Stylist's Lauren Smith headed to Malmo in Sweden for 48 hours of shopping, Scandi-cuisine and some risque swimming.
Borgen and The Killing are box set classics, Acne is the label to name-drop, and cinnamon buns, herring and meatballs are beloved by food bloggers – yep, Scandinavia is definitely having a moment. But whilst Stockholm and Copenhagen are cited as the go-to destinations for a dose of Scandi-cool, there are plenty of other undiscovered cities hidden in the region – with all the stylish design shops, beautiful scenery, and delicious food, but less crowds than their hip neighbours.
Hearing that Malmo (a city in Sweden’s Skane region) was just as cool as its Northern cousin Stockholm, I hopped on a plane for a long weekend of cycling, shopping, scoffing my face and naked swimming(!)
Just an hour and a half by plane, Malmo is blessed with relatively mild weather for a Scandinavian city (we had blue skies and sunshine all weekend), making it perfect for a Spring or Summer city break.
ABOVE: Our room at the Best Western Noble House and the Museum of Modern Art.
Formerly a port and industrial city, Malmo has reinvented itself as an atsy and eco-friendly hub, with a Modern Art Gallery, streets of quirky boutiques and stylish eateries, and Västra hamnen, an impressive modern area by the old harbour that is completely self-sustainable.
This eco drive means the city is tailored to bikes, with proper cycle roads and very few cars – and compared to the terrifying ordeal of riding in London, cycling here is the easiest and most pleasant way of seeing the sights.
Our hotel, the Best Western Noble House, kindly gave us bikes, locks and helmets to get around, and a cycle ride showed us a city of contrasts – from the rugged, but beautiful expanse of Ribbersborgs beach, to the striking architecture of Västra hamnen (via a very cool Skatepark created by the town with local skate kids), the multi-culturalism and markets in Möllevångstorget, and back to the pleasingly atmospheric winding streets and cobbled squares of the city centre. Malmo is also known as the “city of Parks” – and we stopped off to stroll through various green and pleasant spaces – we loved Slottsparken (The Castle Park) with its Windmill, sculptures and organic café (the smell of warm cinnamon buns wafting out the window was incredible!).
Food and Drink
All thoughts of Ikea meatballs (although we do like their hotdogs) should be banished immediately. Everything we ate in Malmo was fresh, tasty and felt kind of healthy–starting with the cold beetroot salad, salmon, sour cream and rye and almond bread we ate at our hotel breakfast.
“Smak” and “Bastard” don’t sound like names for top restaurants, but quirky names are all part of the fun at Malmo’s coolest eateries. We lunched at Smak, a chic canteen style affair where huge loaves of sourdough bread, fresh pots of coffee, various salads and an amazing gooey potato dish are left for you to dig in and add to your main course. I ate an incredible broccoli and goats cheese pie, and my other half devoured a lamb dish in about five minutes, whilst a local jazz act seranaded the diners.
ABOVE: Food at Bastard
Bastard feels like more of a ‘hangout’ than a restaurant – locals congregate at the bar for cheese and meat boards and cocktails, and diners eat surrounded by the whimsical vintage furniture and curios (I was sat next to a kitsch dog sculpture). We left the menu in the hands of our incredibly friendly waiter, and he rewarded us with an epic four course ‘sharing’ feast, where the portions were so big our bikes were groaning when we tried to pedal home. So much of the food comes highly recommend – the white asparagus loaded with roe and a creamy sauce, the baked mackerel, the ginormous chicken salad with sourdough croutons, the rhubarb ice cream (big in Sweden, apparently), the cheese – all excellent.
The following night we had a more unusual, but equally entertaining experience courtesy of A Slice of Swedish Hospitality. This unique scheme allows tourists to dine at a local’s house – and whilst we were a tad nervous when we turned up at a stranger’s house, we needn’t have worried – our host Mia was more than accommodating, serving us a delicious meal of Swedish cheese, salmon, salad and potatoes, a rhubarb crumble, and rather a lot of Swedish beer and wine. We hit it off so strongly we ended up staying until midnight, tipsily You-tubing funny videos (turns out the allure of cats doing stupid things and ‘Dick in a Box’ is universal). I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to get a whole load of insider advice on a destination (but wouldn’t advise the slightly drunken cycle home).
One of my (and even my boyfriend’s) highlights of the trip was a shopping trip with local fashion expert and stylist Mia Berg. She took us to places we’d never have spotted if we’d have been shopping solo – and was a fountain of knowledge about Malmo’s buzzing fashion and design scene.
We started off at the Form Design Centre, a medieval warehouse in the middle of the city selling cutting edge design pieces, before making our way to Altewai.Saome, an up-and-coming women’s fashion brand run by two Malmo girls. The pieces are Scandi style at its best - with clean lines and avant-garde shapes, and would make great work pieces (it’s worth checking out just for the striking shop interior designed by a Malmo-team of interior architects).
We then went on to Davidshallstorg, a picturesque square tucked off one of the main shopping streets, home to Mia’s favourite flower shop Gouteva. Malmo is home to some great vintage stores – our luggage allowance would only allow window shopping in Mani and Chique, but we did pick up a stylish check shirt at mod-themed boutique Popolino.
After a hard morning of shopping, it was time for Fika, a Swedish tradition of coffee and cake at around 11am.
Our venue was Sockerbilt, a cute little café tucked along a side street, but we didn’t end up having Fika at all – instead we indulged in a Swedish take on Afternoon tea (the gin and tonic cupcakes were pretty special).
ABOVE: View from Ribbersborgs beach
Not so much a photo opportunity (you might get arrested) but a must-do, is the most salacious sounding part of our itinerary – the ‘wild swim and sauna’ at Kallbadhuset at Ribbersborgs beach. I thought it would be a swim outdoors, so packed my swimsuit. How wrong I was. We arrived at the Kallbadhuset, a small wooden building on the end of a pier, and walked through the chilled out bar and café to find…an outdoor bathing area full of naked Swedes. Trying not to act like prudish Brits, we joined the locals in getting naked, relaxing in a sauna, and then jumping off the pier into the freezing cold sea. Men and women bathe separately, except in the middle unisex sauna, so I spent a good 15 minutes trying to find my partner, walking in completely starkers to find…a room full of people in towels. It wasn’t my finest hour. My boyfriend, meanwhile, was having a great time chatting to the locals and getting tips on where to drink. It was…a refreshing and truly Swedish start to our trip – but I needed a rather large beer in the bar afterwards to recover.
Words: Lauren Smith
I experienced #LiveMalmo, for your chance to win a week long trip to #LiveMalmo visit liveswedish.com
Flights sponsored by Ryanair, the only airline flying direct to Malmö for London