Whenever I have an opportunity to travel, I try to make the most out of it. So instead of visiting one country, I try to squeeze in another. That way, I see and discover more. Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmö in Sweden are just 35 minutes away by train from each other. Seriously, this calls for a combined trip! So that’s exactly what I did, two cities in one trip! Both cities are quite different despite their closeness but both offer plenty of things to keep busy on a typical Southern Scandinavia trip.
Cities: Copenhagen and Malmo
Where to fly?
That’s an easy question to answer, go for the cheapest. On my first trip, I flew to Malmö first as Ryanair offered £22 return flights from London while flying to Copenhagen was more expensive. I started my trip in Malmö and also finished it there. In between, I spent my time in Copenhagen. So the question of flying is really not problematic, instead, it is quite advantageous and offers some flexibility. You can fly into Copenhagen and fly out from Malmö. Both cities have international airports with great European and worldwide connections.
How to get to the other side?
Luckily, the Oresund Bridge is not only a pretty construction to stare at but it is also the most efficient and quickest way to get from one country to the other. The impressive Oresund Bridge opened in 2000 and transported since then over 250 million people. Therefore, both Malmö and Copenhagen have direct train links running all day long every 20 minutes. So it is convenient to take the train for a 35 minutes journey. The ticket fare is just under £10, payable in the local currency depending from where it has been purchased. Sweden (Swedish Kroner) and Denmark (Danish Kroner) have two different currencies which are easy to convert in either side. The train also stops at Copenhagen Airport on the way.
It is also possible to take a bus. Bus 999 connects both cities 8 times a day with the same price as the train. I personally would stick to the train since it’s for the same price as the bus. But it’s good to know there are options! It also seems quite easy to get around independently by hiring a car. Driving a car in the region is fairly simple and can provide more flexibility.
What to do in Malmö?
Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden with a population of around 300,000 people. It is also known to be the southernmost city in the country. The Old Town is full of treasures and is very cute at any time of the year. It is fairly busy and buzzing with people which is quite surprising for a Nordic country. Overall, all attractions are walking distance from each other but there is also plenty of public buses and transport. Or go like a local, take a bike!
I stayed for two nights in Malmö and I think it’s enough. It is also possible to make a day trip from Copenhagen and cover most parts of the city.
The Old Town
There is definitely something about the Old Town, it is small but very cute. I was going around the same streets and it did not bother me at all. I was instead much more surprised as every time, I spot something new which I haven’t noticed on my previous stroll. Whether it’s a phone booth or a colourful set of houses, there’s definitely a charming feeling about it. The oldest building in the city is St Peter Church, built in the 14th century. It is free to visit and it’s open daily.
The best part is Lilla Trog which is a cosy spot with plenty of choice regarding restaurants and bars that suit all tastes. It is a great occasion to try some Scandinavian specialities and the one and only Swedish Vodka. Lilla Trog is also a place to start the evening as most nightclubs are nearby.
Turning Torso and the Western Harbour
I noticed it from far away and you will probably too. The Turning Torso is a special 190 meters tall skyscraper in Malmo. It is very symbolic for the city in the same was as The Shard is for London. As an urban traveller, I can only love this high rise building and take its pictures from all angles. Right underneath the 147 apartments turning tower, there is the Western Harbour which is a nice area to have a walk around, enjoy the blue navy shades of the Baltic Sea by the horizon and sip a drink by one of the cosy coffeeshops.
Malmö is famous for its green parks. The most central one is Slottsparken which is just under 12 minutes walk from Lilla Trog. I was there in Spring in one of the hottest days of the year, so this park was full of people. All the leftovers from the Winter snow melted that day, so it was perfect to set up a picnic. Swedish people are really friendly and they smile a lot. They are very hospitable which I really liked. Inside the park, there’s a castle called Malmöhus which is house to Malmö Museums, open for visitors.
What do do in Copenhagen?
Copenhagen is capital of Denmark and is home to almost 600,000 inhabitants which is about double the number of Malmö. So it is perhaps smarter to spend more time in Copenhagen rather than Malmö as there are more things to do and the city is much larger. I think 3 days in Copenhagen are enough to visit most things and enjoy it. It is not possible to walk from one attraction to the other. I mean, it is, because I did it. But distances are about 40 minutes and local people thought I was crazy for not using public transport because they don’t seem to walk as much. Instead, they use bikes. Over 55% of the population of the city uses a bike!
The Little Mermaid
This is one of the most disappointing monument of my entire life. You may ask, why do I bother mentioning it? Well, simply because if I hadn’t visited it myself, I would have had a heart attack. It’s like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. I think it’s nice to see the main symbol of a city, but I should have kept my expectations really low for the Little Mermaid. It is a nice sculpture indeed and its location is very scenic. However, I don’t see what all the fuss is about!
Probably one of the most central amusement parks I have ever seen. It’s right behind the Central Station. It is also really big with a large choice of attractions! I went there for an afternoon visit, it was quite busy and people seem to have fun. It also seems like it is visited by local families as well as tourists.
The Citadel is free and open to public for visits. It is basically a green park. However, its history dates back to 1626 as it was founded by King Christian IV. Inside the Citadel, there are many buildings which are mostly military barracks and offices.
Nyhavn and Waterfront
This place is magical. I simply love the colourful houses in Nyhavn, the open air restaurants and the selection of boats from all shapes and types. I keep returning there and enjoying it. Whether it’s on winter or summer, it’s great to end the day there with a beautiful sunset or with a mulled wine in hands. Few minutes walk, there’s the main waterfront which on its shores hosts many iconic buildings such as The Opera House and Amalienborg Palace where it’s possible to spot the change of The Royal Guards at noon.
The David Collection
This museum of Islamic Art is a little treasure in Scandinavia. It is the only museum of this type in the region. It hosts a stunning exhibition of Christian Ludvig David’s personal collection. I was impressed by this exhibition as it hosts art from Morocco to Iraq, and from Spain to Persia. All regions are well represented. Moreover, it is free to enter The David Collection. Nearby, there’s the King’s Garden which is absolutely beautiful.
This is one of my favourite places in Copenhagen. But in reality, it’s not really Copenhagen as it enjoys a special agreement as an independent community that lives outside of the Danish state laws. It has been founded in the 70s by a group of hippies. There were several clashes regarding its status but since 2011, it has been established that the Danish state owns the land but gives some independence to its inhabitants. This place represent an alternative way of life and there’s even a sign that says at the entrance that “you are leaving the EU” as they regard themselves independent from the EU too which is inclusive of Denmark. I was really amazed by that. But further, I found some great bars, easy-going atmosphere and friendly people. One of the main streets there is host to “hash bars” where visitors can buy a joint and smoke it there. In contrast, there’s a big sign which says that it is illegal. I guess, that’s the fun of Christiania!