Five years ago it is probably fair to say that not many of us Brits would have been able to tell you where Malmö was on a map. But then along came Saga Noren and a perfectly written slice of Scandi crime drama and this lovely little city in Southern Sweden is no longer such a secret. It looks across the water to Copenhagen but there is no need to cross the bridge in search of lovely places to eat, sleep and shop (although if you want to, check out our guide here!). There is a thriving cultural, dining and design scene within Malmö, and if you jump in the car and head out of the city, within an hour you can be walking the cobbled streets of impossibly pretty fishing villages. Rebecca Lawson travelled there recently and shares a small selection of her favourite places that all travelling instagrammers should visit....
There are plenty of great places to stay in Malmö but the Story Hotel is the only one that has a rooftop bar with stunning views of the harbour and the field of Japanese paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling as you walk into the bar will have you desperately trying to locate your camera. The décor is pared back and industrial without ever feeling cold and uninviting. Concrete ceilings in the bedrooms are blended with deep colours and soft textures in the furnishings to create a stylish, warm atmosphere. Downstairs, the lobby restaurant Lokal 17 is well worth checking out with waterfront views. If you are staying with your family then check out the OhBoy Hotel which has mini apartments near the regenerated docks with free bikes for all hotel guests.
If you only have time to visit one shop when you are in Malmö then make it AB Småland. It is modern rustic heaven with two floors of beautifully curated homeware, plants and fashion with a café dotted with vintage wooden tables and giant indoor olive trees. Even children will want to linger as they have a lovely corner with a huge chalkboard for kids to doddle on as well as a sweet selection of vintage toys.
No trip to Sweden is complete for me without a fresh attempt at eating my own body weight in cinnamon buns. Some of the finest I tasted whilst in Malmö were located in St Jacob Stenugnsbageri in the Saluhall, which brings together a host of delicious food and drink stalls in a renovated warehouse. Against a bare brick backdrop there are pale wood communal tables and festoon lights criss crossing the industrial ceiling. There is a gorgeous florist at the entrance and if you have any elastic left in your trousers after sitting down for Noodles at Papi or a salad at Holy Greens, then make sure to have an ice cream at Favvo Glass. The rhubarb flavour is a complete game-changer.
If you need to walk off your lunch after a trip to the Saluhall, then a gentle stroll around the corner is the Malmohus castle which has a lovely little aquarium to entertain kids and some great art exhibitions to meander around too. Continuing on will bring you to the Slottsträdgårdens - just one of the many beautiful parks in Malmö. You can pick up a pedalo and gently bob along the river that runs through it or stay on dry land and head for a cup of tea and some fika at the Slottsträdgårdens Kafè. You can sit outside under the shade of rippling trees or duck inside the greenhouse strung with bunting and dotted with candles.
Another lovely cultural highlight located near the Opera House is the Konst Hall, a modern art gallery situated in an old orangery building with a beautiful, secluded and leafy courtyard café. The light-flooded gallery space is not huge but there is plenty to while away a happy hour. If you are with kids, they also run free crafting workshops in a room off the main gallery space.
Our favourite place to end every day was in Västra Hamnen, a former shipyard which has been transformed into a sustainable area of contemporary housing with a harbour bobbing with boats. There are stretches of wooden walkways looking out towards the sea, dotted with beautiful Scandinavians (young and old) who have come to enjoy the sunset and a swim in the sea off bleached wooden pontoons. Vespa is a great spot to grab a pizza and glass of wine and watch the sun go down and look out for the famous turning torso building behind you.
No.6 / Söderberg & Sara / Spoonery
Scandinavians know how to do a good café and there are plenty of contenders for the title of best place to grab a Macchiato in Malmö. However, if you are pressed for time, I would recommend that you head to the St.Knut area of town which has a lovely village-y feel and three sublime cafes - No.6, Söderberg & Sara, and Spoonery. I came away from No.6 wanting to go home and triple the number of pendant lights hanging in my kitchen as their collection of vintage lighting looks so effective grouped above the coffee bar.
Just an hour outside of Malmo are stretches of beautiful coastline to explore. If you are looking for an affordable option with bags of great design then make Hus 57 in Ängelholm your base. It brings a strong lobby game with velvet button back sofas in rich dark greens and mustard yellows, mingling with statement lighting and plenty of great coffee book reading material. It has a contemporary restaurant serving a Scandi menu with a modern twist and a small spa, gym and games room to boot.
There are lots of lovely little fishing villages to explore. Our favourites were Torekov (the rumoured home of Hugh Grant’s wife, leading to lots of reported sightings of the floppy-haired one) and Mölle. Both have cobbled streets dotted with whitewashed clapboard houses and Molle is also home to a lovely little pottery studio called the Mölle Krukmakeri which has a garden café with lots of quirky touches including a stuffed tiger dressed as an airline pilot (trust me it works). The Grand Hotel at the top of the hill is the perfect spot for a cocktail as the sun goes down with an amazingly instagrammable view.
There are lots of beaches to chose from along this stretch of coastline but our favourite was in the smart town of Båstad (pronounced Borstod - just to stop you making the 'bastard' mistake!). It has soft golden sand and a pier stretching out to sea with a sauna at the end in a contemporary larch clad building. If you have worked up an appetite after sweating and swimming then smarten up and head to Hotel Skansen (@hotelskansen) behind the dunes which has a restaurant with floor to ceiling windows leading out onto decking covered by white linen sails. Or for something more casual head to the Två Män café.
I had to double check the map when we arrived at a slightly unpromising industrial estate off a dual carriage way to visit the Höganäs Saluhall for lunch. However my fears were quickly allayed when we located a gorgeous former warehouse that has been transformed into a foodhall showcasing the best of Swedish fresh produce. The café is set on the floor above the foodhall in a stunning industrial space and serves up delicious buffet lunches. Once you have eaten, return downstairs and explore the surrounding warehouses which have a brilliant mix of lifestyle boutiques with gorgeous homeware from the likes of Tine K and Lene Bjerre.
Making your way back to Malmö, make sure to stop off at Enkla Ting on the way. Set in the rolling green fields of the Skåne countryside in whitewashed converted farm buildings, is the shop I have always fantasised about opening. It blends relaxed luxe fashion with contemporary/vintage style Scandi homeware and has a café you will want to linger in all day. I defy you to visit without coming way with arms groaning with shopping bags and a camera roll full of photos of the gorgeous courtyard.