You’ve seen Malmö on TV, as the Swedish side of The Bridge, a half hour journey from Copenhagen in Denmark. The Øresund bridge itself, which opened in 2000, spans five miles, by road and train. It’s an impressive ride over the harbour, especially at sunset.
For a long time Malmö was Danish, only becoming Swedish in the 17th century. In fact the dialect spoken by Malmö residents is closer to Danish than say Stockholm Swedish.
Almost half of the population of Malmö were not born in Sweden. It is a city of high immigration with a certain amount of poverty. Since the bridge opened, its image has been rehabilitated. Malmö, therefore, is both poor and rich, old and new, utterly Swedish but also very foreign with lots of headscarves.
Malmö is also city of contrasts when it comes to the weather: it was either pissing down or balmy and sunny beach weather and I was only there for four days. Some days I wore rubber boots while others I sweated in a T-shirt. The weather is even madder than in England.
Malmö was economically deprived from the 1970s onwards, leading to depopulation. At this point Malmö welcomed immigrants, some of whom started food businesses. Since the Syrian war, refugees have been opening restaurants. There are more than 60 falafel restaurants in Malmö, it’s actually become a local food. Everybody has their favourite falafel joint.
This is where I tried my falafel. I didn’t understand the queuing system so I went to the counter, where they politely but completely ignored me until I found the back of the line. I got a large juicy flatbread with all the sauces, every type of salad plus pickled peppers.
They have an extensive vegan menu, with things like tofu ‘halloumi.’
Town Grill: Some vegans I met recommended this place as the best.
Jalla Jalla is another popular place which some people cite as their favourite.
There is a burgeoning vegan movement in Sweden. When I was in Malmö, I saw a demonstration in Adolf Gustav Square which happens every Saturday. About 20 Swedes stood silently holding posters/cards with animals being tortured.
This place is totally vegan with fantastic coffee. I have to say, Swedish vegans are hard-core, they were sitting outside in the pouring rain drinking soy milk lattes.
Was recommended this restaurant but when I got outside, I lacked the nerve and the appetite to go in.
Le Glorieux Cafe Dornonville, designed by an architect and run by his charming and friendly wife, Agnes Ranelid, features vintage Scandinavian furniture. I noticed the ‘Elastoplast’ pink hue of the walls. Agnes told me that it’s so popular with customers, they give out the paint code, so people can get the same colour made up. It’s only open till 3pm each day, she has young children and has to pick them up, but it’s a fun, cool space to have a coffee and a cake.
This is the oldest café in Malmö, opening in 1903, and features 1950s Dutch furniture. It’s just near the main square Gustav Adolf Torg.
A regional speciality you must try is ‘spettekaka’, or spit cake, a towering meringue-like gateau. The only place that bakes it in Malmö is Johanna Jeppssons bakery but the owner is
a right bitch difficult- she tried to charge me £150 to photograph the place. She’s not Johanna herself, who died years ago, but a former 90s pop star who fancies herself rotten. Anyway I travelled to another bakery out of town which I’ll be writing about soon. They were really nice.
Other places to visit:
This caff attached to an exhibition hall, has a good selection of vegetarian and vegan food. I had a soup, bread, several salads and potatoes, with tea or coffee for about £10.
Modern Museet (Museum of Modern Art)
A stylish café with snacks, books and magazines to read. The gallery hosts exhibitions by modern Scandinavian artists.
Bathing at Ribersborgs Kallbadhus (Public baths)
I highly recommend making the trip to Ribersborgs Kallbadhus. At the entrance (where there is an elegant restaurant) you can hire a towel and buy a lock (or bring your own). Remember to bring a bottle of water. You can wear a swimming costume but must go naked in the sauna. It’s down a boardwalk pier to Victorian public bathing house dating from 1898. The saunas, not dark and depressing like in the UK, have a wonderful view, facing out onto the harbour. There are men, women and mixed! You aren’t allowed to take pictures, but I sneaked a few. It was full of drop dead gorgeous Scandinavian women, all robust and healthy – going from steamy sauna to ice cold seawater. Brrr!
Gamla Staden (Old Town)
In the old town you can see 18th century half-timbered buildings, gable rooves, archways and candlelit windows, covered shopping arcades, cobbled streets.
Buy a daily pass from Central Station for around 65 SEK. An hour’s transport within Malmo usually costs 25 SEK.
Cash is not accepted on buses, only credit cards.
To get to Copenhagen: take the train from Central Station. It costs 110 SEK.
I stayed in Malmo courtesy of the First Hotel Mortensen which was centrally located with helpful and friendly staff. Rooms are around 900 SEK per night. Breakfast is included.