Malmö is a city in Southern Sweden that boasts a diverse historic past. It formerly belonged to Denmark before becoming Sweden’s third-largest city with a bright future as a tech hub, eco-friendly city and a fantastic choice for an enjoyable weekend trip to Sweden.
Malmö offers travellers everything you could possibly want in a Scandinavian city break: picturesque city squares dating back to the 1500s, castles, art galleries and gorgeous water-side view across the Øresund strait. Malmö is also a thoroughly modern city possessing the tallest building in Scandinavia and Folkets Park, an amusement park to rival Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens.
But with Copenhagen only a 40-minute direct train journey across the Øresund country-crossing super bridge, people may ask is Malmö worth visiting above the Danish capital? While some may opt to combine the two on a Scandinavian city break, others will enjoy Malmö’s quieter streets and more ‘local’ feel.
Malmö city deserves your attention, and to prove it, here’s our ultimate travel guide to Malmö to convince you to visit.
This ultimate guide to Malmö will show you all the most beautiful places in Malmö, what to expect when visiting, where to stay in Malmö and things to do in Malmö which will help you when planning a trip to Malmö Sweden.
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How to get to Malmö
Malmö is a modest-sized city that is well connected within the rest of Scandinavia and parts of Europe via bus, train and plane.
Malmö Airport flies direct to over 25 destinations around Europe. Flygbussarna shuttle buses transport passengers from the airport to Malmö central train station and depart at least once an hour on weekdays, taking approximately 40 minutes.
If you are travelling to Malmö from further afield, it’s very convenient to fly into Copenhagen Airport and take a direct train to Malmö central station. Thanks to the Öresund Bridge which opened in 2000, the longest combined rail and road bridge in Europe and is worth visiting, it couldn’t be easier to travel from Copenhagen to Malmö by train or car. Trains depart from Copenhagen Airport to Malmö every 20 minutes and take less than 30 minutes. Stockholm is a direct, 4 hours and 30 minutes train ride from Malmö.
What to expect in Malmö
Malmö, like the rest of Sweden, is a very safe, easy place to visit for novice travellers. Some of Malmö’s less desirable neighbourhoods appeared on the popular Nordic drama The Bridge, but this doesn’t reflect the entire city. The national language is Swedish but most Swedes, especially in a city, will speak English very well.
Malmö is one of the most culturally diverse cities in Scandinavia. Around 30% of Malmö’s population is made up of immigrants and it has a burgeoning start-up and tech industry that is popular with ex-pats.
Sweden is in the Schengen zone and the EU and their currency is the Swedish krona. There are tonnes of ATMs all over the city and it’s worth noting that Malmö, and Sweden in general, is becoming a less cash-friendly country so make sure you have a travel or debit card you can use for payment too.
How to get around Malmö
Everything in Malmö’s city centre, Gamla Staden or the old town, is very easy to navigate on foot but if you want to head out to Västra Hamnen where all the new builds are (including the Turning Torso Tower) or Ribersborg beach then you will need to use public transport.
Malmö uses a colour-coded bus system. Green buses operate within the city centre and yellow buses venture out to the nearby areas of Ystad and Helsingborg. If you need help figuring out which bus to take where then head to Malmö central station where most of the bus lines intersect. You must buy tickets prior to boarding and visitors can buy 24-hour or 3 day passes from the station.
Alternatively, you can hire bikes and get around Malmö the Scandinavian way. Malmö is a very flat city and many hotels offer the option of including bike hire in your booking.
The best time to visit Malmö
As with any Nordic city break, May-September is when you’ll experience the best weather in Malmö during the summer. Winter in Malmö isn’t quite as bone-chilling as it is further north in Sweden and visiting the city during this time does have the advantage of Christmas markets and decorations.
April is a great time to visit Malmö if you’re on a budget, as Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia can seem expensive to the rest of the world. The days are getting longer and the summer peak season prices for hotels won’t have kicked in yet. Though the temperature is still only around 10 degrees Celsius so unfortunately you can’t lounge around on Ribersborg Beach in springtime.
Travel to Malmö in late November-December to enjoy the Christmas markets around the city, see the beautiful decorations and enjoy seasonal Swedish ‘Fika’ treats like cinnamon buns and spiced cookies.
Things to do in Malmö
One of the top attractions in Malmö has to be Malmöhus Castle. Technically a fortress, the castle was built when the Skane area of Sweden still belonged to Denmark. It’s not one of the prettiest castles in Sweden but it’s one of the oldest and certainly one of the most interesting.
Since 1434, this castle has also been a prison as well as a shelter for displaced people in the aftermath of WWII. Now, it even has an aquarium! Check out Kungsparken around the castle for one of the city’s best green spaces with its iconic windmill.
Lilla Torg is a 16th-century square in Gamla Staden, Malmö’s old town. It’s a picturesque cobble-stoned square packed with colourful, wooden cafes and restaurants that have been lovingly restored to their former glory in the 1700s.
St Peter’s Church
Also, in Gamla Staden is St Peter’s Church, the oldest building in the city of Malmö, beating Malmöhus Castle by a century. Parts of the church were destroyed in various wars over the years but it’s a huge, bright church with lots of interesting relics and artwork.
Västra Hamnen is a former shipyard area at the centre of Malmö’s emerging tech industry and this neighbourhood has a much more modern, futuristic feel than the rest of the city. The most eye-catching building in the neighbourhood is without a doubt the Turning Torso Tower, the tallest building in Scandinavia. It’s completely energy-efficient and runs on solar, wind energy and biogas.
Malmö Art Gallery
If you love visiting galleries and museums, then Malmö won’t disappoint you. Malmö Art Gallery has one of the biggest exhibition spaces in Europe. The gallery mainly displays modern art with some classic and temporary exhibitions. Admission is also free which is great for visitors in Malmö on a budget.
Perhaps one of the more unusual things to do in Malmö (but not for the locals) is Ribersborgs Kallbadhus on Ribersborg beach. The Kallbadhus is a Swedish bath where spa-goers can sit in a steam room for as long as they can bear before running (usually nude, but this isn’t compulsory) into the freezing cold sea. It sounds crazy but it’s a quintessential Nordic activity that has to be experienced to be appreciated and Ribersborg beach is also a stunning part of Malmö to visit.
Aside from Lilla Torg, Stortorget is Malmö’s main city square. Every December, Stortorget is home to one of the city’s Christmas markets and Malmö Town Hall (or City Hall) is where you can eat at one of Malmö’s best restaurants. The square tastefully blends old and new with modern statues and 19th-century advertisements still painted on the side of some of the buildings.
If you are still wondering what the similarities are between Malmö and Copenhagen in Denmark, then here is a big one. Copenhagen might have Tivoli Gardens, but Malmö has Folkets Park. The oldest park in Sweden, Folkets is free to enter and offers visitors playgrounds, amusement rides, food stalls and regular events which make it one of the best things to do in Malmö during the summer months.
What to eat in Malmö
Malmö is one of the most multicultural cities in Sweden, not just because of its proximity to Denmark but because of its ethnically diverse population. And you’ll find plenty of fantastic restaurants in Malmö serving food all over the world as well as traditional, farm-to-table cuisine that Sweden is known for.
A classic dish from the Skane region, where Malmö is situated, is Aggakaka which is like a well-done omelette with pork. Sweden is known for its smoked fish so don’t forget to taste some herring or even eel if you’re feeling adventurous. And don’t worry if you’re a vegetarian because Malmö has a staggering amount of good falafel joints which is the perfect snack after an evening of sampling the Malmö nightlife.
And don’t forget Swedish ‘Fika’ breaks – the art of taking some time out with friends over coffee and good pastries in one of Malmö’s cosy cafes.
Where to stay in Malmö
Budget – Sweden is a notoriously expensive country for most travellers and though Malmö is quite a compact city, there are still a couple of great hostels. STF Malmö City Hostel is centrally located near the Gamla Staden neighbourhood with spacious rooms that have barely any bunk beds! Do note that it is quite common for Scandinavian hostels to charge extra for bedding.
Mid-range – If you’d prefer a private room while still staying on a budget, you couldn’t do much better than Moment Hotels. They have one perfectly located canalside in Gamla Staden which is also very close to the train station. Moment Hotels also have their own private patio and great views that would normally come with a heftier price tag.
Luxury – There are some fantastic hostels in Malmö if you have a more generous budget. Malmö is a very green, environmentally focused city and Ohboy Hotell reflects this with solar panels, natural materials, free bike hire and lots of plants inside and outside the building. Story Hotel is another high-quality option with gorgeous views over the canals and modern, Scandinavian design.
Tours to do in Malmö
Malmö is a small, flat city so there’s really no better way to explore the city than by joining a small group walking tour. If you only have a short time in Malmö, this tour will take you around the main sites like St Peter’s Church and Malmöhus Castle and you’ll learn more about Malmö’s history with an informative guide.
Canal Sightseeing Tour
If you’d rather not walk around the city for a couple of hours or you have accessibility needs, this canal sightseeing tour is the perfect way to see more of Malmö in a more relaxing way. The city is situated on Sweden’s southwest coast so there are lots of canals to explore and you get fantastic views of all the main sites. Plus, the boats run several times a day so you can pick the one most convenient to you and a guide will tell you all about the sites you pass.
But if you want a truly local and Swedish way of exploring Malmö city, then you really can’t beat a bike tour. You can see much more of the city on a bike tour including the Västra Hamnen and artsy Möllan neighbourhoods. A bike tour still allows you to learn all about the city from a guide while having more time to explore Malmö’s hidden gems.
Day trips from Malmö
Öresundsfiske Fishing Trip
Öresund is the body of water that separates Denmark with the Skane area of southern Sweden. If you love fishing, you absolutely must book a day trip to fish for trout, herring and mackerel on this fishing trip. A local guide will show you all the best places to fish along the coast near Malmö and since fish is a staple in any Scandinavian diet, this is a real local experience.
Copenhagen by Bike
Copenhagen is the perfect day trip from Malmö because it’s so near and easy to get to across the Öresund Bridge. You can take the train and be at Copenhagen Central Station in less than 40 minutes. But why not take it one step further with a mode of transport that’s environmentally friendly and loved by all Scandinavians: cycling. This is a self-guided tour from Malmö which allows you to discover the Swedish and Danish cities at your own pace but have experts and locals do all the research for you.
Öresund by Bike
If you’d rather explore the countryside around Malmö rather than another city, then a bike tour of the local area around the Öresund in the Skane area of Sweden is perfect for country-lovers and cycling enthusiasts. This multi-day trip includes tasting local and seasonal food in farm shops, a trip further north to Helsingborg and across the Öresund so you can explore Denmark to the north of Copenhagen.
Recommended tours in Malmo
- Malmö Small Group Walking Tour
- Malmö Small Group Bike Tour
- Guided Food Tour in Malmö (Private)
- Canal Sightseeing Tour of Malmö
- Magic Christmas Tour in Malmö
- Vacation Photographer in Malmo
- Sweden-Copenhagen Roundtrip by bike
- Food tour in Malmö (Selfguided)
- Hop-On Hop-Off Malmö