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If I got a (Swedish) fiver for every time I’ve wandered past the kebab shops, greengrocers and baklava bakery on Ystadsgatan and heard someone tell their friends that “this really does feel like Berlin!” I’d have enough money for at least two falafel rolls (x-large, with fried halloumi).
Luckily Malmö’s falafel rolls are so dirt cheap I can afford them anyway.
That Malmö had become known as “little Berlin” was a joke to me at first, having left Malmö as soon as I finished high school. But returning to the city in my mid-20s after a couple of stints in Berlin, I suddenly found myself in hipster central, a mini version of Kreuzberg.
It’s grimier than Gothenburg, a bit more underground than Stockholm and certainly more manageable than Berlin or Copenhagen (Malmö’s big city neighbour) — making Malmö the perfect destination for a chilled out hipster weekend trip.
Here you go, the ultimate guide to a hipster weekend in Malmö — from a Malmöite and ex Berliner.
Trains from Stockholm and Gothenburg are comfortable, affordable and by far the easiest way of getting from the other Swedish metropolitan areas. Book via national rail service SJ.
If you need to fly, opt for Copenhagen instead of Malmö’s own airport, Sturup. From Copenhagen Airport it’s only a brief train ride to the centre of Malmö, costing 100–110 SEK one way. Malmö Airport, on the other hand, is only connected to the city by infrequent bus services.
Malmöites cycle. It’s as easy as that. If you prefer walking you’re in luck — the whole city is pretty much flat. (With the exception of the Kirseberg district, which is locally known as “the hills” though not in a fancy way.)
Rent a bike for the whole weekend from e.g. Fridhems bike shop or create an online account with the the bike hire scheme, Malmö By Bike, which has dozens of stations around the city. For 165 SEK you can rent bikes for 72 hours but you can only pedal around on each bike for up to 60 minutes.
An hour is plenty of time for most rides around the city. Just park it at a station and pick up a new one when you’re heading off again.
Create your account in advance and consider downloading the Malmö By Bike app where you can see all stations and available bikes.
Buses are also easy to get around on. No buses accept cash however, so download one of the apps from local travel company Skånetrafiken while you’re at it and register your card for payment. (You can even purchase the ticket when you have wifi and activate it when you board, if you aren’t using roaming.)
Or rent a beautiful Scandi-chic flat in the historic buildings around St Knut Square or the Möllevången district for that true hipster feeling. Airbnb has plenty of options — or try the new bike hotel Oh Boy in the Western Harbour district.
If you’re arriving before 5pm you can start the weekend with the best after work drinks in town at Moriska Paviljongen in Folkets park. Doors open at exactly 5pm and BE ON TIME because the tables fill up in minutes. If you buy a beer or a glass of wine you get a plate for the buffet (often vegetarian or vegan — yep, they know their crowd).
Soak up those #FRIYAY feelings to the soft music and cheerful chatter in the art deco bar. The outdoor seating area is also one of the best in the city, right in the middle of the Folkets park.
Brunch is almost as popular as falafels in Malmö and plenty of cafés and restaurants serve up a weekend brunch. Most start around 11am and last till 2, 3 or 4pm so sleeping in is no problem.
In the mood for some Lebanese food? Head to Laziza and fill up on falafels, casseroles, bread, and a dessert buffet you will dream of for weeks to come.
Fancy a mix of everything? Cosy Café Trubbel is squeezed into a wooden shack in a leafy courtyard on Stora Nygatan. The food is all vegetarian, mostly vegan, and mixes hot dishes, salads, spreads, cakes, cookies, scones and smoothies. They have tables inside for colder days, but the seating is limited so book in advance if you’re a big group.
Have breakfast in the shade of the pergola or book a table in the warmth inside.
Or why not French? If you’re really treating yourself go for the luxury brunch at Boulebaren by Drottningtorget square. Boulebaren and its French-inspired menu is housed in beautiful yellow converted stables by the Drottningtorget Square.
It’s the most luxurious brunch in all of Malmö, with poached eggs on sourdough bread, charcuteries, croissants, pain au chocolats, yoghurt with compote, and a dessert buffet that includes freshly baked waffles, sorbets, and crème brûlée. Are you drooling yet?
Book both brunch and boules court for a whole day of fun (and food!).
Update your hipster wardrobe with a trip to Malmö’s best second hand shops. They’re often a bit tucked away but Emmaus Björkå recently opened a huge store on the main pedestrian street. It takes you a moment to realise it’s a second hand shop as Emmaus is just as bright, clean and organised as any H&M.
The city centre of Malmö is roughly based around a pedestrian street stretching from the central station to Triangeln shopping centre and station. The streets are technically named Hamngatan, Södergatan, Södra Tullgatan and Södra Förstadsgatan, but Malmöites always call it ‘gågatan’ (the walking street).
Two blocks from ‘gågatan’ you can explore the Davidshall district and its abundance of vintage and independent shops. Their shared Instagram account showcases the shops and offers plenty of inspiration.
Wander south along Södra Förstadsgatan and Friisgatan, where you will find Myrorna, Humana and Öppna hjärtat. Continue under the strings of light of Friisgatan, towards Folkets park, and check out the Red Cross charity shop next to the park.
Take a pit stop in the Red Cross café and order a cup of coffee and a waffle with cream and jam for a mere 39 SEK. Or recharge your batteries with a falafel roll in one of the (many) falafel shops you’ll pass.
Then head south along the tree-lined street until you reach Mitt Möllan, the district’s own mini shopping centre with independent shops and Malmö’s greatest food court. The worn-down old local mall was turned into the current-day hipster mecca only a few years ago.
Beyond Retro has an outlet in Mitt Möllan where you can get lost among chequered shirts, vintage dresses, jeans jackets and Converse. The prices are considerably higher than e.g. Emmaus or the Red Cross though.
After the Mitt Möllan shopping you can stay for dinner in their food court. Malmö’s best pizza, Malmö’s best ice cream (mostly vegan), Malmö’s best Vietnamese food and Malmö’s best sandwiches — all in one place and with a shared seating area. This is the perfect compromise if you’re a big group!
If you’re in the mood for a fancier dinner you can book a table at Lyran. On the corner of Jesusparken (officially known as Falsterboplan) you’ll find this tiny but memorable restaurant. Staff give you a list of tonight’s ingredients and you can opt out of any that you can’t eat or really dislike, but aside from that it’s a set menu.
Spoil yourself with the wine package or let the food speak for itself. A dinner at Lyran takes at least a couple of hour or three, as the chefs introduce each dish to you (in a totally non-pretentious way, I promise).
Want a chilled night? Play a few rounds of shuffleboard or pool before you head home. Shuffleboard is similar to curling but in a mini format on a table and without the ice.
You’ll feel like you’re in an episode of The Bridge when you walk through the metal gate of the eerie parking lot at Monbijougatan and press the lift button outside one of the anonymous industrial brick buildings.
Suddenly the lift doors open as you reach level 3 and you step out into Malmö biljardhus. There are no organic wines on offer (actually no wine at all), no raw food balls or sourdough baguettes. The no-frills bar is all about the bottled beers, Twix bars and crisp packets.
The huge hall has high ceilings and large windows but the dusty, dark curtains and rocking strip lights make it look dreary. But the mood is welcoming and several of the tables are already taken up by groups of friends and families teaching each other their best shuffleboard tricks.
Prefer a night out? In Sweden, Malmö is known for its underground clubs (in the illegal sense), as well as the accessibility of drugs. (How many cities have a roundabout called the “drug roundabout”?) These types of crimes often fund, and fuel, gang violence, so think about whether that’s something worth supporting.
Instead, head over to the classic hipster jaunt of Moriska paviljongen in Folkets park — yep, the same cosy place where you started the weekend, though in a different part of the pavilion. They often host themed nights like emo pop, Stranger Things or why not some old school disco?
If you need a taxi to get home, call reputable Taxi Skåne on 004640330330 instead of catching a non-registered cab.
Another day, another brunch. Tired of buffets? At bright and minimalist café JORD they serve you breakfast all day. Find a seat at one of the white-stained long tables or grab a smaller table before some freelancer with a Macbook gets it. (Full disclosure: I am sometimes that freelancer with a Macbook. Sorry, not sorry.)
The hipster vibe is high here and the odds of your barista looking like Nick Carter anno 1996 is about 70%.
The tasty breakfast menu at sourdough bakery Söderberg & Sara is another non-buffet option. Refuel with their delicious filter coffee (free refills included, as is common in Sweden) or head off for a post-breakfast coffee at Kaffebaren på Möllan. The coffee bar is the best place to people watch and soak up the Malmö vibe.
If you didn’t strike lucky during second hand shopping yesterday you can give it another chance at Drottningstorget flea market. Bargains on children’s clothes and toys can be had at the kids flea market in Folkets park. They also arrange spring and autumn flea markets for adults. Twice a year the Slottsstaden district organises its own flea market, known as ‘Sloppis’ (search Facebook for the event).
Many courtyards also open up private flea markets. I stroll past hand-painted ‘LOPPIS’ (‘flea market’) signs on most weekends, especially around the Möllevången, Rörsjöstaden and Slottsstaden districts. A perfect opportunity for bargains and checking out the gorgeous courtyards of Malmö.
Has it started to rain? Welcome to the true Malmö experience! And head straight for the nearest art gallery…
Spend the afternoon at some of the art exhibitions around town — hipster-friendly and (mostly) free. Malmö Konsthall is a modern art hall with free entry and several new exhibitions a year. They also organise workshops, guided tours and other events. Restaurant SMAK is in the red brick building next door and has an amazing lunch buffet and a leafy, cobbled courtyard.
Moderna museet in Malmö now offers free entry and a couple of new exhibitions a year. Go on a guided tour (available also in English) to learn more about the artists and nod along when the guide explains the significance of an artwork consisting of a wooden frame and three glued-on eggs. (My hipster life in a nutshell — it was this exhibition.)
My favourite Malmö bakery, Bröd & vänner, recently took over the museum café. So it’s worth visiting for their sandwiches and baked goods alone.
If it’s still pissing hard, catch the bus to the medieval Malmöhus Castle. The castle is so old it was originally Danish and consists of a beautiful bright red building with moats and dungeons. (The county that Malmö is in, Skåne, only became Swedish in 1658. #neverforget)
A monstrous complex was added on some time in the last century and today hosts an aquarium (!), a taxidermy exhibition (!!) and various other fashion, toy and art exhibitions. Right now there’s also a games exhibition.
For a mere 40 SEK you get access to both the castle and all of its exhibitions AND the Technology and Seafaring Museum across the road. You can even climb through a real submarine, placed in the middle of the museum courtyard.
Enjoy a relaxed Sunday dinner at the Instagram-friendly restaurant Spoonery by St Knuts Square. The menu is pretty much limited to things that can be eaten with a spoon. The hearty food is pre-cooked so it’ll only be a minute or two until you can dig into one of their warming stews or soups. Just don’t forget to help yourself to the sourdough baguette!
Finish the weekend with a glass of wine at the wine bar Mineral a stone’s throw away. The Berlin vibe is high — Mineral used to be called Kiez, named after the Berlin word for ‘hood’. Raw concrete walls, leafy sprigs in glass jars, retro lamp shades on the walls and long tables (always these long tables!).
Start your week in the best way possible with a breakfast buffet at Systrar & Bröder before you head home. This cosy café and bakery is a Malmö institution and serves breakfast from 7.30am on weekdays.
While you eat your way through the buffet you might as well register for a flat with Boplats Syd. You’ll be back.
The official visitor site, Malmotown, offers plenty of (less hipster) advice and inspiration.
For tips on fun, cheap and carfree activities around Malmö you can also check out my blog, Staycation Club.