situated right by a quay and I felt proud I had some sort of connection to it.
Most of the historic buildings in the city are in the Old Town (Gamla Staden), a historic core is normally my favourite part of any city, but this wasn’t my favourite part of Malmö. That title had to go to the area around the 16th-century castle (Malmöhus) and the surrounding parks. The castle itself is really impressive and right opposite is a really nice cafe in the old Commandant’s House (Kommendanthuset). The area known as Slottsträdgården is also especially impressive, there is an old windmill, a sweet cottage with a cottage garden and parallel to the castle were some really attractive gardens, they were so colourful and there was even a pheasant walking around inside. This area joins onto another park, the Kungsparken, which is more traditional and formal but still a really attractive and relaxing place to walk around.
I was really impressed by the amount of green space in Malmö and all the different things it was being used for. It was clear the local people really valued it and involved it in their daily life. There were areas that had been designed by professional gardeners, a community garden and a little cafe in an old greenhouse. People are increasingly seeing the value of green space in today’s word but in Malmö it seemed it was already being embraced on a whole new level, other cities take note.
Another interesting part of the city can be found if you head from the castle towards the sea. This area is clearly undergoing some big changes, you walk across old railway tracks and past building sites but soon you’ll see the Baltic Sea with the bridge to Denmark in the distance. On the shore here, there are plenty of really aesthetically pleasing modern buildings, including the Turning Torso designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava as well as a canal, marina and more green space.
Near the end of the day I managed to visit the old Fish Market area of Malmö which was closed at the time but it was still really nice to see the colourful wooden buildings and little fishing boats. Just when I was heading back to Copenhagen I came across another unexpected surprise inside Malmö Central Station. Part of the building is now a food hall; there were Italian places doing pizza, a Turkish bakery selling simit bread and traditional Swedish sandwich shops. As with much of Malmö, this use of the train station was imaginative and combined modern taste with reuse of a historic building. I was very impressed.
I seem to say this about everywhere, but, I will definitely be returning to Malmö, and soon. I had an excellent day there, I almost forgot the pain of turning 25 and still feeling generally unfulfilled in life. I have seen you can connect in Malmö on the way to various other interesting destinations, so who knows, I may well be back quite soon.