Beautiful Malmö and Copenhagen in one easy day trip
From Denmark to Sweden
The Danish capital Copenhagen, and the Swedish city of Malmö, are connected by the mighty Øresund Bridge (star of the hit Nordic Noir, The Bridge) that spans 8 km across the the Øresund Strait. It’s an incredibly easy day trip from one city to the other by rail, bus or a ten minute drive. The bus is the cheapest option starting at €8 each way and it takes approximately 55 minutes. If you want to get there faster, the train takes 35 minutes with tickets starting at €11 each way. You can use GoEuro to search for the cheapest/fastest option. The fact that the train runs on average every 29 minutes and runs all day it really is the most convenient option. From midnight to 5am it runs every hour so you can easily add a long night out to your day trip to Copenhagen and save money by staying in cheaper accommodation in Malmö. The easy access between the two cities has also lead to many Danes choosing to live in Malmö and commute to work everyday so it’s a very busy route. Keep in mind you are crossing a border so have your passport to hand for inspection when you get off the train. This usually happens right on the platform on the Swedish side when you get off the train from Denmark.
House sitting in Malmö
We were lucky enough to visit both cities twice this year because we have family living in Malmö. They’ve a cool cat called Paddy and we looked after him while they were away. Our first trip over was during the winter and wow was it cold! We flew into Copenhagen, got straight onto the train from the airport and Orla’s auntie picked us up from the first stop on the Øresund line in Sweden, Hyllie Station. If you’re staying in the centre of Malmö, it’s only another 2 stops, which takes about 7 minutes, to Centralstation. We were staying in the pretty neighbourhood of Gröndal. When it snows here it’s like walking around in a Christmas postcard!
Malmö, like Copenhagen, is a great city for cycling and you can rent them from the many bike stations dotted around the city using this map. It’s incredibly easy to navigate and with no hills, you won’t be too out of breath. You’ll also feel perfectly safe with cycle paths everywhere and plenty of places to park your bike. Orla’s auntie took us out on the bikes to show us the best route into the city centre via some beautiful parks with lovely big trees, lakes and pretty bridges. The only drawback at that time of year is the cold and we weren’t really prepared wardrobe-wise. Between that and shorter daylight hours we didn’t spend too long out every day but we were happy to hang out in their amazingly cozy, warm home, listening to their quality music collection and getting some work done. On days we couldn’t face the bikes, we availed of the excellent bus service that covers the whole city and it’s cheap too. Just be aware that you can’t pay cash on-board the bus so you must buy a ticket beforehand. The Jojo card is the best option and you can download the Skånetrafiken app to navigate the city with timetables and bus routes all at your fingertips.
Best spot for the sunset
We braved the cold one afternoon and took the bus into the city. We were struck by Malmö’s beautiful architecture, from the huge, modern University Library to the city’s oldest church, St. Peter’s and the iconic 16th century buildings in the old town. The old town is achingly pretty with cobbled streets and plenty of instagrammable shots and you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to bars and restaurants to warm your insides. We headed to Gustav Adolfs Torg which is beside the city’s graveyard, a beautiful park with huge old trees and worth taking a walk through. We wanted to be on the coast for the sunset so we caught the number 2 bus out to Daniaparken and the impressive Turning Torso. Daniaparken is a brand new seaside park by the Øresund Strait with luxury apartments, cafés, restaurants and great facilities for swimming. The Turning Torso itself is a really cool piece of architecture. It’s the tallest building in Scandinavia and if you’re travelling across the bridge from Denmark during the day you’ll see it standing out on the Swedish coastline. This area was a perfect spot to take photos during sunset, particularly at this time of year because there was nobody else around and the sun was perfectly positioned between the Øresund bridge and the horizon.
The countryside around Malmö is picture-perfect with traditional farmhouses and pastoral vistas. We were taken out on a day trip to Ales Stenar, about an hour’s drive South East from Malmö. It’s the site of a 1400-year old burial ground for King Ale, according to legend, with 59 huge standing stones erected in the shape of a ship. The Swedish Stonehenge is accessed by walking uphill to a high vantage point, it’s position commanding an impressive view of the Baltic Sea and surrounding land. While we were there the snow started to fall, creating a surreal atmosphere that transported us back to the days of Viking long ships and ancient Kings. The temperature was dropping every second the sun was getting lower in the sky so we headed for home before the snow got heavier.
Copenhagen in the cold
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When it was time to leave for Ireland we stayed one night in Copenhagen and the weather was worsening. As I mentioned earlier we were completely unprepared for -10oC so we couldn’t take the long walks we normally would when out exploring a new city. After checking in to Annex Copenhagen (located very close to Central Station), a very comfortable and reasonably priced 2-star hotel with kitchen facilities, we headed for the famous Nyhavn waterside to scout for sunset photo spots. We managed to explore on foot for about four hours but once the sun starting dipping lower, my hands and feet started to go numb! We ducked into a bar to warm up and have a drink. I ended up borrowing a couple of blankets to wear as a skirt and poncho! I didn’t care how I looked I was so bloody cold! We hadn’t yet found a place for dinner so we decided to go back towards the hotel to find something nearby, avoiding the outside as much as possible.
Meat and Metal
We found Warpigs Brewpub. Wow what a place! All the meats that can be slow cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection, burnt-end beans, sexy slaw and craft beers. This, of course, is all served casually on metal trays, no plates, at long shared tables and bands like Black Sabbath on stereo to soothe the soul! If vikings were around today this would be their work canteen! Needless to say we made pigs of ourselves and tried everything - wings, ribs, pulled pork, brisket and the beans were truly amazing. We ignored the higher than average bill because it was well worth it. We rolled out of the pace back to the hotel, fat and happy!
The next day we hung out in the hotel as we just couldn’t face that blistering cold again. In fairness, it was perfect because Neil was finalising an application to join one of his favourite travel photographers, Brendan van Son on his “Best Job in the World” internship and we had access to the kitchen/living area of the hostel. We made our lunch there and got a solid amount of work done. Although Neil didn’t win the competition his application video is awesome! You can watch it here if you like.
What a difference the summer makes
Our second visit to these two beautiful cities came around in July and we were much more inclined to stay outdoors with temperatures pushing to nearly 30° C and longer daylight hours. It was a completely different experience and cycling around in that heat was almost as unbearable as freezing cold! Us Irish are used to very moderate weather so you’ll usually find us complaining when we try to cope with anything below 5° C or above 20° C! Having said that, it didn’t stop us admiring how beautiful Malmö looked in the sunshine. The summer atmosphere was palpable among the happy crowds and colourful flowers adorning Gustav Adolfs Torg, and cobble stoned Lillis Torg in the old town. This area is very busy during the high season so bars and restaurants are packed. It also means it’s slightly more expensive. For better value for money and a tasty fill-up head to Nam Do Restaurant, a casual Vietnamese place with bamboo furniture and old family pictures adorning the walls.
Foodie heaven in Malmö
On one of the days, we cycled over to Malmö Saluhall near the University for a late lunch and we weren’t disappointed. This is a must visit for all food lovers and there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes from wood-fired pizzas and awesome sandwiches to fresh shellfish and hearty salads. It’s a food market as well so you can stock up on the finest produce the country has to offer made by passionate and skilled traders. I am simply not doing it justice here. Just go and immerse yourself in all its deliciousness. We got the pulled pork sandwich from POMS where the motto is “GOOD SANDWICHES RULE THE WORLD!” Need I say more? It’s cleverly designed, pleasing to the eye and, with a resident D.J. in the courtyard adding an extra chilled out vibe and comfy sofas in the sunshine, you could easily wile away an afternoon here. Delicious coffee and expertly created cocktails will make it even harder for you to leave! We dragged ourselves away and got back on the bikes. We headed for the Turning Torso and Daniaparken to experience the summer vibe via the impressive fortress of Malmö Castle. We never made it inside but we vow to return and do the castle tour.
Fun in the sun
When we reached the Turning Torso it was a world away from that cold February day when we had it all to ourselves. Daniaparken was buzzing with people sunning themselves, swimming and families picnicking on the grass and purpose built decks along the waterfront. We parked the bikes and tucked into delicious ice-cream from the friendly staff at Bar Italia, a little café that looks out onto the water. It was the perfect way to cool off although the sea would have been tempting only for the choppy waves - our excuse to chicken out! We continued cycling all along the waterfront soaking in the atmosphere of smiling sun worshipers and couldn’t help but admire the excellent facilities for people to make the most of their day by the sea (public toilets are a rarity in Ireland, let alone showers and saunas!).
15 hours in Copenhagen
We dedicated one of our days to seeing Copenhagen again as it’s just so easy to take a day trip across the bridge. Adding to the fact that we love Jazz and the world famous Copenhagen Jazz Festival was on, we were onto a winner! We set off at midday, armed with bottles of sunscreen and water and enough money to keep us going til the wee hours. Sure why not?! When we stepped out into the sunshine from Copenhagen Central Station we were struck by how many people there were. Again, it was remarkable the difference a season makes and we happily jostled along with the crowds, across Town Hall Square and down through the shopping district. On the way, we had, what might arguably be, the best hot dog we’ve ever had, anywhere.
You could pass by this little hot dog stand and never know what you’re missing out on. It’s parked right beside the 17th Century Tower of Rundetaarn which is also worth a visit. After our hot dog we went to the top of the tower and enjoyed fantastic 360 degree views of the whole city.
After traversing the city and the traffic we headed to Rosenborg Castle Gardens for a breath of fresh air and some greenery. To be honest we were roasted in the sunshine and sought out the shade of a big old tree to chill out and enjoy the view. It’s a huge park and at the time there was a band stand setup for some excellent Jazz musicians. It was a perfect way to relax in the afternoon and rest our feet. The Castle is impressive but we didn’t end up going inside for the tour, feeling a tad lazy!
Sunshine, Jazz and Fantastic Food
The Jazz Festival was in full swing (pun intended) and the atmosphere was fantastic down at Nyhavn. It was absolutely jam packed with people dancing and drinking with a 10-piece band blasting out dixieland funtimes! We traversed the canal on either side soaking it all in and then checked out the new waterside pavilion behind the Royal Danish Playhouse. It’s basically a huge pier turned into an outdoor recreation space with bars, food stalls and sun loungers. People were everywhere chilled out in the sun. It’s such a fantastic use of the space for people to enjoy their summertime by the water with awesome amenities and events.
All this exploring had us working up quite an appetite and there was nowhere better to satiate our taste buds than the newly reopened Copenhagen Street Food. Across the cool, new Inderhavnsbroen bridge, it’s much more than a collection of delicious, international street food stalls. It’s a creative space with workshops, concerts, yoga, lectures and loads more on at all times of the year. A seriously hip vibe with outdoor tables, BBQs wafting mouth-watering aromas into the air and bars with your choice of fine wines, cocktails or craft beers. We got lovely and sticky with some Korean BBQ ribs, Mexican tacos and Filipino spring rolls. It’s a tremendous place and at only average prices for eating out in Copenhagen, it’s well worth it.
We crossed back over the bridge and got a fine view of Nyhavn basking in the setting sun. We were just in time for Neil to set up the tripod and get the perfect shot of the colourful buildings along the canal.
Music and Laughter
Eager to find a venue to park ourselves for the rest of the night and catch some Jazz musicians, we stumbled upon Galathea Kroen. This place is weird and wonderful and wow did we get to hear some unbelievable talent late into the night! It’s small and cozy with an eclectic interior, full of interesting artefacts from around the world. We scored a couple of bar stools under some snake-skin lamps and had a few beers while musicians lined up to play in the impossibly tiny backroom. These musicians were incredible and so young and we swore we saw the reincarnation of Chet Baker, trumpet in hand! We felt like we really couldn’t have asked for a better experience as it was the kind of Jazz we love and the atmosphere was brilliant. In the wee hours of the morning, after having a few laughs with some locals, we headed back on the train to Sweden, exhausted but delighted with our first Copenhagen Jazz Festival.
Farewell for now
Our last few days with our relatives were fantastic. We had BBQs on the deck late into the warm summer evenings and enjoyed a few sing-songs. We’ve warned them we’ll be back and might have to turn it into an annual trip! If you are planning a trip to Copenhagen you really should consider visiting Malmö. It’s just so easy to get to and it might even be cheaper to find accommodation there. If you have any questions at all about our trips, please do get in touch!